One of the biggest challenges divorced dads face in the days following a divorce is figuring out how to budget responsibly.
Divorce is often very expensive. Even after the case is settled, there are lingering expenses such as child support and alimony that can affect your finances for years to come.
Many single parents have a tough enough time paying the bills and making ends meet. Court-ordered child support stretches your money even further.
If you find yourself stuck with payments you cannot afford, it is best to check with your divorce attorney to see if a child support modification is possible. It is common for financial circumstances to change after the child support order is issued, and if that is the case then it might be possible to lower the amount you are paying each month.
If a child support modification is not in the cards, then you may need to adjust your household budget to make child support more bearable. Here are some pointers that can help you organize your budget so you are not crushed by child support arrears.
List your fixed expenses
Write down your expenses that are consistent month to month. Fixed expenses typically include bills like your mortgage or rent, car and insurance payments, and utility bills.
Once you finish listing all your monthly fixed costs, you should search for expenses that you can eliminate. Maybe you don’t watch much TV and can do without cable
Reduce discretionary spending
After determining fixed expenses, you need to look at your variable costs. Come up with estimates that you spend each month on things like gas, groceries, entertainment, etc. These are areas where you might be able to save some money with some discipline.
For example, you can carpool to work or use coupons to cut down on your grocery bill. This is probably your best opportunity to cut your spending, so get creative and really think of ways you can reduce these costs.
Create a budget you can stick to
Once you determine where all your money is going each month, create a monthly budget that includes your monthly child support payments. Before your month even begins, figure out where your money is going to go. Also factor in an amount for unplanned expenses such as car repairs, emergency health bills, and other odds and ends that invariably pop up.
Once you create a budget, stay disciplined and stick to it. Once you keep at it for a few months, it will start to get easier as this will become the lifestyle you are used to.
Find additional income
Unfortunately, even after trimming expenses and creating a monthly budget, many dads still find themselves with less money than they need to make their child support payments. In these instances, if you are unable to modify your child support order, it might be necessary to find additional sources of income.
If your schedule allows it, you might check into picking up a second job. Some fathers are just too busy to commit to a full-time second job, but there are opportunities within the “gig economy” to earn additional income. Websites like Fiverr provide an online marketplace for freelance services. You could also drive for a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft. These services allow you to work whenever you want so you can keep your schedule open and earn additional money when you have some free time.