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Salary of just under 40K in London for me and DS

(44 Posts)
EsperaTaChikita Wed 29-Jun-11 11:22:20

Seeing as an old thread has been revived with a similar dilemma, I thought I would start a new thread on a similar topic.

So, people have been telling me that this is doable, but I'm calculating at the moment and it's not looking good:

Travel costs (commuting from Zone 5 to Zone 1): £180
Student loan/Post-graduate loan repayment: £400
Average rent (1 bedroom flat): £700 (yes, rents in my area have shot through the roof!)
Childcare/CM for toddler DS (£48 a day for 11 hours): £1040

That's pretty much all of my salary gone, before food, utilities, household stuff for myself and DS (nappies, soap, detergent, toilet paper etc) and any unexpected extras. I already cut mine and DS's hair myself, have tried toilet-training DS but to no avail.

I keep thinking to move even further out, but then even if rent is cheaper, it means travel will cost more, and I'll need even more hours of childcare for DS. I've thought about finding another family to share a place with, but no luck on my NM local page. Plus, H has made it clear that he will fight that all the way as he is in a position to care for DS in a more stable environment.

I have no family or friends nearby that can help with childcare. 11 hours a day is a conservative estimate, the job I'm going into is likely to require much more than that on occasion (someone I know in a similar job has just done a 37hr shift from Thursday through to Friday non-stop!). Someone suggested a live-in au pair, but an au pair would not (and in fact, should not) be providing that much childcare - for that, I'd need a nanny, and the cost of a live-in nanny in London is even more expensive than what we are currently paying for a CM. Some nurseries work out cheaper than our CM, but that's because they are open a max of 10 hours a day.

If I leave this job, I'll have to repay fees to the tune of approximately £12,000, so that's not an option (I am also VERY unlikely to find another job as well paid in the short and long-term).

I can get some contribution from DS's father, but not much, especially as his costs will be about the same as mine travel, loan and mortgage-wise (for a house in negative equity). Trying to move somewhere cheaper but much further away is likely to turn what has so far been an "amicable" split (in the weakest sense of the word) into a full blown WW3! And again, I'm still faced with longer travel, more childcare etc.

Apparently, because I am in the higher tax bracket, I will not qualify for CTC or WTC. I qualify for CB, but £81.20 a month will in no way cover food for both of us for the entire month, let alone anything extra.

So, can someone please help me out and tell me just how the hell I can free myself and DS of H, short of quitting my job, trying to get housed by the council (fat chance!), then getting a lower paid job where I can then claim associated benefits?

The only other options I have are leaving DS with H full-time, which has me tearing up every bloody second! I know it makes sense money-wise and practicality-wise (H's job is not as full-on as mine, so he would be able to work around regular childcare hours), but I don't want to leave my son. We got to this point because he cheated, and it just feels like I'm being punished for something I didn't do (that may make me sound like an over-emotional teenager, but at this point, I don't care!)

Alternatively, remaining in the family home for the next 2 years with H, by which point I should be earning more than enough to make ends meet, and even with some money left over each month.

I've made an appointment to see my local CAB to see what other options are open to me, but feeling very despondent at the moment (not even taking into account the emotional turmoil I'm in as to why I find myself in this situation in the first place - see here and here).

I am more than happy to be told that I am being unreasonable but every option I think of leads to another obstacle.

So, if you have read this far:

WItBU to quit my job, divorce H, go on benefits until I can find a different job to fit around DS (not being flippant, it just seems the most straight-forward way to keep full-time residency for my DS, although it may be that I am not entitled to certain benefits if I have deliberately made myself homeless/quit my job etc)

or

WItBU to leave my DS with H in the knowledge that it will solve problems financially but means I will be giving up full-time residency of my DS and seeing him only on weekends, if that? (I can share with people and reduce my rent substantially, but it means I am unlikely to be able to have DS stay overnight unless I find people/a family that would be happy to accommodate this) I can't bear the thought of DS growing up thinking that I abandoned him!

or

WItBU to grit my teeth and try and get through the next 2 years with H in the same house, knowing that at the end, we'll be in a far better position to make things work financially when the divorce goes through?

