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Unum Income Protection Challenge feedback thread

(270 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jul-12 13:20:43

This thread is for the 50 or so families taking part in the Unum Challenge.
For more information on Unum please visit the Unum pages on Mumsnet.

The families taking part in this challenge have been asked to see how they can cope if one wage earner in the household had their income dropped down to the level they would be entitled to if they became unable to work due to illness or injury and were receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). We have a range of families taking part - those with only one income, those with 2 incomes, and a range of family sizes and income levels.

We'd like challengers to give feedback across the week. We'd like to see feedback at least 3 times (diary-style) plus a roundup of your thoughts at the end of the week.

The aim of the challenge is two fold:
~ to show how families cope with living on this amount - the challenges faced and to explore what families see as priority expenditure and what can be dropped. Those taking part also need to consider other resources they may have access to including savings, benefits, loans and family support. Obviously this varies from family to family so they will need to have a think about what would apply.

~ Unum say "above all we want you to think about how you and your family would cope if this was real life situation and it wasn't just for a week, but for a prolonged period of time. Does the challenge motivate you to put plans in place (if you don't already have plans)? Does it make you more likely to consider asking your employer about the sick pay policy and whether they offer Income Protection?"

Of course Unum know that every family is different and that circumstances will vary. They're asking folks to do this for a week just to get a snapshot of what their initial thoughts and actions are when faced with this challenge.

They want you to think about the following when adding your feedback...
~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?
~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
~ Any other issues/ comments?

As a thank you for taking part there will be a prize draw of £100 of Amazon vouchers to 10 lucky challengers who add feedback as required

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

lisad123 Mon 09-Jul-12 14:03:10

Started this plan yesterday. Spent £49 on food shopping for us four. I didn't go for basics though so could have been less but did meal plan and only brought what I needed to get though the week. I have put £15 of diseal in the car for the week, not sure if it will last but will try.
Now to see how rest of the week goes. confused

Monday, me & DH at work, DCs at school.
I had leftover risotto and homemade marmalade cake for pudding (very yummy). DH made sandwiches for his lunch, DCs had school dinners (£1.80 each). DD has afterschool club(£7) DS has drums after school (£5)
Today's total spend £15.60. (although if we were off work ill we wouldn't have after school fees, which would take our spend to £8.60).
It's interesting to see what we spend through a week, as so much is paid termly/ half termly.
DH gets full pay for 12 weeks, then 75% pay in perpetuity. I get SSP after a week, but I only earn a little above that anyway.
We have 3 months worth of overpayments on the mortgage which we could take as payment holiday, and our fuel bills are negative as we have solar panels. If we were ill we'd save on petrol too, and we have 6 months income saved up in case of emergency.

flapinko Mon 09-Jul-12 15:29:49

My Tesco order came in at £50, so a large portion of my weekly total already spent. Even though I only started this challenge today, I have had to remind myself about 20 times already "Oh no, I can't buy that...". Makes me realise how often I think of shopping -for example, I wanted to get both kids new shoes as their current ones are literally falling off their feet, and it's not dry enough to wear their sandals - I actually headed into the shop to buy them, before I realised. Similar thoughts walking past supermarket "I'll just pop in for a...oh no." And a closing down sale at one of my favourite clothes stores - I normally would have been in their like a shot to snaffle up a bargain. It will be an interesting week.

charlieandlola Mon 09-Jul-12 15:32:45

This is interesting. £85 wouldn't go very far towards our £2000 mortgage each month, so we would be homless quite shortly if DH didn't have decent sick pay.
I filled my car up £42, took my lunch into work as normal( hate supermarket sandwiches), dd had school dinners £2.20 and ds is away with his school for the week.
DD's activities are a £10 a week, even though ds is away, I need to pay for his Scouts, which is £2.50 a week, so I am rapidly running out of cash already.
Good thing we have food in the freezer, as there is not much left and it is only Monday. Eek.

