How To Budget When Money Doesn’t Come? (Your Advice)

Your Advice - help answer readers' questionsThere is nothing worse than money that you expect to cover some of your expenses not arriving. This is a problem that this reader has with child support:

I am a single mother with two small children and I have a major difficulty with my current budgeting. The problem is that I’m supposed to receive $1000 in child support each month from their father, but I can never count on this money arriving. While it does come most months, when exactly it will arrive is always a question and sometimes only a partial payment or no payment at all will come. Since I count on this money for my monthly budget, it is often thrown all out of whack due to the payment not arriving. Does anyone have suggestions on how I can make my budget less dependent on whether this money arrives or not? Are there steps that I can take to make sure that the money arrives on a certain day each month? It really becomes stressful one I have bills that I need to pay, but the money that should be in my bank account isn’t there.

If you found yourself in a similar situation, what steps would you take to help remedy the problem?

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5 Responses to How To Budget When Money Doesn’t Come? (Your Advice)

  1. Spokane Al says:

    Wow, you have a tough, difficult situation. While I have no expertise in forcing the payment of child support, perhaps I can offer a suggestion towards the budgeting question.

    It is much easier said than done, but you must spend less than you take in on a normal month when you recieve full child support. It is very, very important that you have an emergency cushion so that those months when the child support is less than anticipated or non existant, you can get through.

    I would suggest you start, if you are not already doing so, by tracking all your expenses for a month. Then you can determine where you can cut back. At that point you will have a good handle on what your are spending.

    You can do this in a simple manner with a ledger sheet, or if you have access to a computer Quicken or Microsoft Money offer efficient solutions.

    While being a single mother of two has its own major challenges, I wonder if you are employed to your full potential. If not, could you consider looking around the local job market for a better paying job (if this is a potential solution)? You would obviously need to be very, very careful here because you would not want to alienate your present employer. In fact, are there promotion opportunites for you there? Just something to carefully and cautiously consider.

    In conclusion, if you can build up an emergency fund, and then when you use it, try to pay it back when you do get that child support check, you can alleviate at least a part of your problems.

    Good luck to you. You have a difficult

  2. amy says:

    I don’t know if this is something
    that would work for you or not but the budgeting software at might help you. It was started by someone with an irregular income to help with
    budgeting problems. It involves saving up one month’s expenses and then living one month behind your
    income. In other words you spend June’s money in July, July’s money in August……hard to explain but if you go to the website it is explained a lot better than I could.
    The benefit to doing this is you know at the beginning of each month what you have available to spend. The hard part is saving up one month’s expenses to get it going. The website also explains how to do this. Hope this gives you another idea on how you might be able to budget a little better for your circumstances.

  3. whatamess says:

    I wish I had something to tell you…but sadly, I’m on the opposite side of the spectrum…You see, my husband does and has always paid CS…however, when I count on our “family” budget for feeding our child, I cannot normally count on his salary…Why? Because even though he’s always paid, the CSE office and the EX garnished his wages for back pay for almost 5months, leaving us without hundreds of dollars a month so that we could not even afford our house payment…

    I can’t budget for that, you know? Everyday we wonder if we can or not spend money, as one day all is well…and then 5months later, the mother comes back and harrasses us for more money outside of child support and threatens to take us back to court, for us to have to spend money on lawyers, etc…so that we never truly know what we can count on either…

    So you see, I support my child 100% at this point, since I cannot count on my husband to help out, because outside of his control, the ex and the CSE office continue to play games with him…They damaged his credit…the credit cards we had increased our interest when they saw the damaged credit, we fell further into debt and nobody is accountable for those mistakes and lies…except of course, me and my son.

    So if you figure out a way, let me know…my only way is to not count on that money and live ONLY off your salary.

  4. Jodi says:

    I was in the very same situation years ago with my kids and irregular child support payments. It changed my life when I finally went through the process to have the money automatically taken from his check. I believe now that you can have it deposited directly into your account. I loved that I didn’t have to ask him, or wait for it. The next, and most important thing that I did was get my degree to make a higher salary. What a feeling to know that I didn’t NEED his money. It was just a nice bonus. Good luck – and remember that God will provide a way. We never had a day that my kids couldn’t eat even though times got rough.

  5. Viola says:

    I am a single Mum also. My ex-husband ‘pays’ me every months by standing order, so we do not have any of the ‘pay me now’ issues. He also buys clothes, shoes, extras if needed, or we share the costs for certain items. Maybe you should try to get the father to agree to a standing order of a smaller amount and give the rest in cash. At least that way you would have some in your account. Wouldn’t that be the easiest solution?

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