Oh, and just in case H is reading this (yes, he's even taken to spying on me on MN! - the only reason I vent on here is because the best friend I would have vented to is the one who's betrayed me!), you are a bastard and frankly, wishing death on you would be too kind!

minipie Wed 29-Jun-11 11:30:14

sad

It sounds as if you are a trainee professional (lawyer? accountant?) in the City. In a couple of years you will be paid much much better, once qualified. You will be able to be completely independent of H and support yourself and DS. Am I right?

If so - could you consider getting a loan? I wouldn't usually advocate getting further into debt, but if you know you will be able to pay it off in a couple of years, it's different. And the banks are more likely to give it to you. Would just be for enough to make your monthly costs manageable.

I don't think you should quit your job. Long term you have much better prospects if you don't.

Will have a bit more of a think but wanted to raise the loan idea.

Lemonylemon Wed 29-Jun-11 11:30:15

Try and look for another nursery for your DS. I pay £243 for childcare vouchers before tax and then pay another £500 odd after tax. You should get the CTC to help out with the nursery fees. I earn just under £40k too.

Travel costs - I live in Zone 5 and get the train into a London terminal - try to split your travel costs between train and tube/bus/walk - not just tube/bus and see how that pans out...

£400 every month to repay a student loan is an awful lot of money - can you rejig that and get a personal loan instead?

knittedbreast Wed 29-Jun-11 11:34:00

why dont you both leave london and move somewhere cheaper?

id probebly just live with him and grin and bare it for two years myself

SootySweepandSue Wed 29-Jun-11 11:36:59

Why is H not paying 50% of the childcare costs?

Can you get a quickie divorce?

supadupapupascupa Wed 29-Jun-11 11:38:42

can't you share the childcare with H? He could be 50% responsible which could cut your cost in half........

Terraviva Wed 29-Jun-11 11:40:08

What a terrible situation to find yourself in! I really feel for you.

Don't quit your job and hope that that the council will rehome you etc. I completely understand why this seems like a tempting solution at the moment, but it will work out so much worse in the long term. It will cause even more stress for you and your DS.

400 pounds a month does sound a really high repayment for a student loan. Can you negotiate that down?

SootySweepandSue Wed 29-Jun-11 11:43:03

Are your parents far away? Could you move in with them and DS and commute to your job for a year or 2? Would mean freeish accommodation and childcare.

Bramshott Wed 29-Jun-11 11:52:00

You poor thing - that does look hard. But as others have said, don't quit your job (or in fact go for any of those options!).

I would:
1. See if your employer can offer childcare vouchers / a direct payment to your childminder before tax - this can save you a fair bit.
2. Apply for CTC - you should be entitled to something, even if it's just a little bit. Put your details in at www.entitledto.com and it should tell you.
3. Look and look some more to try and find a cheap flat - even if you can find somewhere for £600 a month, that could make a big difference
4. See if you can negotiate on your student loan (I don't even know if that's possible, but it's worth a shot!)
5. And of course, make sure your DH is paying you 15% of his salary in maintenance for DS. Take no nonsense about his costs - you are entitled to that and could enforce it through the CSA if you chose.

Grit your teeth, and tell yourself that it will all be better in a couple of years!

Ceic Wed 29-Jun-11 11:52:44

If you are the non-resident parent, you'll be looking at paying your not-so-DH child maintenance too.

I suggest you also get an appointment with a family law solicitor. And perhaps Womens Aid too. And check the CSA website for guidleines on who'd be expected to pay.

If you choose to live in the family home, I suggest you do so with a new set of house rules, as you'd both be living seperate lives. You'd be living as housemates and so you share the bills and respect each other's childcare time. He'd have to do his own laundry, housework and cooking and respect the parts of the house which would become your private areas.

mumblechum1 Wed 29-Jun-11 11:56:06

If your ex finishes woks 9 to 5, couldn't he do at least the 5pm-you get home timeslot?

mumblechum1 Wed 29-Jun-11 11:56:42

You're obviously entitled to child maintenance at 15% of your ex's net salary - is that factored in?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Wed 29-Jun-11 12:02:23

That does look tight, OP. sad

I think if I were in your position, I'd have a good look around for a cheaper nursery/childminder option near your work - then have a look at commuting from further afield. I'm not sure how it stacks up but, it may be that ten or 15 miles further out would make a difference in rental cost but not add that much to your commute.