ColinFirthsGirth Mon 09-Jul-12 15:39:20

We live on quite a low wage so have to be quite frugal anyway. However, the £85 a week wouldn't coverour bills or mortgage by any means. We have been in the situation before of having the only wage earner being made redundant for a considerable amount of time. We survived well but only because I started work at a supermarket in the eveing and because of savings. I haven't had any need to spend anything today. I am interested to see exactly what we do spend this week.

ShatnersBassoon Mon 09-Jul-12 16:12:58

Monday: Bought meat for dinner, but used potatoes and vegetables from the garden. Nothing else today, but that's normal. Stuff for packed lunches was already in, but I'll need to replenish bread and yogurts for Wednesday.
I'm already thinking about not being able to afford my regular night out later in the week, and what excuse I'll use to not go...

I should mention that £85 per week wouldn't even make a dent in our mortgage and bills, which I'm obviously paying as normal, so I'm not quite sure how 'realistic' I can make the experiment. The £85 is what I'm aiming to spend to keep the family ticking over so will hopefully cover food, petrol, activities for the children eg Cubs and whatever else crops up that can't be avoided.

We have only one income, DH's, but should he fall ill he would be paid full pay for 6 months, and then a reduced rate henceforth. We have always made overpayments on the mortgage, so we could also take a break from paying that should our income suddenly stop. We would have some time to put a plan into action to keep everything ticking over should he become unable to work for an extended period.

moomoo1967 Mon 09-Jul-12 16:41:18

If I was off sick for a week (my employer would pay my normal wage for x amount of weeks) and could only claim SSP, assuming that as a single parent therefore the only one bringing an income into the household, I would only get £85 for the week.
It is a hard situation to imagine as I am not sure if my rent, council tax, water rates, utilities would have to come out of this. I have cupboards full of food, freezers full of food as I am a little obsessed when it comes to getting a bargain out of the supermarkets.
So far today I have spent £0 as I haven't been out of the house. I pay my bills monthly so at present the Council Tax is paid, as are the Water rates and Utilities, the Rent isn't due until the end of the month. The Sky bill and also Plusnet are also paid.

Jasper1980 Mon 09-Jul-12 17:19:32

Well we have done our shop for the week today for £30. We had quite a lot in. We need £30 for petrol, so that leaves us a grand £25 for the rest of the week. I plan on getting whoops food to tide us over. Kids are on summer holidays here in Scotland so I have bored and hungry children, who just want to eat all the time. We went to a free museum today with a picnic and plan on the same tomorrow.

We are quite lucky that dp gets a good sickness package. If we had this amount a week, I would need to get a job(currently a sahm). £85 a week doesn't cover a quarter of our essential monthly bills.

We have menu planned this week, but we do this anyway. We already have a cash flow everymonth. We know all our outgoings and we live of the rest of the wages, whatever they are. Somehow we cope but £85 a week to pay everything would be tough if it was for a long time.

KittieCat Mon 09-Jul-12 17:44:02

I have realised that this week is going to be tougher than I first thought. I have also realised how (perhaps over) committed we both are interns of contracts for things like mobiles etc. Luckily these payments have already come out of our accounts for this month but it's given us both food for thought in terms of how quickly (or not) we could reduce our outgoings if we needed to.

I made lunch today and took it to work. DH has been at home with DS and they spent the day at a free museum within walking distance. I have decided to ignore our spend on travel to get to work as were we ill we wouldn't be spending money on travel.

I did a basic top up shop in my lunch break and spent £15, I was careful with what I bought but I paid attention to the prices and realised that if we'd bought the same things in our local branch of the same supermarket rather than in central London I'd have saved money.

We don't have childcare expenses as we both work part time in order to look after DS but I honestly didn't realise how committed we are in terms of outgoings. Deffo something to think about there.

Jacket potatoes for dinner, nice and cheap and still healthy!

KittieCat Mon 09-Jul-12 17:45:23

Interns should be in terms

Cremolafoam Mon 09-Jul-12 17:55:53

I work part time so 80 hours per month plus overtime, spread over 30 days. This week I am just working 2 shifts of 8 hours. If I had to go on Ssp
It probably wouldn't make much difference to my wages at this time if the year as there is not much OT going in the summer.
The extra I earn on OT means I was able to afford a new car which I bought in may. I am paying £150pm for this so approx £ 37.50 per week.

