In 2015, it was estimated that the cost of raising a child was more than $230,000. That doesn’t even include the cost of a college education.
Bringing up a child is expensive at the best of times. If you’re co-parenting, it can be all too easy for the costs to get out of control.
The good news is that it is possible to bring these expenses back under control again if you’re willing to work together.
Read on as we look at some key tips for keeping control of costs when you’re co-parenting.
Everything Starts With Communication
The key to bringing your co-parenting expenses under control is communication.
If you can’t effectively communicate with your co-parent then it will be impossible to follow any of the rest of the advice in this article.
Even if things aren’t great between you, is it really worth putting yourself through additional financial stress? Not to mention the impact on your child.
Put aside your differences and you can make real progress.
Agree on a System
You need to agree from the outset exactly how expenses will be paid.
The exact system you use will depend on your circumstances, but it’s important that both parties agree to it.
You may decide to split expenses straight down the middle. You may decide to share them based on your relative earnings. Find a system that you can both agree to, and stick to it.
You will both probably need to compromise at some point in order to find a solution that works for everybody.
Stating your position and refusing to budge from it isn’t going to help to solve the problem.
Create a Budget
Once you’ve agreed on how you’re going to pay, you need to agree on how much you’re going to pay.
Create a budget for all the expenses that you can think of in relation to your child. Work out when these expenses will be due, and how much each of you will be contributing towards them.
You will both then have a clearer idea of how much money you’ll need and when you’ll need it.
If the budget is beyond your means, then you’ll need to revisit it to see where you can make any savings. Keep working at your budget until you both agree that it is both effective and affordable.
Set up an Emergency Fund
As with any plan, there will be unforeseen circumstances that you just couldn’t predict.
That’s why it’s important to create a shared emergency fund to cover any expenses that you didn’t plan for. You might both want to agree to pay a certain amount each month into the emergency fund. If it gets too large, you can always withdraw some of it to cover the pre-planned expenses that you have.
Make Use of Technology
Keeping on top of all the different expenses you will have, and when they need to be paid, can be challenging.
The good news is that you’re not the first people to go through this.
In fact, there are software packages designed to help parents in exactly your situation. This software can help you both plan out the expenses you’ll need to pay, keep track of what has been paid and when, and even allocate the percentage contribution for each parent.
Using software like this can help reduce any arguments or resentment, as it will be set up to follow your agreed system.
Protect Your Child From the Process
When discussing money issues, it’s best to keep the conversation away from your child.
Hearing parents discussing money concerns can be a stressful thing for a child, and their input really isn’t needed.
They have already been through a lot of upheaval having to deal with their parents separating and issues such as grandparents visitation rights, so there’s no need to burden them with any additional stress.
The very last thing they need is to see their parents arguing about money.
Try Not to Resort to Lawyers
If you’re struggling to agree to a plan for keeping your co-parenting expenses under control, it can be tempting to consider hiring a lawyer to sort the issue out.
The trouble with this plan is that lawyers cost money. Usually, a lot of money.
That means that instead of bringing your expenses under control, you’re actually increasing them. This is only going to make matters worse.
Try to find a solution by yourselves, without having to resort to the aid of a law firm.
Remember to Put Your Child First
The most important thing to remember throughout the whole process is that you need to put your child first.
Your focus throughout all of your discussions and planning should be ensuring that you have a system in place that can provide your child with the things that they need.
Remembering this focus can often help you to keep things in perspective when you’re struggling to agree on certain points.
Remember that even if you don’t see eye-to-eye on many things, you both have the best interests of your child at heart.
You Can Bring Co-Parenting Expenses Under Control
Bringing co-parenting expenses under control takes work, but it is possible.
The most important thing is to keep those lines of communication open. You can then create a plan that works for both of you but more importantly, works for your child. You then remove any need to resort to costly lawyers.