The closer DS is to your work, the easier you will find it to pick him up at the end of the day and drop him off (and hopefully not incur 'late' costs).

I'd be looking anywhere on the direct train line that is doable for you as a daily commute. I bet your DS would love the journey too!

smallpotato Wed 29-Jun-11 12:02:36

Surely you are entitled to stay in the family home- why can't your exH move out? And he should still pay half the mortgage. Would that make things any cheaper?

Or could you ask for a pay rise? Or look for another job? Or refinance your loan to pay it over a longer period of time, so reducing your monthly payments.

smallpotato Wed 29-Jun-11 12:02:36

Surely you are entitled to stay in the family home- why can't your exH move out? And he should still pay half the mortgage. Would that make things any cheaper?

Or could you ask for a pay rise? Or look for another job? Or refinance your loan to pay it over a longer period of time, so reducing your monthly payments.

EsperaTaChikita Wed 29-Jun-11 12:03:01

No parents, I'm afraid. They both died years ago. Siblings live in different cities, so no chance there either. The £400 is a combination of ordinary student loan from University days (which will go out automatically from my salary), and a postgraduate/personal loan I took out after my first degree. I will call the bank to see if they will accept lower payments, but as I'm on a repayment holiday now, I thought I should see what other options are open to me. I would hate for my credit-rating to be affected as well!

H should be contributing 50% towards childcare. The only issue is that if DS lives with me, the CM won't be the best form of childcare - given my hours, it would have to be a nanny, be that live-in or live-out, and we just can't afford that at the moment. So, again, it boils down to most likely having to leave DS with H.

Mumblechum1, there's no way of knowing my precise finishing hours - H has already made it clear that he won't be picking DS up and waiting in MY home for me to get back when he'll have no idea what time that could be (which is fair enough - I don't think I would want him there either!). Minipie guessed right as to my job. Someone I spoke to suggested speaking to HR at my firm to see if I can try and get seats with more predictable hours, but I can't face compromising on my training or jeopardising my chances of being kept on on qualification - I mean, if you had a trainee who was able to do the job required and one who had to rush out at 5.30PM every day whilst everyone remained behind, I'm under no illusions as to who would be kept on once qualified (which again is fair enough - they're a business, after all).

We've already spoken to lawyers and have talked of drafting a formal separation agreement if we still reside together in the same house - that's the current plan, but I don't know if I can live with him for 2 whole years! sad (though it's looking increasingly likely that, financially, it'll be the safest option)

I'm off to my CAB, but thanks for responses so far - sorry if I haven't acknowledged everyone who's posted.

risingstar Wed 29-Jun-11 12:11:16

it looks like the only thing you can do is sit it out.

arrange to spend lots of weekends away.

this too will pass

oranges Wed 29-Jun-11 12:14:07

Right. You can do it. This just needs to last till ds goes to school.

You need childcare vouchers - your company should offer them.

Be imaginative about housing and childcare.
If you just need one bedroom room and both you and ds are out the house most of the day, is there any way you could rent a room in a 2 bed flat? Are there any single parent associations that could help? The ideal would be to find someone in your position that you could nanny share with.

Just for a year till things even out?
Ask again about extending the student loan holiday, again till your childcare costs go down.
Get H to contribute something and get it in writing. NOT residency or you will lose out.
Ask your company if they offer annual travel card deals - most hr departments do.
It sounds like you are going into a career that will earn you good money in the future. if so, take out a loan to tide you over this.
Good luck!

SootySweepandSue Wed 29-Jun-11 12:21:30

Speak to HR about your hours. Do not give up residency of your child for your job - how can that be worth it? I am sure they will be sympathetic.

Another option would be to live close to your work with a local CM or nursery. If it's in the city you can walk/bus/cycle (?) in from ok parts of north or east London. This would cut travel costs. Keep trying to find a flexible CM - a friend of mine is a hospital Dr and has a lot of flex with her CM so they are out there.

