No money for two households - how do people do it??(32 Posts)
Hi, I am on the brink of a separation - currently having counselling but I can't see a way the marriage can continue - we have come to the end of the road.
There are no big arguments, things are amicable, and we have 4 children, so we must keep it that way. Husband is a fantastic father and it is so important for the sake of the children and all of us that this remains just a very sad situation, not a hostile one.
But money is a huge issue - DH is the major breadwinner, my career was hammered by taking time out for the children and I currently earn about £12K per year.
But anyway, every penny that we earn leaves straightaway - on the mortgage, bills, children etc. There is no way either of us could find extra cash to set up two separate households.
So what the hell are we supposed to do? I have no idea how to move forward, and am very frightened both by my own financial vulnerability, and by the need for us not to fall out over money, for the sake of the children.
How do people out there do it?
But can CB and TC give you enough to survive on?
Maybe I am being stupid, but - imagine a scenario in which he moves out and I stay in the house with the kids. He then has to find the rent for a new place, and meanwhile, the mortgage, utilities etc for the existing house come to £900 per month, which I can't pay on my own. Benefits won't pay the mortgage.....
And if we were to sell the house and split the difference, that still doesn't work, because we have 4 children who have to have enough space to live in - and we would only be able to afford a 2 bed house each, so where do the kids live?
And the last thing the kids would need is losing the place they live.
And the potential for everything to turn nasty over money is horrible.
I would think you would be able to claim tax credits on only 12k. Also children may have to cut down on activities they do? Shop in aldi and look at how else to budget. It's not easy but can be done. Kids may need to share a room in both houses. Renting may be something you need to consider.
I have been wondering the exact same thing, being in a similar position to the OP. As you say, tax credits aren't going to make up enough of the shortfall to run two households, even if everyone cuts back (and we have already made lots of cutbacks just to keep one household on track!). I think this must be why lots of separated couples end up continuing to live under the same roof, not really ideal I know . Sorry, probably not much help but just posting to let you know you're not alone - hopefully someone will come along with a better idea soon!
So you get around £900 after tax. I'm in a similar position, but with less children and I get around £450 in tax credits, plus child benefit (roughly £140 but yours would be more). And then you'd get child maintenance from him too.
So yes, it's tight, but possible. Your salary alone would cover the direct debits. Then the rest is for food, clothes etc.
But you wouldn't necessarily get maintenance for the DCs if they live 50% of their time with you and 50% with their dad.
Have you spoken to a lawyer?
One solution I did hear of was that the separating couple took on a very small flat; whoever was with the kids stayed with the kids in the main house while the one not with the kids for those days went into the flat. If your DH is a great dad and you end up sharing care and it's an amicable divorce this might work for you.
How old are the kids?
You have to be realistic. I had to do exactly what you don't want to - sell the family home to split the equity.
Also my exh didn't pay a single penny from the day he left so even though he was entitled to a share of the equity when the house eventually sold, he refused to pay the mortgage or any of the bills. That was down to me and it was hard. I budgeted really carefully. I only worked part-time but didn't qualify for the childcare element of tax credits. Now my situation is different and I think tax credits are quite generous tbh, in my case anyway. Find out how much you are entitled to.
The kids are 15, 13, 10 and 6. The ideal for me would be that they could stay in the home they have now, obviously - for the sake of their stability. The eldest is about to do GCSEs, and anyway they are a tight little unit and the prospect of damaging their world is appalling for both DH and me.
I had thought of the small flat idea, if we could manage it financially - what would be the situation with that legally - ie. the house stays in both names, with an agreement to sell and split costs when the youngest child is old enough?
I have even thought of one of us getting a job away in the week and coming 'home' at the weekends, but obviously that means that person sees the kids less.
Go to the entitledto.co.uk website - input all your details and it will tell you exactly how much you are entitled to.
It is very accurate.
You need to get legal advice asap as everyone's case is different. When I separated, people told me I would be able to keep the house until the dc were 18. When I got legal advice, I was told, no chance! However there was a lot of equity in my home so it depends on your situation.
Also my divorce became difficult and even though the dc were with me, ex fought for every penny and hid assets. So if you can keep amicable, all the better. If I were you, I would sort out the divorce/legal stuff sooner rather than later if you are amicable at this stage as things can change eg what if one of you meets another partner?
It's important to change your thinking to how you will find money for your household once you separate. ..... you don't have to think about two households once you separate.
I think this is a real and growing problem especially in areas where rents and house prices are sky high.
In London one house sold does not enable two flats big enough to house the kids to be bought, and rents are astronomical. Many people have a longstanding mortgage on a house that they could afford when they bought it, but to buy something bigger/ extra / two smaller properties at current prices is impossible.
Sympathizing here, rather than being remotely helpful, OP.
Any chance of extending your house to create two flats?
Odd, especially if one of you gets a new DP, but I suspect that there will be many new ways of living as this issue bites more and more people.
It might be worth seeing a financial advisor about ways to make your equity work.
