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A small family in London, is £400 a week enough?

(66 Posts)
LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 19:57:51

Ok so I know people live off a lot less, including people in my own family, but they don't live and work in London so have no point of comparison.

I have estimated that from the point my baby arrives on October, our family income will be roughly £400 a week.

Is this an OK amount?

My DH travels to central London so buys a weekly travel card at just under £50 and obviously I will travel a couple of times a week too.

We will have an average £800 pund'ish mortgage to pay each month and obviously other general expenditures that come with living in London.

Is it manageable?

I can cook at home all week and we don't lead an extravagant lifestyle. Our luxuries include going to the cinema and a meal out every couple of weeks at the moment. It is something we know we will have to cut back on as soon as the LO comes and are prepared for it.

iskra Tue 16-Aug-11 20:00:05

What do you have to pay out of that? So you say your mortgage is 800 a month, travel is 200, what are your other bills?

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 20:01:58

Oh and I am a big fan of Aldi and DH is a brilliant market shopper. I just don't know if it is feasible or if I am worrying too much as this is my first baby and family spending is so different to single person or couple spending IYSWIM.

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 20:03:31

Other bills are the usual, gas, electric, water, council tax, food, clothes etc..

We don't own a car and have decided to wait a year to get one. Apart from the usual there are no other big bills and we have a little set aside for unexpected large expenses (boiler or repairs).

iskra Tue 16-Aug-11 20:08:38

Well, of course it's possible to live on that, it just depends what your outgoings are. We lived on 1000 a month as family of 3 in London, but we weren't paying rent/mortgage out of that.

EverythingInMiniature Tue 16-Aug-11 20:12:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

susiedaisy Tue 16-Aug-11 20:12:11

It will be possible but hard work you will have to watch every penny all of the time which isn't a bad thing, we all have to do it to a certain extent, but can get tedious if you have to have a major discussion every time you want to buy one extra small thing especially over a long period of time,

Blu Tue 16-Aug-11 20:18:01

It sounds quite tight once you factor in all your living expenses.
Write them all down - you must know what overheads you have now that won't change.
Also add in Child Benefit, which you will get on that income, between £80 and £90 a month.
And definitely don't get a car. The insurance for a car kept on the street in London is sky high, and with servicing, MOT, and high fuel costs - a black hole for cash.

Look at all your low budget options - breastfeeding saves a fortune on formula, buy a bundle of second hand 'real' nappies from your local NCT sale.

Babies per se aren't that expensive to keep, but it is tempting to splash out on them. Make a circle of friends with babies the same age through whatever groups are active in your area, and start a circle of coffee-morning get togethers for low budget socialising.

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 20:42:51

Well I budget on a monthly basis already and we have the £1000 a month for travel and mortgage payments, about £300 a month on food staples and the usual £150 cost of TV licensing.

We are using a freeview box so no TV subscription fee and will probably be spending £30 a month on internet unless we can find something cheaper (any recommendations welcome).

TBH I am not sure what gas, electric and water will cost at the moment as I have never had to budget a families worth of these utilities before.

I suppose I am just wondering if the money will stretch, it comes up ok on paper, but I would love some more experienced family budgeters to give me their honest opinions.

iskra Tue 16-Aug-11 20:58:19

Your utility usage won't change particularly with a baby, I would have thought. A bit more hot water for baths, a few more washing machine loads. You at home during the day might mean you have the heating on a bit more.

What is your current monthly spend, then?

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 21:05:31

Just checked and it is £140 for gas, water and electricity.

Oh and just remembered council tax which is £180 a month.

Ok I just added it all up, it is a super tight budget sad

Uh oh...

Ponders Tue 16-Aug-11 21:08:15

will you get working tax credits? (do they still exist?)

our internet is £13 a month with aol - that's unlimited access & "up to 8MB" (generally 4-5) so you should be able to do better than £30 (& every penny will count on your budget smile)

how big is your house? do you have gas CH? don't forget gas is going up by c 18% this year & electricity by around 10%. Have you got previous bills to give you an idea of your normal usage?

Ponders Tue 16-Aug-11 21:10:41

council tax is only for 10 months in most places - we get a holiday in March & April - see if you can get it reduced by paying over 12 months

Blu Tue 16-Aug-11 21:13:10

I think being at home during the day with a baby will cost a lot more in heating!

Have a look at what tax credits you might be entitled to, and maybe see if you can reduce your mortgage for a couple of years, somehow?

