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to wonder where everyone's money comes from and why we have none?

(303 Posts)
pennilessandpanicking Sun 15-Jun-14 12:52:41

We are really struggling for money and are in a bit of a mess that we can't get out of. We really struggle to the point where I couldn't take the children for an ice cream with their friends after school this week because I didn't have any money to buy an ice cream. Yet my facebook is full of people eating in cafes, driving places at the weekend, children doing endless after school activities (mine did do gymnastics but have had to stop it, and often can't afford to take the toddler to the childrens centre playgroup because I literally don't have the pound admission). Some of these friends are an a lower income than us / not working...AIBU to think they must be being helped by family, or have savings we don't have, or another source of income?

DH earns about �30,000. To me that is a high wage, it's certainly more than anyone in my family has ever earned, although I appreciate that some people will earn more. I am a SAHM. We have looked at the finances of me working and when we do the sums, with 3 DC (two would need before and after school care, one preschooler would need all day), we can't see how it is financially possible for me to work.

Basically, we moved from the North to the South-East a couple of years ago in order for DH to take up a permanent full time job, which increased his income from �16,000 to �30,000 and gave us the security of a permanent contract. Obviously the cost of living is higher, and we seem to be worse off, along with having much lower tax credits than we did on a lower income.

We have done everything we can to save money. Our rent is �850, which is honestly the lowest we could find in the town where DH works. If we lived further out, we would spend more on travel. I hate the town anyway and wouldn't choose to live here! After bills, council tax, etc, we have about �400 to get through the rest of the month, including food and travel. We shop in Aldi or Lidl, and manage to spend about �55 a week on food, cleaning products and toiletries for the five of us. It is tight, using cheap veg to bulk out meals etc and no treats - especially for the grown ups. We don't use the car unless essential. DH walks forty minutes each way to work, and cycles the children 4 miles each way to school in a bike trailer, except on the mornings when he isn't able to because of work commitments, in which case I get the bus (i can't drive) which costs about �12 in bus fare for me and the children, for 2 return trips (there are complicated reasons why they don't go to school closer to home, involving school admissions and some extra needs, but we're not eligible for help with transport and we just don't have the spare money for me to learn to drive, even though we would save money in the long term because bus fares are extortionate).

We have sold everything of any value, including jewellery I was given for my 21st, things left to me in a will, etc. We don't have a TV or sky subscription. We have never had a holiday, and have only been abile to visit family when they have been kind enough to pay for the travel. All the children's clothes are off ebay, or have been passed on to us by other people. DH and I have holes in our clothes, and I have no shoes, only flip flops. A couple of months ago we had to SORN the car because we couldn't afford the MOT and road tax in one installment. Some months we have run out of money halfway through, and have managed by buying enough cheap food for a budget menu, and dh and I sometimes going without food, especially fruit and veg, in order to save it for the children.

AIBU to think that on the income we have, we really shouldn't be this desperately broke? Am I missing something abiout how everyone else is doing this? We do keep looking out for jobs in cheaper areas but nothing is coming up, and I'm not sure how we'd afford to move unless there was a relocation package.

Please be kind, but genuine suggestions welcome!

StealthPolarBear Sun 15-Jun-14 12:56:49

Any chance you can move back up id take it although i realise youre looking.I dont think 30k is a lot in the south east sorry but it's a good wage where I live in the north east. If he applied for jobs between 25 and 35in a cheaper area of the country I bet youd find yourself much better off. Also when does your last dc start school, any chance you could work then?

LadySybilLikesCake Sun 15-Jun-14 13:00:38

You need to keep a log of how much you're spending so you can see where it's going. Are you spending £12 a week on bus fares or a day? If it's a day, it's cheaper to buy a weekly ticket. I do this. I pay £19 a week and I use the bus 4 times a day, so it's cheaper then 2 return trips as this would be £11 a day, so £55 a week (ouch).

If your children have additional needs are you claiming all that you can? DLA? What are you other bills like? Is it worthwhile changing your gas and electricity supplier etc?

No harshness here thanks

emsyj Sun 15-Jun-14 13:01:39

I think your income would have been fine in the north, but you have a 'comfortable wage in the north' income which you are trying to stretch to live in a much more expensive area. Not sure what the solution is really, if your living costs are already as low as you can get them then someone needs to earn more money - could you get a weekend job (e.g. pub/waitressing) so that you didn't incur childcare costs? Failing that, things will get easier when your DCs get older, won't they? They will be able to get themselves to school and you might be able to get a job.

