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How to Figure Child Support into Your Budget

by Olufisayo
how to figure child support

The average child support payment totals $430 a month. This massive sum can throw even the strictest budgets out of whack. For comparison’s sake, it’s as if you were paying off a car loan for a mid-range vehicle.

Still finding your financial footing after a messy divorce? It’s time to tighten up your spending. With some great budgeting, you can afford child support payments even on a low salary.

Get proactive. The first few months following a divorce are an essential time period. Once you fall behind on payments, you could be looking at some serious consequences.

So what’s the secret to managing this new expense? Read on and learn how to figure child support into your monthly budget.

1. Determine Your Financial Situation

You’ll be in for a whirlwind of changes following a divorce — some good, some bad. If your significant other was the breadwinner, you may be struggling to keep yourself afloat. You also may have had to relocate or move in with friends and family for the time.

These changes all lead to significant changes to your financial situation. Before you can account for child support payments, you need to know the full extent of your budget.

Start with the easy stuff. What’s your monthly take-home salary once taxes and insurance payments are out of the way?

Ask yourself what kind of expenses you’re dealing with. Your income may seem plentiful, but it’ll quickly spread thin. You’ll have to worry about car payments, rent, food, and other life essentials.

Consider how much the child support payments will affect you, in addition to any life changes. If you haven’t divorced yet or are in the process of divorcing, you can still find a close estimate. Use your state’s child support calculator to figure out the damage.

Since most states account for your current salary and income, your child support payments shouldn’t leave you destitute. Although budgeting is challenging, you’ll be able to work it out.

2. How to Figure Child Support Into Your Budget

So you know your take-home income and thought of all your monthly expenses? Good. Now it’s time to create a budget.

Keep things simple and start with the 50/30/20 budget. You’ll divide your expenses into these three separate categories. In short, 50% of your budget should cover your needs, 30% your wants, and 20% your savings and debt.

Your needs include things like rent and food whereas your wants might be new clothes, books, or trips to the movie theater. Look at your bank statements, write down this month’s expenses, and categorize them appropriately.

Your child support payment should be included in the debt section.

Although you can do this by hand, it’s easier to keep it digital. A spreadsheet gets the job done, but you can turn to your choice of free budget apps. Whatever you prefer, stick to it.

Now run the numbers and see how your expenses hold up. It’s unlikely your current budget resembles a perfect 50/30/20 split. If one of these numbers are out of whack, you’ll need to reduce spending in another category to account for it.

This might mean it’s time to sell your current car and turn to public transportation. Or, instead, you might want to find a roommate or a new place to live for the time being.

3. Always Track Your Expenses

Budgeting isn’t a one-and-done kind of thing. Once you make your budget for the first month, it can provide great insights into affording child support payments, as well as other expenses.

But it doesn’t stop there. Your expenses will change slightly from month to month. If you’re not careful, you could start draining your bank account.

That’s why it’s important to set strict limits on your spending as you continue to reconfigure your purchases. You probably can’t move out and lower your rent right away or get rid of your car. But maybe you can shop at a cheaper grocery store or cut some monthly subscription services you aren’t using.

You’ll notice the success of these changes as you follow through with your budget from week to week. It’s not as hard as it may seem. Once a month or (preferably) once a week, look at your bank statements and go over your receipts.

Staying on top of your expenses is the best way to find success when you’re struggling with payments of any kind.

4. Still Can’t Afford Child Support Payments?

Even with a fair amount of budgeting, you can’t afford payments when you aren’t making money. If your income was affected following the divorce, you’ll discover it doesn’t go as far as before.

You do have a few options. Of course, you can always make an effort to find a job with higher pay or ask for a raise. But most guides say that as if it’s easy to do.

Talk to your ex about your child support agreement. If it wasn’t a terrible breakup, you may be able to work out a deal while you figure out your budget and salary.

Not budging? Consider contacting the judge about the situation. There’s a small chance they may make short-term changes to your child support payments.

Don’t Let Child Support Payments Ruin Your Life

Child support payments give you an opportunity to help your children. They’re not a way for your ex to get revenge — although it may feel like it. Keep your chin up.

Now that you know how to figure child support payments into your budget, you can keep the judge, your ex, and your children happy. A better budget will give you the foundation you need to manage your finances and reinvent your life after a divorce.

Did you find this article helpful? If so, check out our website for more financial and business advice.

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