• February 2007
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child support and money stuff

I’ve been thinking about child support, money, budgeting, and teaching my children financial management skills. I posted this on the forum that I help moderate when the topic of child support and whether the children should know about household money stuff came up.

My children are often not able to do all the bells & whistles stuff that some other kids get to do. I don’t tell them that we cannot afford it. I COULD send them if I chose to spend money on that. The thing is, I don’t choose to. I choose to pay the mortgage, the car payment, the utilities, for food & prescriptions and put some in savings instead.

We’re not ever without choices.

Knowing that (instead of feeling like Ms. Have-Not all the time) has been a huge mindset shift for me.

My children know that XH pays CS. They know from XH that it’s deposited into my accocunt before he gets paid each month (military) and they know (from XH) that I took him to court for non-payment of CS & that now it HAS to be garnished from his pay. They even know how much it is (again, from XH).

But I’d probably have told them sometime or another. I really don’t see anything wrong with them knowing. They also know that he provides health and dental insurance for them. They know how much money I make & that all the money goes into my account. I talk to them about which bills are due, how much they are, how much the grocery budget is, how much the clothing/shoes budget is, how much the entertainment budget is.

I know that a lot of people may frown upon this, so I will tell you why I chose to start talking to them about money.

When I went to college, I’d never seen my parents pay a single bill. I’d never seen them balance their checkbook. I didn’t even know that in cities, people pay for water (we had well water). I was sort of aware that people paid electric bills, but had never really thought about it. I had no idea how much utilities or groceries cost. I didn’t even realize that people made budgets & had a spending plan. My parents just took care of it all. Whatever we needed was provided. My sisters and I didn’t worry. Ever.

When I went out on my own, though, I think I was at a disadvantage from the lack of knowledge or experience with that sort of responsibility (ignorance was not bliss in this case). I had to work really hard to learn to budget (it’s not my natural instinct to be a saver) and pay bills first (before going out on the town). I overspent with credit cards and it took several years for me to get them paid off.

I don’t want my children to go through this. I want them to go out into the world armed with knowledge and able to make a budget because they’ve seen one in action. I don’t want to burden them with grown-up things, but at the same time, I don’t think it hurts them to realize that we cannot just go to the ATM & get more money if no more is in the account. We cannot just write a check for something if we want it if it’s not planned or accounted for in the spending plan.

When XH first told the kids how much CS he paid, I was really upset. Of course, he didn’t just say that, he also told them that 1/3 of that money should go to each of them each of them each month to do what they want with it – buy games, toys, books, candy, shoes, movies, etc. He also told them to take their share of the CS & buy themselves a Christmas gift from him. That was about 3 years ago. The kids were much younger then & I’d not started talking to them about money stuff yet. Needless to say, I was spinning – and very very angry.

Once I settled down, I talked to the kids about why the NCP pays CS and what it’s used for. They realize now that it’s used to pay for necessities – like housing, food, clothes, lunch money, etc. Not all of it, but some of it, because XH does not live in the home. They don’t ask me for “their” share of the CS these days. They know that their allowance is built into the budget and they’re good with that. They also know that they get everything they need and a lot of what they want.

2 Responses

  1. Dollface, it’s good that you’re teaching your tykes about how to handle dough responsibly. The best thing to teach them is to live on less than they make. No credit cards or car payments. They’ll never get in money trouble by doing that. Be happy with the stuff that money can’t buy, like time with their mom. Make sure to show ’em that work equals money, just like the real world. Good luck, baby. http://www.debtective.com

  2. I think it’s great that you’re teaching children the “value” of money. I tried to teach my children the same when they were younger because they didn’t understand why they couldn’t have everything they wanted when they wanted. I was a single parent for about eight years and I shared with my daughter the fact that we had bills to pay before we had fun. CS was something, although it was court ordered, we didn’t see any of from the time she was 4 until she turned 17 – when I finally went to court over the delinquent payments.
    “Responsible” parenting is great – thanks for sharing such valuable info.

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