I'm a newly-single mom who is about to start receiving child support payments of $430 a month. I've also just started on your plan to help manage my finances. Should I use some of this money to help payoff debt and start saving - something I feel weird about - or to start a college fund for my kids?
I don't think you should feel weird about anything. First, the savings will be in place to help take care of your family. I would even suggest that at least some of the debt you're talking about is due to the fact that you've been supporting children. Once you're out of debt, you'll have even more money available to do other things for them - like saving for college.
Let me ask you something. While you're doing this are you also going to be buying electricity and food for the kids with that money? Of course, you are! Are they going to be wearing clothes that you bought for them when you burn gas driving them to ball practice? Sure they are!
Let's go one step further. What if you were able to build an emergency fund while you put this money directly into your budget like the extra income you'd see from a part-time job? Then, what if one of the kids had an emergency? You'd use it to take care of them and support them, wouldn't you?
I think you're a good mom. You're not stealing or embezzling your children's money, Erin. There's just something about it coming in with the label "child support" that can make a good parent feel like they're cheating their kids.
And in a situation like this, the truth is that you're taking care of them now and in the future!