Any online or freelance work you can do from home? Can your DH up his income somehow?

I think it sounds pretty tight. Your expenditure shouldn't rise in key areas, utilities etc will remain roughly the same I would think apart from the imminent price rises.

BFing will save you a fortune, I read somewhere that a year's worth of formula was about £500, and most budgeting things you look at tell you to allow £10 per week for disposable nappies.
Your food bill shouldn't be impacted until your baby is about a year old and eating significant quantities.

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 21:21:17

He teaches so is on a fixed contract until it is reviewed.

I will look into tax credits, don't know much about them TBH, time to learn I suppose.

I am still studying for another year before I can start a post grad so with that and the baby we only have one main breadwinner for a couple of years. I'm hoping a student loan will help cover my end while studying for my post grad.

Why have i been spending so much on internet shock (virgin media at the moment)?

Ponders Tue 16-Aug-11 21:23:29

directgov says council may let you pay over 12 months - that would be £150 instead of £180

does your Virginmedia thing include a phone? you haven't mentioned phone...

what does your DH teach? could he do some private tuition?

Blu Tue 16-Aug-11 21:25:08

A session a week offering tutoring, or ESOL tuition, or proof reading or marking for an exam board?

toddlerama Tue 16-Aug-11 21:25:21

Our heating bill went up when I started staying at home with the kids. It was ridiculously tight, but doable with me making money wherever I could. I sell things on eBay, do carboot sales and I give music lessons one evening a week when DH is working and the children are in bed. I only add about £4-5000 a year to our income, but it tips the balance.

kipperandtiger Tue 16-Aug-11 21:25:58

You (or your DH) will qualify for some form of family tax credit on top of the Child Benefit. Our baby was born in London and we lived there initially before moving out - it IS possible to do manage on that level of income. The thing you will be paying more for is nappies and laundry detergent, conditioner as there's loads more laundry. Breastfeeding mums need to eat well and healthily, so budget a little more for your diet too. (Hope your washing machine is in working order?!)

If you get in touch with friends, relations or NCT mums who've had babies a year or more before you, they could probably pass on old clothes and toys that their child has grown out of if you ask nicely- unless they're sentimental and are keeping them for their next child. NCT also organise nearly new sales, they are a good saving if you don't mind second hand. Don't be tempted to spend tons on things like toys, clothes or equipment (buggy, cot) etc - you'll find that the most expensive labels (more prevalent among my London friends than suburban ones) are not always better quality - often they are worse: too delicate, too frou frou (a designer patterned stroller??? It gets folded up and thrown into the airplane cargo hold!!) The middle price (sometimes lowest!) often gets you the best quality, and for things like toys and clothes, check online for price comparisons - online retailers often cheaper (like because there are no shop rental costs. M&S, Tesco surprisingly good for lots of inexpensive, good quality clothes. The internet is great for checking out when things go on sale - eg the car seat or stroller may be on sale next week, don't wait till you really need it in a month to buy it. It'll be the same quality still, even if on sale (not like clothes or vegetables!) Read the parent feedback and reviews - they often are spot on.

Check the website to see what benefits and tax credits you're entitled to. I think you can do it. Babies don't actually cost that much. Overindulgent parents/grandparents/godparents, lol.....that's another matter.

Ponders Tue 16-Aug-11 21:26:36

tax credits calculator

(does your £400 include child benefit? that's £81.20 every 4 weeks)

EverythingInMiniature Tue 16-Aug-11 21:29:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ivortheengine8 Tue 16-Aug-11 21:29:50

I think DH brings home about £2500 a month after tax. We rent a two bed flat for £1200 a month, he gives me £850 a month for all the food shopping but he pays the bills and rent. We have one dd and one due in October.
Our biggest expenditure is the rent.

We live comfortably but we are not really able to save anything.

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 21:35:01

He actually mentioned tutoring a day a week but I was worried about the pressure on him. He is an English teacher so he could definitely do it till I could contribute again.

I already shop second hand and Freecycle so very happy with saving money that way.

I have already spent on a Bugaboo Bee Plus but decided I could sell after use to get something back. I invested in a cot bed so it would last through the early toddler years and bought a decent sprung mattress of Ebay for the same reason. I bought the car seat and other bits also on Ebay (second hand) but it has still been fairly pricey, the stroller being the most expensive obviously.

Everything else I am getting second hand.

LDNmummy Tue 16-Aug-11 21:36:04

No, haven't applied for any benefits at all. I am going to look into them tomorrow to see what we could get help with.

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