If I was on ssp the car would have to go for definite.

Today I spent £65 at Asda for a weeks groceries. This included everything for pack lunches etc
I am decorating dds room and thought about getting paint this morning but as there is nothing in the pot for the rest of the week I am using the paint we have in the house. Probably saved £ 20 there.

Am particularly worried that the gas canister I use for cooking is about to run out. That'll be £ 40. The oven is electric do may have to resort to baked potatoes.
Our electric bills are horrendous as we live in an area where the electric co is a monopoly. Usual electric bills are £50 per week approx.
Fuel wise we have oil which is also about to run out, but currently have £300 saved for a planned delivery
Dh pays for my iPhone and the mortgage comes out of his wages directly.
My bus ticket has 5 journeys left :/
There is a 1/4 tank of petrol in the car, so only using for essential
journeys this week. Dd is at her granny's til Thursday but I will have to park at the airport to collect her which is another £6 an hour.

suzikettles Mon 09-Jul-12 18:11:19

We've been living on £85 pw for a while now as dh is on ssp. Luckily my wages cover our monthly bills plus a little extra for breathing space and we live week to week on dh's money. The hardest thing has been the strict budgeting with very little room for spontaneity.

The school holidays have started here and the endless rain is making it a bit miserable as the park is out as free entertainment and the budget won't stretch to bowling or cinema, or even tbh soft play.

Tesco shop for the 3 of us came to £36. We'll need to top up with milk during the week but hopefully not much of anything else. Dh has £10 to spend on himself, the car needs a new tyre which will be c£35 and that's about us. We're ok for petrol this week.

Shopping wise, the thing I've found hardest is chucking my ethics out of the window. No more fairtrade, back to battery chicken and eggs. I feel shit about that. Most of the basics range things that we've downgraded to are fine though.

suzikettles Mon 09-Jul-12 18:13:14

Oh, and a nice wee side effect is that I've lost almost 3/4 of a stone - mainly through not buying chocolate at work blush

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jul-12 19:31:36

thanks for all the feedback so far....do remember it's about imagining (unless like suzikettles you are actually on SSP) one income (if you have more than one in the household) has been reduced - you may have other sources of income to use or could live on the other salary. In addition, Unum have said "Obviously we don't want anyone to get into trouble, so if you need to pay bills you should do so as usual"

lisad123 Mon 09-Jul-12 19:35:55

Linda wondering how to really looks at this as not a normal week as had to pay for gymnastics for both girls and me and dh are going into London tomorrow which we never normally do.

However, so far have spent £49 on food, £15 on diseal and £3.60 on dh for train.

trickquestion Mon 09-Jul-12 20:12:10

Just started the challenge today and using up food that is already in from last wee, so not sure what counts. Spent £2.24 on lunch at work, and £5 for a BookPeople book for DS. I know that is a luxury I could probably not afford if on SSP. have made soup from leftovers for the rest of the week's lunches.
I am already looking at buying the bare minimum, seeing things that are out of the question pricewise. I am the only breadwinner as DH is non-earning self-employed so we have a low income anyway. I'm finding this interesting to see what are actually 'luxury items' and what is essential.

trickquestion Mon 09-Jul-12 20:14:52

last 'week', not last 'wee', oops.....

Hopezibah Mon 09-Jul-12 20:50:30

We started the challenge today and so far so good (Not sure I will be saying that at the end of the week somehow!). First things first, I got the kids on board by showing them electric meter and explaining how to cut down electricity usage and that we wouldn't be having 'treats' like ice cream and cake when out and about. They were really up for it! We spent the afternoon at a local attraction where we have annual tickets (so the weekly cost works out as a teeny 86 pence per week!). We took plenty of water so we wouldn't need to buy drinks. The boys did ask for ice cream but then were fine about it when i reminded them of the challenge. Dinner tonight was left-overs from a big portion i made yesterday so it cuts down on energy use for cooking. I had bulked up the meal with a tin of value kidney beans and value tomatoes so the total cost for todays portion would be around a fiver to feed two adults and two kids. Thankfully the baby is breastfed so no food costs there yet - but i am dreading the nappy purchase this week!

