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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.

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Mon 09-Jul-12 23:00:26

This wasn't a great day to start - my first day back at work af ter mat leave - but then there isn't really ever a great time to have your income cut.

My travel budget was the first thing to be stretched, as my boss asked me to go to a different base involving an extra bus journey. Obviously someone on SSP wouldn't have this specific expense, but I reckon it is right to include work expenses in the stead of the other expenses illness brings. Next all my colleagues, who I hadn't seen for a year, were getting in coffees and cakes. I sat them out. A reminder of that slightly embarrassed feeling you have when you can't join in with everyone else...

We had takeaway tonight. The budget is looking a bit thin already.

aristocat Mon 09-Jul-12 23:02:03

Hello, our challenge also started today and it is also so far so good smile.

DH has the only income here and would be paid 2weeks full pay before getting SSP shock

I did a big food shop last Saturday so have spent nothing on food today. I have spent £3.00 for DD to go to a disco tonight but this is not a weekly expense. It was her end of year Brownie disco.

The car has half a tank of petrol and is usually used by myself to go swimming and shopping. DH cycles to work every day - so no expense there.

DCs and DH all have sandwiches/packed lunches.

Total spend so far = £3.00.

satine Tue 10-Jul-12 06:58:18

Well, the week hasn't started well as it is my mum's birthday, and I had forgotten to order flowers for her. So that's £25 gone already! Plus I need some petrol, but I think I can make do with £10 worth, especially if I use the 5p off per litre voucher that I have.
As my outgoings are at the moment, I wouldn't be able to survive on £85 per week - my total monthly bills (mortgage, insurance, council tax, phone, electricity & gas etc) come to about £950, without buying any food or petrol! But this is a very useful exercise to make me think about how to economise.

On to the freezer leftovers for lunch today as usual DH made sandwiches again.
PILs went home yesterday morning, let themselves out while I was at work, but they ate a loaf of bread and drank all the milk (thanks MILangry), I'm going to have to send DS to the shop if I want breakfast, That's £2.50 I wasn't planning on spending this week.
DS has guitar after school (£5), then off to scouts for their free end of term treat.
School dinners again (I pay termly but am counting day by day) £1.80 each.
DD afterschool fees £7 again.
Total today £18.10
This week £33.70
I will almost certainly go over budget this week once we get some foodblush
However, pretty much all my costs this week are childcare or clubs, if we were living week to week on £85 these would go. I'd keep the school dinners as the DCs love them, and if we were both ill it would be easier than buying and packing lunches every day.

Jasper1980 Tue 10-Jul-12 07:31:52

Well we put our £30 budget in the car. So now have an average of £5 a day left(a bit less really). The kids wanted to get the train to the museum today, but it would cost more than our daily budget so we had to say no. I didn't like this as it was only £5.35 for three of us(very short journey) and would have been a lovely treat. And as a one off during the holidays, we would normally have said yes to them without a thought. They are only 5&3 and dont really get it, though we do try and teach them the value of money, and I am just using this excercise as another lesson for them(and us).

herethereeverywhere Tue 10-Jul-12 08:25:15

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible? The seemingly easiest one to change is the food bill as you think you can just live off pasta or cupboard bits but I while I found it easy to reduce the big shop down to $40 there were little things we ran out of during the week like toilet roll, cleaning stuff etc which costs a lot when you are trying to keep the amount you spend down
~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer? I am currently on maternity leave so my income has gone down drastically whilst my DH has stayed the same. I currently get Child Tax credits and CB
~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life? I think I would be entitled to some sort of sick or JSA benefit but my previous experience is that these take a long time to kick in. When I previously wanted to claim a beneift it took 6 weeks before it was sorted and they lost documents several times so it was even longer before I saw any money.
~ 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? Our biggest cost is our mortgage followed by utility bills and council tax. Even with one of us out of work we would not be entitled to help with those so we would be relying on family helping until we could get back on our feet. Realistically if it was going to be a long term situation we would have to sell our home if we could not afford the bills.
~ *How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge? *At the moment my DS is only 5 months old and bf so his basic needs are met without any outgoings. However extra things we do for him such as baby swimming classes would have to go.
~ What sort of family support do you think you could get? I think our families would help as much as they could but they are on limited incomes themselves so it would be for a very short time that thye could help and then we would have to do soemthing like sell our house to help with costs and debts.
~ Any other issues/ comments? I actually did this last week as I wanted to see if we could live off $85 whether I was selected for this challenge or not and when I started I thought this will be fairly easy because I am on a low income myself at the moment anyway but when I added up the costs I realised I spend more than 85 a week on bits as when things run out during the week. Also the car has needed work this week which is an additional $75 so based on the last 7 days I would not have been able to pay for everything i needed to pay for if i was limited completely to $85

<sorry for the $ sign but not using a UK laptop>

EddieIzzardIsMine Tue 10-Jul-12 08:38:16

Went shopping yesterday but due to DS's mega-nap we ended up going later than usual and hit the time everything gets reduced so stocked up on some 'yellow sticker' things for dinner and the freezer - spent £25 but probably saved £12-ish from the normal prices

Not having a big freezer (tiny little cupboard type thing) makes this harder we decided, if we had a big one/chest freezer we could get some extra 'on offer' bits everytime and build up a stock for if we ever had a 'short' week/month

However DS decided to do a massive poo whilst at the supermarket and we had left the house with no nappies/wipes so had to buy an emergency pack of each of those wich was an extra £3 or so but we did buy the basics nappies as emergency ones but if they turn out ok we might use them routinely saving £8 or so a week....

Obviously all baby expenses are essential (formula/nappies/wipes/clothes) but we do try to save here when we can - saving up points at various places/buying on offers/ebay or nct sales for clothes etc

mynameis Tue 10-Jul-12 10:16:03

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible? Day two and I am struggling! Easiest expense to cut is petrol, live close to the school and DP happy to walk to and from work. Haven't yet needed the car for any other journeys.
Food shopping is our downfall, two hungry teens, fussy 6 year old and 1 year old with allergies is not helping to lower the shopping bill.
I already do a daily scout of the reduced items.
I am feeling quite concerned how we would actually manage if this was a long term thing. Not something I had really worried about previously.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Ds2 is registered disabled so I get carers allowance and we are entitled to a small amount of housing benefit. HB took weeks and weeks to sort so it's quite a scary prospect to be without wages and having to wait all that time.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
DP has no sickness or income protection at work so we would be relying on the state. Tax credits are the the only ones who move quickly to change your payments. I guess our housing benefit would rise but I am assuming this would take a while!

~ 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? Rent we would get help with but certainly would not be covered entirely. We do have a few smaller debts which I would have to speak to the companies indivually to see what they could do to reduce our payments.
Longer term does not bear thinking about. Family would help but we could not rely on this entirely.

~ *How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
My teens. (15 & 13) have said that they would happily either cut or pay for activities themselves. Luckily they are quite sensible with birthday/Xmas money and both do paper rounds. They both admit that thy would find Xmas disappointing with less presents though. My younger two wouldn't yet really be affected, ds2 is happy with the great outdoors so is easily entertained for free.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
We would be able to ask for help but I would imagine it would be short term and we would be expected to pay back any loans once we were on our feet again

~ Any other issues/ comments? Let's see what the rest of the week brings.

StellaMarie Tue 10-Jul-12 10:58:19

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible? Started this challenge yesterday but have been thinking about it for the last couple of months as a general way to cut down unnecessary expenses. Things that are easy to change are walking to town more, making lunches for school/work/days out and not impulse buying. Harder things are deciding to cancel the Sky subscription (even though there are so many useless channels anyway!) Impossible things are those 'extras' which the children have eg subscriptions to scouts/guides, swimming lessons etc.

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer? We get nothing from the state.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
DH would be covered for sickness and income protection through work although I'm not sure how long this would last for. I am self-employed so I would get nothing. DH currently earns above limit for tax credits so we wouldn't get anything like that.

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?
Mortagage is 1000/month and then gas, electric, 2 cars, tv licence, phone/broadband, 4 mobiles in the family, various buildings/contents insurance. In the short term I think the mortgage we can do holiday payments on. 1 car would have to go, the kids mobiles would go and then we could share 2 between 4 of us. Long term who knows!

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
My 2 teens are thankfully not that demanding in terms of new clothes, gadgets etc. They understand that whilst we are comfortably off we like to save and plan for the future rather than buy for the sake of it. They are interested in the challenge to get ideas for how they can budget in later life.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?
I'm sure we'd get some but would be reluctant to ask.

Any other issues/ comments?
Freezer suprise anyone?

LineRunner Tue 10-Jul-12 11:25:55

<still thinks it's a pointless exercise.>

Housewifefromheaven Tue 10-Jul-12 11:36:31

Im a sahm two kids 15 and 10. I thought this wouldn't be as hard as it is. Already I have spent £57 and it's only Tuesday!

I bought the minimum food needed for meal plan but that was still £40 what with cat and dog food needed. The dog food (nature diet) was £12.99 for 18, and she has 1 a day so it works out at 72p per day. I thought that was a bargain but if this was going on for longer than a week she'd be on the chum. Cat food was a tenner for 40 pouches, again I'd have to use tins. No dog treats.

The kids were moaning about smart price crisps, but still ate them. Hubby didn't like the smart price carton skimmed milk and neither did I but blimey there is a difference in price compared to fresh.

I have enough food to last now for the week but it is a dramatic difference to normal and I feel guilty sad

The other £17 was £10 petrol which didn't even register so how long that'll last is anyone's guess. I normally fill up every 10 days or so £75. £7 on a school sponsored run.

We have sky in every room so that would go saving £100, karate £65, meals out, take aways approx £150, crap impulse buys from eBay, qvc etc. clothes. Holidays. I'm going to cry in a minute.

We don't get benefits.

Mortgage £1100
Life ins. £51
B/c ins. £50
Pet ins. £33
Utilities. £250
Mobiles. £100 ish

I don't think we'd be entitled to any benefits.

The kids are ok I suppose. Kids are notoriously short in the empathy department grin

Both mine and my husbands family would do all the could to help out. We would find it difficult though.

Will report back tomorrow grin

Jasper1980 Tue 10-Jul-12 12:45:13

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

We get child benefit and nothing else.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

Dp is entitled to Six months full pay, then six months at half pay and referred after that, to occupational health for an assessment before anything else would happen. But pretty much almost covered for a year.

~ 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?

Our fixed costs are, two mortgages, electricity and gas, council tax, debt repayments to credit cards etc, two cars, broadband, sky, 2 contract mobiles, life insurances, car installs, house insurance and kids clubs. I think that's it. If dp was on SSP we would need to cut back a lot. We would lose a car, probably sell our flat that we rent out as we make no profit from it. We would switch to pay as you go mobiles at the end of their contracts. We would probably manage a mortgage repayment break. Depending on the the reason dp was off work, we would possibly get an income from one of our insurances. But that depends on why she would be off.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

My DS and dd go to swimming lessons and DS and dp go to martial arts. This costs us £100 a month and would have to stop since it is a luxury. We would really work to keep the swimming lessons going though. Right now they are a bit young to really appreciate that money doesn't grow on trees. They were mid learning this anyway. We say no quite a lot to sweet and toy requests, so this hasn't changedgrin

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

We would get help. I would need to get a job if dp couldn't work and my family would help lots. My mum already pays for some swimming lessons. My mil would help out financially if we asked her too.

~ Any other issues/ comments?

Not yet

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Tue 10-Jul-12 13:00:18

In our house only DP works, his employers are very generous and give 6 months full pay for sickness followed by 6 months half pay.

Well first day yesterday,
DP is abroad working, DD1 was at a school induction day, DD2 was at nannies house and DS and I did housework and did sod all so no cost at all.

DD1 had lunch provided by the school as a taster of their cooked meals and DD2, DS and I had cooked lunch at their nannies. Evening meal was ham and cheese toasties much to newly arrived home DP annoyance. But quite frankly if he didn't have a job he wouldn't have been abroad and would of eaten at his mums house with us. So he can bugger off if he thinks I'm treating him any differently because he chooses not to go along with this imaginary scenario and actually have a job.

Today DD1 and 2 are at nursery for their free hours and will be eating both meals there. DS is teething and requires a case load of own brand calpol. We do the weekly shop which comes to £38 as DP was away last week the cupboards are still quite full. I am a strict shopper normally and our bill is about £50 most weeks. This afternoon I shall be going to the gym which costs £20 a month so £5 a week and includes free swimming for me and the children so I would keep that going if DP was on SSP. I also filled up on petrol £60 that lasts 1 month so £15 a week. Tonight DP and I will have steak (thanks morrisons really cheap last week on offer and homemade chips) DS will have homemade baby mush out of the freezer.

Monday no cost.
Tuesday £38 shopping
£5 Gym
£15 petrol.

So far I've not changed anything and I not sure where our money disappears to normally. DP as a food allowance everyday he works so feeding him would be extra if he was on SSP. The only thing I can imagine that we may have to alter but find really hard if DP was on SSP and thats the DC activities. We have two that do ballet and tap and one doing tumble tots which is £25 a week.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
WE aren't eligible for any benefits at all on DP wage. His employers give a company car, travel allowance, daily food allowance, family health plan etc. They also organize events to mix families together i.e. indoor ski days and bowling that they fund and provide transport for. We as a family also receive and allowance for time DP spends abroad to cover costs of phone calls airport parking or traveling to collect him etc and we can request to attend overseas trips as a family that they will fund.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
I'm not sure, I think Benefits are based on savings so we would have to wait a while before we could claim.

~ 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?
I have no idea of our fixed costs, I would say we could cope with them for a little while though before needing help. Our fixed costs are probably lower than the average family so we would cope on benefits.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
DC are too young to understand, they never ask for anything but I think they wouldn't be pleased if their activities suddenly stopped.

jimswifein1964 Tue 10-Jul-12 13:05:03

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

Nothing is easy to change, as we are very frugal anyway. All our bills are direct debited & so are the same each month. Our outgoings are constant.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

I get child benefit, and have just been notified that we will get zero child tax credits now, & owe a % back. This is worrying me immensely. Dh has death-in-service cover through work, and 20 days sick pay. I don't get any sick pay. We pay £10 a month for death cover for me.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

I really don't know, I assume we have protection on the mortgage? blush . I readily admit to having my head in the sand.

~ 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?

Mortgage, bills, travelcard x 2 - our direct debits are around 900 a month, dh has a season ticket loan from work. In the short term, we could survive 2 or 3 months on savings, then we would be stuffed.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

The biggest hit would be to stop their sports club, which is 4.50 a go and they do it twice a week. I'm not doing this in reality for the challenge as they are grading next week and it would damage their chance to pass. Btw, this will be £50, but only happens every 6 months. They ar ebeing affected by the lack of impulse purchasing after school - no ice cream, no paying park-cafe prices for snacks, no buying food just because you dont want what we have already!

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

As in support from our families? Well, my mum sends the kids a bit of spending money, but she is in no way able to help us financially in the event of a crisis. My dad could, but i'm not sure if I'd want to even ask.

~ Any other issues/ comments?
I spend £80 in tescos last week, so we are quite stocked up on bits. I've had to spend £15 on party presents already (3 parties), and I spent £25 on xmas presesnts for my kids as they were 70% off, so thats a long term economy. I had to renew my monthly pass, so thats £72 gone. Have spent £12 on fruit and milk. So thats £52 spent, plus 1/4 of the bus pass I suppose ie £18. So £70 total. But the direct debits are carrying on as normal, not taken into account.

Lemele Tue 10-Jul-12 14:05:29

This is from yesterday.

I'm a SAHM my DH works at the local supermarket. We have 3 kids under 3. We did a big shop a couple of weeks ago but reserves are dwindling, so it's probably similar to how things would become when first on SSP...

So, Monday: Using up reserves as we would were we on SSP for the first time, we had cereal from the cupboard this morning. My babies are BF so they're free. I took the kids to the park instead of walking into town coz that's free. Thankfully the rain held off! Lunch was some left over crumpets (80p a pack) and christening cake (free!). Unfortunately I realised we were short of several essentials (milk, bread and the like) so texted DH and asked him to get them on the way home. He bought what I asked him to but also, I noticed, bought some wine (not an essential item in my book!). This is probably quite realistic since I'm sure if he went on SSP he would feel the need to treat himself (I don't drink, myself). He spent £8 in total anyway - not too bad I hope. We didn't really have anything proper for tea - weren't hungry for some reason. I went out to a house group (we all put in £2 towards cheese and wine - but I forgot to pay, oops! confused ) DH and DS had toast in the I think... (bread: £1.35).

So far so good, but without including bills... will answer all the specific questions later in the week. smile

ShatnersBassoon Tue 10-Jul-12 14:27:55

No expenditure today, although I am thinking about things like 'Should I put the tumble drier on?' because I have no idea how much it costs to dry a load of washing. The bill gets paid automatically, I don't need to worry about it, but I would if we had a very low income.

charlieandlola Tue 10-Jul-12 14:48:31

I have just had my electricity tarrif renewal letter in the post today and am shock at how much electricity I use, double the national average. No wonder my bills are so high. I would have just ignored the letter had I not been in "survive on £85 a week" mode. If you are living on £85 a week, this level of bill is just not possible. Need to change my ways.

R2PeePoo Tue 10-Jul-12 15:44:01

We used to be very short of money and even though our circumstances are better old habits die hard. Our weekly shopping for the four of us (two adults, one 7 year old and an almost 3 year old) is never more than £60 and I know I could get it as low as £40 with a little more effort. We eat very healthily with meat three times a week, lots of veg, free range eggs etc but often top up with luxuries on additional shops, which would stop. DD has packed lunches which cost approx £1 a day, but I have lots of store cupboard food which I could supplement with e.g. make flapjacks etc which would bring it down further until they ran out.

We haven't been shopping this week yet as I have been unwell. So far only expenditure has been on a train ticket to London so DH could talk to his boss, which wouldn't count if he was on SSP. He took DS to playgroup today so probably £1-2 on coffee and biscuits.

I take DS out several times a week to the library (I tend not to buy books unless I have vouchers from review sites/survey sites) and usually go to a cafe afterwards. If our income was restricted I would probably go to the library cafe more often rather than one of the nicer ones, as a carton of drink and a packet of crisps for DS is £1 rather than £5-6 for a coffee/drink/cake etc. In general we would go out a lot less as a family as we spend quite a bit on outings, petrol to visit family etc as they all live 50+ miles away from us. We are well protected financially (insurances, savings etc) and DH has a very flexible job in the public sector so we would have somethings to fall back on. My greatest fear is to be struggling again so we have a tendency to be quite frugal and careful with what we spend.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Child Benefit.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

We have mortgage protection and quite a bit of savings. DH's work would probably be very good although I am not sure exactly on the levels of sick pay he would get.

~ 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?

Mortgage, utilities, one car, I have a mobile and so does DH, mine is ancient but I am not sure about his contract and how much it costs so that might have to go, broadband/Tv bundle. We could pay most of these from savings for a while.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

Children are used to us being careful, but I write reviews and do surveys to get Amazon vouchers so they get regular treats which might have to stop to keep the money for birthdays/christmas. I'd probably sell their outgrown toys and clothes rather than passing them on to others/charity. Neither of them have long term extra activities, although they have done so in the past.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

My mum would help us out, so would my dad if I asked. Both they and their partners are employed in good jobs. DH's parents would help as much as they can but they are on a low income themselves.

I started the week on Sunday by making a list of what meals we were going to have through the week, including packed school lunches, everything. I decided to be tough on myself and not use anything already in the freezer for the week. The shopping came to £21, as we already had half-used boxes of cereal, half-empty jam and so on. I didn't buy any drinks, as I don't drink alcohol and we already had opened bottles of squash, tea bags and coffee. Unfortunately my car started the week on an empty tank, so I had to put £20 in the car. I usually put in £35, but decided to make do with less.

So £40 down, £45 to go.

Now to answer some of those questions.

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
Food is easy to change, but I don't think I can feed the two of us for less than the £21 I spent.
Harder things to change are the bills, namely electricity. We are extremely careful with what we use, and our bills come to around £80 per month. (We don't have gas thank goodness) We get bills quarterly, so all of a sudden there is a bill for £250 to pay. Thank god it didn't turn up this week is all I can say.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Child tax credit and child benefit. Free school meals. Some maintenance from my X but nothing else at all.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
I hope income support or DLA I assume. I work for the NHS, but only 'on the bank' so if there's no shifts, then there's no money. No sick pay, nothing.

~ 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?
Bills: household bills, car insurance, council tax (reduced by 25%), childcare of about £15 per week (except this one!), petrol of around £35 (we live in the sticks).

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
This week I can't afford to do anything much with my son. We usually go to the beach, or to softplay, both of which cost money (£5 for softplay or £5 for petrol) My son is a bit too young to notice anything is different (he's 5).However he did whinge on Sunday when I said I couldn't afford a CBeebies magazine.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
I don't think I'm entitled to anything if I get sick.

~ Any other issues/ comments?
This is going to be relatively easy for a week. It would actually be doable for a month if you take into account savings (I have a small amount), stuff in the freezer/cupboards. If I'm unlucky I get the electricty bill, car insurance and car service all in one month, which is not possible on £85 per week.

trickquestion Tue 10-Jul-12 18:27:15

Thought we were doing well today with only £2.50 spent on teabags (they are delivered weekly). Then I paid £27 for a massage - my monthly treat and I'm due to go to a BodyShop Party tonight. I can see that I actually have quite a few treats and luxuries which I justify by saying that I earn the money so I deserve them. On £85 a week it'd be basics only and a grim time that'd be. This whole exercise is making me see how I spend a few pounds here and there and justify it madly to myself and how it all adds up.

I haven't spent anything so far today, but I'm about to spend £20 on ds1's speech therapy (which is INCREDIBLY cheap - most SALT is £50 plus per hour).

flapinko Tue 10-Jul-12 18:55:24

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
Food and personal expenses are easiest to cut down. My Tesco order is usually around £100 a week for a family of four, so I was happy to get it down to half that, but I see others are a lot more thrifty than I am.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
I am self-employed so no benefits, but I do get Child Benefit still.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
Statutory Sick Pay, and it probably is going to happen to us in real life, as my husband (the main breadwinner) is looking to have a major op that'll mean he's out of action for 2-3 months.

~ 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?
Mortgage, childcare, travel, utility bills and council tax in that order. We would rely on savings (which are small) and, as a last resort, credit cards, until we could get back on our feet. As someone said above, if it was going to be a long term situation we would have to sell our home and downsize.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
Mine are a bit too young to be affected at the moment, but they both do after-school clubs, so they would have to go, but we do live near lots of lovely parks, so if the weather cheers up, we are lucky as have free entertainment on our doorstep.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
Limited - they don't have much money themselves. We would only ask in an emergency, and would try and find away to sort it ourselves with savings or downsizing, if it came to that.

Today I've spent £12 for a school trip - that's it.

Dogwalks Tue 10-Jul-12 19:23:02

My Husband and I earn £80,000 combined and have a very small mortgage
everything is paid direct debit and we have no loans, we both drive company cars so no expenditure there. I am trying to live off the £85.00 for day to day things as his wage will cover all the essentials. Here Goes

Day 1
Meal planned the week, eating whats in the cupboards.
Thought I did really well yesterday only spending £4.80 on milk and bread.
Then remembered I had ordered my daughters costume for Oliver in the school play (no time to make one) £30.00 gone, (hopefully sell it on ebay and recoup some of the money. Friend called to taunt me that the Boden sale was on, filled my basket but didnt pay for anything. (virtual shopping).
Swimming lessons £5.00
Football £2.00

Day 2
Yikes no fruit in the house all eaten, by hordes of children visiting after school.
Have to wait till I visit Aldi tomorrow as the local Booths is way to expensive this week.
Went to Tescos for a takeaway coffee instead of Costa saved about £1.80 and was fine.
Finding it very hard to get through the day without spending on bits and pieces that usually I wouldnt even think about.
kids off to Youth group £4.00.

ColinFirthsGirth Tue 10-Jul-12 19:40:35

Second day

First day I have spent anything. If I was living on SSP then I would try to use up as much food as possible from my store cubboards. Luckily I often have lots of pulses in. Everyone in my family is a vegetarian - this helps to keep food costs down as lentils and pulses are relatively cheap. However buying lots of fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive.

Today I had to buy toilet roll, bread and some other food this came to £11.00. We will not have any petrol costs this week as my husband cycles to work everyday (22 miles a day) and I dont drive.

All our bills are paid my direct debit and so have been paid already for this month. However if I my husband was on SSP for along time then it would have a much bigger impact on our ability to pay our bills.
It helps that we live a frugal life already but this also means that there is very little we can cut down on accept cutting down on the food bill. Our families could possibly help us out abit in an emergency but they are not well off themselves.

I my husband was on sick leave I would try to get a job straight away out of my normal field as it is hard to get clients in my industry at the moment. I would try to get work in a supermarket or something like that. We have over paid our mortgage in the past so we immdiately ask for a payment holiday. This would help immensely with our ability to survive on this amount.

SpottySlippers Tue 10-Jul-12 19:46:02

Day 2........I have investigated DH's sick pay policy and he would receive full pay for 100 days and half pay for 100 days after which we would be entitled to SSP. This is reassuring given that as previously stated we could not survive on £85 a week. I think we might be entitled to child tax credit if DH were to receive SSP but little more as I earn a wage.

After a no spend day yesterday, I filled the car with fuel today and it took £71......in theory this leaves just £14 for the rest of the week. If DH were on sick leave then this fuel would probably last us over a month, having said that it may still as he has accepted this challenge with gusto and is cycling to work.

Food wise we are likely to need milk, bread and fruit top up later in the week.

I am thinking about our expenditure across the board.

Cremolafoam Tue 10-Jul-12 20:16:58

Day 2 in The Big Spenders House :

Have spent £11.25 today. I bought a Boots Meal Deal and a coffee and
A packet of purple Dylon as dd wants to dye some t shirts.grin

We are eating our own spuds for dinner with some sausages and beans.
Exciting!
What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
We pretty much cut out treats years ago as dd is getting older.
And I have always shopped for bargains and offers. However if we had to we could cancel dds driving lessons , get rid of one car and forget about going on holiday.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Child benefit ( £134 pm)and orphans allowance ( about £8pm)
Our tax credits have just been cut
Dd is not eligible for EMA

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
Fortunately I am eligible for OSP and have a very good work contract which offers phased return to work and occupational health support to enable this. I'm very lucky. I have 6 years service with the organisation and it is one if the reasons I am still there.
However if I had to give up work we would really struggle

~ 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?