Bus fares are extortionate here too. DH and I once got the local bus to a friend's house as they were having a bit of a 'do' and we thought it would be cheaper than a taxi. We were wrong!

AreYouFeelingLucky Sun 15-Jun-14 13:02:19

You'd have been better off in the North on 16k than in the South on 30k. Taking into account the cost of living differences, he's essentially taken a pay cut.

It's difficult, though. One salary is a struggle, especially in the South, and it's not particularly high. With three kids, though, you'd need some relatively well paid work to actually boost income. Childcare isn't cheap in the South, either...

I think you do need to move back. I suspect that the other people either have less kids, so that they don't need to earn so much to cover childcare, or have a higher earning potential, or just higher salaries. They could be racking up the CC debt, too.

I'd definitely look at moving back. How old are are your children? When they go to school, you'll be able to get work which will probably help a lot.

weatherall Sun 15-Jun-14 13:02:26

So your bills are c. £600 PCM? Can you break this down?

The se is prohibitively expensive. I would move there with a sahp and 3 DCs on only £30k.

Have you considered moving back north? It would probably be worth more being close to family who could provide free childcare.

The bus fares sound crazy. Surely no one should be expected to pay this for DCs to attend school??

(I'm in Scotland so this whole bit going to local school is alien to me)

Have you considered homeschooling?

Does DP work evenings/weekends? If not then could you? I know lots of families who split shift family life so they can have 2 incomes without c care costs.

How old are DCs?

HermioneWeasley Sun 15-Jun-14 13:03:12

Well you have 3 kids which I think is a bit of a luxury. One of the reasons we stopped at 2 was affordability.

But £30k in the SE for a family of 5 isn't a lot and I would expect it to be tight.

Could you work in the evenings when your DP gets back - an evening shift in a call centre/restaurant/pub?

Coukd you be a child minder?

LadySybilLikesCake Sun 15-Jun-14 13:05:36

"The bus fares sound crazy. Surely no one should be expected to pay this for DCs to attend school??"

Yes they do. There's no help unless your child has SN and it's the closest school which meets their needs, or it's your closest school and further than 3 miles or something.

pennilessandpanicking Sun 15-Jun-14 13:05:42

Thank you. We will move back North in a heartbeat if we can find DH a job. I check websites daily! Yes, I may be able to work once DC3 is at school full time, but that won't be until 2016. Weekend work would be manageable, evening work would be difficult because of my not being able to drive.

You're right that the wage doesn't go far down here!

FourFlapjacksPlease Sun 15-Jun-14 13:06:00

could you work part time a day at the weekend or a couple of evenings a week? Take in ironing at home maybe? Even babysitting would give you some extra cash. I think it's pretty difficult for most people to manage on a single wage unless that wage is very high. particularly in the south.
DH and I have always both worked, it's sometimes incredibly complicated on the childcare front but we fit around each other. It's never been an option for one of us to stay at home.

HermioneWeasley Sun 15-Jun-14 13:08:00

I know you don't have spare cash for lessons, but could your DH start teaching you to drive?

FourFlapjacksPlease Sun 15-Jun-14 13:08:37

sorry x-posted with everybody else!

BobPatandIgglePiggle Sun 15-Jun-14 13:11:10

It's shit, we're more skint than most of our friends and family and we both work and only have 1 ds. We are paying off some debt though.

Could you look for evening / weekend work so dh could have the children rather than pay childcare?

SavoyCabbage Sun 15-Jun-14 13:11:20

I think you need to look at ways to earn more money. I would work out exactly how much all the child care would cost and then how much you could earn.

Could dh work his hours out so that he could do either mornings or after school on some of the days? My friends dh has just done this.

Laquitar Sun 15-Jun-14 13:12:38

If you are in SE then the idea is to take advantage of the fact that there are more jobs and to have 2 incomes. I am not saying that there are plenty jobs but more than other parts of the country. Tbh if i was struggling so much that i had holes on my clothes and no food then i would go out nexy morning and place everywhere ads for cleaning, babysitting etc. Anything really. Meanwhile look for evening job so no childcare cost i.e. catering, call centre weekend job etc.

I admire your badgeting! 55pw for 5 including cleaning is very good. Also your hasband walks 45 min.
The problem is you can not cut down more as you already have done everything. You cant stop eating.
So the only way really is to increase the income which means extra jobs for both of you, weekends, evenings. It wont be nice of course, you will be very tired and you wont spend time together but i can not see any other way.