MunumMunum Mon 09-Jul-12 20:51:45

Total expense today: £5.35
Total expense so far this week: £5.35

Our household currently costs around £350 per week to run. That includes gas, electric, mortgage, tv license, insurance, sky, gym and water rates. But, it does not include food. I imagine i spend another £100 a week on food and drink. With an income of only £85 per week we would be struggling within about 6 months using our basic savings. Theoretically we could cash-in a cople of policies and/or sell some shares to help us out. If DH did lose his income I would panic as being a SAHM would seem incredibly indulgent under those circumstances.

During a normal week I spend £15 on groups for DD and £5 for DS. Today we would have normally attended one of these groups, instead we went to the allotment to dig up our supper. We came home with some fresh peas, carrots and potatoes to eat with some pork we had in the fridge. Luckily I keep a well stocked food cupboard so I hope this will help us out a bit.

We also went to the library and made the most of our local services. I avoided the shops on the way home but still sent DH out or some diet-cokes to have with dinner. He came back with a few extras.

I'm hoping to keep my expenses low as at the beginning of the week as we are planning an overnight stay with the PILs later in the week and we normally incur costs on these visits.

likelucklove Mon 09-Jul-12 20:56:01

I currently live on £30-£40 a week at the moment, so I really don't have to change that much. I do smoke, but only 2 a day when DD is asleep, and I find a pack of 10 can last me a week. I'm the only driver, so only use £15 a week, and tend to walk to the shops when I can. I also did a massive food shop in June using my birthday money from relatives, and we have loads left! If I was in work, this would be a completely different story but I am on maternity leave.

DP is going to find this quite challenging though. He doesn't take in a packed lunch to work since he forgets to take it, and smokes more than me (although I stress, no where around DD, the house, or car. He has spent £15 today on newspapers, food and cigarettes. I can see he will be my downfall!

Hoping for a low spend week, as I only need to use the car tomorrow and Wednesday for short journeys. It is my DNan's birthday this week, but am going to try and be crafty!

Food shopping will be to a minimum this week. We have plenty here, and DD is only 4 months so only has milk. We get milk every 2-3 days, and shop in Aldi's. I do pay for a baby group usually, but my DM paid for some as a gift.

I had lots of cereal to eat today, about 3 bowls blush to save up calories to have lasagna and garlic bread this evening. Both fresh from Aldi's, could easily feed a family of 4 for £3. I will try not to buy pop this week as that is my weakness and drink lots of squash instead.

Will log in tomorrow with progress and hopefully can get DP to cut down a bit! I realise we are probably at the low spenders category, since SMP doesn't go far after bills and DD is so young.

So, challenge started today.
Did a big weekly shop last Friday, not sure where that leaves me in terms of what I have in the house to use up?

Have just had to put £10 on ds's parentpay account for school dinners to last him until the end of the school year. We normally give him £2 per day but have reduced this to £10 for the next 8 days. Have told him to take a cereal bar from the kithcen cupboard instead of supplementing his lunch with a school-bought flapjack and he will be taking a bottle of tapwater into school instead of buying bottled water at school. (to be fair he regularly does this anyway)

So, total spend so far £10

How do I account for the groceries we are using this week but were bought last week?

likelucklove Mon 09-Jul-12 21:08:07

Putting a bit more as I just saw the questions blush

I only get CB for DD. Me or DP don't receive any other benefits. Luckily, our family has started to buy clothes for her after they started to see her on the same outfits every week because we didn't have many. But, I wouldn't have asked them for clothes or money, as everyone is struggling since a few family members have taken wage cuts, have debts etc.

I would not get sick pay if I went back to work now and was I'll. I work as and when I want to, or when there is work, so if I cannot work I don't earn. I found this hard, especially when I had to take 2 weeks off during my pregnancy when I was in hospital. I would soley rely on DP, who would receive the minimum sick pay. He last used it 4 years ago which was fine when he was living at home, but with out household bills coming to £800, it would leave us seriously in trouble. I have no idea what we would be entitled to.