Mortgage: dh pays £ a lot
Rates: dh pays £100 pm
Heating oil : I pay £100 pm
Electicity : dh pays £175 pm
Broadband + home phone : dh pays£ 30 pm
iPhone : dh pays £30 pm
Dds phone : I pay but its capped at £7.50pm
Food : 1/2 each pay £250 pm
Clothes and sundry : I pay £ 30-40
Dd music lessons : I pay £80 pm
Dd driving lessons: I pay £ 25 per lessonshock
Tv license : I pay £ 15 pm
Car insurance and tax: each pay for own £ 25pm + £22
My car loan and petrol : I pay £ 200
Treats like takeout food / pub/ concerts both pay £50 pm
Long term savings: I pay into when I can( never)
Dd babysits for cash although we top up for nights out etc
Holidays: well we cobble together what we can choosing cheapo flights and hope for the best. Tend to get a flight when it's really cheap then book accomodation a bit at a time and try and avoid any scary payments.

If I couldn't pay the bits above that I do pay for now I'd be isolated ( live in countryside with no buses) we'd have to give up the mobiles and I'm pretty sure we'd struggle to heat the house.sad

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
Dd thinks its hard and knows if I wasn't able to work there would be no driving lessons or violin lessons or school trip next year.. Bless her she spent a day last week thinking up a business plan for herself and a friend to make some money over the summer. ( could b q lucrative) lol

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

As stated previously work would be quite good in supporting me get back to work ASAP. Family help would be limited as I also help out my elderly parents and in laws. As q a few people rely on me it could be very difficult and have a negative effect on the family circle.
Finance wise it would be pretty dire. Sister wealthy but lives abroad do no practical help but might be able to borrow money from her ( hate hate the idea of asking )

~ Any other issues/
Had to get a root filling and crown last week a
And it cost £ 400. What on earth would I have done about that on £85 per week.???

MunumMunum Tue 10-Jul-12 20:32:49

Total spent today: £20.50
Total spent this week: £25.35

DH took leftovers into work today and used his Oyster to travel in. No expense from him. I made sandwiches from cupboard ingredients. I needed to get a loaf of bread though and some fresh fruit for the kids. Already my choices are changing. I try to buy seasonal where possible but do enjoy cherries which can be expensive. Instead I purchased the cheaper apples and a smaller hand of bananas. DS was not impressed! I usually pick up the bulk bargains as and when they arise at our local co-op. Today they had 48 dishwasher tabs for £5 instead of £11. I picked up 4 boxes before remembering that I was on this challenge. So longer term it is going to cost me more because I cannot make useful purchases when things are so tight.

We went to a local group in the afternoon which ask for a donation of £1. They provide squash, fresh fruit and biscuits. I have seen others occasionally not pay and never understood it but today I realised why that £1 could make a difference.

After group we went home to play in the garden. I had to stop and put some air in my tyre which was another 50p. It is this type of incidental that makes budgeting hard. I got home to find a reminder from Ebay to pay for some tops I won for DS. This was another £5 that I hadn’t considered.

So far I am struggling on this budget. We are only day 2 and I have spent almost a third of the money on incidentals only. And I haven’t even been shopping, filled the car up or topped up DHs Oyster. sad

Having thought through our expenses I think I could save roughly £50 a week from our existing expense of around £350. This would be in the form of no gym membership and no sky tv. I could cut back slightly on our shopping expenses perhaps saving a further £10-15. I would not enjoy doing so however as the little luxuries make a big difference.
The expenses that are harder to cut would be gas, electric, water etc. These are fixed rate and we shop about for the better deals. We have a mortgage which could be changed to interest only.

DH gets an excellent sick package from his employer. I believe he is entitled to full sick pay for 6 months then onto half pay for another 6 months. After this he would only get the SSP. His company do a lot though in terms of occupational health services and ensuring that the employees are well. He also gets private health insurance for the family which covers alternative therapies and dental. He also gets Critical Illness cover and Life Insurance. I have a separate policy for both of these in addition to his spousal coverage.

We do not receive any state benefits other than child benefit.

If DH became sick I would anticipate him getting better within a year. If he developed a critical illness then we have insurance for this also. I would imagine we wouldn’t need to claim any state support.

If we had to live on SSP short term I think we would cope. Our lifestyle would be different but we would make do. If we had to live on this longer term it would be a struggle. We live in the South-East of London and it is expensive to live here. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to live here on a total of £85 a week.

Our children are too young to appreciate the financial changes. The impact to DD would be a reduction in the amount of extra-curricular activities. At this age though (4) she would adapt. DS is not quite 2 and just gets on with it!

My parents are feckless with money. Interestingly I am no longer in contact with them in part due to several large arguments, about money, we have had over the years. I imagine my PIL would be generous and offer us assistance. They would not see us struggle. Writing this down I realise exactly how lucky we currently are.

llynnnn Tue 10-Jul-12 20:50:00

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
We have soooo many direct debits going out each month that we are unable to cancel at short notice (phone contracts/home and car insurance) we could cut back on food expenses easily I think, we seem to spend quite a bit each week on more luxury food and drinks (chocolate, wine, fresh meat etc)

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
The only state benefit we receive at the moment is child benefit our employer (we both work for the same company) pay 8 weeks of full pay then 8 weeks of half pay before ssp starts

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
I'm not sure we would be entitled to anything much at all. My dh was in this situation in 2010 and we weren't entitled to claim anything until he'd been off work for 6 months iirc
~ 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?
We have so many fixed costs, mortgage, council tax, phone tv and mobiles, loan and childcare come to approx £1300 per month. In the short term we do have a couple of months savings to pay for these, in the long term i really dont know how we would cope. If dh was on ssp we would love £300 per week which in essence is all these bills

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
One of the first things we would have to cut is my daughters dancing and swimming lessons which total £12 per week, they would be devasted by this and I would hate to do that to them. They are only 5 and 3 so dont really understand money and how it is limited (although we are trying to teach them this with pocket money and chores) so they wouldnt understand why all of a sudden they had to stop doing things they enjoyed and having much less treats.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
My family are very good at healping with childcare at the moment and I'm sure if we needed a loan they would do their best to help, but their funds are also limited!

~ Any other issues/ comments?
It is day 2 now and I had to buy my eldest daughter a birthday present today. she has been asking for a moshi monster house for months and in our local toy store it is £16, after a money saving search online I found it for £10 delivered. I would have to get used to searching for things like this or just saying no to them if we were in this situation.
I also did my weekly food shop in Aldi yesterday and managed to get the shopping for £40 for the week instead of my normal £70ish in Tesco (although was being careful and only bought enough for the week and do have quite a bit in the cupboards/freezer already) Several items much much cheaper though!

KittieCat Tue 10-Jul-12 21:13:39

Day two...

I forgot my lunch today so had to buy a sandwich. Normally I'd not really think too much about what I spend at lunchtime but today I did, and had an egg and cress sandwich. Silly really as it was really nice and only cost £1.50 whereas I'd usually spend about £5 without thinking.

This is all I've spent today. All good BUT I've been desperate to catch up with my best pal... and it works for both of us to get together tomorrow. I'm going to have to watch what I spend.

DS went to music today which was £5. Again, not something I'd think twice about but we'd have to seriously consider if we could afford this, swimming and sing & sign. Sadly I think we'd have to stop at least some of his activities, which would be a real shame.

I've realised we definitely need to work harder to save up in case anything unforeseen happened to either of us. We both work pt so existing on one wage and £85 a week would be a real stretch. Much harder than I thought it would be.

There are areas we can cut back on but, sadly, many more we can't. My parents would help us out but it would have to be an absolute last resort as they've retired and their money should be their own.

I've got just £63.50 left and it's only Tuesday evening. I'm going out tomorrow night and taking DS swimming in the afternoon. I'm going to have to reign it in although I've not been spending willy nilly thus far. .

Day two - We had run out of bread and bananas so off to the local co-op I trotted (walked to nearest local shop so as to save fuel) and spend £2.57.

Dd had a friend for tea and asked if they could buy ice creams at the co-op. I said no (keeping my tight budget in mind) and instead offered them icepops from the multi pack I had in my freezer.

So total spend to date £12.57.

Am in a (theoretical) panic about what I would do about the phonebill which is due the end of the month. Can only assume that if I were permanently on this budget I would not make calls so freely / restrict internet time even more than I already do...

Oh, I forgot - I played badminton tonight with the girls from work. We share the cost of the court, my share was £1.50 tonight. I have to add it to my total.
So total spend is now £14.07

Scary how quickly it all adds up.

Jasper1980 Tue 10-Jul-12 21:59:23

I forgot this question

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

We can't change petrol costs, we have to travel for various reasons. Although if dp lost her job, well, we could live with a lot less fuel. The martial arts would stop, but it would be a hard change for DS as he loves it. We already eat pretty budget food already, I home make a lot. We don't really have any outgoings that could change...sky could go, I could live without that. I'd also walk more to things rather than take my car, which would actually be gone to, so I guess I would walk anywaygrin

Well it's Tuesday and we had £25 left. We spent some money on fruit and teabags, so are down to £20 to last the rest of the week. It's going to be hard It would be a lot easier of DS was still in school.

trickquestion Tue 10-Jul-12 22:04:29

Re the questions: I could make cuts to our spending, have no mortgage or rent but have monthly bills, utility, insurance, car, TV license etc. I guess if I was not working we could get rid of the car, it'd be a big sacrifice though.
We receive Child Tax credit and Child Benefit. Have no idea what I am entitled to from work as I have always assumed it is six months on full pay. I seldom take time off work ill and have never been off for a prolonged period so I have been totally turning a blind eye to the reality that long-term illness or disability could happen to me. Having said that we do have critical illness cover. I'm going to phone HR tomorrow to find out the details of sick pay.

My children are at school this week and are not really affected by the challenge, maybe it'll have more impact come the weekend.

We have about two month's salary in savings, I suppose we could move to a smaller house etc. My parents would probably help out, but not sure this could be sustained long term

aristocat Tue 10-Jul-12 22:08:47

day 2, we needed bread and fresh fruit today.

My spend was £5.50 at Lidl. Normally I would just go to Sainsburys and spend £20 + on more expensive fruit such as grapes and cherries wheras today I purchased bananas and apples. I also bought garlic bread, white cabbage and mushrooms, definitely much cheaper at Lidl and I was quite amazed that my few groceries were only £5.50.

I forgot that yesterday DCs have swimming lessons but these are paid for in 16 week blocks and not weekly. The payment works out to approx £4.50/week.

Total spend so far .... £8.50

Hopezibah Tue 10-Jul-12 22:24:44

Day 2 of the challenge. We were stuck at home all day as the local paper interviewed and photographed my son over some of his recent acheivements. I've been trying to stretch out last weeks grocery shop but am running low on supplies so had to send hubby out to get a top up shop to keep us going. He spent £14.59 on eggs, milk, bread, a bit of fruit and the luxuries in there were 2 x value chocolate at 30p each and two for £3 offer on own brand magnum type ice cream - so those are the items we would be going without had I done that bit of shopping! Dinner was jacket potatoes, plus a bit of salad, beans and tuna, i would guess totalling around £4.00 to feed 2 kids and 2 adults. Total spend this week so far around £25 I think. Two days in - All of a sudden, the challenge doesn't seem so easy. I did get to quiz my husband on what would happen if he was unable to work and i was quite impressed that he did know. 6 months on full pay, then 6 months on half pay for sickness or injury. If made redundant it would be a weeks pay for each years service so 5 weeks pay. Altohugh it doesn't sound too bad, either way, it would certainly be a worry long term as it is all too easy to be spending money!

The other thing that happened today, is that we received a letter from one of our sponsored children (we sponsor 4 children in some of the worlds poorest countries) and I would really hope that is something that we would not give up if we had to manage on £85 a week. It costs £21 a month to sponsor 1 child which works out at 70p a day. Given how little I could buy here for 70p, I would rather the money goes to feeding, clothing, educating and providing healthcare to a child who REALLY needs it. With 21,000 under 5's dying each day from poverty - I want to make sure that the children we sponsor do not become one of them and until i got to the point of not being able to provide a meal for my own kids then i hope that would remain one of our spending priorities.

Cremolafoam Tue 10-Jul-12 23:37:10

I will not look at the Boden sale
I will not look at the Boden sale
I will not look at the Boden sale
I will not look at the Boden sale
grin

£33.70 so far
Today DS will let himself in after school, DD has drumming (£4) and school dinners come to £3.60 together.
DH and DD went out for cake & coffee while DS was at his scout party and that came to £6.05, so our total is up to £47.35 already without a food shopblush. We tend to food shop on a Thursday.
Our fixed outgoings are low compared to others on here, DH's phone is paid by work, I don't have one, we have freeview and one car between us.
Council tax £70 PCM
Tv license £12.12 PCM
Gas & Electricity £42.45 PCM (but FiT pays us £58 PCM on average)
Broadband £15 PCM
Insurances £25 PCM
Total £106 PCM
We spend about £250 PCM on food, but could squeeze that if necessary, and we would stop putting money into savings (and start spending it).
We are very unlikely to be in the position where our household income is this low, but if we had to, it would be the DCs who bore the brunt of cuts, as our outgoings seem to be largely on them.
Without their after school clubs, this week's spend would have been £28 less shock

jimswifein1964 Wed 11-Jul-12 07:01:03

spent £4,55 on reducedstuff in tescos last night. So my running total is 74.55 , its only Wednesday, and we have to eat in a cafe tonight as no time to come home then back out for an event,& its too wet for a picnic.

cremola I looked at the Boden sale... I filled my basket up with nearly £60 worth of items for dd and ds. Then I remembered the challange. Then I tried to reason with myself that these were sale items and therefore bargains...
Then I came to my senses and emptied the basket. Gah!

Jasper1980 Wed 11-Jul-12 08:30:16

Day three: thankfully I have no interested in the boden salegrin
Today is a free day for us. Friend coming round for coffee this morning, lunch will be things we already have and going to a family members for tea. So bar fuel costs, which is already paid for on Monday, we shan't be spending a penny. We will take the kids to a local park if the rain stays off and I will go for a walk for excercise. No gym needed.

We are lucky in some ways this week as the kids usual clubs are on holiday. We would have had to have paid £7.40 fro swimming lessons and £6 for marital arts. If we had to pay that put this week we would have almost run out of cash already.

Merrylegs Wed 11-Jul-12 08:40:31

Late to this as have been v busy and hence rather disorganised- and realised that being disorganised means I spend more. Eg Nephew's birthday on Sat - forgot, so sent a tenner in an envelope on Monday.

Spent £100 in Sainsbury's on Friday (before challenge!) but had houseguests over weekend and had to feed nine people over four meals so no food left.

At work all day Monday and the local shop is a small Co-op which is convenient but more expensive as I can only buy what I can carry, so smaller milk, juice etc to tide us over. Spent a tenner and will try and make it last with store cupboard stuff until Friday (family of 5 - incl 2 teenage boys. They eat A LOT).

I am self-employed so if I don't work I don't get paid. DH would get 6 months full pay, 6 months half pay before having to go on SSP, so if the worst happened, in theory I would have 6 months to a year to get a full time well paid job.

We have some savings and a low mortgage, but are paying school fees so would have to change schools or ask for a fee holiday. I have no doubt my parents would help out with a loan/gift if we were in dire straits (for living I mean, not extras like school).

DH has been away with work for the past two days so he has had all his meals paid for (obviously if he was off work this wouldn't happen!) BUT it means I have had to do all the driving around ferrying the kids to their activities. (If DH were here we would share - I would take and he would collect on his way back from work, which isn't out of his way.) I put £25 in the car on Monday and yesterday evening the petrol light was on red. I was v pleased it was raining so DS1 couldn't go to cricket in the evening (he was fed up) as I thought, actually, I can't afford to drive you there. (we are v rural and really rely on the car).

I had to pay DS2's tennis coach £20 for his lesson yesterday. He plans to make tennis a career so his lessons are important, but if we were on SSP they would definitely have to go. However he has just applied for some funding through a sports grant - if we were on SSP we would have to be more creative in this kind of area and investigate any funding we could access.

Overall it has made me realise that to live on £85 you have to plan more, be organised, creative, cut things out (obviously!). It takes a lot of head-space and thinking time to work it all out and can be quite exhausting. I will assess how successful I have been at the end of the week.

StellaMarie Wed 11-Jul-12 09:20:55

Meal planned for the week only to discover they didn't have some of the ingredients in stock! Change of plan and found some other items (which were reduced) and spent 38.27. This is for 2 adults & 2 teens. The reduced items are in the freezer and a big stew was enjoyed last night. I put some pearl barley in it to bulk it out; cheap, cheerful, healthy and tasty.

I'm using this week to also see if we can substitute some cheaper items for meat. We are not massive meat eaters but I do think we eat too much red meat, hence the pearl barley instead of some of the beef. I also found a recipe that uses some lentils in place of mince in a bolognaise and a nice chickpea burger recipe.

We eat a lot of fish as well but seeing as how I already by pollock instead of haddock or cod I'm not sure how much we can reduce this part of the budget by.

Milk, bread and loo rolls will be needed by the end of the week. Fortunately I bought a large clothes detergent and fabric conditioner last week, that stuff is so expensive.

With regard to other expenditure in the house the tumble dryer is being used more at the moment because of the weather but fortunately there aren't many trips required in the car so am saving on the fuel.

lisad123 Wed 11-Jul-12 09:36:41

Well we were out late and got a takeaway on way home. If I was living on £85 a week certainly not something I would have done BUT if I was living on that amount I wouldn't have been out in London anyways as train fares are stupid amounts of money angry

likelucklove Wed 11-Jul-12 09:38:22

I didn't have time to post yesterday, so here is my post for Tuesday.

Spent £18 in Tesco's on food, birthday cards and flowers since my craft project went horribly wrong! And it is looking like I may have to put petrol in today, which will top up nothing.

DP spent £10 on food and newspapers again hmm I'm sure if this was actually happening of course he wouldn't spending like this but he doesn't really seem 'on board' with the challenge ifswim. But, he did buy tobacco instead of cigarettes so maybe he is thinking a bit more about money.

I ate cereal for breakfast, jacket potato for lunch and sandwiches for tea as I wasn't really hungry.

We have spent £53 so far this week, so I can see us going over by the end of the week. I only smoked one cigarette last night also, since DD was grouchy and didn't go to bed until late.

If I need to cut down my spending, I would immediately give up smoking since I only use it as stress relief sometimes.

I was thinking about utilities also, and am going to phone about my phone contract to see if I can leave it. I never use the allowance since where we live doesn't have good signal. We already have freeview, and are on the cheapest house calls and broadband I could find 3 months ago.

Hopefully Wednesday won't be as bad, but I do need to get formula for DD so that'll be £10 gone. But don't have to go anywhere for the rest if the week so will save on petrol.

I think I would be fine living off SSP, but DP would have more of a shock. However, he does already have protection to cover some pay for certain illnesses/physical ailments, since he plays football 3 times a week. If he was injured during this and the cover wouldn't pay out, I would be annoyed but would go back to work sooner.

Food wise for the rest of the week, we have a stocked pantry and freezer, just some odd bits and pieces like fruit, potatoes and milk will be needed in a few days. I have a meal plan every week so I know what is needed, and have a list of what we have in the house so I can combine the two to make meals cheaply.

likelucklove Wed 11-Jul-12 09:40:11

I didn't have time to post yesterday, so here is my post for Tuesday.

Spent £18 in Tesco's on food, birthday cards and flowers since my craft project went horribly wrong! And it is looking like I may have to put petrol in today, which will top up nothing.

DP spent £10 on food and newspapers again hmm I'm sure if this was actually happening of course he wouldn't spending like this but he doesn't really seem 'on board' with the challenge ifswim. But, he did buy tobacco instead of cigarettes so maybe he is thinking a bit more about money.

I ate cereal for breakfast, jacket potato for lunch and sandwiches for tea as I wasn't really hungry.

We have spent £53 so far this week, so I can see us going over by the end of the week. I only smoked one cigarette last night also, since DD was grouchy and didn't go to bed until late.

If I need to cut down my spending, I would immediately give up smoking since I only use it as stress relief sometimes.

I was thinking about utilities also, and am going to phone about my phone contract to see if I can leave it. I never use the allowance since where we live doesn't have good signal. We already have freeview, and are on the cheapest house calls and broadband I could find 3 months ago.

Hopefully Wednesday won't be as bad, but I do need to get formula for DD so that'll be £10 gone. But don't have to go anywhere for the rest if the week so will save on petrol.

I think I would be fine living off SSP, but DP would have more of a shock. However, he does already have protection to cover some pay for certain illnesses/physical ailments, since he plays football 3 times a week. If he was injured during this and the cover wouldn't pay out, I would be annoyed but would go back to work sooner.

Food wise for the rest of the week, we have a stocked pantry and freezer, just some odd bits and pieces like fruit, potatoes and milk will be needed in a few days. I have a meal plan every week so I know what is needed, and have a list of what we have in the house so I can combine the two to make meals cheaply.

moomoo1967 Wed 11-Jul-12 15:13:38

I am single parent working part-time and studying with the OU the rest of the time towards a degree in Psychology in the hope I can get a better job. My budget is written prior to the 27th of each month and everything has to be factored into that. If anything crops up such as a school trip then if I haven’t got the money the school are usually good and will let me pay the month after. If I want to meet friends for a coffee etc then it has to be organised the month prior so that I can budget it in. I very rarely pay full price for anything including food and clothes.

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
When I have been short of money in the past I have called my mobile phone supplier, internet supplier and TV supplier, told them that I wanted to terminate my contract. I have then been put through to the retention dept. who have made me an offer for a six month period so if off sick longer than a week this would help. This only works if you are out of your contracts.
At a push I would not have to spend any money on groceries except for milk, fruit and veg as I have two freezers stocked full and a pantry with dried goods. I would be able to make bread with the dry ingredients in the pantry and also cakes and biscuits.
If it was longer term sick leave then I would have to make decisions on what could have to be terminated.

* What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer? *
From the state I get Housing Benefit, Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Child Benefit. I also get a bursary towards my DD's Music Tuition and get free instrument hire of one instrument. I am not eligible for free school meals or free school uniform.
I get Childcare vouchers via my Employer as part of my Flexible Benefits and this pays monthly for DD’s holiday club.
* What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?*
My employers would give me up to 88 days on full pay for short term sick leave and after that up to a period of 12 months at the Employer’s discretion. We also have an income protection scheme and as part of our Flexible Benefits we can have a certain amount for Optical care, Dental Care, amongst other things.
If there are any changes to my circumstances the Tax Credit office and the Housing Benefit office are usually very quick to amend things.

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?
Rent, Council Tax, Gas & Elec, Water rates, Sky, Plusnet, 3Mobile, Contents Insurance, Pet Insurance, TV Licence, Xmas Club, Music Tuition and Instrument hire, Guides subs, Holiday paid monthly, Debt repayments, Transport costs to work(I wouldn’t have to pay this if off sick)

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
My DD loves a challenge and has been telling me off for falling asleep with my bedside light on. If this was a long term situation I would maybe have to reduce the amount of pocket money DD would get but as she gets it a month in arrears she has already had it for this month.
What sort of family support do you think you could get?
My family all live in Cheshire so although they would be there for emotional support there is not much more they could do although I know that they wouldn’t let DD and I starve and my mum would always give me money for food.

Any other issues/ comments?
I don’t think a week is realistic enough for this experiment, even I with my limited income would be able to exist for a week with only £85 after the main bills were paid. The £85 would have to cover food for lunches, any extra costs on electric or gas as I would be in the house and would be using the TV and the lights and possibly the heating.

suzikettles Wed 11-Jul-12 15:37:21

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
We were able to make quite considerable savings by just generally stopping frittering money away. I'm really quite blush and the amount of money we were spending on nothing each month. When dh gets back on his feet I hope to use this experience to our advantage by keeping some of the good habits (budgeting especially) that we've needed to develop, and I think it'll mean we'll be on a better financial footing long term.

Costs that were difficult to change included most fixed bills - utilities on dd and at the best rate, phone/broadband/mobiles on contracts with a while to go. We also have some debt that we're repaying which I'm keeping up with, but long term that might be something we could have renegotiated. Also car bills - it's a very old car and long term might just have to get rid.

We've also had to keep paying for child care even though we don't need to use it (afterschool club) as the nature of dh's illness means that there's no predictable date that he'll return to work. He always hopes to be back after his sick line which can be a week or a month but hasn't managed so far. With this unpredictability and the fact that afterschool care is locally oversubscribed we just have to keep it going.

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Child benefit. We're over the threshold for tax credits as we only have one child.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
Well, obv in our case this is real life, and so we won't get any additional state help. My biggest worry is ssp running out or dh's employer sacking him. We won't qualify for any means tested benefits and things will really hit hard if we lose that £85 per week.

If the situation was reversed and it was me off sick then I'd get 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay, plus access to a great occupational health service - none of which dh has. We'd also qualify for means tested benefits in the long term since I'm the higher earner (but obviously nothing like enough to replace my wage).

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?
We're coping ok at the moment on my salary. If dh loses ssp then we'd have to look at stopping childcare and then I don't know what. Our mortgage is low and certainly cheaper than rent, we're in a 1 bed so can't downsize. We have a lot of equity but not enough money to do repairs that need to be done to sell in this market.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
Ds is a bit more aware of the cost of things than I feel he needs to be at his age (5). It gets a bit wearing saying no, but I don't think he's really disadvantaged.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?
My parents would, and have, help us out if it came to the crunch. I'd rather they didn't have to though and will do anything rather than ask at the moment. (and we don't need to at the moment).

Anyway, no spend day today!

Hopezibah Wed 11-Jul-12 17:42:41

Day 3 - a relatively 'easy' day budget-wise (leftover dinner for kids from yesterday and me and hubby are out at friends for dinner tonight.) That is a thought...if budget was tight, rather than eating out, meals with friends at each others houses would be a great alternative. The weather has provided our activity today...the boys have been enjoying the thunderstorm and doing plenty of rainwater and mud play outdoors!!! My plan for going strawberry picking as a cheap activity went out the window when the heavens opened. We'll keep that in mind for another day...an afternoons fun for a couple of quid AND you get to keep the strawberries to eat. Tomorrow is going to be the biggest challenge of the week - 3 different activities the kids are involved in and none of them that we would want to give up!

Hopezibah Wed 11-Jul-12 17:45:52

p.s. the kids are SO on board with this challenge that they actually said it was a good thing that it rained as it is cheaper to stay home than go strawberry picking!

gazzalw Wed 11-Jul-12 17:54:25

It’s with some trepidation that we are rising to this £85-to-live-on challenge. We are a one income (above average salary but wouldn’t say we are a ‘comfortably’ off family. Thus far, healthy ‘older parents’ of primary school aged children, so the type of scenario that this challenge is supposed to highlight hasn’t ever happened to us. We do have Mortgage Protection Cover just in case though, although recently DW (who is the main financial decision-maker) has been wondering whether we wouldn’t have been better off saving the years of contributions – think we would have been about £11,000 richer now (!). I think if anything, reviewing our finances, we have been considering whether having such a policy is the best use of our financial resources in this current economic climate.