You have so many things to sort out I really feel for you but try to prioritise them and deal with 1 by 1. I would say;
1- staying as main carer for your child
2- finding childcare options that do not include H that fit around work location
3 - your job stability & future (talk to them)
4- taking H to the cleaners (this will improve your financial position once he meets his obligations on childcare & maintenance)

Best of luck

minipie Wed 29-Jun-11 12:25:51

Ok my thoughts:

1) Don't give up your job - assuming you like it (or would like it if the home stress went away) and want to do it long term.

2) Don't ask for predictable hours, you're right it will affect your prospects. Tbh there is almost no department in a City firm which could offer you a 5.30 departure anyway. Some depts have worse hours than others though - avoid banking, corporate and projects if you can.

3) Can H pick up DS from (regular hours) childcare, and then you pick DS up from H when you return from work? Or is it so late that that is not feasible.

4) H really should be paying half of childcare costs. If you are looking at way to cut back, borrow, etc in order to cover costs, so should he be.

5) Reduce debt payments. I would suggest you try (1) speaking to the Student Loan Company to see if you can defer/reduce payments. Offer to pay increased amounts to make up in 2 years' time. (2) speak to your bank about payment holidays, rescheduling etc on your existing loan. Don't worry about your credit rating - if deferments are agreed that is much less bad than missing a payment - and surviving day to day is more important than maintaining a perfect credit score.

6) Additional loan from the bank. Or possibly from your employer (I don't know how they would react to this but it could be worth explaining your difficulties to HR and see what they say).

All the above assumes you move out of the house. Staying put is obviously financially easier but emotionally harder.

SootySweepandSue Wed 29-Jun-11 12:39:44

Minipie sounds like you know the sector OP works in quite well. I'm amazed of the attitude these companies can have - are there no single mums working in the city?

OP maybe there are more suitable types of nurseries located in the city with longer hours...If it is law then have a think long term about moving to an in-house position in a corporation. The mums at my old place literally chose when they work as it's flexitime for all (ps - there is a legal dept and the company is about as big as it gets).

minipie Wed 29-Jun-11 13:18:25

"Are there no single mums working in the city?"

Sooty IME there are not that many mums working as City lawyers, never mind single mums sad. Those that manage it tend to have Hs who share the childcare/home responsibilities pretty equally with them. It gets better as you get more senior but trainees are expected to be available as and when the work needs doing - and that can be late at night.

Espera I really don't want that to put you off - I think a lot depends on your particular firm and what dept you qualify into. And as Sooty says, longer term, once qualified, there are much more family-friendly options including in-house jobs.

Jux Wed 29-Jun-11 13:20:55

Don't dismiss any parts of London. I used to live in Elephant & Castle when it was (apparently) seriously nasty, on 13th floor of a run down council block, mainly inhabited by prostitutes and druggies. The postmen went round in pairs. There were fairly regular shootings and stabbings.

I worked stupid hours, frequently leaving work at 3 or 4am, confronted by a looong walk up the stairs as the lift hardly ever worked. In the mornings I would be leaving home at 6.30am.

No trouble. Not once was I bothered by anyone, in 3 years. The druggies dealing in the corridors as I went by in the small hours weren't interested in me nor was I interested in them.

During the day, there were a lot of ordinary people about. Helpful, friendly.

I lived there because it was cheap and the journey to work was pretty easy.

I know things have changed in Central London, but I bet there are still places which aren't anything like as bad as they're painted but are cheaper because of their reputation. (just in case you're labouring under the illusion that has been prevalent for many years, south of the river is OK and the people are kind of like, well, people grin).

oranges Wed 29-Jun-11 13:29:11

I do agree actually that if you can live close things are easier and not more expensive. I lived round Elephant and Castle too for 7 years and never had one problem. And you can walk to any bit of the city from there. And the teenage kids were much sweeter about helping me with the pram than the suits up the road in London bridge.

MrsHoolie Wed 29-Jun-11 13:36:57

How old is your DS?
I had an Au Pair from when my DD was 10 months old as DP was working in Devon (armed forces) so our childcare was very expensive unless we had an Au Pair. We are in London too.
If your son is old enough to go to pre school it is much cheaper than a nursery,ours is £16 for 9-3. If you combined this with an Au Pair then that is doable.
Oh...just realised you are looking for a 1bed flat and obviously an Au Pair would need a room. blush

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