4 Simple Tips for Removing Stress from Shared Expenses and Reimbursements
As a divorced parent, you may have encountered lots of confusion and stress when working with your co-parent to figure out how best to handle shared expenses and reimbursements for child-related costs. Money is a sensitive subject for many people to talk about, and even the most peaceful co-parenting situations may find that frustrations begin to flare when the topic of shared parenting costs comes up. However, it's a matter that must be considered as part of the transition into co-parenting. Moreover, having a clear system in place for handling expenses and reimbursements will help to reduce at least some of the anxiety that comes along with these money matters. Think about these four simple tips for removing stress from shared expenses and reimbursements.
Protect Your Child From Expense Stress
Even though your child is the one for who these costs are being incurred, they shouldn't play a role in the actual management of them. Kids don't need to know the ins and outs of how their expenses are being handled, nor should they observe any conflict between their parents brought about by these costs. Don't talk about expenses or reimbursing your co-parent in front of your child, particularly in such a way that could place a burden on their shoulders.
While your shared parenting expenses aren't something to share with your child, you will want to teach them about money over the course of their childhood. Simple lessons on saving, finding deals, and credit card management are all useful topics for children to learn about before they become adults. Having some basic knowledge about money management will help to instill in them practical strategies handling it responsibly and reduce their own stress when dealing with money later in life. That being said, also recognize that passing off your stress over expenses and reimbursements could make money matters even harder for your child to face as they grow up.
Write An Agreement and Stick to It
As part of your parenting agreement, coming up with a plan for handling expenses and reimbursements is just as important as deciding your parenting schedule. Document how different types of costs will be handled and by whom. Plan for the big costs like medical expenses and schooling costs, as well as the day-to-day purchases that you often face. Child support may also factor into how you handle these costs, so consider those payments in your plan as well. If you're not sure how best to handle decisions about splitting costs, talk to a professional such as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. They can help you understand how to manage your money and make lasting financial decisions more effectively.
Be On The Same Page About Calculations
When calculating and tracking your shared expenses and reimbursements, the math doesn't have to be hard. Consider using a shared expense register that calculates the totals for you, no matter what your ratios of responsibility may be. This way, you will know exactly how your totals were determined without having to wonder how they were reached or do the math in your head. Using tools like those found on the OurFamilyWizard website to track expenses and payments, you'll have access to tools that break down each expense request into the totals that each parent is responsible for based on custom categories that are assigned to each request. The OFW expense log will keep running totals of how much has been requested, is owed, and has been paid between you and your co-parent. Not only can you view these totals online, but you can also print reports of totals or details about individual requests.
Find Effective Tools for Managing Expenses and Reimbursements
Apart from how to split expenses, have a plan for how you will reimburse each other for various costs. Having a system for payments and reimbursements ready from the get-go will help to remove some of the stress from this process, but the system that you choose to use can also affect the stress factor involved here. Mailing checks or sending money orders can be inconvenient and won't always leave a readily available paper trail to report on if need be. Alternatively, a system like OFWpay, which is integrated into the OurFamilyWizard expense log, will keep both your requests for reimbursements and the details related to payments to reimburse those requests in one place. Again, reports can easily be generated to show details about when payments were made and which reimbursement requests they satisfied.
Removing stress from shared expenses and reimbursements is much more easily said than done, as money will always carry anxiety with it for many people. However, taking measures to reduce the stress felt when handling shared parenting costs can help to uphold the well-being of your child as well as your co-parenting.