Anyway, the good news is that all our must-pay direct debits covering insurances, mortgage, utilities bills, savings etc….go out right at the end of one month/beginning of the next month so to do this challenge on Week 2 of our monthly budgeting serves us considerably better than if we’d done it say on the week commencing 1st July (when we would have been totally stuffed financially). The bad news is that we have a reasonably full freezer but the basics (milk, cheese, fruit and lunchbox items) are running low in stock as we start our week.

Generally DW is a lot more savvy with money than I am. But then she has to juggle most of the family day-to-day living expenses out of the joint account monthly budget. She does not budget per week but does keep a close eye on finances and has been known to have £50 left her to last more than a week when we’ve had a particularly heavy month of expenditure. We do quite a lot with the children but most activities tend to be free, won as prizes or low-cost. I would not say we are extravagant at all but I do sometimes question quite what I spend my funds on every month, as I guess I have a lot more flex with my money than DW has managing the family money pot.

We do have savings, although total probably doesn’t exceed £5,000 and some of that money is tied into ten year bonds. The children have savings which amount to nearly as much as ours (!) but again they are tied into savings accounts and we never would touch their money. No generous relatives here to help us even though DW’s are very comfortably off! Sure SIL would sub us a bit if needed but wouldn’t want to get into a situation of being in any type of debt to a family member!

In terms of dividing our £85, as DW manages 85 % of the household expenses, she’s apportioned herself £55 of the money and given me £30 which probably is unfair as I probably need to spend virtually nothing (as I have a travel season ticket, read free newspapers on the journey to/from work, take in sandwiches most days and have access to coffee on tap in the Office). That’s the theory…. I do realize that I fritter away quite a lot of money on stopping off for a swift pint on the way home so it will be quite a challenge to see if I can bypass my ‘local’ on the way home, otherwise my £30 won’t last long at all!

DW started off yesterday being quite confident about this challenge, although she fully acknowledged that what is do-able for a week as an experiment probably wouldn’t be sustainable for a family for longer than that. Last week was a blip for money sapping ‘extras’ - a family friends’ daughter’s birthday pressie (£10), rucksack for DS for secondary school (£10), school photos (£30), school trip for DD (£8.50) money for a teacher’s leaving pressie (£5)– I think that would have wiped out a fairly large % of her budget before she’d even considered the staples of life! This week is probably a fairly low cost in terms of anticipated extras (£1.00 for DS’s school disco), the possibility of buying a couple of items in the second hand uniform sale (no more than £3) and a starting secondary school parents evening which will require additional public transport costs for DW (£5) when she normally walks everywhere. I dare say we could have ‘forgotten’ to give DS his £1 contribution for the disco but that wouldn’t really have been right would it? Nevertheless that’s still possibly £8/£9 already committed out of DW’s budget and that’s before we’ve starting spending anything!

Initially she considered getting out the £85 in cash and dividing it up yesterday, but decided that cash in hand is more likely to be spent ‘carelessly’ so we are just getting money out of the cashpoint £10 at a time, keeping a tally of total expenditure. Not sure what we will do if we run out before the week is out….. Fortunately the weekend activities we have lined up are all free and won’t incur additional travel expenses grin – phew!

gazzalw Wed 11-Jul-12 18:04:57

By the way DW is being quite frugal with meals but she always is. Tends to use all leftovers before making new meals.

She did buy two cards and realised that she could have got one for free if she'd used her £1 M&S voucher she has in her purse (and she forgot to get her two stamps on her M&S cards loyalty card). She has been using her extra points vouchers in Sainsbury's though! But of course that is off-setting against future purchases. She did say that she could have bought the food thus far this week with her Nectar points but prefers to save those for Christmas or something non-foody. Also has quite a lot of Boots points (over £25 worth) if she gets desperate but won't use those unless necessary especially given that Boots is expensive.

The main issue so far is that a lot of extraneous household expenses are not totally essential but are related to the children and their schooling etc...and to my mind these are not easy to cut back on. I don't think DW is at all OTT with the joint account expenditure but there is a constant stream of things to buy/give money for with children at home. Similarly if it was just me and DW we would eat porridge or Dhal and rice if we ran out of money but wouldn't dream of restricting the children's diet like that!

aristocat Wed 11-Jul-12 18:09:33

day 3, I have spent £5 on fresh flowers. It is MILs birthday today and her card and present/s have been purchased weeks ago however we did stop after school to get her 2 bunches of fresh flowers (which were much appreciated)
Packed lunches for DH and DCs today.

Hoping to stay within the £85 budget but I must admit that it is not as easy as I thought it would be hmm

I always meet up with a best friend on a Wednesday evening and we go out to a local pub/restaurant. I will spend £8-10 this evening on myself - we have a meal and a few drinks .......

My total spend so far is £13.50 (must add on pub £££ from tonight later!)

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Wed 11-Jul-12 18:32:11

This is proving harder than I expected. Much harder.

I am used to working to a very tight budget, tighter at some times than others, but I am having one of these weeks where lots of little expenses seem to add up. That's even without any bills being due. Even though it isn't real, it is wearing. Wanted to get a present for a colleague who helped me out during my maternity leave, was actually relieved she is off til next week. Of course if this wasn't a one week problem I would be almost dreading having to deal with it.

Haven't totted up all the spending... yet.

duchesse Wed 11-Jul-12 19:17:45

Since the challenge is this week, I'm going to have to be utterly truthful.

I have failed miserably already. There are 7 of us in the house (6 from our family, plus one visiting language student). In addition we have had a 4 day visit from a friend and two of her children. Tomorrow another friend and her teenage son will arrive.

Today I spent a smidge over £100 on food shopping alone. We had no bread, no milk, no fruit, little meat left in the house. I bought everything the way I usually do, on offer, reduced, on offer + reduced. Normally my food bill is about £90/week. This week, when the vegetables come I will have spent £125, which probably quite neatly corresponds to the extra cost of our house guests.

Normally (ie in term-time), there are only DH and me, our two teenage daughters and our toddler at home. 19 yo DS is usually away at university and we don't usually always have foreign students.

My observations are the following:

If we really had to live on £85 a week, I would not have been able to buy most of the fruit we got today. That would have saved over £20 but our diet would inevitably have suffered.
My teenaged DS would probably not be able to come back when he wanted during the holidays and therefore would not really be able to call this place home any more.
Our diet would be a lot poorer and to be frank we would almost certainly not be able to eat to our hunger which would be a good thing in my case.
We would not be able to afford treats of any kind (we already can't now on a normal income though).
We would have to think very carefully about the car situation and whether or not we could afford to keep driving either of them. We live in the countryside so that is not a prospect to be relished especially in the rain and flooding we've been having.
There is no chance of us ever being able to run the CH on £85/week. We can't really afford it now so a massive drop in income wouldn't help that.

Bottom line, living on this amount of money could only ever be a temporary measure. We simply could not afford to feed our children on the money and have anything left over for socks even. Our older children would not be able to stay at school beyond the age of 16 (DD1 is at college) and we would have to seriously consider whether it would be possible to keep having them/her living at home. DD1 is 17 but she's so definitely not ready to leave home yet. It would catapult her prematurely into adulthood and make it very difficult for her to achieve her ambition, which is to go to medical school.

The very real possibility of illness basically breaking up our family unit is heart-breaking tbh.

Now to answer your questions direclty:

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
Very difficult to alter the food bill for a family of 6/7 much

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
I'm self employed so zippo-zilch afaik. DH is a public servant so decent package.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
Can't imagine much assistance to us in our situation. We would continue to get the CB that we currently get which is a non-negligeable amount of money for us for 3 children.

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?
Basically couldn't.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

As I said above it hasn't really been possible in the circumstances to cut costs any further due to visits from guests etc- can't very well feed them gruel all week! They would definitely suffer if no fresh fruit etc in the house. They're already well used to the concept of treats being a hen's teeth rarity so no high expectations there.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?
DH mother would probably help, can't expect anything from mine although one of my sisters is very-off.

Any other issues/ comments?
Please see above.

Today I forgot about the challenge and allowed dd to buy a book at the school book fair. That is another £4.99 of unnecessary spending...

Total now £20.04.

But don't forget, I did a large shop before the challenge so we are living off that, food wise. However, the cupboards are running bare and a shop will need to be done over the weekend. I just know I will fail miserably. Will try not to though!

MunumMunum Wed 11-Jul-12 19:59:02

Total sent today: £31.50
Total spent this week: £56.85

Today was hard. I could have really done with the convenience of nipping into a local cafe with the kids for lunch. Instead we got drenched 3 times getting into and out of the car, to go home to make sandwiches.

I spent £1.50 on a playgroup at our local church. We had breakfast for that price though. I spent another £15 on petrol and put £10 on DH's oyster card. I was reminded about a friends leaving collection and put in £5 for that. I hate feeling like a cheapskate. sad

This exercise has made me much more aware of every penny spent. I was pondering what would happen to us if DH lost his job. We already try to save as much as possible but imagining how things would be has made me resolve to be even more careful.

Cremolafoam Wed 11-Jul-12 20:03:32

So Day 3:
Had to buy a book of stamps today even tho i only need onesad at the garage as the queue for the PO was 100 miles long.
Have managed to spend so far:

£65 Monday
£11.25 Tuesday
£3.60 Wednesday

This effectively leaves £6.00 for the rest of the week if we were doing this for real.

I checked my contract today and after my 6 years if service I would get full pay for 6 months and 1/2 pay for 6 months.Dh has a similar arrangement. Hooray for public service.smile
We also have mortgage insurance and an offset mortgage which means there are some overpayments which provide a slush fund( enough to pay the mortgage for 2 months dh says)
Dd back from grans tomorrow so am preparing to be eaten out if house and home.wink

Know at this stage that living on ssp would NOT be possible for us or the way we live now. Life would change completely.
What I do not know is how much I would get in benefits if any. In my employment contract it says:
Sick pay:
This scheme is intended to supplement Statutory Sick Pay and Incapacity Benefit so as to maintain normal pay during defined periods of absence on account of sickness, disease, accident or assault.

Perhaps after the OSP lapses I would be entitled to some IB.Scarily, you never know what this might be until it happenshmm

No matter what we always feel squeezed and I often wonder why we work so bloody hard without very much to show for it. The cost of living is really high. Everyone I know feels similarly. My mum never worked and finds it difficult to understand how I have to work do had to have nowhere near the lifestyle she had at my age. Are we the first generation to be poorer than our parents?

jimswifein1964 Wed 11-Jul-12 20:04:43

Today, the kids ate out as we didn't have time between school and after-school things, & they didnt want a picnic in thunder grin, so that was £6.38.

Total = £80.93. dh too his own breakfast to work, and I assume spent the usual 2.20 on lunch, but I need to check that.

gazzalw Wed 11-Jul-12 20:30:26

Hi reason for two posts so close together is that our internet server was down for 48 hours so I wrote the above post and then cut and pasted it here when we were restored to technology. So the above post is Monday's views and this one is an update including comments on questions.

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

Funnily it is some of food/drink related treats that are probably the easiest expenditures to knock on the head. It is already becoming evident that my habitual tendency to stop off for a swift drink en route home is a luxury and needs cutting down for health and financial benefits - but having been on the Tube for 2 hours feel in need of refreshment! Yes, things like drinks and coffees out....it may only be £2.00 or less for a coffee but that adds up during the week. Things like incidental ice-creams in the park after school at £2 a throw are a definite no! Mind you they usually are as DW is quite strict about things like that!

It is hard to budget for all the school related expenditures that are often asked for with little notice and little turn-around time. The schools do say that if you can't afford to pay for trips etc...to go to see the Head but we would be too proud to do that and anyway I think the Head would assume we were trying to pull a fast one! DW did have the option not to give DS the £1 voluntary donation for his school disco but it's just not on and would you really begrudge him going for the sake of £1.00 (in which case DCs would soon start a mutiny!).

It is impossible to cut any more corners on food really. DW only buys very limited branded goods (where she personally feels there's a noticeable quality issue - for example Heinz Baked Beans and Fairy Washing Up Liquid) and the rest tend to be own brands. Every so often she does have a bit of a "I'm fed up with scrimping and saving on every last item" moment and will buy something she considers to be 'extravagant" but not often. She does try to buy more veggies than fruit to fulfil our five a day quotient but DS only eats a couple of different veggies so that is not always easy to achieve. Also, we have an impossibly fussy, pedigree puss who will only eat quality wet catfood so she generally has a more expensive diet than we humans!

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Well we get child benefit but nothing else. Work provides better than SSP I do believe although I have never been off sick for more than four days in succession so it's never been an issue. No other health benefits though.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

Not sure but as I've queried up above possibly we might get free prescriptions/dental treatment and possibly some extra funding for the children?

~ 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?

Our commitments in terms of fixed costs amount to over £1400 per month and there's very little flex unless we start cutting out boiler cover, pet insurance, mortgage protection insurance (maybe it's not worth having?). Thankfully don't have childcare costs as DW is a SAHM but of course things would probably change if I was on long-term sick pay.

It would be impossible to cope long-term but then as I said I think I get much better than SSP through my employer so hopefully we wouldn't be quite reduced to living on £85 a week. Obviously if I did only qualify for SSP then we'd be royally stuffed and would be in the red from the off.... It certainly wouldn't be a comfortable position to be in for more than a couple of weeks, even with some savings to fall back on.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

I think the children just think the 'hole in the wall' is a bottomless money pit and although I don't think they are spoiled they do rather seem to think that if the want a treat they stand a good chance of getting it! So this challenge is good in educating them about the value of money, prioritising expenditure and living as frugally as some families have to do permanently.

As I said in earlier post, this week we have free activities organised for the whole weekend so the challenge won't directly impact on them unless they start wanting ice-creams when we're out (which they're unlikely to get unless we are still in credit by this stage which is unlikely!)

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

Families are not forward in handing over any financial help currently and would be extremely reluctant to ask even though DW's parents are really quite comfortably off - don't think they'd offer either!

~ Any other issues/ comments?

It would be interesting to know what percentage of the workforce in the UK would only be entitled to SSP if off sick for more than four days in succession?

trickquestion Wed 11-Jul-12 20:48:45

£12.65 spent today. DH spent a whopping £2. 40 on a jar of peanut butter (Suma organic). When I queried it he said the other (99p) stuff is 'shit'. I think he lost sight of the fact that if you have £85 a week to live on you don 't have a choice but to eat the (shit) stuff which i like better anyway

didn't buy much again - bread and milk.

I think reflecting on this week so far I have realised that I find it fairly easy to cut back on groceries. It's what we do the times my (big business) clients are late paying me. But we do get that money in. And it can be used to pay for kids activities and larger items of expenditure. To live on limited groceries and being unable to spend on activities all the time would be beyond depressing. I don't mind forgoing a cappuccino once in a while as I need the cash, but to never be able to afford one would be tiring.

I shop very differently for groceries on the weeks we don't have much spare cash as well. Very carefully. When I've been paid I pretty much buy whatever takes my fancy food wise.

<sigh> And it was all going so well...
I had only spent £42 so far this week. Not bad compared to normal. Flippin car got a puncture. Garage call out and replacing the tyre cost £55, so that's my budget buggered. The extra will have to come out of my small amount of savings. I hope nothing else falls over this week.

Jasper1980 Wed 11-Jul-12 21:08:19

Nice weather made our day a lot easier. We did spend a couple of pounds on icecream for the kids, but that is all we spent today. It is really tough though. If something came up, you just wouldnt be able to afford it. My car needed work done just last week, that cost more than this weeks entire budget. So we are down to £23.70 for the next four days. We had dinner with a relative tonight which was free. Oh! I just remembered we bought biscuits for friend coming over for coffee this monringblush. Things like that we just take for normal. That makes my left over budget actually £21. Oh dear....

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 11-Jul-12 23:25:14

You guys are all doing so well....very interesting feedback and we look forward to reading the rest of it through the next part of the week. Thanks so much.

aristocat Wed 11-Jul-12 23:31:34

total spend now is £24.70

DD having a school dinner tomorrow which is £2 and my spending this evening was £9.20 ...... ooops

121 Wed 11-Jul-12 23:35:42

Isn't this the same " challenge" as a few days ago? Were the responses really all that unusable?

Wasn't it made pretty clear there that it was meaningless to the point of being massively disengenuous?

R2PeePoo Thu 12-Jul-12 00:00:05

Day 3 and we still haven't spent anything more than a few ££. This is an unusual week because I am unwell and DH staying at home looking after the DC. Running out of stuff so DH will probably do a supermarket shop tomorrow. I'd probably have spent £10-20 by this point in a normal week whilst out and about with DS.

jimswifein1964 Thu 12-Jul-12 07:28:37

121, err yes - that was the thread asking for participants. This is the thread for the chosen participants to report back. And yes, we know you cant just drop your commitments, and we know many people live on minimal income anyway. This is just an exercise to make people think...

gazzalw Thu 12-Jul-12 07:39:01

Well I think all of you who have just spent 'peanuts' should give yourselves a big pat on the back as we are getting perilously close to our limit and it's only Thursday morning....

DW had made an overdue appt for me for the dentist for yesterday, so far from thinking I might end the week quids in, I used £18.00 having my teeth cleaned. Hmmm. That leaves me with £9.00 to last for the rest of the week, having incautiously spent £8.00 in my 'local' sheltering from the torrential rain the other day. But for the fact that I had an aching tooth which I wanted looked at I would have postponed the appointment but felt it a necessity to be quite honest.

DW has definitely been watching the pennies making a conscious effort not to hit the shops unless there is something that is desperately needed but she has just discovered another M&S Sale starts today so not entirely sure she's going to be able to resist. By the way, she felt vindicated buying the school jumper for DD on Monday as there were, as predicted, no logoed ones in the second hand uniform sale. Of course as she reasonably pointed out she should have actually waited for the uniform sale before committing herself to spending £7.20 on a brand new one. I guess that is a lesson one would soon learn if living off SSP for more than a week.

So as land lies at the moment DW has £22.00 left to spend and I have £9.00 and it's Thursdayl But we are running out of fruit and lunchbox stuff again.... although DW has found lots of frozen pastry so considering making giant plaited cheese straws for lunchboxes tomorrow!

Jasper1980 Thu 12-Jul-12 08:58:06

Well since the weather is holding up today, we are going for a walk and picnic along the canal. Picnic will consist of food we already have, so fruit and rolls. Although we did need to buy rolls so that's £1 down. We are also going to have a BBQ this evening, and are spending £1.75 on a disposable BBQ. We already have burgers and sausages in the freezer so we are down to £18.25. I doubt we will spend anymore today. But will report back later if we do.

Kids are taking it all fine I have to say. We did have a bit of a meltdown in the Disney store over a Lotso, but that would have happened either way grin. I have managed to bake up simple treats and cakes with store cupboard ingredients for them.

herethereeverywhere Thu 12-Jul-12 12:04:18

Well today really was not a good day budget wise. Trip to the gps has included prescription charges which although I imagine I wouldn't pay if I was off sick even getting them reimbursed means money gone for a short time. Also got credit card bill and needed some bits from the shops. Last week when I did this I managed to get to the end of the week with a fiver left over from my £85. This week it's Thursday and I only have £20 left sad

herethereeverywhere Thu 12-Jul-12 12:06:27

Also have realised that this challenge would be a lot harder if my DS was older. As he is 5 months I can entertain him myself quite easily but if he was a toddler or older and wanted to do more I could see that being a lot more difficult.

aristocat Thu 12-Jul-12 12:21:50

Needed some groceries today and have spent £20.07 in total on toilet roll, ham, chicken, WUL, flour, cat food, bread and crusty cobs, chocolate chips and greaseproof paper and a few other items.
We are having DDs best friend over after school and I have promised DD that they can bake cookies ..... obviously much easier (and cheaper) to buy them as the chocolate chips alone cost £1.60!!! but not as much fun smile

Total spend so far £44.77

One of the hardest things for me is not to look at the M&S and Clarks sale because I know I would be tempted to buy something.

SpottySlippers Thu 12-Jul-12 12:22:46

Days 3 and 4...........

Yesterday I did not spend anything, however, I did succumb to the Joules sale today when they were offering a further 20% off. Bought a few bits for the children and a rugby shirt for DH's birthday (£70 reduced to £20). I always ebay what I can when the children have grown out of it hence I often recoup a fair bit (£50 extra income this month). Unfortunately this has meant that I have spent over £85 this week.

This challenge is difficult for us, we do live cheaply (aside from my occasional Joules sale shop blush), we are careful with our supermarket shopping, DH continues to cycle to work, we rarely pay for days out, soft play etc instead we go to the park, library, walking in the woods etc. So cutting our spend much more is virtually impossible; this challenge has motivated me to check we are getting the best deal on our utilities etc, in the majority of cases we are.

aharan Thu 12-Jul-12 12:24:48

Ok. £85 for a week. its going to take me a while to get used to this. but i am trying hard. both me and my husband are quite concious about where and what we spend. my daughter, who will be turning 3 soon, doesnt really have much say (just until now) in where and what we spend. so, even if i buy her a lolly, or do some craft with her at home - she is more than happy. she doesnt expect me to take her to an indoor play area or a farm every other week.
that said, the start of this week has been great. i spent £20 on fruit, veg, milk and other grocery at the beginning of the week. I plan to go to ASDA tonite for some extras, but dont plan to spend more than £20 there. both of us take the public transport, and are not that far away from our work place. so about £20 on the transport this week. also, i work three days a week from office and one day form home - so save on travelling etc.
but i will wait to see how i manage to finish the week off.

EddieIzzardIsMine Thu 12-Jul-12 12:39:18

After a few more days on this challenge I'm starting to feel the strain I must say, I thought it would be easier in that we'd buy less stuff or cheaper stuff but I underestimated how much it costs to do stuff - for example today I want to take DS to the big park to see his little friend but its £5 taxi there, £5 on coffee/cake/ice-cream treat things at the cafe and a £5 taxi home, £15 which in a limited budget is hell of a chunk

I'm going to walk there and back (over an hour each way with my spd knackered pelvis!) and take some stuff from the cupboard but I guess I'm going to feel a bit...(I dont know, embarassed?) to be doing that

Also bought some flashcards to help DS with speech, again something that would have to be more carefully accounted for if we were on SSP

llynnnn Thu 12-Jul-12 12:39:36

So far this week we have spent £55 and that's not even thinking about the bills (40 on food, 10 on dd's bday pressie) then I spent £5 at the school fair last night. I know this isn't strictly speaking an essential and would have to be missed if this was real, but i want to support the school as much as I can and my dd was very excited about it. I would've normally spent more than this but had this challenge in the back of my mind.
It has made me realise how much it would upset me to not beable to do these kind of things. The school are constantly after my money for fund raising events, cake sales, school trips etc etc! To be in the position where I couldnt allow my daughter to take part in things due to no money would be awful.

My youngest daughter needs new wellies too, going to have to have a look to see if there are any going cheap anywhere, she just loves all the puddles...more money!

mynameis Thu 12-Jul-12 12:51:44

I have so far managed to stay easily within the £85, a bit of food shopping (£30) and our normal bits like £1 snack money for ds, baby group £2
Tomorrow is pay day for DP (weekly pay) and we will immediately go over the challenge amount in bills.
If this was a real life scenario I would have to have a total revamp of our finances. Looking at our non essential outgoings this week has surprised me.
Magazine subscription, washing machine insurance, child trust funds these would all have to go.
Car would have to become a non essential too and that's a very depressing thought.

Blew it today.
Had a semi-private horse riding lesson (2 of us to one instructor) - which cost £30. I haven't been horse riding much this year - probably less than once a month, although ideally I'd like to go once a week during school terms. As a carer, I find it keeps me sane and gives me some head space. Obviously on the budget I wouldn't be able to have the lessons.

Then went to Sainsburys and spent £83! Not all that much on food. I needed things like printer ink (we've been out for ages and I've been waiting to get paid), bought some end of terms presents (they were quite bargainishious though). Also had a stock up on basics such as pasta. Because I've just been paid I bought things I wouldn't have usually - so sushi, cheddar cheese, prepared sardines.

gazzalw Thu 12-Jul-12 13:07:13

I think we'd nose-dive into a big depression very quickly. It's not being able to do social things which would be the real killer for all of us - DW wants to go out with a friend tomorrow so the dilemma is does she blow the rest of her money or politely decline even if it means not seeing said friend then until after the hols? Friend works so opportunities to meet-up are fairly rare.

And do I expect DW to buy stuff for my packed lunches out of her money or do I 'generously' donate a % of my remaining £9??? Dilemma's, dilemmas!

Think we might be living on fresh air by the weekend! Normally you could guarantee free, ripe blackberries as one of the five a day fruits/veggies but they're nowhere near ready to pick yet.....

Merrylegs Thu 12-Jul-12 13:24:02

DD's last day in Yr 6 yesterday so we had a meal out with some of the class. Spend - £10.

This time last year I had recklessly promised her she could have her ears pierced on the first day of the summer holidays. Which is now. She hasn't forgotten.... It is £15. We are going to talk about whether she thinks it fair to pay out of her savings (she doesn't get pocket money but puts any Xmas, bday money into her bank account). Actually, I think it is fair - we will see just how much she wants them done if she has to pay!

DS gone out for the day on his moped - asked me for a pound for petrol.

Am still holding out for a supermarket shop. Think we can last till tomorrow - plenty of dried pasta left!

Jasper1980 Thu 12-Jul-12 13:27:00

My £18.25 is now down to £15.25 thanks to ice creams in the park. I really couldnt do this long term. Well actually, I suppose I could, if I was given no choice...but it would have been really hard to say no to an icecream on the first actual sunny day of their summer holidays.

SiliBiliMili Thu 12-Jul-12 13:49:02

Here it is! I somehow could not find this thread to add my (precious) 2pence worth. Let me get to my iPad.

ShatnersBassoon Thu 12-Jul-12 14:03:49

It's the non-essentials that I'm struggling to do without. I was parched when I was out and about this morning, but realised I couldn't stop for coffee and the inevitable cake because that few pounds will be needed for something else.

It sucks having no money to spare. It's no fun at all.

eggdipdip Thu 12-Jul-12 14:28:38

Fate lead me to this thread today: We just found out yesterday that dh is now on SSP and has been since 19th June (but they forgot to tell him angry). We live reasonably frugally anyway, but having to pay childcare and mortgage from one salary will be a real struggle as dh just isn't well enough for us to cancel our childcare sad

Luckily we have savings, but they were earmarked for a bigger house. Guess that won't be happening anytime soon.

Ah well. Will be scouring this thread for lots of tips on how to survive on SSP.