Trollsworth Sun 15-Jun-14 13:13:28

Train to be a childminder. It seems to be the only way,sometimes. I tnk you get a council tax subsidy or something for child minders, and you can write some purchases off as tax.

weatherall Sun 15-Jun-14 13:14:18

Having all DCs at school doesn't make working much easier!

Not many jobs from 10-2 5 days a week.

Get a bus pass and a weekend job.

The move ASAP.

pennilessandpanicking Sun 15-Jun-14 13:14:18

Weatherall - we did homeschool before the children started at this school a few months ago. I actually found that in order for them to be with other children and socialise, as well as to make the most of educational opportunities, I had to spend an awful lot on travel...keeping them at the kitchen table with their workbooks wouldn't be very good for them IMO.

When we had the third, we could afford her! It was before we moved to the SE, and although we had much less income, it was manageable. I think we'd still struggle with 2 DC.

Yes, the bus fare is �12 a day, which is why DH takes the two in a bike trailer most days. We do get lower rate DLA. To explain the schools, we moved into the area and had to do an in year application - the LEA offered us two separate schools for DC 1 and 2, miles apart, and in my opinion a school that could not meet DS's needs (very, very large school, 4 form entry).

Will have another look at energy suppliers - I'm always on moneysavingexpert!

yies, we were better off on �16,000 in the North - the problem was that he didn't have a full time contract, and this was the first lecturing job he'd been offered since finishing his PhD, so a step onto the ladder career wise. totally outing myself here!

Trollsworth Sun 15-Jun-14 13:15:22

Also how about an ironing service? If you have an iron and a board and a tv to watch, you may make some money.

Dog walking? That's something you can do with kids in tow.

dixiechick1975 Sun 15-Jun-14 13:16:04

I'd look for work that fits around your DH's hours. When will your toddler be going to nursery on funded hours?

I know there are a lot of SAHM on mumsnet but in real life I don't know any.

Babysitting, leaflet delivery, ironing, cleaning. What did you do before DC?

Many jobs are evening or weekend - eg the gymastics centre near us emailed a job advert this week looking for someone to work weekends only helping with the kids parties - putting food out, cleaning up etc - would be ideal for a mum who had a partner working mon to fri so no need for childcare.

fedupbutfine Sun 15-Jun-14 13:17:10

It's being in the South East that does it - I'm from the North West, spent 20 odd years in London and the South East but ended up back here eventually just 'cos the cost of living difference is enormous.

As a work at home option, have you got any hobbies you could turn into an income? Have a look at ebay, for example, or if you're crafty, you could sell your stuff at markets/craft fairs at the weekends? Some people do well out of direct selling - Avon, Betterware etc - but it can be hard work for the amount you get out of it but even something would be better than nothing?

LadySybilLikesCake Sun 15-Jun-14 13:17:57

You're entitled to a higher child tax credit rate as you get DLA, have you told them? Look into the cost of a weekly bus pass. As I said up there ^ if I paid daily it would work out at £55 a week but it's £19 as I buy a ticket for the week and can hop on and off as much as I want. I don't buy one in the school holidays as I don't need it.

Itsjustmeagain Sun 15-Jun-14 13:18:56

It wouldnt be THAT expensive to have the children in afterschool club and a few full days of nursery as in even if you had a low paid job it would probably leave you some money left over to help with bills and of course your preschooler will be getting free hours soon which really does help again. If you would like to work dont let the cost of childcare worry you too much it DOES work out. The afterschool club here is £8 per day per child and it is £40 per day for a full day for the younger two. You would only have 1 at full time and 2 at after school. It is doable.

However, if you dont want feel like that is what you want the only real option is to reduce your outgoings and as someone who moved to the north from the south east I can tell you that it isnt THAT much different up here! - our rent in the south east was £800 per month and the rent up here for a similar house is £750 per month council tax etc is roughly the same.

Laquitar Sun 15-Jun-14 13:19:17

I have just read the thread and we all repeat the same things!

weatherall Sun 15-Jun-14 13:19:20

Maybe talk to the large school about DCs needs. They may be able to accommodate him.

Tbh reading threads in here about parents trying to juggle academic careers with young DCs there are v few good stories. It seems that shirt contracts are the norm and post docs are expected to move every couple of years which isn't good for DCs esp those with sn.

I think your DP should seriously consider his career choice.

Could you move back north with the DCs and DP do bi weekly commutes?

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