Yes, I too was downsized. Go ahead, get angry. Break something. Just make sure your kids are not there when you do. Also be sure it is not their favorite toy you try to throw through the wall. Prepare to stop hemorrhaging money like water through a collander (that's the bowl with the holes in it you use when you make spaghetti). A few things to keep in perspective:
1. Don't get mad at your kids about it. It is not their fault they are expensive. Explain you are going to have to scale back if you have to. Let them know you are going to get back on your feet soon. Kids will worry a lot and be afraid to ask questions. They may think you are going to have to move or get rid of the dog. Make sure they are ok and answer them honestly. Until things go back to as normal as possible, visits may just be hanging around your house watching a movie from Red Box and splitting up a Tombstone pizza. Don't sacrifice all of your income for your kids sake. They can also learn some valuable lessons from this experience. It's not fun, but it doesn't have to be the end of the world.
2. Get a reprieve (at least for a little while) from your ex. If she's not into helping you out, you are going to have to call the lawyer and get yourself into court to plead your case that you cannot pay all of the child support. I would say you should at least try to do this one between you and your ex, because you do not need a $900 Lawyer fee at this point. Do not skip out on the payment. That's a dirtball move and you'll pay dearly for it later. Explain the situation, propose a solution (on paper) and get her to sign it and keep a copy just in case. "It's just for formality's sake, just in case."
3. Run your numbers. Most likely, you are like me and have just about everything on auto-payment. Shut that down immediately. Unemployment hardly brings in anything. You'll need to figure out what's going to be coming in (that means you need to file with the unemployment office for benefits--NOW!) Take everything that comes out of your account automatically and get a list together of all payments you make in a month. It is time to plead your case.
4. Call every company you make a payment to (credit cards, etc.) and ask for help. Tell them you are going to be having a hard time making the payments and need to see what programs they have available. Apparently, I had signed up for a "credit protector" service on one of my cards. I was able to turn the card off, be charged no interest and not have to make a payment for 24 months! Call ALL of your payments. You can defer car payments, life insurance, I.R.A. and other auto-payments. You just have to ask.
5. Get into the mix. Start looking for a new job. You know where to start, LinkedIn, etc. Call some headhunters.
6. Learn to love your place again. Home is the sanctuary. You'll have a lot of free time to spruce things up and improve your surroundings. Start fixing things around the house. Enlist your children to help out. Make a list a get to it. Keep busy. Start working out...again, and NOT AT A GYM! Last time I checked, you can do push-ups and pull-ups for free at home, and no bachelor worth his salt doesn't have some kind of weights to lift. Fix up your kid's room.
7. If your kid(s) are in daycare, you may be able to save some dough by going part-time. You can handle them for a few extra days, have some rewarding time with them AND save a few bucks. Just check with the daycare to make sure you don't lose your full-time spot if you switch.
8. Hopefully it will be a short run and you'll find a new gig soon. If you can stay positive, you'll teach your kids a valuable lesson about money and more importantly, show them your character. Don't panic...you can handle this.
See you in line at the soup kitchen,
North Side Alex
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