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Thu 12-Jul-12 15:54:34

AARGH bloody Mumsnet offline. I shall try again
Wednesday Took the girls to dance classes £14(total £72), Which now looks like alot of my budget but I think I would continue with the classes even if DP was on SSP. I would have to cut back somewhere else to afford it, not sure where though. I'm really starting to realise how much these things cost.

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Thu 12-Jul-12 15:55:50

Todays one (if it doesn't go offline again)

Thursday Tumble Tots £5.30 (total £77.30) and I've started to struggle, a book stall caught my eye, but didn't even look as I knew if I look I would end up loosing the £7.70 I have left. Can't believe I've spent so much with 4 days left to go.

Lemele Thu 12-Jul-12 16:07:53

Tuesday: DS goes to a creche for 2 hours, which costs £6.80; thank goodness it's only once a week. We've been offered a free place for him at a nursery from september so we'd definitely be taking that up now! DH didn't go to the shop for once when taking DS out, though has just mentioned needing to get something to go with the gammon we got last week for tea. I suspect even if we were living off pittance he would still spend too much and then just panic half way through the month... (as indeed he used to when we were students).

Wednesday: Well, I spent virtually nothing today. Had some friends round and we ate cake leftover from the christening. They all had cups of tea (about 1p each). Didn't go anywhere else, and ate up some old potatoes, salad and other bits today.

DH, on the other hand... he had a rare day off so went to get some new trousers (his are all falling apart) and took DS to get some new shoes! Needless to say this wouldn't have happened on SSP... he spent about £80 in total! On 4 pair of trousers (so could've bought 1 pair), shoes for DS (£30 - a new record! Ouch..) and lunch at tescos.

Thursday: Toddler group - £1, but forgot to put it in the pot again, argh! (Coz we have to go in round the back with the massive buggy.) Oh well, guess if we were on SSP that would be a bonus...

Afterward we went to the shop 'as usual'. Needed milk (again), and also bought eggs, satsumas, salad things and a few other items. Came to about £6. It's our wedding anniversary today so I also got a card for DH (£1.75). After lunch DH decided we should have a nice tea so he went to buy a few things for that - baked potatoes, prawns, lime cheesecake... He didn't tell me how much it added up to but I'm guessing about £20. It is mostly DH's spending that would make living on SSP difficult for me - apart from bills etc of course!

Total spent so far: £40.45 plus £80 on clothes etc... shame about that or we'd be doing alright! Of course, that doesn't include bills, mortgage, or anything else already in the cupboard...

Will be back tomorrow with the questions/answers. Oh and I assume 'the end of the week' means Sunday does it?

gazzalw Thu 12-Jul-12 16:19:16

I think that only doing it for a week we none of us has really changed our mindset. Although there seems to be some compromise we are generally keeping on board 'luxuries' possibly at the expense of essentials. Not sure food out/Tumble Tots/dance classes would probably feature in the budget for a family living on SSP for any length of time????

trickquestion Thu 12-Jul-12 16:20:07

£4.60 spent today on essential toiletries, £2.20 on not essential tea and cake and DD took £2.50 from my purse for swimming at school. I'm wondering if low-income families are exempted from these regular school costs, it's part of the school day after all and therefore not optional.
I have resisted the sales all week and have turned down a trip to go to the Next sale on Saturday which was a strangely liberating decision.

£47.35 so far.
Today 2 school dinners £3.60 but no childcare or clubs. DD went to a friend's house for dinner, I had a small cup of tea at the church cafe (£1) and bought tortilla wraps for DS to make dinner for us.
DH is going to Tesco after work so we'll probably be over budget by tonight.
Pre-Tesco we're at £51.95.
This challenge is making me realise just how much we spend on the DCs week in, week out. They don't do (or have) half the things their friends do, some parents must be spending a small fortune on their DCs hobbies.

StellaMarie Thu 12-Jul-12 16:28:50

Spent another 17.56 in the supermarket today. We needed milk, bread and some fresh fruit & veggies. That should keep us going now for the rest of the week so in total my grocery shop has been 56.83.

If this were reality I would be left with just under 30.00 to pay all the bills, fuel, clubs etc. - not easy at all!

This exercise has taught me to think twice before putting something in the trolley. I've also had 3 x 2pound coins in my change this week which I've put in a separate tin. If I saved them up over time then it would be useful for the DC school shoes in September.

Tesco came in at £31.05smile even with beer (DH got tins of beer instead of bottles)
Total post Tesco £83.00, school dinners tomorrow will put us over though.

suzikettles Thu 12-Jul-12 17:15:58

Hurrah! Dh's pay comes in tomorrow so the week's nearly over for us.

Food shopping for the week: c£40
Tyre: £35
DH spends: £10 (used some of this to top up milk & bread)

Total: £85 = happiness.

As you can see though, there's little room for manoeuvre. Obviously the tyre doesn't happen every week but there's always something.

Also, there have been two weeks during the period when dh's has been off when his work have lost his sick line and paid him nothing. One week we had to take out a payday loan to tide us over - luckily knowing that we would have the money to pay it off but it still cost over a tenner in interest.

Ways that we are fortunate: we live in a city so in walking distance of work, school and free entertainment. Easy to get to supermarkets so we don't rely on more expensive local shops.

I've been thinking about how income protection could have helped us if we'd had it, but I'm not sure it's something that dh's work would have bought for their staff in any case (he's on a temp contract bought in by a large organisation). I doubt we'd have been able to buy it privately as he's off work with a pre-existing condition. I don't think it would be worth it for me as my work terms are so generous.

lisad123 Thu 12-Jul-12 17:18:42

Sadly my £15 on petrol didn't last blush

SiliBiliMili Thu 12-Jul-12 17:31:41

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

obviously luxuries are easier to change. Basics are hard to cut down on.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Maternity leave money plus husbands pay. Thats all really.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

My company has a competitive sickness allowance, should i need it. we have savings should we need them.

~ 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?

Too many. Mortgage, council tax, phone, water, gas, electricity. all together approx £3200/month goes into all of these. we r a family of 4 with good incomes and average habits. Our extravagances are our children. We would not be able to survive on ssp.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

yes. see above.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

decent but no one will pay our mortgage.

~ Any other issues/ comments?
Council tax and tv licence are the most 'painful' expenses to pay. Our weekly food bill is approx 80/month.

SiliBiliMili Thu 12-Jul-12 17:54:54

What have I spent this week:

Monday:

Car servicing: GBP 800 (got a service plan from BMW which is more competitive than paying for only 1 service)

Tuesday:

Took Child to indoor play area: 4.50 + he wanted the drink and a biscuit from there (not the one I had taken) = 2.50.

Wednesday: Zero

Thursday: Zero

However, My food shopping came in (delivered by supermarket) on Monday (GBP 88)

We purcahsed milk and bananas on top :GBP 3.00

Its been okay this week as the shopping has been done and the car paid for but there is always something every single month. We would definately have to dip into the savings.

So today I needed to take a trip to Sainsbury to pick up milk, bread, fruit, biscuits and some pizzas for dinner as we were going to be late home after parent's evening. (I suppose I should not have bought the biscuits from a money saving point of view...)
I only bought enough to see us through to Saturday. I spent £25.73. So total spend now up to £45.78. But I am very aware I have not yet done a proper weekly grocery shop, the car still has some fuel and I have not had to pay any bills.

mrswee Thu 12-Jul-12 20:29:11

on monday I spent £44 on a food shop that will do most of the week. I tipped that up on tuesday with £5.50 fresh veg shop from the comunity food project.

we put £15 petrol in the car from the £30 my DH has left in his bank from his wages. I figured one of us would still be working and he drives to work so don't count this.

£15.50 left

MunumMunum Thu 12-Jul-12 20:52:37

Total spent today: £1.70p
Total spent this week: £58.85

Today DD had tennis. It is the end of term and I received the invoice for lessons in September. I normally rebook immediately but today I didn't. It was £106.25. This would be a shame for DD to give up but inevitable if this test was for real.

We are out of bread and milk but rather than replace them I have been drinking squash or taking tea black.

Tomorrow we are going to the ILs for a couple of days with a meal out on Saturday. This should work out fine as FIL is incredibly generous and is going to offer to pay (as he always does). However DH and I like to have money aside to cover the cost just in case. Tomorrow we won't be able to do this. We will need to put diesel in the car so I imagine that will be take a huge chunk of our remaining £27!

My fridge is empty and for dinner tonight we had soup. The kids loved it but DH and I were conscious of it not being a 'real' dinner. I remember as a kid money being tight and hated the empty belly feeling of bedtime. (not that our DCs had this but YKWIM).

So far this challenge has made me realise what is important, what's nice to have and what is a luxury. I think we could survive on this money but it would be just that, surviving not thriving. Every time a possible ones spending opportunity arises I feel nauseous as to being able to cope with it. sad

MunumMunum Thu 12-Jul-12 20:56:13

I guess I'm trying to say that I didn't realise how intrinsically linked my finances are to my mental health.

Katamariy Thu 12-Jul-12 21:05:52

Monday was an inset day for DCs. There was a plan for mums to meet up and take children for lunch. We had to miss this as even if the DCs just had meals and drinks and I had a coffee this would take a huge chunk of the weeks money. Weather was bad so DCs didn't mind much and we made pizza instead.
Tuesday I did shopping for the first time. This took a lot of planning and also going through the cupboards to see what we already had. I shopped before school pick up and was pleased that the shopping came to £25, which is a lot less than usual.
Weds and Thurs didn't spend anything but am having to avoid usual flicking through amazon and ebay on Ipod when bored.

Hopezibah Thu 12-Jul-12 22:12:38

Thursday - Day 4 of challenge: Today was the hardest day so far. The children have 3 activities which I guess would have to go if this ever became our situation for real. The have a music lesson which works out at around £20 per week (and as they are home-educated, this is the only meaningful exposure they get to receiving the musical part of the curriculum as I can honestly say that i do not have a single musical bone in my body!), Karate works out about £16.30 a week for the 2 boys, and then my eldest goes to a special needs Drama group which is subsidised by a charity and we contribute £3 per week. As the eldest with ASD struggles with music, i also have to provide a 'reward' which today was a pack of stickers each so that was £1 (although that would have to go if necessary to be replaced with a trip to the park or something else that doesn't cost extra). All three of these activities are about a 30 minute drive from home and probably use up the most of the weeks petrol too. Because they are all very good with my ASD son and have experience with this, it is worth the journey to go to them rather than anywhere closer to home that could not meet his needs. This week, instead of making three separate journeys, we packed some sandwiches and hung around between the activities to reduce petrol costs. So todays activities alone came to around £40! Obviously if it came down to food or these activities - then they would have to be considered a luxury even though they have proved to be so valuable to my sons given their situation.

Last night, Granny babysat for us when we were round our friends house (this would normally cost us between £15 and £30 for a babysitter - but Granny stepped in to help out for free!). When we arrived home, we found out that my son had been telling Granny about how we have to live off £85 this week and that's why he is turning his light out at bedtime to save electricity because then we might be able to save up for a holiday! I hadn't quite realised how much they had taken notice of the challenge but i was very impressed with their commitment. Hopefully it also shows a level of understanding that if the situation were for real, they would understand about why certain things have to be given up.

Hubby getting a bit nervous now about lack of food shopping going on. He is down to his last bottle of fizzy water (although it is own brand - a luxury in my view). I have to admit that I am glad that this is his alternative to coca cola which he has given up as his main drink though as it is cheaper and far better for his health. So might have to give in and do a bit of food shopping in the next couple of days!

KittieCat Thu 12-Jul-12 22:31:52

Day four done (thank goodness).

I am in trouble. Went out last night and ended up spending £40, so I'm left with just £23.50 and I've still got three days to go.

Thankfully we don't need more food but I would have liked a bottle of wine and a nice dinner tomorrow rather than a cuppa and beans on toast!

I must learn to budget is a huge lesson I've taken from this exercise.

There are definitely things we should cut back on but we are tied into contracts. When they come to an end we need to think seriously about making such commitments.

We also need to save more money so we have a cushion. Hopefully budgeting and tightening our belts will mean we can do this in the medium / long term.

We tend to pay for things upfront where we can so that has helped as DS's groups/ classes have been paid for.

Here's to a cheap few days...

charlieandlola Thu 12-Jul-12 23:34:24

I think I can safely say that I have failed the challenge and busted the budget. Today I have spent :
£32 on new school uniform for Sept ( orders had to be in by today, should have done it last week, so it didn't count)
£8.80 on dd's school lunches for next week.
£40 on my cleaner blush. she would have to go if this was a real scenario.
£10 on swimming with my daughter, tea and cake in a cafe afterwards as I had by now given up for the day and thought s&^ it!
£90 on an online food delivery which will do us for the next 10 days as we have a freezer full.
Whoops!
In my defence, I did talk Dh out of a takeaway as I said I was trying to live off £85 for this thread. He burst out laughing, and said that the only reason heis not a rich man is simply because I cannot live off £85 a day let alone a week!

Grand total for today £180.80 blush which rather proves his point, unfortunately.

£83.00 so far
Today, no childcare, but the £3.60 for school dinners will put me over budget, and we will need some vegetables before Monday.
This week, we spent:
£14 on music clubs
£14 on afterschool (although this is childcare vouchers and we have about 6 months' worth surplus so I'm not sure if this counts)
£32.55 on food shopping
£7.05 on tea/coffee and cakeblush
I didn't count bills as the maths isconfused, but I assume that we'd get council tax relief and tax credits were our income to drop dramatically for a length of time, which would ideally cover them.
I'm away for the weekend so will be back online on Monday (but at least we've no more food or childcare costs).
Total £86.60 (although without after school it would have been £72.60)

Jasper1980 Fri 13-Jul-12 06:40:18

Well day 5: we don't have many plans today. I have woken up with stomach cramps, so will have to spend some of our last money on immodium blush. Needless to say I will be staying home today! It's looking dry outside, so different day different park! It's good my kids are young enough to just like free parks, so dp will take them. They are also going for a chippy(but DPs aunty owns it) will will cost next to nothing. Will report back with actual costs later.

This has been a challenge though. Between food and petrol that is £85 pretty much spent. How you are meat to pay mortgage and utilities too is beyond me.

gazzalw Fri 13-Jul-12 07:48:56

DW spent £8.30 on top food yesterday and then had to spend £4.60 on travel to DS's new secondary school which is a neighbouring town and not even walkable by her standards. So that leaves her with just under £10.00 but there's the issues of her meet-the-mummies-before-the-holidays-set-in dilemma today and not so sure she won't blow the rest of her budget on that.

As several posters, including myself, have pointed out I think this type of lifestyle, long-term, would really impact negatively on mental health. Think DW has actually been quite isolated at home this week and deserves some mummy solidarity. Besides she had already made the arrangements before the challenge arose and said she'd be just too embarrassed to cancel because "she can't afford it."

I didn't spend anything yesterday (so my money post still stands at £9.00) but I actually think it is a lot easier for me being at work and not having to buy household stuff personally. However, we are buying the Daily Mail (do I hear a collective groan?) at the moment at the weekends to save points to get a free Kindle, so newspaper costs will put a considerable dent in the rest of my meagre budget. If she does have lunch I get the feeling I will be subbing DW for milk at the very least over the weekend!

DW did provide all my lunches this week which meant my canteen expenditure was zilch, but then she is having to find that out of the budget, whereas in future I should be probably increasing the amount of money in the joint account to cover those additional costs.

What DW has done this week is to stay at home and only hit the shops when she has needed to buy something. But she has not bought any luxuries out of her money at all - not even a coffee - and the money is dwindling fast. She considers herself to be good with money but even she's admitted that she thinks she would need to majorly readjust her mindset to undertake this long-term. She has also confessed to checking all her coat pockets for loose change and was jubilant to find 95p on her hunt!

Have just been thinking that presumably if one was on SSP, if a one income family like ours is a the moment, the children would then be entitled to free school meals etc... A lot of the top-up shopping expenses this week have been lunchbox related, so some of those costs would be offset by the FSM wouldn't they? Doesn't make much difference but what we are learning is that every penny counts!

When we went to DS's new secondary school we discovered that they are now asking for a voluntary donation of £25 pcm for the good of the school (it was going to be £90 for the year). They are having their monies cut for all but three core A Levels (it's a super-selective and apparently a lot of the boys do at least four As if not more!) so need funds to make up the shortfall. Can you imagine that additional expense out of SSP????

unquietmind Fri 13-Jul-12 09:37:41

First post: Summary of our current situation.

Have been considering this challenge all week, so will start with the summary of my usual costs per month (family of 6)

Essential costs

Rent: 850
Food: 440
Petrol (for me): 250 - DH claims his petrol allowance back
Utilities (G/E/W): 250
Ctax: 125

Subtotal: 1915

_Additional costs_:

University fees: 150
Gym memberships: 66
Mobile phones: 65
Union membership: 15
Private dental: 15
Insurance: 15
Car 1: 249
Car 2: 100
Charitable donations: 15
Virgin Media: 65
Something always has to break fund: 100

Subtotal: 855

Total: 2770

Both wages & benefits (ish): 2736
Remainder -£34

We already go into -£34 debt every month (until the newer debts of £100 car and £150 student fees are paid off this year) and we will accumulate £238 of debt from this, I have not included the lads clubs which are one off payments 4 times a year, the extra costs of unexpected cinema dates, new clothes (I buy everything in charity shops for me and youngest, but our fashionable ones are not so certain) birthdays (6!) christmas, other peoples/families events, birthdays etc. I cant even think how we fit these in, because I always pay my bills first. We dont go on holiday.

So, if we remove all the additional costs and leave just the rent and food etc. we would be able to cover our costs and have some pennies left over.

For this exercise, I will remove my wages as I am the higher earner (my DH works part time to support my career development and our disabled DD) and sadly, see if we can cope with the struggle.

Merrylegs Fri 13-Jul-12 09:51:47

So, yesterday, took DD and DS to work with me and let them go to the co-op and buy their lunch as we didn't have any food left in the house to make packed lunches with! They went with £20 and I told them to spend wisely. They spent a fiver.

DD did get her ears pierced - £20 because of the earrings she chose. They do look v pretty though and she has agreed I can take £20 out of her savings account.

This pm I have to go into work again and DS1 is going to look after DD - she wants him to take her to the cinema. Again I wonder if I can ask DS to treat DD with his own money? He has a part-time job washing up in a pub. I will remind him of this challenge and see what he thinks and report back....

Now I have to go and buy dog food as they poor dog has run out. Unfortunately this entails a car trip to PAH, (the opposite direction from ANYWHERE) as they sell the only stuff the dog can tolerate. Another example of bad planning by me. I should have anticipated we were running low and factored in the trip when I was passing PAH earlier in the week. But I was trying not to spend money. Which has now turned out to be a false economy because now I have to spend the petrol to get there. Gah.

unquietmind Fri 13-Jul-12 09:54:29

Second Post - So far this week.

Okay, so now we have removed my wages as I am going on the sick, and added in the SSP (although fortunately I work for a company that pays good sick, but this will not be covered in this exercise).

New wages and benefits etc (85,+ DH + Benefits) = 1317

As our essential costs total 1915, as you can see we are already going to struggle. I already buy Insert supermarket chain value brands for our packed lunches, fruit & vegetables, dried and tinned goods, sauces, meat etc. The only value I do not consistently buy is toiletries and cleaning products. Looks like a trade down is due.

The rent isnt changing sadly. Its one of the cheapest properties in the area as most houses the size we rent are considerably more.

The water bill is pretty static, but I guess we are going to have to make the G&E plummet. As kids we had to share baths, I dont know if thats something to even consider with three boys. I have one of those egg timers already to say two minutes in the shower only, but my eldest certainly never listens and the middle two spend most of the time drawing on the glass. My DD needs a daily shower due to incontinence.

The electricity is going to have to come down too. We run computers, XBOXs, Wiis and TVs, so I think we are going to have to pull all of those and just watch the one TV with freeview in the living room. We dont use a dryer or dishwasher, so theres nothing to remove there, but with 6 people, and one who is regularly incontinent, the hum of the washing machine is never far from our ears.

Petrol, I can reduce this as I can get a season ticket for my travel to work for £95 a month. I pay off my insurance annually and have no MOT/tax disc due soon (thankfully!) However, as I travel for my job, I would have to lay out daysaver bus tickets and claim it back and wait two months. They also do not give you the full ticket, just the miles that you used the ticket for, and the season ticket to work would not cover the work travel (wrong direction). It would also mean a 35 minute walk to the station, an hour travel to the station I need with another 40 minutes to walk to work, which driving takes 25 minutes. BUT this would have to be done in the instance of this money shortage, and I wouldnt get precious time with my family in the morning or evening with all this travel I would be doing.

Can we do this.................................?

Rent: 850
Travel: 95
Water: 50
Ctax: 125

This leaves 197 a month for food, gas and electric. Less than 50 a week. I think Insert energy company are just going to have to send those red letters if this was real....

Going shopping tonight. Will keep you posted.

herethereeverywhere Fri 13-Jul-12 09:56:46

This morning DH went off to work with a sad looking lunch as we are coming to the end of the week and I need to do another shop but only have £20 left to last till Sunday.
I have been putting £10 a week in my DS bank account to save for when he is older. If I were really to live on just £85 a week that would leave us with just £10 till Sunday confused

aristocat Fri 13-Jul-12 11:32:28

Day 5 here ..... I have been food shopping this morning and spent the total of £31.99 which is alot less than my usual spend of £70-80. Sadly in my quest to save money today I have forgotten to get a chicken and some potatoes blush so will need to spend a few more pounds on those.

My spend total is now £76.76 so still under budget but I do realise that there has been no money spent on mortgage or utilities ???
I cannot imagine where the money for those would come from hmm

I would try to save money with petrol/car usage. We already walk to school and DH cycles daily so I do use the car as little as possible.
I also pay a swimming membership which is £23/month and this would have to go sad I swim four times a week and love it, it has made me so much fitter in the last few years.

moomoo1967 Fri 13-Jul-12 11:39:49

So far I have spent since Monday morning,
£8.54 in Lidl - Bananas, Spring Onions, Walkers crisps, Snack-A-Jacks x 2 multi bags, Beef Mince and Sour Cream and Chive. £2.00 in Iceland for Loo Rolls and New pototoes. £23.00 for DD's mobile Direct Debit. Total = £33.54
I always plan for the following week and buy the items for packed lunches/fresh fruit and veg.
Wed, Thu and Fri are usually No Spend Days as I am at work, very easy to not spend any money.
I have 4 pints of milk in the freezer which I got from M&S for 10p and I have enough ingredients to make a loaf of bread and some rolls for next week. DD is also going to make some cupcakes with the ingredients in the store cupboard to take to school on Monday instead of asking me for money to buy some.
I am also going to go to the local Veg shop before closing when they have bowls of fruit for £1 per bowl.
This is actually what I do every week in order to try and stick to a budget, sometimes any money we "save" goes on a treat. It has become a habit now to only shop when offers are on or to look for whoopsies. We have to have the odd treat to look forward to otherwise especially with the depressing weather life would be far too much grey and black and not enough yellow.
Tomorrow I am also going to update my freezer and store cupboard inventory and do a meal plan for the next two weeks to utilise the foodstuffs I already have, due to me having lost my purse last week and expecting a competition prize of £50 Aldi vouchers which were not in the envelope when I went to pick it up from the Post Office this has actually left me with not much money until I get paid at the end of the month.

overtherooftops Fri 13-Jul-12 12:58:11

Ok so day one Monday only spend was dc dinner money of 10 pounds. We live on quite a low income anyway so they are used to being told no.

Tuesday I spent 25 pound on essentials such as milk, bread and pasta, foods.

I find myself being more careful of what I am buying and spending more time looking at offers.

overtherooftops Fri 13-Jul-12 13:02:22

Housing is £70 a week rental but I'm guessing if I had to live on 85 pound a week I would get housing help. I could not get financial help from family as they are retired and not in a position to help long term.

overtherooftops Fri 13-Jul-12 13:10:46

Thursday I have spent three pound at local shop and 10 pound on teacher and ta gifts.

On Wednesday I had to get a bus and tram. This would be my biggest issue, we live middle of no where. This cost eight pounds.

Plus 10 pound electricity so think I am on sixty six pounds.

Water is around ten a week, tv licence on prepayment card is five . Then council tax etc.

I certainly couldn't afford to look for work on that amount nor manage until first pay day.

overtherooftops Fri 13-Jul-12 13:16:37

I thiink the summer holidays will be worse as we live in an area with no activities. We do have lego land passes for manchester but bus is eight pounds to get there.

aristocat Fri 13-Jul-12 13:31:58

I have spent another £6.49 today on chicken, potatoes and a reduced bar of Lindt chocolate.

Spend total is currently £83.25

Sorry, I have not answered the questions yet .....

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

I have realised that my food spending is the easiest to change and that I would need to alter my habits considerably. I do look for bargains now and for example only get frozen pizzas when they are reduced/2 for 1 etc.
The utilities - gas/water/elec/council tax/mortgage are much harder to change but we will endeavour to save money as much as possible by turning lights off, TV off.
The gadget that gets used the most is probably my laptop blush - perhaps I should limit my screen time too!

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Child Benefit.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

Not sure, as we are only one income family.

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?

We have no childcare bills but I find it hard to imagine having only £85 long-term.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

They are fine, I have explained that its for mumsnet. They are also very used to not always getting what they ask for. It would definitely be even more difficult in the school holidays.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?

My in-laws are very kind but I doubt that they could help us long term financially.

Any other issues/ comments?
Just that it is much much harder than I expected it to be shock

Haven't spent anything today. Although an expensive book order arrived today.

I'll answer the questions instead of doing a diary entry

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

I personally find food fairly easy to change. So we can live on fairly basic food. We tend to cook form scratch anyway, so we just reduce the amount of meat/buy cheaper cuts when we need to. I would find it very hard to drop the kids (and my) activities. We would have to if we were on SSP.

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Not sure what dh gets (he's the main earner). I am self employed. I get child benefit (not for much longer), higher rate DLA care and higher rate DLA mobility for ds1. We get some direct payments for ds1, although they don't usually provide childcare - ds1 too complex - just an extra pair of hands to help me out

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

I can't remember dh's benefits but we do both have critical illness cover.

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?

All the usual costs. Mortgage, utilities, car etc. Some repayments from loans we took out for ds1's therapies in the early years. We would struggle to cope with any reduction in salary - which is why we have critical illness cover.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

They haven't noticed. But this is a pretend situation, in the real world they would have had to drop the majority of their activities - which would affect them.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?

I expect my parents would help out with children related costs.

Dogwalks Fri 13-Jul-12 14:20:29

Day 3
Had to pay for summer clubs for kids £89.00.
Bought fruit and vegetables from Aldi £7.00.
I would find living on this budget really hard.
Day 4
Took the kids strawberry picking today £3.20, although they probably eat double that before getting their baskets weighed.
No other costs.

