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What Can Child Support Be Used For?

Everyone’s budget looks different. And it’s personal too. Depending on who you are and what kind of needs you have in your life, your budget is going to show that. And sometimes, the more specific all the details get, the more you think, Where do I put this in my budget? If you get a child support payment each month, you might be wondering just that. So let’s answer the tricky questions that flood you when putting child support in a budget.

What Is Child Support? 

First of all, let’s talk about what child support is and when you’d get it. Child support is money paid from one parent to the other parent to take care of their kiddo’s needs. The parents of the child aren’t together anymore, and most of the time, the parent getting the child support is the one who has custody. These payments usually happen monthly and keep on going until the child grows up.

How Is Child Support Calculated? 

Good question! Figuring out how much money you owe (or are owed) depends on your state, but it usually looks something like this:

  • What is the income amount of the parent paying child support?
  • How much time does that parent have custody of the children?
  • How many children does this need to cover?
  • What is the income amount of the parent getting child support?

What Is Child Support Used For? 

Child support money is used to take care of all the must-have items and daily needs that a child has. This covers everything that your awesome kid needs to be well taken care of. Things like:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Utility bills
  • Clothes
  • Transportation
  • School costs
  • Sports
  • Entertainment

Should I Put Child Support in a Budget? 

For sure! If you’re getting child support money paid to you, then you should definitely include the money in your budget. Any income for your household needs to be budgeted for and given a job to do. And this child support income isn’t any different. So go ahead and tell it where to go in your budget!

Here’s the thing: You have to reframe how you see child support in a budget. This money is there to help you as you take care of your kids’ needs. You have bills, and paying those bills puts a roof over your kid’s head. It pumps heat into their bedrooms, and it puts food in their bellies. You’re providing a home, food, clothing, care and all the other things it takes to raise a child (including Star Wars toys and princess dresses). So don’t feel bad about labeling your child support as monthly income. That’s what it is! Income to take care of your child.

How to Budget With Child Support Money 

When you’re making your budget each month, you’ll see a spot to jot down the income you have to work with. This is where you write down all the money you bring in each month—regular paychecks, side hustle money and child support. Put it all at the top line of your budget along with your regular household income (yep—whether you’re single or married). Then you can go ahead and do your budget like normal.

Sound complicated? Don’t worry, our awesome (and free!) budgeting tool, EveryDollar, makes it easy to keep everything straight, especially when it comes to adding child support in a budget. No sweat!

Do I Need a Separate Savings Account for My Child Support? 

Nope. There’s no reason to have your child support checks deposit into a separate savings account. If you did that, you’d have to pull out money whenever your child needed a meal or new shoes or a toothbrush. That would just be ridiculous (and super annoying).

Do I Include Child Support in My Budget if I Got Remarried? 

Of course! It’s still okay for the money to be mixed into the family budget even if you remarried. Your job as a parent is to be a blessing to your kids. That means you feed them, clothe them, educate them—those kinds of things. And that’s what you and your new spouse are providing for your family. As a new family unit, you need to combine your money, and that even includes child support.


Start budgeting with EveryDollar today!

If you’re worried your spouse is going to spend that money on themselves or take it from your children, then you might have some deeper stuff than just money issues on your hands here. It’s normal for you to want to protect your kids and keep their best interests at heart. But if everything is actually functional and loving in your new marriage, then you can rest easy and ditch your anxiety about combining money. It’s okay, really!

Budgeting Is Just the Beginning 

Whether you’re remarried or a single parent, having your budget in order is an absolute must. But it’s just one piece of the puzzle on your journey to take control of your money. If you want to know how to make better financial decisions for every area of your life, check out Financial Peace University (FPU).

This course will teach you everything you need to know about building your savings, getting rid of debt, and spending your money wisely. If you want to make progress toward your goals, go ahead and start FPU today!

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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