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New start, finances a mess please help!(14 Posts)
I've recently split up with my DS' dad and have found a place to move to. The rent is high but having looked at entitled to online calculator I should be able to claim a reasonable amount in tax credits and some housing benefit. My parents are going to be guarantors and I've paid the fees but I'm so anxious about the whole thing. I've never been great with money and I have a car on finance so that's going to take quite a chunk out of my monthly budget.
I could really do with some advice. Does anyone know how long it usually takes housing benefit to come through? Any tips on living frugally in general?
For just me and DS who is four, how much would you say I'll need to budget for food and other odds and ends?
Also I really need some stuff for the house, don't have a sofa or table and chairs at the moment and all sorts of other things. What's my best bet there? Would it be crazy to find a few things cheaply and use a credit card and include that in my budget too? Honestly not sure how else to do it.
If you're in the UK, have a look on the FreeCycle webpage. There's usually furniture and appliances on offer.
Thanks. Not sure how I'd physically transport something like a sofa though, would you suggest hiring a van? Sorry, I'm hopelessly clueless and impractical .
Wish I hadn't got the bloody car, there's nothing I can do about that is there? Once you have a car on finance the only option is giving it back isn't it? At which point I wouldn't be able to buy a new one and I do need it.
Housing 4-6 weeks usually. When you ask about food and odds and ends in budget, who's paying council tax water gas electric phone line interenet etc they don't seem to be on your list.
I wouldn't put anything on credit cards you can get stuff on freecycle or old furniture people want to get rid of. It wouldn't loook greT or match but it will serve its purpose.
Ask around if anyone has spare tables or chairs or anything else they like to get rid off.
Our council has a furniture and appliances second hand shop that delivers. You could ring yours and see if they have one.
Gumtree is your friend for furniture.
I had to unexpectedly massively downsize a couple years ago. Had to flog half a house of furniture < 3 years old. I got about 15 - 25% original price for stuff is slightly worn but still very good condition. Loads of Ikea stuff, door example.
If you can, find everything you want, agree prices up front and arrange to collect with a van from all your sellers all on the same day.
Best of luck!
You don't need to hire a van yourself there are plenty of man and van adverts in local paper or gumtree who you can pay for hour or a job. Much cheaper than hiring while van for the day
Have a look at your local furniture charities. I would do everything possible to avoid putting things on credit, it wouldn't take much for your finances to spiral out of control.
You're allowed to put 'WANTED' notices on Freecyle/Freegle (at least you were the last time I looked) - it's worth a try. And with a car there's plenty you will be able to pick up (not a bed, I admit, but a mattress? If you can get the cash together, Argos iSleep range come rolled up and definitely fit in a car. (Ikea have a similar).
Don't forget the non-monthly and irregular expenses as they are often the killers on a very tight budget. Insurance, TV licence, road tax, car repairs - all things you may pay annually or the amount is variable and unpredictable. You need to plan ahead for these so you've got the money saved up for them when the bill arrives. As you're starting from scratch, you may be hit with a load of these up front (certainly TV, insurances). If you haven't already factored them in, I would see if you can borrow the money from your parents on the understanding you will repay when your tax credits come through.
I would be tempted to do a Statement of Affairs on the Dealing With Debt board at The Motley Fool. You are dealing with a debt (the car) in difficult circumstances and they will give your budget a real once-over to get you started on the right track.
Why have you left with nothing from the house where you used to live? Is your ds' dad paying his way in terms of CMS?
Thanks all for the advice, I really need it. You're right about the credit thing, it's a stupid idea.
The big/unexpected expenses do worry me. I can't borrow from my parents, they weren't keen on being guarantors really and I just wouldn't feel comfortable asking. DS' dad is on very low wages and although I will be taking some things with me I don't want to clear him out as it wouldn't be fair. I haven't asked him for maintenance as I know he genuinely is struggling and won't be entitled to any benefits but will try to keep the flat going on his own. I know he'll try to help where he can and he's a big support practically but financially I'm on my own really.
Will try the money saving expert forum, thank you.
In answer to your question about food budgeting, I am treating council tax and bills as a separate thing. Just trying to get an idea about the cost of day to day essentials if I'm really careful. God I'm crap at this stuff.
What insurance would I need? Just car insurance or should I be thinking about insuring contents? Seems a bit of an unecessary expense as I don't have anything valuable.
All of our sofas ( over the years) have come form a local charity funiture shop and have been like new. they deliver for a few pounds extra. I wouldn't advise using credit cards really, especially if you admit you are not good with money, as things can quickly snowball.
Can you afford to buy everything again? If not, you need contents insurance. It isnt expensive for tenants . you will need details on the security of the property so ask - lock types, window locks etc.
The UK is awash with decent second hand furniture for peanuts.
As you're renting, you don't need buildings insurance. I agree, contents insurance when you have so few contents might be overkill, but presumably you have clothes and things which you would have to replace if something happened? (I lost everything in a house fire once).
I think if your ex is on very low wages he won't have to pay very much/any CMS but it means you are in 'the system'. I would think twice about not claiming it, even if it's a nominal amount. Maybe get some advice about that issue specifically in the Lone Parents forum.
How are the utilities in your new place sorted out, are you on a card meter?
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