Dogwalks Fri 13-Jul-12 14:24:06

Day 5
Off work today,
Lunch £2.40
Hair £48.00, I managed to reduce the cost by not having it blow dried and having gone a shade darker I dont need it doing so often.
Need to buy chicken food £7.00 but we do get 4 fresh eggs everyday.
Husband came back from from being away all week having a bottle of wine £8.00.

likelucklove Fri 13-Jul-12 14:28:41

This post covers Wednesday and Thursday, since DD doesn't like me having a life grin

Wednesday was a low spend day. I didn't end up having to put petrol in the car (but it maaay be running on fumes!). We went to doctor's, DNan's, town (to see friends in my work) and then came home. My DNan made lunch so didn't spend anything, and I didn't have dinner as I picked a bit in the evening on bits and pieces.

Thursday, went to doctor's again. It's only about 5 mins away in the car, but can't walk it because part of the road is a dual carriageway and so not safe. Came back home and didn't have lunch because I wanted to sleep instead. Made up for it with dinner, using frozen chicken from the freezer and using a tomato sauce jar, with mashed potatoes and frozen vegetables. We still have a lot here, enough to last us over the weekend so not planning any more spending.

DP has cut down to spending £5 a day, since realizing that us trying to cut back will work. That's just on food from the cafeteria, tea is provided free of charge. Also forgot to mention he cycles back and forth to work, which stops any spending.

Spending up to Thursday - £62

I'm finding it ok, but I am sure if DD was older, it would be a lot harder. She only wants for milk, entertainment (she loves foil), and hugs. When children get older, they want for more and are harder to be entertained. We also miss meals a lot, what with trying to catch up on sleep/lack of time/forget.

This challenge has made me and DP re-think our savings altogether, and we are going next weekend to the bank to open up savings for DD and renew mine. We would like for DD to go to university if she wishes, so if we start saving now we can have something to help her.

The weekend may be a bit harder, but I am hopeful that we will make it to the £85.

Dogwalks Fri 13-Jul-12 14:39:14

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Child benefit for 2.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

Having given work up for 3 years when the kids where little I know I am entitled to nothing!

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?

Husbands wage would cover these. Lifestyle would change dramatically no clubs for kids, they don't ask for much as we have never been a family that are always consuming, but we do enjoy good holidays and meals out so they would stop.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

In the real world they would have had to drop the majority of their activities - which would affect them. They think its funny that I am even trying to stick to a budget.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?
I would never ask my family for support, unless we were going to starve or be made homeless. Although they would help, I feel they have worked hard all their lives never having got into debt and as such have taught me the same values, don't spend what you've not got.

moomoo1967 Fri 13-Jul-12 14:56:38

I have been looking at DirectGov to see if I can try to work out what money I would be eligible to if my employers did not have such a good sickness package. I suppose this would be if I was classed as not being able to work.
If I imagine that I have not earnt anything since the start of this tax year and cannot get a job as I am too ill. After I input :
Last years earnings £10591
Rent per year £8460
Council Tax £1140

It didn't ask me for any existing benefits but it did tell me that I would be eligible for :

Incomings
Child Tax Credit of £62.09 per week
Housing Benefit of £135.00 per week
Council Tax Benefit of 0.92p per week
Child Benefit of £20.30 per week
Weekly total = £218.31 per week + SSP of £85.00 = 303.31 per week.

Outgoings
Rent £162.69 per week
Council Tax £21.92 per week
Gas&Elec £15.92 per week
Sky £7.09 per week
Plusnet £3.80 per week
Mobile phones £7.15 per week
School lunches - free as would not be eligible for Working Tax Credit
Uniform - free as would not be eligible for Working Tax Credit

All the above comes to £218.57 and that is without clothing and food and any other essentials such as Contents insurance or Pet Insurance or any Debt Repayments.
There would have to be some major cutting back of utilities and luxuries but hard if you are under contract e.g. Sky, Plusnet, Mobile phones.
Either that or I would have to consider asking my Mum if I could move back in with her and her husband therefore uprooting my daughter and moving back up North. Originally when I was looking for somewhere to rent I did not have enough "points" to rent through the Council which would mean a lower rent.
I was always under the impression that if you didn't work that you got your Rent paid and your Council Tax paid but the figures above tell me that I would still have to find the majority of the Council Tax and part of the Rent.
I am not sure how reliable the figures are as there was some information I could not input.

As a round-up it would be very hard to sustain any sort of existence when there is only one income for a household and then that person is unable to work for an indefinate length of time and SSP of £85.00is the only income they would have besides benefits.

I am lucky enough that my employers offer a very good flexible benefits programme for it employees. I had to take six weeks off last year due to having two operations and received full pay for that time. Looking at this has made me appreciate my employers more.

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Fri 13-Jul-12 17:24:41

I haven't added everything up yet.

To be honest I feel like abit of a fraud doing this because in reality we would be sunk before we even started, on the basis of our fixed outgoings.

Was at a conference today. Free lunch! Made me think back to when I would put the individually wrapped biscuitson my bag so I could have "treats" for a few days.

It is my DN's birthday this weekend. I feel I have to spend what I would have done anyway (£15-£20). I remember one Christmas where we were really, really skint and it didn't feel good not being able to give "proper" presents. p

Jasper1980 Fri 13-Jul-12 18:38:53

Day 5: total spend was about £3. I had to get some tablets for my stomach. Apart from that we never spent anything and had to have a home day because of rain. On a usual day at home like this we would go to soft play, but this would have cost £10, something we barely have left. Out total left for the weekend is £12. And I will probably need that for food as we are running quite low on fruit and milk and bread.

If this was for real, we would be very much a family who could do very little. We already walk quite far so we use the car as little as possible, but this is a compromise we make to be able to afford kids clubs etc. but our general monthly outgoings are £1600 a month, dp earns a basic pay of £1900, but this is supplemented with night rates and overtime, so general take home pay is more. So we roughly have £130 ish a week to live on. Which doesn't doubt much, but this takes into account all clubs and bills being paid. We only need to get food from this and pay for incidentals. We would struggle to pay for everything on £85 a week, if we had to cover bills out of it. Even with assistance we would struggle.

I will be quite glad to see the end of this week. Although we are not rich by any stretch, I am now grateful for the little extra we do have.

SpottySlippers Fri 13-Jul-12 18:41:26

Day 5...........I spent £1.50 at the school lolly sale but aside from that nothing further today (I would have said no, if we were in receipt of SSP). The children are very good about accepting we cannot afford certain things.

I was talking to my MiL today about this challenge and she said she would support us if we were in a difficult position financially, this was very reassuring, although I would be mortified to take it. We are very fortunate with DH's sick pay policy (as posted previously) it would be a considerable amount of time before we would need to seek support from family and if he were off work long term sick, it would give us time to prepare for a much reduced wage.

llynnnn Fri 13-Jul-12 18:47:58

I've failed sad day 5 and we've spent £96 in total! I had to pay £8 to after school club, which we may not have to pay if one of us was on ssp and able to look after a 3year old!? I had to put £30 petrol in the car to get us to my sisters house tomorrow for my nieces birthday party, if this was real life then we would've probably said we couldn't make it, but how awful to be forced to miss a loved ones birthday, I also had to buy some top up shopping, bread & milk & fruit. So that's it! All gone and the dd's have dance class in the morning which is £5, although this would be stopped in real life situation. It's such a hard challenge and makes me realise just how much all these things add up to and how quickly the money goes....

R2PeePoo Fri 13-Jul-12 18:50:43

Day 5: Spent £9 in Waitrose on food to cheer me up after a hospital appointment and DH went shopping and spent £69 on food for the four of us for a week (which is more than I usually spend). The Waitrose spend would disappear were we on SSP. I suspect we are very close to the £85 and will go over with the weekend still to go.

Got the gas/electricity bill today and it was £200. We pay 3 monthly and it would require strict budgeting to ensure we would put enough aside over those months to pay for it. Perhaps if we were on SSP we would switch to direct debit to make budgeting easier and to cover us over the winter months without a massive bill in January.

trickquestion Fri 13-Jul-12 18:55:26

Day five. Didn't spend anything today as had lunch with my Mum and she paid. Need to do a big shop tomorrow which will use up the rest of the budget I guess. Have managed to get through the week without putting diesel in the car by walking to work. I hating not being able to browse the shops even charity ships as I will end up buying something I don't really need. On the plus side British Gas paid us back nearly £200 as we'd overpaid. Can I go shopping now

Have not yet spent any money today, but we are about to head out to Lidl and Aldi for part of the fortnightly grocery shop and I am not sure we will be able to stick within the budget. In fact, I know we won't!

Also, earlier tonight dh said he was planning a daytrip out for tomorrow. But by the time we looked at the cost of getting there, entry fees, food whilst there, it added up to nearly £50. We don't have £50 left this week so we gave up on the idea. (Dh suggested we should stay home and do gardening instead hmm)

Hopezibah Fri 13-Jul-12 19:02:29

Friday - Day 5 of challenge. Today the kids attended a home ed ice skating session. For £4 each, they got a lesson, skate hire, a parent free inc skate hire and as long as they wanted on the ice afterwards. My youngest son was struggling so we gave in and hired a 'penguin' skating aid for him which was actually expensive at £3 for 30 mins hire! The other big 'no no' was that because of the strict timings for the lesson and the long journey there and having a tiny baby to feed, change, sleep etc we bought some sandwiches to have for lunch and a copy of this weeks paper but that was only because it had a full page feature on my son "Autistic boy thrives after leaving school" and we needed to get that as a keepsake for him after all the negativity he experienced when at school. We also needed a bit of top up shopping (bread, milk, bananas) so total shopping spend was £17. The boys have boys brigade on fridays too but this only averages out around £2 for both of them each week. Dinner was spag bol made with store cupboard ingredients plus mincce i had frozen in the freezer so approx cost of dinner would be around £5. So total spend for today £35. All of today would be considered a luxury with the exception of the bit of food shopping i suppose even though the skating was really good value (it would normally cost around £30 to go instead of £8 that we paid today).

It was my dad's birthday today and we sent a home made card plus a photo that we printed at home for him but that got me thinking about the kids birthdays, and the children's friends birthdays and how we would never have enough to buy gifts if we only had £85 income!

I have also realised that (primarily because of our commitments to activities) we have now exceeded the budget. Taking mortgage and bills into consideration then this £85 a week budget would be an impossibility for us at the current time because our mortage alone is over £250 per week. However, it has definitely helped us think about what is essential and what is not and one benefit of that has been that it has helped my waistline as i have eaten far less treats and snacks this week.

I am pleased with how far I have managed to stretch the food - we started the week without stocking up to make it a fairer experiment and I have not done a main food shop this week, but by using various storecupboard ingredients and other bits and pieces that i would have bought when they were on 2 for 1 offers etc, we have managed a whole week of dinners. We also have avoided a takeaway this week, which sometimes we resort to if i haven't had time to cook and we have not had a meal out - not even macdonalds.

I also haven't filled the car with petrol this week because that would also cause another huge dent in the budget. we have reduced journeys where possible but again our pre-exisitng activity commitments for the kids have created the longest journeys. I feel that they would be the ones that would have to give up the most if this situation was real.

It has also helped me realise just how resourceful and creative those with this level of income have to be and i am really glad that this is only a weeks challenge for me as it does require far more forward planning e.g. for meals and a lot of self control to not give into getting treats. I hope that it has also helped the children realise just how lucky they are too!

Cremolafoam Fri 13-Jul-12 20:18:19

Day 5
Everything gone to hell in a handbasket as my dear friend and colleague has died.
Spent £ 40 on flowers and £ 60 on food for the funeral tomorrow.
Don't regret this spending for a heartbeat. Would borrow if I hadn't got it.
sadsad sad sad day .

suzikettles Fri 13-Jul-12 20:41:28

Back to day 1.

Tesco shop was a bit more this week - c£55, but we were shopping for our holiday which luckily was all paid for before dh went off sick and I've managed to put away some spending money. I've been really, really looking forward to it and although we'll still have to be careful with the cash we'll be being careful on a beautiful Scottish island for a week - here's hoping for some dry weather!

Jasper1980 Fri 13-Jul-12 21:10:00

Cremola very sorry to hear that sad

Oh Cremola, I am so sorry to hear that... sad

As for the challenge, well day five continued with a trip to Aldi / Lidl. We go every other week to stock up on their cereal, chocolate spread, biscuits, shampoo, showergel, toothpaste, cleaning materials etc.
Total spend spread between the two shops was £76.24. I only had £45.78 left to spend so I am now over budget.

I cant' think of areas we could have cut back on. I chucked a packet of pastel gel pens into the trolley as a shopping filler for dd (cost £1.49) but other than that, we need cleaning materials, we eat breakfast cereal and thus buy cheap at Aldi/Lids and ditto the biscuits, they are cheap (45p for bourbons, 39p for fig rolls) and the kids and dh like them for a treat after school / with a cuppa of an evening.
Yes, we could cut them out but the money they would save would be negligibe.

I have now failed the challenge but will carry on trying to be frugal and logging out spend.

I will also answer the questions at the end of the challenge in my summing-up post.

But fo rnow, the thought of having to live on £85 pw fills me with fear. It is simply not feasible. What if a tyre bursts on the car, the dc need new school shoes, what about money for clothing? There woudl be nothing. It would not be possible to have any sort of life, surely?

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Fri 13-Jul-12 22:06:18

so sorry cremola sad

CouthyMow Sat 14-Jul-12 02:52:48

Just to point out that if a Lone Parent is off sick from work on SSP, they DON'T have an additional income in the household to cover mortgage, utilities and food. The £85 coming in is all they have.

And critical illness cover doesn't always pay out - it pays to check the small print VERY carefully, as some critical illness policies will say that "If symptoms of a disability or illness are present before this policy is taken out, and that disability or illness is later diagnosed during the duration of this policy, it will be classed as a pre-existing condition and will invalidate this policy."

I fell foul of that one - my epilepsy was misdiagnosed as depression symptoms, and when I was diagnosed and the NHS admitted they had misdiagnosed me in the past, my critical illness policies refused to pay out...

Please check the small print of your critical illness cover with a fine-toothed comb.

Oh - and to the poster who said that Uniform is free if you are on a low income but not in receipt of Working Tax Credits - that is NOT TRUE in some LA's. My LA doesn't help ANYONE with school uniforms, and Free School Meals are only for those with a total household income (including Tax Credits help with childcare and Housing Benefit...) of LESS THAN £16,000. I would check with your school office for your LOCAL rules on those two issues!

CouthyMow Sat 14-Jul-12 02:56:19

BehindLock - that's true. Which is why people on Income Support/JSA who receive a maximum of £71 a week (IF they have no debtors, who can apply to have their debts paid from the source, taken out of the IS/JSA before it is paid out to the claimant, thus leaving them with even less) say they are struggling.

Yes, they may get Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit for their DC, but in essence, for themselves, they are surviving (Note, surviving, not living ) on a maximum of £71 a week...

CouthyMow Sat 14-Jul-12 02:57:58

Erm, you don't RUN a car on £85 a week. You walk or use public transport.

Your DC's need new shoes? You either go without food for yourself AND the DC to pay for them, or you go without food AND you don't pay at least one bill to pay for them...

CouthyMow Sat 14-Jul-12 02:59:56

But we're all benefit scrounging scum who are raking it in and stealing taxpayers money, aren't we? We all choose to be this hard up, because it's sooooooo enjoyable telling your DC's that for the 50th week in a row that no, they can't have a comic, because you just DON'T have the money. hmm

gazzalw Sat 14-Jul-12 07:40:05

Yesterday DW went £16 over budget because she did go out for lunch with her friend in the end. She fully accepted that she just wouldn't be doing this on £85 a week budget, but as I said, as she only sees this friend rarely for catch-ups, she felt it justified.

I spent £4.50 on a bottle of wine for the evening - felt it justified as it's been a long, tiring week with lots going on for DCs and at work. That leaves me with £4.50 for the weekend ;-(

I guess if there had been lots of 'heavy' demands on our money for emergencies or unforeseen circumstances, the wine, the lunch out and even the new school cardigan would have been off the agenda for sure. But the school cardigan would still need to be bought at some stage so that would count as a 'put-off till another time' expenditure rather than an unnecessary one.

Usually DW wouldn't be spending £4.60 on public transport either and would always consider whether she would really be justified travelling into London or out to a larger town to do shopping etc.... We are lucky that we/she can relatively easily walk to about four different shopping centres.

As CouthyMow points out living on this amount would mean constant juggling and probably 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' type of finance management that would be a total headache.

It would also be very difficult to properly maintain friendships - although I know friends will be generous and provide treats once or twice, I think even rich ones would be reluctant to be always picking up the bill! Also, pressies for birthday parties for DCs' friends would become an impossible luxury and that would be extraordinarily hard on friendships - it wouldn't be long before the invitations would just stop rolling in. Making a family even more isolated and depressed.

Perhaps Mumsnet should challenge a few CEOs and MPs to try this out!

likelucklove Sat 14-Jul-12 08:30:40

Friday turned into a no spend day again for me. MIL had DD, so I spent the day indoors painting. I had bran flakes for breakfast, jacket potato and cheese for lunch, and chicken Kiev, potato waffles and frozen veg for dinner.

DP did spend £5 again, taking the weekly total to £67.

This weekend will be hard I think. We don't need food but we often visit DP's family on the weekend, so spend a lot of petrol and often need to get sandwiches from a supermarket.

Couthy, you may still have a car which you had from before times became hard. And it may only be an old banger but it may be something you have hung on to because public transport is so expensive?
You would not buy a car if you were on £85 a month, but if you had one before you were made redundant you would probably, in the first instance, try to hang on to it. (to get to job interviews and the like if nothing else...)

herethereeverywhere Sat 14-Jul-12 10:05:21

Today we are going to a swimming lesson which has been paid for in advance so no cost there. We have hardly any food left though so its left over casserole for dinner tonight. Hoping to not spend any money today as we have only £10 left and we are going to a friends for dinner tonight and do the last £10 will be spent on a gift for them.

Jasper1980 Sat 14-Jul-12 11:43:12

Day 6: well the fruit bowl is looking very empty. Milk we are rationing for tea and coffee as we are almost out too. I had £12 but had to put £10 petrol in the car as it was running on fumes. So we have spent £83 this week. Leaving us £2 until Monday when the challenge will be over for us.

We are not doing much today. Kids are bored and want to go to the cinema. I had to say no to this obviously as it costs us almost £40 for tickets alone. So we are making a castle out of the cardboard we usually take to the recylcling centre. See its little things like that we would have to stop. Our local collections take bottles and wheelie bins. They don't take cardboard, despite our local council having a container for it at the tip. So we(being as green as we can) take a trip with all out cardboard, once a week, to the tip. It's a bit away from us , so we drive. But the would have to stop if we were on £85 a week as we couldn't afford the petrol(or the car).

I will be glad when this is over tomorrow. We will need no shop tomorrow and technically it will take us over budget but it will be for next weeks shopping, so I won't include it as part of the challenge. We have just enough food left to see us for our next two dinners. Thank god for menu planning, it makes it so much easier. Lunches will be soup that I am making with the leftover veg that's started to look a bit sorry for itself. Dessert today will be apple crumble with the slightly bruised apples the kids won't eat out of the fruit bowl. I will take my last £2 to asda later and see how far I can stretch it on whoops items for a treat tomorrow.

Right , haven't had proper access to t'interweb all week so have handwritten my diary and I'm gonna transfer it I that's ok ?

Monday 9/7/12 - today started with an empty petrol tank so had to put 20pounds in there. Already that feels a bit scary as I'm down to 55 pounds. Really tried hard not to spend anything else but I didn't plan ahead to take any lunch to work do spent 5pounds on lunch. Now down to £50.00 and feel a bit panicky tbh

Wednesday 11/7/12 - had a successful day today with remembering to take lunch to work so no spending there. Spent 2.20 on school lunch for Ds and 3.00 in school play tickets. Had eye test booked tonight which thankfully was free as a retest otherwise that would have been £20.00.
Stopped at Tesco to get Ds a present that his nanny had given him the money for and ending up spending £23,00 on cat food and top up shopping.

Thursday 12/7/12 - realised today that there is no way on earth we could live on this amount. I'm in the fortunate position that DH pays all of the bills so my wage literally gets spent on my personal bills - phone , car etc. we would not be bale to pay even The mortgage with £85.00 pounds per week and this scares me. I worked out that my outgoings alone would have to be cut drastically. I spend £100.00 per month on pet Insurance and my horse costs me £200.00 per month, with a further £70.00 a month being spent on pet food :-0

Relying only on SSP I would have to seriously rethink my ability to
Keep my pets :-( they suddenly seem very much a luxury. There is also no way in earth could I afford to run a car As I have put £20.00 in the tank today. That's £40.00 this week and almost half of my total weekly income. Living without a car I would have to find a new job as it would be impossible to get there, my Ds would also have to change schools as I would not be able to gett him there

Saturday 14/7/12 - had to pay for Ds cubs last night which was 9.00 pounds. And a further £3.00 pounds for a shooting event. This leaves me out of cash and I still have swimming, tennis and riding lessons to pay for. All of those would have to stop on SSP and that makes me sad that Ds would potentially miss out on so much

In summary, this challenge has really made me think about how much we spend. We do really need to make cut backs yet still seem to haemorrhage money. This week I have spent all of the £85.00 pounds and not even taken into account any bills- it just whittled away on petrol and incidentals. I haven't even bought any wine or books ! !

It is scary to realise that should we find ourselves in this position we would sink without trace as we have no savings of any kind. Given that I am very ill with a long term illness and every day at work is a battle, we really should give this more thought.

I managed to get my son back from school yesterday, but the little petrol light is on on the dashboard. No going out this weekend as I am over budget already thanks to the puncture. We usually have a roast dinner on Sunday, so we will tomorrow as normal, but we have no roasting joint, we'll have 2 chicken drumsticks each which I will roast. The only veg that's left is 1 carrot and frozen sweetcorn so they'll do. I said at the start that I wouldn't use stuff up from the freezer, but we have to.

This is no fun, and I couldn't do this for more than another week. This has been very hard, and we still have tomorrow to go. I don't know how people with mortgages manage if they go onto SSP, because £85 per week may not even cover an interest-only mortgage. With nothing left for bills and food. I assume that people on SSP get other benefits like council tax benefit etc, and people surviving on this income have my sympathy and respect.

Katamariy Sat 14-Jul-12 13:06:45

Friday visited Dm with the children so needed bus fare, had dinner there so didn't cost anything. Later did weekend shopping with Dh, he was worse than shopping with Dcs, picking up lots of snacks and wine. As a result I now have £10 left for the weekend.
Saturday kung fu lesson for Dcs and school fete today. Could not afford to do both so Dcs chose the fete. Went for a walk to the beach instead of kung fu.

CouthyMow Sat 14-Jul-12 13:10:32

You don't keep the car. You have to pay for Tax, insurance, MOT and any repairs. How would you manage that on just £85 a week?

You rearrange your entire life around public transport and walking. You move your DC's school to an accessible one. Even if they are settled and happy, and the closer school is a failing school. You move jobs to one that is accessible.

The party invites for your DC's DO slow down or stop if the presents you are buying are from Poundland as that's all you can afford, or even NO present if the party is at short notice.

Clubs and activities for both yourself AND your DC have to stop - they are outside the budget, unless you have kind family to pay for them for you.

School trips, even those essential to their education, have to be done, at least the essential ones, but if it is short notice, then the money comes out of a food budget that is already pared back to less than the minimum. For trips that you get notice for, you scrape literally pennies each week to pay for them, or you get loans from doorstep providers (the only ones offering you credit) at roughly 200% APR. Or more if you have to resort to Wonga and the like - approaching 4300% APR. (!)

Clothes - supermarket or Secondhand shop (if your school has one), worn until so small as to be useless or worn out with holes that have been patched 3+ times. You get very good at make do and mend.

Shoes - You take out a loan. At the aforementioned horrific interest rates.

A Social life just doesn't happen.

Mobiles for your DC? Doesn't happen. Or they can have one, and get £5 credit for birthday & christmas.

Internet -only if it is paid for by a family member, as mine is.

So you can become completely Socially excluded.

Even a chocolate bar for your DC's becomes a 'considered purchase'.

Pets - a Luxury. I REALLY want another dog, I miss my Ozzydoggy, but the food, insurance, vaccinations, flea treatments and vet bills are just out of budget.

On SSP, Eye tests aren't free, and neither is Dental treatment. Root canal treatment costs £450. A tooth extraction costs £47. Good teeth are a luxury. As are glasses.

My glasses cost me £200, as I have to have flexy titanium frames so that they don't snap when I have a seizure. I have had the same frames for 5 years now, they just put my new lenses in them. For the last year, I have een trying to save for new frames, as they are on their last legs. I have managed to save £100. I won't get the new glasses I need NOW until this time NEXT YEAR.

And that's only if none of my essential equipment (crosses fingers and touches wood that it doesn't happen) breaks down. Because if my washing machine needed repairing, or my cooker or fridge freezer needed replacing, that £100 saved for my glasses would have to be spent on repairs or replacements.

If it isn't possible to afford to repair or replace that large item, with the demise of the Social Fund loan coming in April, then I would have to resort to a pay-as-you-use place like Brighthouse. Again with extortionate interest rates, and you are likely to need a replacement just as you have finished paying for the first one. So you are FOREVER paying Brighthouse for your large equipment, with high interest rates, which pushes you FURTHER into debt.

When my disability was diagnosed, I had £20k savings. That lasted just 8 months.

This is what real life is like for thousands of people. Surviving rather than living. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Constantly getting harassed for bills and debts they haven't paid. When the only place left to take money from is an already over-stretched food budget...

And people wonder why the riots happened? How dispossessed would YOU feel after a year of living like this? Two years? Five years? I don't condone the riots, far from it, but I can understand WHY they happened...

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Sat 14-Jul-12 13:35:00

Friday, cleaning day so didn't go out and didn't spend. think thats the trick stay in and you can't spend.
Saturday went for a coffee with friends £2.20 (£5 left) saving moneys great for the diet as I didn't have cake. We are off to a garden party tonight so free drink and food here we come!

I am ill today, so the busy (expensive) day we had planned hasn't really happened. DH cooked a (rare) fry up this morning for the 5 of us. On £85/week budget that wouldn't happen.

I can see that on £85 /week our life would be the situation described in CouthyMow's post. My glasses are 10 years old as it is, but I mainly wear contact lenses so they're very much a fallback. If I needed glasses on a budget I would be stuffed.

