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Living on (not even a shoe-string) - maybe velcro

(61 Posts)
helenrigby Sun 21-Dec-14 15:16:44

I've just returned from the supermarket, it was mad. Folk pushing trolley's chokka with food (some of which will without doubt will be thrown away), presents galore, and enough drink to satisfy a regiment. The music made me smile, all the staff were dressed in either Christmas jumpers or onesies. The Salvation Army band were playing just outside the door, it always gives me a lump in throat when I listen to festive music. There were lots of wonderful offers on and I was very grateful for the mince pie on offer at the door.

Trouble is I had spent my morning going through every hiding space that a coin could possibly end up in. We had run out of toothpaste, I had two potato cakes in the bread bin, a jacket potato, two eggs, oatflakes and some rice which needs to last me until Tuesday. On Tuesday I will get £80 family allowance and that needs to pay my food through until I get paid on the 2nd Jan. This is to feed four of us. There will be no presents this year, there are no treats, and food will be minimal.

I'm not unemployed, I'm not on benefits. I am the new breed of velcro-family. I earn money so am not entitled to any help from anywhere. I have a mortgage, and I have a car (which enables me to work). To look at us we would not be obviously having money issues, and we act it out well. The Kids have automatically become good at pulling the wool - because they are too embarrassed to let friends know any different. The organisation that I work for changed peoples contracts during the year, it meant that I am now on a dreaded zero hour contract. I have lost around £10,000 per year on the new contract, but on top of that because the organisation closes for Christmas and Easter, I now will not got any pay for two weeks of those periods. I am entitled to holiday pay, and have around 7 days owing me, but even though I asked if I could have it at Christmas to offset the two weeks without pay, they have said that they can't pay me until March.

Anyway, back to the supermarket. I manged to scrape enough money for a tube of toothpaste. I walked in and went straight to the dental isle. I met a few people I know and had a nice chat with them. On the way out I gave my change of 3p to the Salvation Army. Hopefully they will be able to do more with it by adding it to their funds, than I could do with it. When I got home I had one of the potato cakes for my Breakfast/Lunch. I organised the rest between my three Children.

I live one day to the next. I don't know what we will eat tomorrow, and am always positive of my ability to make a small amount of money go a very long way. I heard someone joking about the food-bank the other day, about not knowing anyone who needs it, and what's it all about anyway. Trouble is I'm not even able to apply to the foodbank, because I earn. Embarrassing though it is, I am hungry.

The other thing that does upset me is the way that companies speak to you. I am proud od always paying my way, but the way things are I have to pay things when I have the money and not necessarily on the day that it was supposed to be paid. The customer service staff at these companies speak to me like I am dirt, asking why I didn't pay on the set date, why have I not got the money, why am I not sorted. It's hurtful. I am trying so hard, I don't have any debts, no credit card, no store cards, and I am trying to find another job, which is proving difficult.

My Kids are brilliant. They all have part time jobs and all understand that at the moment the money all has to go in the one pot. One of my Daughters is working as a Waitress doing 13 hour shifts from 5pm to 6am over Christmas for minimum wage, and she is shattered. Not only that, the hotel chain she works for doesn't even provide them with any food and little breaks whilst on the shift.

I will get out of this rut, and I will be able to hold my head up high. Because I don't let anyone know about my situation I have no one to let off steam to, which is why I decided to just write it down. I know I'm not alone in this new Velcro Brigade. Velcro seemd an appropriate way of putting it, as when money comes in the velcro fastens slightly, but everyday it undoes, and I re fasten it just a bit, only for it to undo again.

PolterGoose Sun 21-Dec-14 16:26:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tanaqui Sun 21-Dec-14 16:29:22

Pleas try and get referred to a good bank, people donate to try and help people in your situation. Do you mind saying roughly where you are?

LaurieFairyCake Sun 21-Dec-14 16:31:11


I've a spare tube if you're in Hertfordshire

I will just really, really hope (pray) that things get better for you soon. And you're doing a wonderful job raising your children to be hard workers - I hope your daughter is getting triplet time for those unsociable hours

Quitelikely Sun 21-Dec-14 16:31:38

Family? How old are your children? Will they be getting presents from family?

karatekimmi Sun 21-Dec-14 16:44:01

It must be difficult for you but you must be proud of your girls, the sound amazing, dealing with the situation. No real help but from other threads you can get referrals for food banks from the GP, citizens advice bureau, church groups.

I know it must be dificult asking for help but please do try.

FannyFifer Sun 21-Dec-14 16:57:35

You absolutely can get help from a foodbank, the majority of people at my one are working people with children like yourself.
Please please don't be to proud to ask for help.
Your children are working are they paying digs?
I'm sorry you have found yourself in this situation.

happyelf Sun 21-Dec-14 17:02:54

This is so sad. We struggle some months but not to this scary extent. Bills are high and wages just don't stretch as far as they need to. No working person should be in this position. Well no person at all should in this country.

I work in one of the big 4 supermarkets and was saying to dh last night at the shocking amount people are buying. It's my 1st Christmas on check outs and I honestly couldn't believe the greed and total waste. I kept seeing gift items going through and you could see it was stuff that would just lie in a drawer until it ended up in the bin. Just for the sake of buying someone something. It's just wasteful and sheer gluttony. Don't get me wrong I know 'retailmas' is keeping me in a job and for that I'm thankful but I just hate seeing the waste when I know what it's like to have no money 3 days after payday.