It's rarely possible to maintain the same lifestyle after a split, and sadly it's usually the lower earner who suffers most. My XH isn't a bad person, and promised he'd cover everything, but 3 months later all I had was a house in negative equity and mortgage payments I couldn't afford. He and OW (who isn't a bad person either) wanted to set up home and the generosity quickly ended. In 3 months, household income went from £60k per year to £6k for me, a 3 year old, and a 6 month old baby The only benefits payable then were child benefit and lone parent benefit (£6 per week?).
I was lucky in that I got a job quite quickly but after paying the bills and childcare had to buy food etc on credit cards.Eventually my salary caught up with my outgoings but it was a tough few years.
As Lala says, sort it out now while things are amicable. Once another party is involved things can get messy very quickly.
That's a good point that redskirt makes. Your responsibility is to the children and the finances for running your own household. Your ex is responsible for himself.
Obviously your ex has a responsibility to the children too. I am assuming that they will reside with you although I know that is not always the case. If 50:50 with him, he wouldn't have to pay maintenance.
Probably, you need to sell the house. Benefits will help, but long term, your aim needs to be to live independently and progress from your £12k pa job. If you're no longer part of a couple you need to look at your own income, rather than "our" income.
Dh the same. He will effectively be told how much he needs to pay in maintenance, then he needs to live off what's left or earn more.
I would get the house valued and start again with two seperate places tbh if that's affordable. The two new places would have to be smaller to accomadate the diffenence but remember children don't actually need a huge place. With two houses/ flats that's are big enough for them but not huge they will still have enough space. Plus their belongings can be divided between the two houses so not 100% of their stuff in one place.
It will be a change, but I think it's better divided as then you can both move on. Otherwise house sharing will become awkward if one of you meets someone else.
What size house do you have now? Location?
Also a positive for you if your children's ages. Everyone is at school at least, and eldest ones are old enough they don't need childcare. So if you were to get a full time job, you would only need before and afterschool care for the younger two, and just the youngest one in a year or two. So minimal costs. Elder 15 year old could also be paid small amount of bribery to have youngest sometimes
Luckily we both worked full time and earned more than you so it was okay and the children kept their home but that is not possible for many couples (lesson for our daughters- n ever ever put a career on a back burner to go part time to look after chidlren as in the end it tends to back fire on the children as makes them financially vulnerable later).
1. you could split the house in two =-plenty of people do that - you live separate lives in same house or put a door on the side and one of you makes flat let out of a couple of downstarrs rooms.
2. One of yuou moves back in with your parents.
3. You get a higher paid job. £12k is not quite the minimum wage so with the living wage plus any state help you might earn a bit more.
4. Second jobs. we both worked at weekends as well as in the week - it's hard but it does ensure you have a bit more money.
Thanks for all the replies and the helpful advice. I couldn't agree more about not putting the career on the back burner - I have a good degree and had a good job but 15 years after going part-time/freelance, I am stuck doing this kind of work now - no-one is interested in what I once was. I used to have a lot more freelance contracts, but I have found there is less work around what with the cutbacks (companies are more reluctant to outsource and just tack what I used to do onto an existing employee's remit).
Also, my good job was abroad and my contacts insofar as I have them are there. If it weren't for the children I could move abroad again, start again and support myself, but I am so limited by the family.
Which is also why it is difficult to think of us as two separate households, and myself only responsible for my household, because there is part of us that will always be financially joined by the children.
I will look into market values for the house/getting it divided up. I don't know if it's possible but I have to start somewhere....
I am in the same situation as you OP. But not living in UK means that there is nothing I can claim to bump up. Stbx moved out and rents a 2 bedroom flat, when the dc go to him, ds sleep with stbx and dd has the single room.
But, we are also wanting to keep hold of the house and try to keep things as similar as possible for the dc. I have always done the finances, and still do... so we are still paying bills as before, but now there is the additional flat rental. Yes, things are tight and I had to increase my salary (I am self employed but things are very up and down there too), just to get by with food and household stuff for the month. We have to pay school fees x 2 so usually I try to do it yearly, but just not possible now, so I have lost a good chunk in discount now...
In fact, I just had this discussion with dc at the weekend. Cannot afford any extras at all now....ds was having a hissy fit as he wanted his hair cut at the salon he usually goes to, said no and off to barber which is less than quarter of price. Dd has eye on new clothes for new season, have had to say no as well. She just wants, doesn't need . But its what they are used to as before there was that little extra do to those things. No take aways or eating out now either, I sat this weekend doing meal plans.
So, yes its been difficult, and I think it still will be to come. I will try everything to try keep the house though, its the one thing that I feel so strongly about, to keep some normality for the dc, as they have been crushed by the separation.
But OP, even though things are tight, mentally for me I know its the right thing. Its been 3 months now. I know the time is going to come soon when we discuss the actual divorce...but just a step at a time is how I am coping at the moment. I know that financially, is the biggest reason why this didn't happen sooner.... but will cross each hurdle as it comes.
You will have to sell the house. Then as the lower earner and primary carer you will get more than 50% of the equity, enabling you to buy a smaller but adequate house with children sharing bedrooms. Your ex will buy an even smaller place because when the children visit him they can all bunk up in whatever space is available. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. You can't run two households of the same size and quality on the income you currently run one.
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