I do feel that living on £85/week would be somewhere beyond depressing. It would be survival. Personally I wouldn't miss the non-essentil material items (I can rarely bring myself to buy new clothes etc anyway) - although I would count washing machines, tumble dryers, hoovers, fridge/freezers, TV and internet as essentials (with a dishwasher as a 'nearly essential') and if any of those broke I would have to get them repaired or replaced - very difficult. We don't go on holiday anyway so I wouldn't miss that. I would really really miss the little luxury items - a cup of coffee out and about, an occasional lunch out, a magazine, a chocolate bar. Most of all I would miss mine and the kids activities - all of which would have to go.

trickquestion Sat 14-Jul-12 13:50:04

This challenge is harder at the weekend as DC not at school, (and weather shit). I'm probably going to have to take them to cinema this afternoon but it's not city prices, so £15 total. I'm finding the whole thing very sobering, especially reading the posts from some people for whom this is a long term reality. I thought I generally watched the pennies and lived quite frugally as we have a small income, but this has shown that I can be quite profligate and can certainly afford some luxuries.

Oh spoke too soon. Because I have flu I have decided not to go and see ds2 in a performance he is in this afternoon, don't want to spread it. Which means I have to buy an official DVD to see him - £15. Had I gone we probably wouldn't have bought one (might have).

I think for me, I would find the inability to just buy things like the DVD above really hard. And of course that would be the case on £85 a week. And god knows how anyone affords school trips etc - ime they don't always give much notice.

R2PeePoo Sat 14-Jul-12 16:01:26

We went out to town today, we drove because it was raining (and I'm still in pain) and parked in a multistory at £4 for 2 hours. Once out we picked up some large pictures that we had had made (£50), spent £10 in Wilkinsons, went to a cafe for a cake (£5). Tomorrow DH is taking the DC to his parents 2 hours away.

Next week I have a dental hygienist appointment (£20) and a doctors appointment that will probably result in multiple prescriptions at £7 each.

I don't think any of this would have been possible on SSP. We would certainly have very limited use of the car, if at all. I am very good at finding bargains and buying ahead for birthdays (DD's presents for her recent birthday had a RRP of £70 but I picked them up for £15 over 6 months in sales and things) but that relies on having the spare cash at that moment to spend on these things. DC are both very young and luckily DD is not fussy over what she gets for her birthday, but I could imagine this being an issue in a year or two. Things like replacement school uniform, finding money for school trips etc would become an enormous struggle, I would buy a lot more second hand for a start.

A few weeks ago I took my shopping list and costed it at around £50-60 at Sainsburys. I managed to get it down to £35 by walking around town for three hours, carefully buying different things in different shops to make sure I got the lowest prices. It was cheaper but so much harder, especially with a toddler along for the ride. I had to continually work out what was the cheapest deal and remember all the special offers etc at different shops. I am actually ill at the moment, too ill to work (even to be a SAHM) and one of the things that is keeping me going is all the little treats, things that make life easier and more pleasant. DH went out yesterday and bought a £200 dishwasher so I didn't have to wash up any more, we have had lots of little shops of tempting foods to encourage me to eat, I have £45 worth of vouchers I have earned from surveys/reviews that I can spend on myself rather than essentials. When I am cold we can have the heating on, when I need new shoes I can buy them without thinking.

I wear glasses and they have broken recently, but luckily Specsavers were able to fix them for free both times. Were I to need new ones I would have to resort to sticky tape and superglue were we on SSP, or use one of the outdated prescription ones I have stored in a drawer. Rather than using the optician I suspect I would use one of the online spectacle companies to save money.

Appliances-We recently extended the warranty of our two year old washing machien to five years for £140 which makes sense as it is cheaper than a new machine. But we only had a month to decide on whether we would be taking up the extended warranty-not long enough to save up the money were we on a reduced budget.

I know I could make £200-500 a year by writing reviews if I took it seriously, currently I make £100 a year by writing one a week for one site. If I tripled this and posted on both sites, plus put the time into rating other peoples reviews I could make a lot more. I could make £50 more if I answered every survey that was sent to me rather than ignoring them, plus I would try mystery shopping which I currently ignore as I have the luxury of doing so. I don't do them because its hard work and incredibly boring/time consuming for slow rewards. I guess I wouldn't have the luxury were we on SSP.

We are very lucky in that we live in a very good area and DD has several friends who pass hand me down toys and clothes to us for DS. Also there are lots of opportunities for small profits e.g. DD's school fair has a toy stall where there are an awful lot of very good quality toys with little/no wear donated and sold for pennies. Charity shops are excellent too and I could take that further if I needed to. I have a lot of academic books and already sell in small amounts on Amazon and Amazon trade in which I do in dribs and drabs when I can muster the energy. I know what sells and currently don't h
have the time or energy to manage this, but would if I needed to. I don't think the money would go very far or last very long though.

Birthday presents for DD's friends would be harder. Currently I go to TK Maxx and pick up something there, especially in the sales and I have a present box full of things that I picked up very cheaply. This is fine now, but occasionally I do buy special things for her best friends (£10 Lego etc) which would have to be forgotten about and would make me very uncomfortable. Last birthday DD got lots of very generous birthday presents that were perfect for her. To give generic presents would make me feel very awkward in the playground and would make me less likely to accept birthday invitations.

Having done this challenge it makes me realise just how important it is to be well insured and protected and it increases my determination to save money rather than spend it. I thought we were pretty frugal but even I found it hard to live just for one week on £85 and I have an increased understanding and sympathy for those for whom it isn't a choice. It was miserable and timeconsuming and utterly depressing. A lot of the things that make life enjoyable would be gone and whilst we could live on £85 a week it would be utterly miserable.

aristocat Sat 14-Jul-12 16:06:36

Day 6

DS has gone to his best friends house and DH has been fishing earlier today. No more money spent today so still £83.25

Hoping not to spend any this weekend .....

I do consider myself careful with our finances, wheras actually this has shown me that there is so much more that I could and will do shock

Merrylegs Sat 14-Jul-12 17:24:55

My total spend for the week has been £87. But that is just 'incidentals' - birthday present, lunch out, extra groceries from Co-op, petrol. That's aside from all the stuff I have to pay (mortgage/bills etc). DH has spent almost nothing on incidentals as he has been working and claims his mileage. But we had a car tax bill of £250 this week. There is always something.

If we had to live on SSP now we would get rid of the car, sell the house and downsize and be creative about the kids extra-curricular activities - eg DS1 would have to fund everything through his washing-up job, DS2 would have to apply for grants and funding for his sport and DD would have to move school. It makes money - or the lack of it - all you think about. It becomes incredibly boring. It's existing, not living.

There are other creative ways of 'paying' for stuff. I belong to a LETS scheme (Local Exchange Trading Scheme). eg I donated five (old) chess sets to the primary school who were starting up a chess club. I got 10 'LETS' a set (virtual tokens). Someone else in the scheme is a hairdresser who charges 10 'LETS' for a haircut. I have used my LETS for haircuts for my kids. I am going to earn more LETS by walking a neighbour's dog and spend them on eggs and veg from another LETS member. It's a virtual bank account. Sure, it won't pay your mortgage, but I think local trading schemes like these are good for communities.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 14-Jul-12 17:47:27

Hello challengers - nearly at the end of the week....

Unum have asked me to add these final questions for you to think about in your round up.
Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

Thanks, Ann

Elkieb Sat 14-Jul-12 18:01:33

Have spent the week trying to spend not much, but spent £52 on shopping today which has left me with not much at all. I'm not sure how anyone could do this for long. I'm basing my week on my DH's wage would cover rent and bills and we would live on my wage. Feel very hemmed in as wanted to go for a coffee but went home instead. All the nice things in life are very restricted.

Elkieb Sat 14-Jul-12 18:05:11

This week has madee watch every penny rather than buying what I want- not that I want very much. I think that I will try to remain more careful- the money I have will be reducing when I go back to work and I have been worried about surviving. I will survive, but I don't that £85 a week is a living wage.

SpottySlippers Sat 14-Jul-12 18:05:46

Day 6.........we spent £7.19 on a top up shop (bread, milk, apples and bananas), prices have really gone up of late, especially fruit (I buy frozen veg where possible now as this is cheaper). The children accepted the no treats response as they were excited about getting to the library to sign up for the summer reading challenge and their free stickers!

The children need hair cuts but I will leave this until next week, for the sake of this challenge to keep my spend down blush; if we were in receipt of SSP then I would have to do it myself......my last attempt would suggest that this really is a last resort option. DH is currently making tortillas from scratch for tea to save a £1!

Will round up the week tomorrow.

herethereeverywhere Sat 14-Jul-12 18:15:40

So last day tomorrow and have £8.10 left. Took my DS to swimming earlier as that is prepaid I am not including it in the costs however I had to pay for parking which I had not thought of before.
The last bit of money will be spent on a bottle of wine or something as we are going to a friends house for Sunday lunch and would feel awful turning up empty handed sad

suzikettles Sat 14-Jul-12 18:18:49

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Not really - see post above. Basically my employer coverage is pretty generous and no company would touch dh anyway. I have massively rethought our spending/saving targets though and hopefully when dh is back at work we'll be in a better position as we'll be less likely to waste money.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
No - see above. It's just too expensive for people on our income versus likelihood of it being useful. The "worst" has happened in our case, and income protection wouldn't have paid out (pre-existing, unpredictable period of sickness, lots of short(ish) periods of sickness as dh makes multiple attempts to return to work).

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
No. My employer already offers good sickness t&cs and I doubt a private firm would offer better. It'll be a cold day in hell before dh's employers offer their staff anything like this (they don't even do childcare vouchers).

gazzalw Sat 14-Jul-12 18:42:44

DW and DD had a very quiet day after a trip to the local library. But did go to Boots and used Boots points to buy a couple of necessities to value of £3.49 so as not to go futher over budget. I took DS to a history event which cost £2.50 and spent my remaining cash on milk and a copy of The Daily Mail.

In answer to the official questions:

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

No not really because my work package pays me full-pay for about six months of illness so quite generous really although my salary package isn't particularly good for my skill-set and experience. Plus we have a mortgage protection insurance policy.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

No not really unless I were to change job and not get 'generous' illness benefits. As I've said we have mortgage protection and we have been questioning the merit of that. We haven't used it in 11 years and have contributed £1200 per annum so would have built up a nice little nest egg if we'd just put that money away. So if anything it has made us scrutinise our payment further and truly consider whether it is just 'money down the drain'

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

No I don't really need to as mine seem okay, but if DW were to go back into the job market it would be something to consider. In a way a lower salary but with better sickness benefits might be preferential to higher salary with SSP ones in the event of protracted illness!

StellaMarie Sat 14-Jul-12 19:25:46

Well everything was going well until yesterday when an unscheduled trip to the doctor meant buying a prescription and a couple of other bits. £19.42 later and the £85 budget has been blown. Thankfully the antibiotics are kicking in so I'm beginning to feel better but in reality I would have either had to forgo one of the medicines or borrowed from my mum.

The food has lasted well and the economies we made have been successful, however, it's proved to me that planning is the key to everything.

Because we had blown the budget we had a very low-spend today. The dc wanted bacon rolls from the bakers for their lunch (we walked past the village bakers on the way home from walking the dog) but as I had a loaf of bread and bacon at home we made our own.
The constant rain has meant we stayed home the rest of the day, watching tv, etc. Of course whilst this meant we have not spent any money as such, our electricity usage would be higher than on a day when we are all out. That thought scares me, that unless you are in bed asleep you are spending money...

We had to go to the pet shop to buy dog food. Total spend £7.72. Were already overdrawn so what would we have done in reality? Not fed the dog? Got rid of the dog?

Awful thought, awful way to live sad

In answer to the questions:

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

We don't have any mortgage protection or income protection. We can't afford it for starters. What we are going to do is build up a 'rainy day' fund which we can use should dh lose his job. My job pays peanuts and the money is for hobbies, clothes, etc. But dh's salary pays mortgage, bills etc. We need a bit set aside to use in an emergency.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

No. I don't know how we could safeguard our income apart from being careful with what we spend. Dh has been made redundant several times, luckily he has always managed to find work again quickly. He is keeping up with developments in his industry and the latest regulations to remain as employable as possible.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

Neither dh's work nor mine offer any sort of employee benefits package. So this is not an option.

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Only in the fact that I will try my hardest to save more. I really can't afford those 'income protection' things that I'm probably not going to need, and if I don't then it's money down the drain.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
The above answer covers this as well.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
No. I work on the 'bank' at the local hospital. There are no schemes for me as I am not part of the permanent staff.

R2PeePoo Sat 14-Jul-12 20:34:10

I did a longer round up above but have come back to answer the questions.

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Answered above-more likely to save rather than spend. Reinforced the need to be well-protected.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

We are certainly going to recheck our existing plan and re-evaluate.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

I know about the level of income protection in DH's employee benefits package.

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Sat 14-Jul-12 21:20:25

I spent £20 on DN's birthday present today. I'm going to use
an old gift bag for it, as I usually would when possible.

I know that if we were trying to get by on £85 a week I wouldn't be buying presents, or anything else, in John Lewis.

When things have been tight we have had to buy Christmas presents at Poundland, "regift" and sell presents on Ebay. It is so wearing living like that.

Elkieb Sat 14-Jul-12 22:05:12

I have been thinking about how this challenge has affected my week, and it reminds me if when I was at my poorest, and when anything unexpected or extra came up i'd be totally stuck. I've had to call in sick for work because I couldn't get there, eat plain jacket potatoes for a week as I couldn't afford anything else. I've been terrified to become like that again and my full to bursting cupboards, fridge and freezer are testament to that fear. I don't think I will ever get over that as it was my way of life for about 10 years. I still feel poor but the thought of living on so little makes me feel shaky and anxious.

unquietmind Sat 14-Jul-12 22:14:59

Went to costco and whilst considering this challenge wondered whether tea could be the 24 packets of instant noodles for the six of us for 4 days......they were 3.99....

My shopping budget has gone over 85 this week even though everything i bought was value. One of my biggest costs is meat for the family (veggie myself) and incontinence products for my daughter which i obviously cannot forgo. Ive still had to travel towork, but ive declined all invites out and done nothing today as the kids werent interested when they found out it was a walk to the local gardens.

We dont drink, smoke, go out weekly or anything anyway and this whole exercise has just awakened me to the drudge of daily living and how sad I am.

Back to reading books now.....

lisad123 Sat 14-Jul-12 22:30:10

I have struggled to stick to this this week BUT have been here before (not too long ago) and know I can stick to £85 a week if I needed to.
When dh was dx with cancer a few years back his work allowed him 4 months off with full pay, and my work I had four weeks off full pay. We are very lucky to work for great companies.
We also have a different situation to most with two disabled children, and while I'm not willing to tell the world about what benefits we get, but just know that I know we would be ok, and while things would be very very tight, we would live.

I still remember when we first married only having £20 left a month to pay bills, we are very used to budgeting, and even now we aren't rolling in it but manage to get by and pay the bills.

Jasper1980 Sat 14-Jul-12 22:38:25

To answer the questions for a roundup

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

Well we both have critical illness cover and dp gets a decent package from work so I think we are in an ok position. We may look into alternatives that go beyond the years protection we do have. But to be honest we re not in a financial position to add anything to our current outgoings in they way of paying for payment/finance protection.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

We do a yearly clear up of finances every January and sort of budget for the year ahead. We might look at a plan for safeguarding this.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

DPs income is protected for a year, and possibly more depending on what happens. We are in a lucky position to have this.

unquietmind Sat 14-Jul-12 22:40:37

Fourth post

*what cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?* 

Its easier said than done to cancel our additional costs. I personally would happily cancel gyms,mobiles,tv etc but they are all contracts we have agreed minimum length on. I know through a 3rd party who chose rent over tv in a real life situation had the tv cut off but kept acruing debt because they wouldnt cancel an account in arrears but kept charging the full whack for the service that was cut off...

Impossible is our costs with Dh wage and SSP only. Our rent is high because there are so many and I earn too much for us to have entitlements beyond standard and DDs DLA. We are very lucky and I have no idea how other families manage.

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Employer gives 6 months paid sick leave for me. DH receives no Sickness benefits from work.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

I dont know - is it nothing but SSP unless medically retired or on incapacity for long term illness?

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?

As shown in a previous post my essentials outweigh DHs wages and SSP, and this is only including rent,gas,water,leccy,ctax and food. We would have to eat less, consume less resources and consider rehousing to a council property to afford rent (not a problem for us but limited council housing and long lists would be an issue)

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

Our bunch are quite resilient and can take a no but it doesnt stop requests for cash! They think im being overly harsh for reducing elrctrical good usage but they are bored without their cost activities and dont see utilities as a cost the same because they do not witness the exchange of money, i think. And its always available.

 *What sort of family support do you think you could get?*

None?

Any other issues/ comments?

I really feel for anyone that has to live thisway for real, and i only hope theres more out there for families than what i think. I was quite poor as a young single woman but just got on wuth it and made my sacrifices, its different when you have kids. I walked everywhere and ate one meal a day and didnt have a tv or computer etc , didnt harm me. But i couldnt do that to my kids, i would do it over and over so they wouldnt have to.

MunumMunum Sun 15-Jul-12 07:20:13

Total spent this weekend: £40
Total spent over the qualifying week: £98.85
We have failed

Well we went over. sad DH put diesel in the car and that cost £30. We have spent another £10 on incedentals such as bread, milk and fresh fruit. I was hoping to eek out my fresh supplies but if the DCs want fresh fruit I will not limit them.

Having spoken with DH about an income protection insurance we are unsure about this. As with any insurance you need to understand exactly what you will get should you need to claim. As stated though his work offers amazing benefits and are often asking "what else" the employee might like so he is going to suggest this to them.

I haven't enjoyed this challenge. It has reminded me of home when I was younger. I have promised myself that I would never let my kids experience that but reading many of the comments and living it myself has made me realise just how drastically things could unexpectedly change. sad I'm reminded of something my Grandad used to say "It's called the poverty TRAP for a reason."

SpottySlippers Sun 15-Jul-12 07:37:41

Summary of the week (sixth and final post):

I have assumed for the purpose of this challenge that it would be DH in receipt of SSP as he is the higher income earner; the mortgage and other bills, paid by direct debit have been paid as normal this week (although if you counted our expenditure on these we would probably have failed on day 1).

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
It's been impossible to change our fixed costs - mortgage, council tax, utilities etc, however, the challenge has made me question every direct puchase this week and our use of electricity. I did undertake a review or our utility provides on money supermarket.com and confused.com. I could not better our electricity tariff; no gas here as our boiler runs on oil, I always ring round the oil companies when it needs refilling to get the best deal (fortunately it didn't need filling this week as that would have been £750); our broadband and calls tariff can be improved and we are out of contract in August so will switch then. I always shop around when car and house insurances need reviewing.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
As stated in my opening post we receive child benefit from the state. My employer offers very little in the way of benefits (meets statutory requirements), however, DH's employer provides 100 days full pay and 100 days half pay for sick leave.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
I have struggled to ascertain this, I don't think we would receive any state benefit until DH was actually in receipt of SSP and then it would be in addition to child benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit (against my earnings).

~ 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?
We would struggle enormously to meet out fixed costs, my MiL suggested earlier in the week (after discussing this challenge with her) that they would help us financially, however, I would be very reluctant to take anymore than an emergency loan from them. Longer term we would need to sell the house and one of the cars. Fortunately we have quite a bit of equity in the house so could probably buy somewhere smaller and cheaper without a mortgage, however, day to day expenditure and utility bills would need to be carefully monitored.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
The children have been unaffected by the challenge as they are quite used to me saying 'no' to treats and extra curricular activities (swimming and brownies/rainbows is all we can afford). As stated previously they are happy with camping holidays, trips to the library and playing in the field behind the house all weekend blush

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
As stated earlier in my post my MiL has offered and I am sure my parents would help too, however, this would not be sustainable, rather emergency support for a month or two.

~ Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Yes, I really need to put some money into our savings account each month. We renovated and extended the house last year and drained our savings. If something did happen we have nothing to fall back on. Unfortunately with three small children (two in childcare) there is little money left at the end of the month.

~ Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
As above only that we need to start saving a regular sum of money.

~ Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
As DH has an excellent sick pay policy I think we would be ok in the short term however we need to save to ensure that we can support ourselves if the worst happened. DH is a teacher so we are unlikely to be able to persuade the government to change the teacher's benefit package.......I am reluctant to purchase an income protection policy as they are very expensive (I had a quick look online yesterday and was shocked by the estimates I received) hence I think we would prefer to make contributions to a savings account.

Hope this is what you are looking for..........

SpottySlippers Sun 15-Jul-12 07:39:45

Oops forgot to add total week's spend was £132 (excluding fixed costs as detailed above). I think it would be incredibly hard to live in this way and we were in this position we would have to make drastic changes to our lives. I really do feel for anyone in this situation.

gazzalw Sun 15-Jul-12 08:41:09

DW went over budget by £16 due to socialising. I haven't but might do by £2.00 if I buy the Daily Mail today. She did say that if she'd had a week's notice that we'd been picked for this challenge she would have rescheduled the meet-up (to next week) and wouldn't have arranged for me to have a dental appt in the same week. Also, she commented that really she should have had the whole budget and dished out the money for my dental appt and incidentals like milk/newspaper/ on a needs-must basis. As she rightly commented I shouldn't have been off to the pub at the beginning of the week - maybe at the end if there was still cash in pocket (which there isn't). It did throw up issues about us 'frittering' money away on food/drink eaten/drunk out which is a luxury and one we shouldn't really be indulging in in this economic climate (and with £25 direct debit monthly to start in September for DS's secondary school).

I did however feel that we had noticeably reigned in our spending and DW said that when she went to the supermarket she stuck to her list rather than being 'seduced' by special but unnecessary offers! Our cat is moaning though because she is not keen on the Nutricare cat food we currently have in plentiful supply and wants some luxury Gourmet stuff - but she's only had two pouches this week because they are expensive! A lot of the top-up shopping was children focused and I really feel that it would be much easier to do this challenge as a couple than as a family, simply because DW and I would happily eat a bowl of cheesy mash or a simple dhaal and rice. DW did make sure that we used up all left-overs in the fridge and made a considerable dent in the freezer reserves but didn't need to buy any 'main meal items' which was positive.

However this would be no way to live. How on earth could one afford to buy things like decent quality school shoes etc...? As I've said, DW needs to buy some new loafer shoes but couldn't even contemplate heading out to shoe shops because she knew that she would end up blowing the whole budget. DCs wear Clarks shoes for fit and quality (they have both had their pairs for the entirety of the school year) so we consider it to be £35 per pair well spent (given that they do 3 miles school walk round trip on a daily basis) but you wouldn't be able to invest in that quality to start with if on SSP. Similarly Sales time is the time to buy new basic items for the wardrobe but the same thing would apply - you wouldn't be able to afford to take advantage of reduced price clothes or toys to put away for birthdays and Christmas.

Anyway, feel suitably chastened by this and wholeheartedly agree with that newsworthy item this week suggesting that a baseline income of £37,500 gives one a reasonable standard of living. Any less and really you have to be watching every penny.

charlieandlola Sun 15-Jul-12 08:50:09

Another terrible day for spending . Drove from London to Wales to collect ds from a holiday, filled up the car - £90 on diesel for the 300 mile round trip.
And then went to dd's school fair, spent £10 on rides/tombola and assorted rubbish.

This type of expenditure would simply have to stop if we were on £85 a week, and I think it is this ad hoc spending that the children would miss the most.
They are old enough to understand money and costs rising, so if I had to cancel their activities, I think they would have a bit of a gripe at the time but then forget about it. It is not having money to do the small things that we take for granted, that would upset them and me. I imagine the relentlessness of living off £85 a week would be unbearable.
I have never been in the position of having to rely on SSP and if we were in this position, we would probably have to move in with my family as our house would be repossessed.
I am hoping against hope that I manage to have today as a non spend day even though I have failed the challenge in the most spectacular style. Going off to find a caclulator with enough decimal places to add up my my overspend for a round up post tomorrow.

Last post as today's the last day.
We are moving on Tuesday, so I have to take a few car-loads to the new house today. I have no choice but to put £10 of petrol in the car. I know people don't move every week, but we just hit it unlucky. At least the challenge wasn't next week, the week of the actual move. So I end the week £53 over budget.

charlieandlola Sun 15-Jul-12 09:13:21

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Yes I hadn't really appreciated how much we spend not on direct debits, ie on petrol, food and general spending. That is the spending we would miss.
Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
DH is lucky that he has full sick pay but previously as self employed he had nothing and refused to pay for any insurances as he thought they were a waste of money
Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
I have found out what benefits dh gets and will be aware of benefits for me when I go back to work.

StellaMarie Sun 15-Jul-12 09:41:47

Weekly roundup: I began this challenge thinking it wouldn't be too bad....our weekly grocery bill is under 75.00 normally so I naively thought that if I made some economies and substitutions we would be alright. What I failed to take into account is the incidentals that you don't plan on.

The unexpected trip to the doctor and prescription charge, car parking, the Friday night bottle of wine etc. All of these things would have to go. The car would be classed as a luxury and one to do without. No impulse buys of a magazine or popping into a shop because they've got a sale on.

This week we had no after school clubs or birthdays to consider. They would take a huge strain on the budget and as for Christmas!?!

My biggest lesson learnt is better planning, sticking to the list and staying determined to say no and forego treats and extras. All in all a very sobering lesson to learn.

Jasper1980 Sun 15-Jul-12 09:44:30

Day 7: well today is a no spend day. We got some whoops fruit punnets last night and spent £1.83 so fruit salad for pudding today and soup. We have just stayed within the budget as I was quite keen to spend only what we would have had available had we been on SSP. We wouldn't have had the option to go over budget if we simply did not have the money, and I really wanted to try and complete the challenge. However we only counted food and fuel costs. Our weekly bill outgoing are £400 for clubs, gas, electricity, mortgage, insurance, council tax etc. so our essential needs have been paid as we could not default o these for the challenge. If we had £85 a week I can only guess, we would have our mortgage protected for a year, we would most likely then be entitled to CTC etc.

I will be doing a full weeks shop this afternoon. DS and dd are back to clubs this week, so this would have sent us over budget for the challenge too. I am certainly more aware of our spending habits after this and will be looking at the details of our insurance and mortgage to see what exactly we have, in the way of protection.

aristocat Sun 15-Jul-12 11:10:20

Day 7 Final day

We will not spend anything today, so finish the task at £83.25 and just under budget.

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Yes definitely. I di not realise how much I spend on food/daily extras and this would obviously have to change if the situation was real.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
DH is the sole earner in our family, and I had not realised how much our lives would have to change if he was unable to work! Before having my DCs we both worked full-time and it took me a while to adjust to not having my own wage.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
Have spoken to DH about this and sadly his employer does not offer any benefits package.

My final thoughts are that I have loved this challenge and it has been an eye-opener and I honestly didnt realise what/how much extra I actually spend daily blush
I really hope that we are never in a situation like this and there would need to be BIG changes in our lives.