Our bills for this month have already been paid, so we don't have to worry this week. But we have little savings to use if it happened.

Hope that's ok now grin

SpottySlippers Mon 09-Jul-12 21:19:49

We are a two income family, DH works full time and I work part time, we have three children DD1 7, DD2 4 and DS1 1. In additon to what we earn we also receive child benefit amounting to £47.10 per week, but nothing further. We could not survive on £85 a week, our mortgage alone is more than that, however, I am using this challenge to review our spending habits and to consider how we would survive if DH was on SSP (he is a teacher so I think he would be covered by sick pay for a little while, I will investigate this further tomorrow).

Our fixed costs are as follows:
- mortgage,
- house insurance,
- life insurance,
- council tax,
- water
- broadband and telephone
- mobiles (these could go)
- tv licence
- car insurance, tax, MOT x 2 (these could be reduced if we sold one car)
- electricity
- heating oil
- swimming lessons (these could go)
- brownies

We have been watching our spending habits for alittle while as our savings were spent on house renovations last year, we currently have nothing in 'reserve'; I feel very uncomfortable with this situation and am striving to save again but it is difficult. This is a huge concern if DH were to only receive SSP, even with my wage we would have a significantly higher expenditure to income each month.

So far I have reviewed our spend on utilities (electricity, mobiles, broadband and calls) and ensured my Tesco online shop today was necessities rather than luxuries; I have already completed the brand challenge and we are on the basic/value version wherever possible.

We run two cars, however, DH occasionally cycles to work so he is going to try and cycle most days this week to see what impact this has on our fuel spend. If we were living on my wage and SSP one of our cars would have to go. We live in a rural area with no bus service hence it would be impossible to get rid of both cars.

We don't tend to spend a great deal on activities/days out for the children - the dd's both swim at a cost of £38 a month (this would have to go), plus DD1 also attends brownies. I have said 'no' to horseriding and dance due to cost. DD2 will shortly start rainbows. We tend to take family walks with the dog and visit the library otherwise they play outside (we are fortunate that we back on to open farmland so they are free to roam).

I think we probably could seek 'emergency' family help for a month or two but doubt this would be sustainable.

Our income is very variable so I am used to having frugal weeks. It's variable because I run my own business, working mainly for large institutions who never pay on time. I have terms of 30 days but payment is often received 4 weeks late. Depending on how it ties in with dh's salary it can leave us very short (and often unsure of when I will be paid).

Anyway last week I was paid for 3 months worth of work, so am feeling a bit flush at the moment. Today I actually spent quite a lot because I bought things that have been on hold waiting to get paid - so I bought for example a new cat litter tray and a dog poo carrier (!) and stocked up on quite a bit of dog food. Had I not been paid I would have bought only a few meals for the dog, and no cat litter tray. The cat litter tray was essential really as our cat is starting to go bonkers and refusing to poo outside. One thing I have been holding off doing is getting the cat vaccination boosters. (yes really, me grin )- will book that for next week now I've been paid - post challenge. On £85 a week we would struggle to afford our animals (1 x dog, 2 x cats 2 x guinea pigs).

Unexpected expense of the day was £40 for a football club for ds2 for September. Luckily we weren't asked for that last week as I would have wanted to hold off paying. I can't avoid this until next week as part of the challenge as he wouldn't get a place.

If we were living on £85 a week the kids activities would have to take a hit. DS1 surfs. He's severely autistic so that costs £40 a time (with 1:1), although SS pay for one session a month for him. DS2 Stagecoach (£££'s), dance with the local theatre (not so much £45 a term), football (£40 a term), Drums (£55ish) speech (£65 a term), boys brigade £1.00 a session. DS3 violin (£100 + a term), martial arts (£30 a month), and he is taking up fencing (£50 a term). He used to horse ride as well

That's all a HUGE amount of money - if we were living on SSP obviously most of that would have to go. It did make me think today when I suddenly needed to find £40 for football that we simply wouldn't be able to do that on SSP.

I didn't spend much on food today. Just some fresh fruit and some wine. We had a lot of food in the cupboard. Everytime things get tight wine is the first to go.

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