You should be very proud of your dc's. They sound hardworking and like good people

Jingalingallnight Sun 21-Dec-14 17:17:02

Do you have a partner who contributes?

fluffapuss Sun 21-Dec-14 17:28:14

I am sorry to hear about your situation when you are working

Suggest some supermarkets sell off food at less than half price eg monday evenings, stock up freezer

Markets sell food cheap at the end of the day

A large sack of potatoes goes a long way

Have you tried swapping your bills to other cheaper providers ?

SoonToBeSix Sun 21-Dec-14 17:31:56

Op are you sure you aren't entitled to tax credits?

Swifey Sun 21-Dec-14 18:04:25

So sad, but you sound so strong and a brilliant mum! I have messaged you. Xx

helenrigby Sun 21-Dec-14 18:11:06

Thanks for all your messages. To answer a couple of them. I have been on my own with the Children for 15 years, and I've done ok. We got off the rent and onto the property ladder, the kids did all the school trips and external clubs etc. This was mainly due to me having two full-time jobs for around 9 years. One of the jobs made redundancies about 3 years ago, which meant me losing one wage (although the redundancy money allowed me to buy my car). The remaining job has cut the salary so many times that I am now on around £10,000 less than I was 2 years ago, to do the same job.

My Kids are amazing. My Son is at local Uni, but also works 3.5 days a week. One Daughter is a waitress (even on the overnight 13 hour shifts, she only earns the minimum wage of £5.13 per hour), and my youngest has a part time job on top of school. One of my Daughters is also a model, but the difficulties in that is a whole new blog - she has been taken on by a top agency. but even though she has done some great shoots (she is in a major magazine this month - you don't get paid for Editorial work). It costs a fortune on travel, accommodation etc. I really want to support her because she has got the chance of quite an amazing career, and the fact that in her first year she actually made £600 is good, as a lot of new models end up in deficit. (I don't think a lot of people realise the support that is required if a child decides to go into the entertainment/modeling industry). The kids don't pay board as such because all the money earned between us all goes into one pot to pay bills etc.

I know I am extremely lucky, mostly with luck made from sheer hard work. 15 years ago I was on my own with three under 5's and very little to rub together. I always swore to never get into that situation again (hence the two jobs), however things happen. It would be so nice if these big organisations realised that people are working so hard to pay their bills, we don't smoke or drink, and we don't abuse any benefits etc and we just get things we can afford rather than taking out credit etc.

RandomMess Sun 21-Dec-14 18:11:59

With a £10k drop in income you may now be entitled to Tax Credits, also have applied for council tax benefit? We used to get partial help of a few £s per week but it all helps.

Sadly my only other suggestion would be helping out at a soup kitchen or similar church thing on Christmas Day as at least you would get fed!

We are not a Velcro family but I agree the greed and waste just appals me - I once went out for an Indian meal with a group of certain people, never again they so over ordering, it wasn't even about the waste of money for the food that wasn't eaten but just the sheer greed of the deliberate over ordering in the first place.

RandomMess Sun 21-Dec-14 18:14:02

I hate the way that once your kids are 18 they are supposed to either magically disappear or earn enough to pay their way in the household - it really isn't always like that is it sad

sunbathe Sun 21-Dec-14 19:14:23

If you have a Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) nearby, I believe you will be able to eat a free meal there.

angryangryyoungwoman Sun 21-Dec-14 19:21:42

Can I ask whereabouts in the country you are?

Izzy24 Sun 21-Dec-14 19:23:05

I respect you for not being in debt and all working so hard.

I wish I had something useful to add.

RandomMess Sun 21-Dec-14 19:26:01

My only other thought was could you free up a spare bedroom somehow to rent out...

Tryingtobecalm Sun 21-Dec-14 19:37:38

We have some extras this year so if you are in herts I would happily give it to you. smile

helenrigby Sun 21-Dec-14 21:06:30

Hi, I already share a bedroom with one of my Daughters. I wouldn't be that keen on taking someone into my family home to be honest though.

Roomsdoom Sun 21-Dec-14 21:13:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Sun 21-Dec-14 21:19:14

Just a thought but I don't suppose you have waitressing / bar experience? Loads of pubs / restaurants near us are open on Xmas day and so will need staff. They should have it sorted by now but people do call in sick so you could do a bit of a trawl round them leaving your number and sayi g that you can work Xmas Eve, Xmas Day, Boxing day and New Years Eve and are happy to be called in at short notice. Waitressing is particularly good at this time of year (although knackering) as the tips are massive!

theressomethingaboutmarie Sun 21-Dec-14 21:28:33

Hi OP, whereabouts are you based? Would love to be able to help :-). I'm in Guildford, Surrey and would be happy to drive a reasonable distance.

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 21-Dec-14 22:03:49

Hello there all
At this time of year, we really don't want to sound Scroogish (we're really all about the peace and love, truly) but felt it important to flag that
we do advise all our members to be aware that not everyone on t'internet is who they say they are, and that, although we're awed daily by the astonishing support our members give each other through life's trickier twists and turns, we'd always caution anyone never to give more of themselves to another poster, emotionally or financially, than they can afford to spare.

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