Thanks for the experience smile

mrswee Sun 15-Jul-12 11:38:50

A top up shop yesterday was £18.60 so I am over budget by £2. I spotted some pjs for my DD 2 pairs for £13.50, nearly bought them then realised it would take me way over budget do put them back. I guess no impulse buys allowed!
Instead of buying them I made an effort to find all her pjs and put them back in pairs and found she does have 5 pairs. I did the same with her socks and realised she probably has enough now I've found them all. Normally I would have bought more.
Still I am £2 over budget and probably need to buy more veg before Monday.

unquietmind Sun 15-Jul-12 11:58:03

Fifth post

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

Most definitely. We dont have any available cash at the end of the month but thats due to luxury direct debits, i would happily go to freeview but DH is very rigid on the cable tv saying the kids shouldnt have to lose out, he feels sameabout the games consoles etc - he doessnt want to ask them to use them less. I think we would have major family arguments anyway

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

Yes i definitely would but DH doesnt agree its necessary and i just keep getting 'we'll manage' from him. Very frustrating.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

I have asked my DH to ask but we will have to see, i just got the look. He doesnt take this seriously at all and i cannot understand why. I am definitely asking.

Merrylegs Sun 15-Jul-12 13:06:11

Final income protection thoughts -

If I couldn't work due to illness we would be OK with DH's salary. If DH couldn't work and it was likely to be a long-term thing we would have a year's lead in to change our outgoings/me to generate more work, as his work benefits package is 6 mths full pay, 6 mths half.

TBH we are, like many others have said, not in a position to add more outgoings to our budget for a 'what-if' scenario. And that is what income protection insurance is. What-if?

I would spend money on writing a will - much more essential.

herethereeverywhere Sun 15-Jul-12 13:47:07

So last day today. Went to church this morning which I always thought of as 'free' but the collection plate went round so a few quid went in there. Also bought chocolates for a gift as we are going to a friends for dinner today.
Added up my total spend for the week has been £90.67 so failed the challenge sad

This has definitely made me think about our finances more. I am planning on putting more away each month as well as reducing out outgoings. My other half is self employed so any income protection we would have to arrange ourselves.

Overall the biggest thing that this week has made me realise is the mental strain of having to watch every penny. Others on here have put it more eloquently than me but it is existing not living. Small treats like a new book, coffee with friends etc make life nice and to know that even those little things are not an option is very depressing.

Also gifts to friends, donations in church etc all these things would be reduced or have to go completely which would make me feel miserly and mean when the fact is I just couldn't afford it.

Overall a depressing experiment but a necessary one.

trickquestion Sun 15-Jul-12 15:44:45

Round up post. Started the week well, being really strict about every penny and spent between zero and twelve pounds a day. Things deteriorated towards the weekend and yesterday DD spent £60 in Aldi for the week's groceries and I spent £23 today in M &S. Our expenditure didn't really take into account utility bills etc and I managed to get through the week without putting diesel in the car. I think as someone else has said it is the little things that are treats or extras that would have to go and I can anticipate life becoming a depressing slog fairly quickly. I have however found the challenge really interesting and it has made me look at our spending habits carefully. We're on a tight budget anyway but there is a fair bit of unnecessary spending there.
Will come back and answer the round-up questions later.

EddieIzzardIsMine Sun 15-Jul-12 15:52:53

Well, was doing ok-ish had mostly stayed within budget until yesterday - we had a wedding and the reception was 15 miles away so we had to get a taxi there and back (not on a bus route and dont drive) so that was £50, then drinks (about £25) and then got home late and couldnt be botherd cooking so got a take-away (another £25) so we are well and truly over budget!

I guess if we really were on SSP, we'd make changes like save-up a bit each week/not buy drinks/cook dinner when we got in...

Got a friend coming for dinner tonight as well so few last minute bits cost more than I budgeted per day although friend doesnt drink so at least I didnt have to buy alcohol as well...must be harder 'hosting' on a tight budget

moomoo1967 Sun 15-Jul-12 16:55:01

Since Friday I have spent :
£9.91 DD on Pet insurance
£6.00 for a round of drinks while DD was at Guides
£18.00 in Iceland for Potatoes, Juice Cartons, Squash, Cooked Meats for packed lunches, Rice Cakes, Fruit and 2 bottles of wine.
£1.99 in the local convenience store for paper plates for DD to take to school for a teachers leaving party.
£5 for two front door keys
*Total left *: £10.56
We are lucky in that we live very close to town so that if DD wants to meet her friends she can walk or if I need to go to the shops I can walk. DD also walks to school. I know that some of the children who live further away have to pay approx. £12 per week to get to school.
Having done this challenge for a week it wasn't too bad but then alot of the usual weekly costs had already been paid out earlier in the month. If this would have been a long term thing then I would struggle on SSP of £85.00 per week.
I feel that I am lucky that my employers offer a good sickness benefit programme which would cover me in the event of a certain amount of long term sickness.

jimswifein1964 Sun 15-Jul-12 18:50:19

We have failed. Lst time I checked in one here we were on £74.55 I think. We have since had to spend £5 at school, spent £15 in a cafe because ds needed to eat so dh ate too, £28 in the supermarket today on school stuff for September, and £2 on snacks because I didnt make them a big enough packed lunch.....

Dogwalks Sun 15-Jul-12 19:27:25

Last Post

Failed terribly, don't even want to think how badly.
Had to drive to Scotland this weekend to see my family (mother has dementia, so its necessary to keep my dad sane). Petrol £98.00.
If we had to live on SSSP we could manage but it would be a hard and in the long term soul destroying. The far reaching things like the visit to help my dad would have to stop so it wouldn't only affect my own kids but my father as well. I really didn't realise how much I spend in a week. I am going to try again next week and the week after that until I have managed.
Thanks for making me consider my spending.

Dogwalks Sun 15-Jul-12 19:44:03

Unum have asked me to add these final questions for you to think about in your round up.
Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
We already pay a vast amount into our small morgatage while the interest rates are low as we see this as the best way of saving money.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
For the first time in 24 years as a worker I am inclined to look into income protection.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package? That's a no starter, as this can be taken out privately I doubt any company of the size I work for would be interested.

trickquestion Sun 15-Jul-12 20:30:10

Final post:

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
yes. I think i have an Income Protection plan in place that I took out through my Union a few years ago. It wasn't an active choice, they cold-called me and I agreed. I've always been a bit unsure what is was actually for but now I know. I intend to look out the policy and see what the details are.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
yes see above especially as I am the only wage-earner.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package? I think there may be something in place, but I'm pretty sure I'd get full pay for 6 months, not sure after that (public sector).

A real eye-opener.

Cremolafoam Sun 15-Jul-12 20:43:38

So, the end if the week.
Due to difficult circumstances this week we have failed to live on £ 85.85 as predicted. Notwithstanding it being a trying week I doubt we could ever have done it if we continued to live the way we do.

The exercise has been an excellent opportunity to compare what we spend in a week to what we bring home.
I have downloaded a budgeting app and am working to repair the leakage in our battered little family boat.smile

So to the final questions:

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Yes and no. It would be a joint decision,with dh but I certainly would like to be a more careful with what little we've got. It's so hard not to compare yourself with others. We have a small house and a big fat mortgage. Id like a bigger house, but also want my dd to go to university in 2 years time. I am only able to work part time due to health issues.dh works so hard , but made a decision to stay in a local job so he could be around more for dd and me.this means he could be earning a great deal more in another part of the UK.
There are always compromises to be made I think.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
Yes I think we should look into it, certainly for dh's job.
Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
Yes, I would like to look into this.

Finally it has been interesting to find out about others and how you have all coped especially this people for whom
This is a reality. I have enormous respect for you.

Took ds1 surfing today. Lunch afterwards cost a tenner.

I blew most of the budget in one day. (Not the first day). I would find it very very difficult to live on that amount of money per week. Anything unexpected (such as washing machine dying on me) would blow the budget. And we'd have to stop all activities - these mean more to me than material items and I would find life without them pretty hard.

We have critical illness cover (recently reviewed - because we took it out nearly 20 years ago it can't be bettered). We decided when we did the review we're fairly well covered - having done this I'm pleased we are.

Like cremola - I'm impressed with anyone who has to do this. It must be very difficult.

Katamariy Sun 15-Jul-12 21:48:27

Sunday no money left took Dcs to local museum and beach today, walked there and back so no cost.
During the week we just about managed, but there was nothing left to put aside for bills. Also we were fortunate enough to have food in the cupboards to help with meals. If we were to have to manage on this all the time we would struggle. Things which we had to give up were the social outings and after school classes. The Dcs didn't mind giving up these things for one week but they would be missed.
Dhs work pay 2/3 salary sick pay for as long as it's needed so we would be able to manage if this happened to us.

Lemele Sun 15-Jul-12 21:59:17

Friday: Bought more bread and milk but otherwise didn't spend anything. Until DH came home after work with more wine. Argh!

Saturday: DS went to his granny's (free childcare smile ) so DH and I went to lunch as we often do when DS is out for the day. £17 or thereabouts. This is one thing that would have to go... We didn't even splurge, just cheap meals in a cheap cafe, with one drink. Ouch.

Sunday: Church in the morning (£5 in collection), then lunch with MiL (free). A free day, but we've run out of milk again, and are running low on bread. Overall we've done pretty badly this week!

So total this week is £144.69 including the £80 on clothes etc...! Without those we'd have only just made it, and of course that doesn't include bills etc.

So to answer the questions:

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

We already buy the cheapest we can of lots of things; don't buy much meat; buy in bulk to reduce costs; and so on, so reducing these is quite difficult. We could cut down things like lunch out together - in fact it's only recently we've started doing these anyway!

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

We get child benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit. This makes our total earnings go up by about £8k a year, which helps us immensely. I presume we wouldn't get the working tax credit if DH was off work, although I don't know.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

I don't know the entitlements DH would get I'm afraid. But I don't think it's all that much, and doesn't kick in straight away.

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?

We have a mortgage, electricity, gas, council tax, phone, internet... if we were on SSP I would find out how to pay things over long term to help with costs. I would consider dropping internet to lower our bills, but I don't know what else we could do. We would probably stop DS going to creche for the 2 hours a week and I know for toddler groups and house group we could request free entry.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

My babies are too young and my DS wasn't really aware of the challenge either. I had to refuse him a couple of things I wouldn't normally (e.g. a magazine) but otherwise it didn't affect him this week really. We tried to play in the park/garden more than going to the shops which I think he actually enjoyed - but we'd find it a lot harder if the weather had been really bad (somehow managed to avoid the rain most of the time!)

What sort of family support do you think you could get?

My parents and PiL would probably help us with money (paying bills I mean) and I expect my mum would be researching the best way to earn money/get benefits while on SSP!

Any other issues/ comments?

I think like all these things you can never know what it's like 'til you're there, but it has reminded me of what it's like to have very little money, and made me realise that putting money aside as backup is very important now that we have 3 kids! When we were last on very little money we had no kids and so if we couldn't pay our way it never seemed so bad because we could survive on very little and could live off almost nothing, whereas now we can't avoid buying certain things, e.g. nappies. It would be an incentive to potty train DS though, I do say! But it also reminded me how depressing it was to be just slightly short all the time, as Charles Dickens so rightly expresses in David Copperfield - 6p gain per year = happiness, 6p loss = misery.

Hopezibah Sun 15-Jul-12 22:08:45

Final round up :

(and update on Sunday – Day 7 of challenge.)
Hurrah! The final day of the challenge….and we failed miserably! My sons drama production was today and we bought tickets for granny too (and she paid again when she got there not realising that we had already got her a ticket – but it is all for a charitable cause at least), so todays spend was £18 for those tickets. That brings this weeks spending up to around £136 for food / groceries / kids activities. Breakdown approx. as follows:

Food £47-00
Kids activities 51-00
Giving / Charities £38-00

With bills added on the total would be miles higher as it would have to include c.250 for mortgage, £24 for gas/electricity, council tax of £35 and then phone bill, water bills etc on top of that too.

So in reality there is no way that we could currently manage on £85 a week if we needed to cover ALL our costs. However, I was pleasantly surprised that our food bill was cut down by careful planning and resisting treats and temptations. I also found a few other pluses (which I know if we had the worry, stress etc of having to use this budget week in week out I would not be describing these as pluses but in the context of doing this for only one week I am describing them as advangtages).

Healthier eating by cutting out takeaways and trips to Mcdonalds
Environmental advantage of using reusable breastpads most of the time (still need disposibles at night as leak too much for reusable to cope with), using less nappy sacks (found some really low cost ones at tesco – 17p for 100 I think – but have cut down use of these this week). I have been using the many charity bags that we get through the letter box as bin bags (double line with a normal bin liner underneath so liquids don’t drip in to bin but then just replace the inner bag each time) as the empty bags were never getting collected and were ending up disposed of.
I also bought a huge container of soap and washing up liquid when ethical superstore had a 25% off sale a few months ago and this has helped with reducing cost of these items as I decant into smaller bottles to use and it lasts for ages meaning less trips to shop to buy more and less trips to recycling bin to recycle lots of plastic.

This challenge has also helped us realise that convenience costs! So having to buy food/drinks out instead of making our own sandwiches, ready meals instead of cooking from scratch all adds to the food bill. I have realised how lucky we are to be able to sometimes have a takeaway or a meal out when many others may not be able to.

I totally take my hat off to everyone who does have to manage and I realise how draining and tiring it must be to be constantly watching the pennies that closely. I also want to shout a huge congratulations to those people also as it requires tremendous creativity, originality, wisdom and self-control too.

I never considered ourselves to have many luxury items (e.g. we don’t drink, smoke, have holidays abroad, and we don’t have things like a wii/xbox/playstation etc) but I am thankful that we do have enough to eat, a roof over our heads and everything we actually genuinely need.

It has made us consider the financial plans we have in place e.g. life insurance and critical illness cover is in place but what would happen if it wasn’t that major but still meant that we couldn’t bring an income in. It also has helped us realise that we also need to sort out a will for the future too.

I feel that the children would suffer the most as their activities would have to go and yet with them being homeschooled it is all the more essential for them to have access to these activities. I wish that there was some financial support from the local authority in cases like ours where a child cannot attend school for medical reasons and they cannot provide a place for him anywhere locally so we are having to fund his education ourselves. We do save up things like tesco vouchers to exchange for days out coupons which helps a lot but all the core subjects / books/ materials etc are covered by us.

Thankfully they have been very on board with this challenge and I am very proud of them for that and hopefully they would show the same level of understanding for real if it ever happened.

I remember reading once that the secret to happiness is for your expenditure to be less than your income and this is a great principle to live by when considering needs and wants and what you can actually manage to live without BUT I have also realised that todays cost of living makes this far more of a challenge than ever before.

llynnnn Sun 15-Jul-12 22:30:50

Well the task has finished and although we've managed to get through the weekend only spending £6 (£1 parking and £5 on picnic food for today's day out in the sun!) we had already failed on Friday!
It has definitely made me think about how much money we fritter away each week on bits and bobs that aren't completely necessary. We also desperately need a new mattress which I can't imagine saving up for with only £85 coming in.
Very interesting challenge and utmost respect for anyone living through this. sad

The final questions:
Has doing the challenge affected your attitude to protecting your finances?
A little, it has made me realise how important it is to have a backup plan for circumstances like this. I'm thinking we need more savings and have been working on building these back up for the last few months.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
It is definitely something that I want to sit down with dh and discuss our options and have a back up plan in place.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
I would definitely consider it. Before doing this challenge I wasn't aware that's such schemes could be put in place by employers. It would be a big plus point for an employer to be able to offer this to their staff.

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Sun 15-Jul-12 22:37:33

So we have reached the end...
I am used to working on a tight budget, sometimes very tight, but this was something else. It isn't enough even to cover the mortgage. So I decided to work to a budget of £85 plus Child Benefit £24. This wasn't a bill paying week. I am guessing if we found ourselves on this budget for real we'd be moving in with my parents or the in-laws and renting out our home.

To answer the questions.

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
Fixed bills inc mortgage are unchangeable and we just side stepped this. Couldn't do that in real life. Most other things have some room for movement. Doesn't mean it always works that way though.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Child benefit.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
Think full pay for 6 motnhs and half pay for six months but I think I will check to be sure! Luckily my employment terms are generous.
~ 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?
No childcare costs but the other costs we could manage a very short time on savings, then we would have to sell valuables or go to our parents. Not attractive options.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
DD is 1 so hasn't passed an opinion... At this age all she needs is Mum and Dad. She has nappy rash atm. We have been going through a lot of nappies. Would be a real headache if the budget was the same every week. I am acutely aware of how much strain financial pressure is putting on people at the moment.
~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
Our families would give us emotional and financial support but wouldn't feel good about the latter.
~ Any other issues/ comments?
I remmeber a few months ago being on such a tight budget that I stressed out over buying a packet of biscuits (on mat leave with DP unemployed). This was a reminder of that, and that I don't want to go back. Terrible that so many people are living like this.

So.. the final spend....
Travel £46.50 (for work, but count it as may have other travel expenses on SSP)
Groceries £39.80
DN Birthday present and card £21.80

So totally blown by DN's birthday. Presents are a luxury you can't afford on this type of budget.

But this is all without mortgage, bills, emergencies so I am sure we just couldn't manageon this without major changes to how we live. I guess that is the point of the exercise.

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Sun 15-Jul-12 22:42:57

Just saw these outher questions:

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
I don't know. I do think for many peopple income protection is a good idea. But I have chronic illnesses so am not a good candidate for it. Our alternative strategy would be DP getting fulltime work (he is a SAHD). If I wasn't well enough for childcare grandparents would be called on.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
Yes. Am redoing our budget atm and will try to work in more money saving.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

I work for the NHS so it it is a take it or leave it situation. Luckily the sick pay is relatively good.

KittieCat Sun 15-Jul-12 23:18:29

This has been hard and I genuinely don't think we'd cope in real life.
We both work part time so if one of us were to fall ill we wouldn't have a full salary on which to rely. We are, quite simply, over committed in terms of contracts (as I keep mentioning, simply because it surprised me so much).

We don't have enough savings to provide a cushion for any length of time.

There are many costs that we cannot reduce or avoid: mortgage, phone contracts, utilities, travel (although I didn't include this as I reasoned if one of us was ill we wouldn't be traveling to work), etc.

We would have to get rid of our car. We would have to work to a tight shopping budget. That said, I think we will be doing the latter in order to get some savings together.

Now, for the extra questions:

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
It has, but I am not sure I would be that keen on taking out an insurance policy as I have realised that we already have too many monthly commitments. That said, this may well be 'short term-ism' and I will need to look into it. I wouldn't have considered this before now but this challenge has made me realise if we can't save more money we will need to consider preparing in other ways.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
Absolutely

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
Yes, although I doubt what I find out will be great news. My DH is a freelancer so he would not get anything in terms of employee benefits. Not a great situation.

We need to budget better in order to save some money. We also need to consider what we'd do if one of us couldn't work for any period of time.

I've found the challenge hard but I am very glad I did it. My head has been removed from the sand. . .

SiliBiliMili Sun 15-Jul-12 23:55:06

We had a bit of an oups month not so long ago. So we looked at our finances and hopefully got things in order. It would be much better when I do back to work after Maternity leave. I hope.

The thing I find difficult is to stop buying toys and things for the kids. Activities too cost a lot of money. My DD does swimming, stage coach, etc etc. Thats nearly GBP 500 per term just on activities...

During our Oups month, we figured out that we can manage to live on our larger salary and put away a whole salary every month. We are going to try and do that as soon as I get back into work. It really brought things home for us.

DH thought he may be made redundant while I was on maternity leave. The week he told me this, the sales started. I would not have thought twice about buying those shoes, at 30% off a steal!. They were ideal for work. But I did not buy them. So I know I can control our spending on us as well as the kids but its hard.

Lesson learnt.

ColinFirthsGirth Mon 16-Jul-12 00:39:35

Days three to seven

Day 3 - A no spend day. All meals were made from food in the store cubboard or the freezer.
Day 4 - Purchased a birthday present for £20. Plus another £26 spent on food - including bread, cheese and vegetables.
Day 5 - The only thing that I needed to spend money on today was at my childrens school fair. Spent £10 which includes pocket money given to the children which they spent at the fair.
Day 6 -No spend day.
Day 7 - Spent £5 on cake for the family at an open day. All other food today was from the freezer and cubboard.

Total spend at end of week - £72

It was not too hard to spend under £85 this week. This was mainly because I had a good stock of pulses in the cubboard so I tried to use as much food as I could from the freezer and the store cubboard. However, once these ran out my food bills would have to be higher. However, it helps that we are vegetarians and don't buy any meat. We aslo get some of our food through a food buying co-operative which saves us some money. If my husband was on SSP then I would have to reduce our food bill. The only way I could do this would be to cut out any fairtrade or organic products that we buy and buy less snacks and fresh vegetables.We would have to cut out the internet to save on this too.

We don't spend much on leisure or entertainment anyway. We save alot of money on petrol as my husband cycles 22 miles to work everyday so the car is only used abit at the weekends. My children don't go to any clubs or activities that cost money at the moment.

We get child benefit and child tax credits. We would get this even if my husband was off ill.

Our fixed costs are - mortgage, council tax, utility bills, internet, phone and mobile bills.

My husbands contract doesn't state how long he would get paid for in the event of him being ill. He needs to check this out.

Having two children in the house hasn't really affected this challenge for us at all. We have to be frugal anyway.

The challenge has made me think more about the amount of money that we fritter away on little things here and there. I know that we would find it difficult to live on £85 a week in the long term as it just wouldn't cover our bills. We would have to use savings and I would have to find work if I could.

However as we have managed when my husband didn't have a job at all I think that we would manage one way or another. It would however be useful to put in place a plan for our finances. My husband is more likely to now ask his employer about an income protection plan but he doesn't think they will go for it.

Final post, blew the budget (but not by much).
No spend all weekend, it was a church retreat in Wales, not especially near anywhere.
We got there and found a welcome pack with bread, milk, tea bags etc. They were very welcome, as there's enough bread and milk for a whole week there, and tea bags for a monthsmile.
DH found 60p on the ground while walking, which was lovely, and if we were facing the challenge for real would have made all the difference.
As I have previously said, we would be extremely unlikely to be in this position, as DH gets full pay for 12 weeks, then 75% pay in perpetuity if ill. My wage is not much over £85 a week anyway, so SSP for me would mean a net gain in household income if it saved us afterschool costs.
We have 6 months income in savings, and solar PV brings in more than our utilities cost us. We could get a water meter to cut down outgoings if necessary, and use up childcare vouchers we have built up to pay for afterschool care if needed.
I think we could manage even if both of us were off sick, as we live well below our means and have saved for a rainy day.
Thank you for this challenge, it has shown how low our fixed outgoings are, and that saving instead of having treats is prudent.
In summary, we didn't stay under budget, but in reality we'd never have to live on a budget that small, and have resources to draw on should we need to.

likelucklove Mon 16-Jul-12 09:05:16

Last post, summing up our weekend.

We went to visit DP's brother on Saturday, so had to put £10 petrol in. We had lunch before we left which was jacket potatoes, cheese, beans and the rest of the bacon for DP. For dinner, I cooked chicken in BBQ seasoning, mashed potato and frozen veg. All the food was already here.

On Sunday, we went to visit more family and had lunch before we left again. Soup with brown bread (neither homemade blush) and then pizza for dinner with chicken pieces.

Weekends are usually my naughty days for food! But we have used a lot of what is here which helps to alleviate the cost.

If we didn't have such a stock of food here, it would have no doubt been a different story. This would have been the hardest if we was continually living off £85pw, since I wouldn't have been able to stock up in the first place.

This challenge has enlightened me about how much we spend is actually unnecessary, especially DP. He is trying to cut down more on his spending, but I am still battling with him taking lunch to work with him. We have been drinking a lot more, which is doubly beneficial! But we do have issues with the water around here (hard water, needs to be filtered before) so we do need to replace the water filter jug every 3 months.

I'm off to the bank today to open savings accounts so I can make regular payments. We could use that to fall back on if push came to shove. I know DP has savings and illness protection, so that would help a lot if the situation ever arose.

DD hasn't been affected much as I have said before, because of her age. However, we have to start looking at more toys for her now, and they are just so expensive, even on eBay. But I'm going to start buying when I can to put away for Christmas and her birthday. Fortunately, she's only 4 months so won't be so aware when they come around, it's just exciting for us since it's her 'firsts'. I would be more reliant on family to buy her gifts. If they could, if our income went down.

I do not think £85pw is enough for the typical family, and am in awe of some people on this thread!

With our bills, I don't know how we would cut back. I am still trying to leave my phone contract, but apart from that, they are all utilities, rent and car expenses which I would need when I go back to work. I have been inspired to sort out all our paperwork though, and now have everything to hand if we needed to ring to re-negotiate any fixed utility prices.

Thank you for the opportunity, it has been very enlightening.

Total spend - £83

ShatnersBassoon Mon 16-Jul-12 09:28:33

Just adding my final thoughts.

It would be nigh on impossible to lead a joyful life with so little money. I haven't enjoyed thinking about every penny that gets spent, and this didn't even have to cover mortgage and bills. We would go broke in no time if we did find ourselves with such a low income.

This week did force me to check our arrangements for such an event, which are sufficient. We found the test completely academic to be honest, because we would work out some other way to gain income if DH (the only earner) became incapacitated. We didn't feel it reflected anything that could ever happen to us.

mynameis Mon 16-Jul-12 09:44:20

To sum up

Well I failed when it came to bill day.
Realistically I wouldn't be able to meet this challenge unless we did some serious readjustment to when our bills were paid.

It has set me thinking on how we can economise and stop plodding along paying out unnecessary expenses, magazines, catalogue bill etc.

Going to have a complete financial overhaul after Christmas and hopefully get some savings behind us.

We definitely would not manage on £85 a week without family support.
It's a very sobering thought

flapinko Mon 16-Jul-12 10:02:53

Wow completely failed this task. Found it extremely hard, and I was only accounting for 'day-to-day' expenditure rather than anything paid by DD, eg. mortgage, bills, clubs, etc.

Day 1 - Tesco order = £50
Day 2 - DD1's School trip = £12
Day 3 - DS1's shoes completely fell apart = new sale shoes £20
Day 4 - Friends 40th bday present = £20
Day 5 - Toddler party present = £10
Day 5 - iphone not working properly after getting wet, so forced to buy new landline phone (ours hasn't worked for ages) as new iphone obvs not affordable and have no insurance (stupid when I do the majority of my business over the phone!) = £20
Day 6 - Bread, milk etc. top up shop = £10
Total = £142

So my conclusion is that it would be near impossible to survive on £85, which is a real worry for us....It's also incredibly boring and depressing to be thinking constantly "no we can't do that, we can't afford that". Your world becomes very small.

StellaMarie Mon 16-Jul-12 10:31:11

I know I gave a final roundup but I've had a few extra thoughts on this: I don't see how you can survive on 85 for a week to feed a family of 4 + dog and pay the bills, mortgage etc. This is without the expenditure necessary on school shoes, uniform etc. There is no possibility of saving for the future it's about survival on a day-to-day basis.

I don't tend to spend money on frivilous things like coffee or lunch out, however, I do like the security of saving. This would be impossible and fills me with worry. Currently I pay into a stakeholder pension and various other ISAs etc but this just wouldn't happen.

What I will take away from the week is the knowledge that we are extremely fortunate that we have the opportunity to save for the future and unforseen expenses.

StellaMarie Mon 16-Jul-12 10:38:09

Just saw the final questions to answer as well!
Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
Not really, DH is well protected through his work and I have a critical illness plan that I pay into which would cover the mortgage.
Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
No, DH would be protected through his employment and in the past I have paid into an income protection plan, however, when we reviewed our finances/mortgage I realised that it wasn't worth the money I was paying for it. I would be reluctant to start one of these again and think that making overpayments on the mortgage where we can and living credit card free is better for us.
Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
DH is covered and as I am self-employed (and refer to my answer above) it does not interest me.

moomoo1967 Mon 16-Jul-12 11:18:25

CouthyMow
"Oh - and to the poster who said that Uniform is free if you are on a low income but not in receipt of Working Tax Credits - that is NOT TRUE in some LA's. My LA doesn't help ANYONE with school uniforms, and Free School Meals are only for those with a total household income (including Tax Credits help with childcare and Housing Benefit...) of LESS THAN £16,000. I would check with your school office for your LOCAL rules on those two issues!"

I didn't mention anyone's situation but my own, I have already checked as I wouldn't have posted if I hadn't. If I wasn't claiming WTC then I would be eligible for school meals and help with school uniform and believe me my income is far far lower than £16K

moomoo1967 Mon 16-Jul-12 11:26:36

Unum have asked me to add these final questions for you to think about in your round up.
Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances? It has made me think about it but I don't have any spare cash in the budget to pay for any plan.
Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income? I may want to but simply could not afford to
Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
I have checked our Employee handbook and it does go into detail regarding long term sickness and Income Protection.

mynameis Mon 16-Jul-12 13:42:47

Just saw the final questions to answer
Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
A little, there is nothing I can do imminently to address the situation but it is something to consider for the future.
Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
At some point but would need to revamp our finances first
Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
I'm not sure it's something partners employer offer but he is going to suggest it, so we might have it as an option in the future

likelucklove Mon 16-Jul-12 16:49:59

Sorry, just saw the final questions too.

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?
It has helped me to re-think what is 'necessary' and what isn't. I have already made some changes, but it was DP who needed this most. He is definately on the path of change, just need to get them packed lunches done and for him and me to quit smoking, for everyone's benefit. I have also opened a few savings accounts so I have a fall back fund if necessary, and DD has savings for her future.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?
I've asked DP to look into income protection if he was to lose his job, as the company he works for is looking very bleak and may have folded by 2013. We plan to go to the bank soon to ask about it. He already has sick cover. For myself, I do not qualify for any payments plans for income protection, as I work on an ad hoc basis and when I do go back to work, it varys monthly depending if there is work. However, I am looking to get a contract for when I go back to work after ML so I can have some protection.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?
My company would do it as I work for a large one. I would consider it, since it is very good with the discount, but my contract again would need to change before I am eligible.
DP does not have an employee benefits package since it is a small, local company he works for.

Lemele Mon 16-Jul-12 22:02:55

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

Somewhat. It has reminded me how horrible it can/could be living on very little, and now that we have 3 kids it has reminded me that I need to put more aside to support us!

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

Yes I think so. We currently have lots of savings which have made me slack on the saving front. It is especially important to me because we won't have the savings for much longer (buying a house)! I used to put money away every month and now I plan to set this up once again.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

I will definitely ask DH about it but I suspect it's not something that is offered, being a small and fairly local company.

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Mon 16-Jul-12 22:27:47

Was just marvelling this morning at not having gone over budget too catastrophically.

Then remembered that I hadn't counted the £17.35 we spent on a takeaway at the start of the week.

So I guess we blew it.

jimswifein1964 Tue 17-Jul-12 10:32:25

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

Not really, I know that if dh lost his income for longer than a month we'd be up shit creek,but we cant afford to do anything about it.

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

Nope, we're in a catch 22 - we dont have spare income to use on insurance etc. Ok, so we spent money in cafes etc - but really, a life with never any treats is no life for kids - I grew up under the constant shadow of my mum telling me how poor we were; its crap. Cutting out beavers and a cafe a wek won't give enough for extra financial security anyway.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

pmsl. I dont even get sick pay. And dh cant afford to rock the boat at work at all in the current climate.

A further final reflection

DS2 is taking the 11 plus in September. We haven't paid for tutoring, partly because I object, and partly because it felt like a lot of money to hand to someone to do something I can do myself (I used to tutor). But omg the cost of materials! I have bought a bunch of books to work on over this holiday (the test is the second week of September so we don't have much choice really - the books I've bought are short tests in maths and grammar, plus some extra work on comprehension). It came to £60 +! I'd already come to the conclusion that the style of the 11 plus means that they operate social selection as well as academic, but even when you try and do it without spending money it still costs a lot (mock at the school last weekend was £30). How on earth are people on a tight budget meant to afford that.

A few days reflection and my final round up remains the same really. It would be incredibly difficult to live on £85 a week. If I was reduced to that we would manage somehow, but anything non-food/essential repair related would have go. If dh (main earner) was reduced to that we would go bankrupt. We'll have to hope our critical illness cover pays out if needed - luckily dh's work benefits aren't too bad.

aharan Tue 17-Jul-12 11:16:03

its not that bad after all. surviving on £85 was easier than i expected.
but the next week looks tough, as my daughter's birthday is around the corner.
how do we plan for occasions like this. should we be expected to save every week and then put that money in to occasions.
well, i suppose that is the best option really.
but it was a really interesting challenge and made me think a lot about my expenses.

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Tue 17-Jul-12 13:51:15

Sunday, due to hangover and DM having children we spent nothing, meaning for the week I've only spent £80. but I don't thin I could do it long term we just did the basics this week no children's shoes or clothes, days out etc.

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Tue 17-Jul-12 13:56:44

Final post

The challenge hasn't made me think of "protecting our finances" but has made me consider saving more and keeping it separate from our other savings, just incase.

I wouldn't use a "Plan", Its something that we can protect ourselves from without paying for a "plan" if we squirreled enough away to say top up the SSP to £100 we would be able to live quite well off that.

DP employer makes the benefits package very clear and simple so I was already aware of it but, yes had I not been I would have asked.

EddieIzzardIsMine Tue 17-Jul-12 14:57:00

~What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

Our 'fun' expenses would be the easiest (and the first) to change, although even now its not much a £5 here and there on coffees /lunch out soon adds up. DS is only 18 months so no clubs/hobbies for him to pay for although his age also means there are some unavoidable expenses in nappies/wipes/formula etc

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

We have no benefits from employer and a minimal amount from state (housing benefit)

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

As we rent I think we would be entitled to more housing benefit but not sure what else and when/if they would kick in

~ 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?

Rent, bills (electric/water/internet/council tax etc) and a few other 'debts' DPs student finance and a 'pay over 12 months' thing for the tv.
Tbh we survive on the wages and tax credits we have just about so if one of us were to be out of work we'd be well...screwed! We couldnt pay bills/rent etc

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

DS is only 18 months so doesnt know about the challenge but as mentioned above he does have hos own unaviodable costs . We also would have to forgoe most things that are nice things we do with him during the days, soft play/meeting other friends with kids

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

Honestly.....none. Financial, childcare or other

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances?

Yes in that we have realised how vulnerable we are - we have no protection either savings , insurance or family should we find ourselves out of work

Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

Honestly, again no. Not because we dont want to but just because we dont have the finances now to do it - start saving, take out insurance etc.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

No as I helped set up the company we work for (charity) and know the budget we work on, its simply not possible to give employers that kind of protection, we barely affored wages

Other comments?

The last thing that worried me was that we dont have childcare (nursery or family) we juggle our shifts around each others work and split the childcare - if one of us got too sick to watch DS , the other one would have to take off work too...meaning we'd have no wages coming in and being on very basic benefits. Thats scary.

Hopezibah Tue 17-Jul-12 16:04:34

Final Final Round-up (to include additional questions):I have answered these questions throughout the challenge but here is a summary

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.

I have considered what the necessities are and what can be dropped throughout the challenge. The biggest difficulty was bills including mortgage, electricity, council tax etc, followed by children's activities. Food costs could be reduced by careful planning / shopping around / reducing treats and not getting takeaways and not eating out.

We have some savings that could help tide us over in the short-term. I am not sure what benefits we would qualify for but the biggest worry would be keeping a roof over our heads so hopefully we would quality for some sort of housing benefit or council tax benefit if we found ourselves jobless.

We come from families that beleive in standing on your own two feet and again they may be prepared to help with a short term loan or help pay for necessities for the children, it would be as a loan and I would not even want to ask them unless we could not put a meal on the table.

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?

We have been motivated to consider our wills for the future. We know we have adequate life cover and critical illness cover. We are aware of sick pay policy at work.

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.

Yes - it is a very different experience doing it for one week vs for longer. At the end of the day, I had the security of knowing that we still have a roof over our heads, that our bills can get paid and that even though we have cut out some luxury items, my family is still being fed. I would imagine the stress would be massive if this was for a prolonged period.

*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? *

as above - food costs easier to reduce, fixed overheads and bills far harder to change. Also kids activities would be hard to reduce as feel guilty about it although they are not a necessity and would have to go. Similarly charitable giving would be hard to stop because of the relationship we have built up over many year with the children we sponsor so I would be very reluctant to stop unless we really had to.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
from employer it is 6 months on full pay and 6 months on half pay if on long term sickness. i am not au fait with what benefits we would be entitled to.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?as above

~ 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?
fixed costs are mortgage and bills mainly. Short term a little bit of savings. Long term may need major adjustment eg downsizing if unable to meet fixed costs.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

I am extremely proud of my children with their participation in the challenge. They got fully on board with it and were reminding me to watch the pennies. They didn't grumble or moan. (Although yesterday, they were pleased the challenge was over so we could go swimming and they got a bite to eat at the swimming pool too!)
They are hopeful of winning the amazon vouchers though and keep working out the odds of winning and keep planning a treat they would buy with it - so i am not sure without this incentive whether they would have been quite so understanding as they have been but i was really glad that it did give them something to think about so they realise how fortunate they are.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get? as above - they may help with a loan in the short term but nothing in the longer term as they / and we believe in standing on our own two feet as much as possible.
~ Any other issues/ comments? Just a HUGE well done to those many people who do have to live with this challenge each and every week because of their circumstances. It takes a large dose of commitment, courage and creativity to survive on this in the long term so i totally take my hat off to you.

lisad123 Tue 17-Jul-12 16:20:46

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?

We dont have the the option of income protection. It has made me consider more about how much we rely on DH wages.

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.

I didnt think I would find this hard at all, I have spent years staying ontop of small budgets but not as tight now. However, i forgot what i have become use to. Coffee and lunch with friend, takeaway, nipping to local shop, buying odd stuff i see when out and how much i rely on car and therefore the petrol.

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
DH wages, my small wages and CTC and carers.

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

We have car payments, morgage and small CC. Untility bills and normal stuff. The first thing to go would be mobile phones, sky tv, and clubs/gym ect. Then it would be budgeting food and untility bills, car use and anything else.

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
They didnt really notice, but they never have even when we are really tight. its not something i think they should be worried about.
DD1 did offer me her pocket money last week when i said i needed money for a bill smile

What sort of family support do you think you could get?
i doubt very much, maybe a small bail out if really needed, they wouldnt see us without food, but could depend on them longterm.

Here are my final thoughts for the week. I found the challenge very hard. There is no way we would be able to survive on £85 per week. We eat more than that in food alone, and we don't eat extravagantly but we like fresh fruit and veg, decent free range meat (not too much of it), we make packed lunches for school / work and try to be as economical as possible (juice cartons from lidl for example) but it still all adds up...

This week we have had the added expense of end-of-term teacher presents, renewing the dc's athletics and hockey club subscriptions and it hit me that all of this would have to stop were dh to lose his job.

And that is before we even worry about putting food on the table and paying the bills....

I realised I never answered the initial questions, so here we are;

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

It would be impossible to change fixed outgoings such as council tax, mortgage, car running costs (need car for work) and things such as phone bill, broadband etc as we are already at the most economical tariff for us for all of these.
The children's activities could be easily given up. It would be a shame but they all require a terms' notice so those financial commitments could be easily got rid of.
Food could be cut down on. We eat well and healthily. That comes at a price. We can cut back.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

We get child benefit. Nothing else from the state and nothing from our employers.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

I don't know what we would be entitled to, I find the whole system very confusing. I think we would be entitled to job seekers allowance, and ssp, but I know that these take time to come through.

~ 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?
We have a repayment mortgage which we could change to interest only to make the payments more managable in the short term.
We have gas / electric / phone bills. I don't know how we could cope with these should we have to live on SSP
We have life and pet insurance, these could be cut.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
The children enjoyed the challenge on the whole (they liked going round the super market hunting for bargains) but that was because it was a novelty. In the long run I think they would be very upset by suddenly not being able to do things they used to be able to do. Having said that, neither of my children do a lot of activities and we don't do expensive days out as we simply don't have the money and they know and accept this.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
Both mine and dh's family would be very supportive but neither has money in abundance so they would help us as much as they could but this would be in the very short term.

~ Any other issues/ comments?
Thank you for letting me take part in the challenge. I fear I failed miserably in sticking within budget and I fear were this real life I would face some serious challenges in life.

LittleFriendSusan Tue 17-Jul-12 23:21:42

Well, we failed miserably at this (even down to the posting of updates on this thread... still better late than never I suppose!).

We signed up for the challenge in the hope it would make us be more disciplined in sticking to a weekly budget. The idea was that posting on a public forum would make it more difficult (and embarrassing!) to not do it. Of course that assumes that I actually post daily updates, and unfortunately I didn't quite manage that bit.

The other motivation for us was the fact that we could realistically be in this situation one day, as DP (main FT earner) could end up with only SSP if on sickness leave. There's a chance he would get a bit of a top-up, but it's not set in stone (he had to have 1 month off a couple of years back for a hernia op and did get topped up then, though not to his full weekly wage). Short term sickness, he just gets SSP - meaning he often ends up going in to work when he should probably be at home (less than 3 days sickness = no pay).

Background: we both work. DP is full time, sickness “policy” as above. I work 25 hours a week and thankfully my employer’s sickness policy is quite generous: we get 6 months full pay and then 6 months on half pay. Also have death in service cover. So if I were ill, we’d be fine. We also get child benefit & minimal tax credits.

I am paid monthly, DP weekly. We both pay a fixed amount into our “bills” account which covers monthly direct debits for mortgage, utilities, council tax, insurance and mobile phones. What’s left is to cover groceries, kids’ activities, clothes, holidays and pretty much anything else. My salary would cover DP’s contribution to bills as well if it came down to it, but there would be pence left for anything else… so we would be pretty much having to live on £85 / week for day-to-day expenses & food. Tax credits would go up (eventually?), but I assume this would depend at what stage in the tax year we found ourselves in that situation (as it’s an annual award based on tax-year earnings?). We wouldn’t get any housing or council tax benefit or free school meals etc (both parents have to be unemployed in our LEA). Re. family help, we could turn to DP’s parents as an absolute last resort, but would rather not. My parents are on a very low income anyway, so no chance there.

So… to the challenge. Things very tight this month anyway as my wage was down by about 1/3 (moved on to monthly salary a few months back and have been repaying salary advance for the last 2 months). Managed OK last month as had put a bit aside, but this month there was basically nothing left of my salary after bills. So we’ve had to manage on what’s left of DP’s wage alone. Because of this, I thought it would be relatively easy to manage on £85 just for a week: bills were already paid, had been shopping Friday of the week before, so not as if our cupboards were bare. Also have a weekly veg box delivery on a Friday which would help. Sad to say that despite all that, we went over budget. Will post weekly diary in separate post...

LittleFriendSusan Wed 18-Jul-12 01:21:46

(Long - sorry!!)

Monday 09/07

I had to bend the rules a little, as I had to pay for the children’s passport applications… but am not including this in the weekly total (this was over £100 including Check & Send anyway so would have blown the budget before we even started). If we were living like this long-term, it wouldn’t have been an issue anyway, as there’s no way we could afford to holiday abroad. (This will be our first holiday abroad as a family and that’s with 2 wage earners…). Had to get DS’s photos done again as they’d been rejected by the PO checking person, however, we had them done at Max Spielmann who guarantee passport pics so this lot were free. Parked in the car park which is free for 1 hour & hoped it wouldn’t take any longer! We were a few minutes over in the end, but thankfully no ticket…

Spent £15 in Lidl on fruit, yoghurt, stuff for packed lunches, milk, cereal & tinned tomatoes. Bear in mind this is only days after I did a big shop in Aldi… kids (and DP) have polished off the cereal I bought and we have run out of ham…

Meals for the day:
Breakfast: usual – cereal / toast for kids, berries, yoghurt & sprinkling of granola for me
Lunch – packed lunch for kids (sandwich / cucumber, carrot / berries / apple & yoghurt), leftover Sunday lunch for DP, lentil soup & a yoghurt for me (HM soup - leftover from last week)
Dinner – Ham & cheese omelette, salad for me, wedges & beans for DP & kids
Snacks: fruit

I cook from scratch and rarely buy “junk” food, we all take a packed lunch apart from the odd day the kids will have a school dinner (once a fortnight or so, if that), however, we spend a lot on food. This is what I would really like to cut back on, but just can’t seem to do it! I menu plan every weekend and shop based on this, shop at Aldi / Lidl /local market where I can, but our food bills are still astronomical. I suppose I am a bit of a foodie, which doesn’t really help. A large chunk of our food budget seems to go on bread, cereal, yoghurts & pack-up stuff. DP takes food for his break at 10 and then more for lunch, so I suppose we’re making 5 pack-ups a day. I seem to be forever having to buy more. I’ve been buying the big 1kg tubs of yoghurt from Lidl which are working out a bit more cost effective, but still not cheap…

DD had cheerleading after school which cost £2 but was paid at the beginning of term.

Paid £2 for lottery (syndicate at work)

Tues 10/07

Breakfast as above
Snacks: fruit as above
Lunch:

Kids: tuna sandwich, 2 x ALDI jammie dodgers, yogurt, Satsuma / apple
Me: Sesame bagel & cheese triangle & ham, salad
DP: Sandwiches, crisps, yogurt, fruit

Dinner: Roast pork, cauliflower, spring greens (kids eating at grandparents)

DS at gymnastics: £3.50

Total so far: £20.50 (not inc. passports & prepaid activities)

Wednesday 11/07

Breakfast: same again
Lunch: sandwiches etc for kids, 1 round sandwiches for DP, leftovers from last night for DP & I
Dinner: DD in “Stars in their Eyes” thing at school so quick meal of cheese on toast + tinned tomatoes for me, beans for everyone else. Had run out of bread and beans so popped to local Co-op: spent £4.23 on loaf bread, beans, 12 eggs reduced to £1.60 & quiche reduced to £0.63.

Stars in their eyes: tickets 3 x £2 + raffle tickets £1 & drinks £1.20.

Total spent today: £12.43
Total to date: £32.93

Thursday 12/07

Day off work today. Needed to go to Aldi to pick up cafetiere (one of their specials at £4.99. Smashed the glass on our old jug a few weeks back and been waiting to see one at a reasonable price!). Had also run out of dishwasher tablets, hairspray, jam, cheese, butter and packed lunch stuff, milk & cereal yet again. Picked up few other bits for next few days & jar coffee as it’s my turn to buy for work. Total spent in Aldi: £45.74…

Had to put fuel in car – only put £10 in though as DP not paid till tomorrow and funds running v. low….

Also went to the market for fruit & veg. Spent about £7.00 altogether but got lots for it.

Then DD came home from school with letter about dress code for production she’s in this weekend. Needs white shirt, black trousers & black cardigan, none of which she has already… So went to Asda to get from school uniform section. Picked up a couple of skirts for September while I was there, also grabbed some bikinis & beach cover-ups for our holiday next month. Have completely blown the budget by now! Put this all on credit card... spent total of £110 but £45 of this has now been returned.

DD at Brownies – would cost £1.75 but paid earlier in term.

Meals:

Breakfast as usual
Lunch: sandwiches etc
Dinner: Couscous, roast veg & barbecue chicken thighs

Total spend for day: £62.74 + £110 credit card = £172.74 (but £127.74 if you take off the clothes I’ve returned)

Total to date: £172.74 + £32.93 = £205.67
That’s shocking….

Friday 13/07

Actually managed to spend nothing today!!!

DS at swimming which costs £4.00 a session but paid in 10-week blocks. DD should have been there too but she had dress rehearsal for the production tomorrow.

Meals:

Breakfast – same again
Lunch – Leftovers from last night for DP & I, Wraps & chicken & fruit for kids
Dinner – Goats cheese & red pepper quiche & salad (chips for DP & kids)

Saturday 14/07

This is where it all went wrong again sad

DD at gymnastics - £3.50

Kids trampolining: 2 x £4 (paid in advance)

Now for the bad bit… went to the sales to try to get clothes sorted for our holiday. We are going on a beach holiday for the first time since children were born (DD is 10 this year!) and have nowhere near enough “hot” clothes to do us for 2 weeks. Kids have outgrown their clothes from last summer and hardly bought anything summery this year as the weather has been so crap! So it was something of a necessity, but still…

Next sale - £269 – over half of this going back though! Just grabbed lots for all of us (mostly DP!) in the hope some of it would fit / look ok.

Matalan sale: DP - £40, me & kids £89.00. Keeping most of this.

Tesco: £20 fuel (so we have used almost £10 diesel in 2 days. DP used most of it Thurs evening to go sailing though)

Home Bargains: £9.44 on snacks & drinks + couple tins of chickpeas. DDs thing tonight is picnic in the park-style, so need to take nibbles etc and also send few bits for her tonight / tomorrow.

Iceland: Breaded fish fillets, frozen chips & peas! Running late shopping and needed something fairly quick to shove in oven & eat before DD’s show (had to be there for 6.30): £5.50

DD’s show – tickets were £28 altogether, but already paid for.

Total spent today: £436.44
Total to date: £642.11
Total not including holiday-related spends: £145.11

Sunday 15/07

Last day of the challenge and what a dismal failure it has been…

Had to go and buy more packed-lunch stuff & some sort of meat for Sunday lunch so went to Asda again – total spent £28.24 (inc mackerel, prawns & olives for my lunches at work next week as am going to try to go low carb until our holiday! )

Shocking to see just how much we have spent over the week:

Everyday spending £173.35 – over double the budget.
+ holiday prep spending £497 + passports at approx £116

In my defense, this is most definitely not the norm!! Just happens we have no more free weekends except the one 2 days before our holidays, so clothes shopping had to be done now or never…

Looking back over the week, it’s very depressing to see how often I end up nipping out for e.g. bread and pack-up stuff and spending £30+… Also, I totted up spending on the children’s activities and that alone would have been £58.50 for the week. That’s almost ¾ of the allocated budget – couldn’t afford any of that if we were really in this situation.

I think the thing for us to tackle is the grocery spending... Need to factor in more "cheap meals" and maybe implement a policy of "when it's gone, it's gone" with regards to yoghurts, ham, cereals, etc.

I've actually found this v. insightful for us as a family, and we are thinking of carrying on for a few weeks - maybe eventually we will actually manage to stick within budget! This challenge has made me think more about what I'm spending - e.g. I've been totting up as I go around the supermarket & putting things down if they're expensive... probably wouldn't have done this otherwise. And writing it down makes you realise just how expensive everything is!

Hats off to anyone living on this amount on a long-term basis - am sure we would manage if it happened to us (we'd have no choice but to!) but it must be bloody tough...

LittleFriendSusan Wed 18-Jul-12 01:30:18

Has doing the challenge changed your attitude towards protecting your finances? Do you think you are now more likely to put a plan in place to safeguard your income?

It has definitely made me think. Mortgage would be paid in event of DP's death but no unemployment / critical illness / accident cover. We will definitely be looking at some sort of insurance policy for DP just in case... As I mentioned, we do have savings to tide us over for a short time, but they would only last 3 months or so.

Are you now motivated to ask your employer or ask your partner to ask their employer about income protection as part of their employee benefits package?

My employer's sickness policy / death in service cover is good so no need to approach them. DP - no such thing as a "benefits package" - they think they're lucky to have a job! Would be a pointless exercise. The only way we will have protection of his income is if we do it independently.

Have you done the draw yet? <crosses fingers>
£100 Amazon vouchers would pay for DS's birthday presentsmile

overtherooftops Wed 18-Jul-12 13:50:47

In terms of the final questions most of my employers have had decent sick cover. I do not think I would take out income protection cover but it has made me think more about the little bits you spend daily and I would be more likely to try and spend less on silly things and try to save this to fall back on.

The only company I worked for without sick pay scheme only had four employees and couldn't afford to.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 18-Jul-12 19:11:53

Thanks everyone - the winners have been selected (at random from all adding feedback as required) and are below: all get a £100 Amazon voucher.

Dogwalks
EddieIzzardIsMine
antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou
InmySpareTime
Herethereeverywhere
Lisad123
Merrylegs
mynameis
ShatnersBassoon
StellaMarie

moomoo1967 Wed 18-Jul-12 19:26:11

congratulations everyone smile

Yay!grin Thank you Unum and MN, DS can get his drum kitgringrin

mynameis Wed 18-Jul-12 19:57:36

Yay thank you! Brightened my day right up.

Now what to spend it on??

herethereeverywhere Wed 18-Jul-12 20:29:28

yay! I won! How exciting grin

Cremolafoam Wed 18-Jul-12 20:38:24

Well done you lot!!! gringrin

Peachy Thu 19-Jul-12 19:43:39

Not sure whetehr to say wow well done you lot for even giving this a shot, emphasise who this isn't RL as there are no things like broken boilers etc to sort or point out that sickness is not the wloest of the benefits; carer's Allowance for example is £58.50 per week.

So i will do all three.

lisad123 Thu 19-Jul-12 21:40:16

Thank you mn, now can buy dh an anniversary pressie grin

lisad123 Thu 26-Jul-12 16:17:38

Will they voucher come via post or email? Thanks x

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 26-Jul-12 19:15:37

lisa - email - should be with you already - do check your junk folder etc

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