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Freelance? Can I afford to have a baby?(14 Posts)
I know this has been asked before but I was hoping for some advice. My partner and I are thinking of trying for a baby in the near future (I'm 37 and he's 39...so the time has come!).
The thing is, my income is very 'up and down' to say the least. I'm a writer and journalist - most years I make about £19k which is comfortable but that figure depends on so many things: whether I have a book out, commissions, grants, prize money etc. I could definitely keep working and earning with a baby but the income is never guaranteed. My partner makes £20k though this is likely to go up a little in the coming year.
We live very simply in Liverpool, our rent is cheap £500 p/month and have about £800 disposable income per month...however, because my work can come and go it's never a sure thing.
I really want to start trying for a baby this year but I'm very nervous about having one without security. At the same time, if I got a salary position (I used to work for NGOs) and started earning a stable income again, I think I would have to postpone pregnancy for at least 1.5 years...by which point I'd be pushing 40!
For us, a simple but comfortable life makes us happy but I grew up very, very poor and I wouldn't want my kid to have the sort of childhood I did - I'd always want them to feel well looked after. Also, we'd have support from my partner's family financially if needed but not from mine and we don't live close to either set.
Sorry, that's very long but I would appreciate any perspectives offered!
My worry will be your age so on that basis, I will say go for it as it could take years to even fall pregnant. May take one cycle, may take many cycles!
Your partner must bring around £1400 net pay home and after rent you will still have £900 remaining which if budgeted correctly you can live on. Plus you will get child benefit and working tax credits? Not sure but have a look at what you will be entitled to. If you start saving max now then you won't be without during mat leave.
Thanks Nightclenser - it's really helpful to have another opinion - that's my feeling on it too. I think I'm just hoping to have it confirmed I know we could live on less than we do now and, at least for the next few year, I think I'll have an OK amount of freelance work coming and could hustle hard for more too. As you say, it's my age that's the issue (I'm thinking about fertility a lot lately). It also seems I might be able to maternity allowance so that would be a huge help (my biggest worry was no maternity leave)!
No worries! Yes you will def get some maternity allowance. Also having a freelance job puts you in a good position as you can do a few jobs during maternity leave. You can juggle childcare around your work for eg work when baby sleeps etc. or your partner can take over night duties for a few hours so you can work so you can save on childcare. It's entirely workable.
You may be entitled to some childcare funding from 2 years old so have a look at that. The first few years are hard but once they start the free hours at nursery and school, it does get easier. Good luck and hope all works out well for you guys!
I would go for it too. It sounds like you have a good handle on your finances and will make it work successfully. Al the best.
Thank you WrittenandGrown - Yes, the more I think about it the better I feel...I've always had freelance work since I started and I don't see why it would suddenly stop just because I had a baby. And we'd have at least a year to save even if I started TTC straight away!
Just go for it. Everything else will fall into place. Don’t wait till you’re 40, you don’t know how long it will take. I’d also recommend not putting any aspect of your life on hold. If you want to apply for salaried positions do it, and if you get pregnant don’t feel guilty about it. It’s life. It happens. Life’s too short! Just do it!
I'm a freelancer too and earn a lot less than you. I turned 37 in August and started trying to TTC in September. Despite endometriosis and chronic health problems, I fell pregnant immediately. I'm 17 weeks pregnant now.
If I were you, I wouldn't wait until 40. You sound in a good position.
I could have pretty much written this word for word.
We’ve decided not to have children as the anxiety of poverty is too much and I LOVE my life now. It’s sometimes hard but whatever path you choose you’ll be losing something.
I would just figure out what your income would be while you are on maternity leave (you'll be eligible for maternity allowance and get a bit of child benefit on top of that, unless you qualify for anything else) and then also how you would pay for childcare when you go back to work after either part or full time.
Babies don't necessarily cost more than normal life. I didn't find I spent more on day to day things when I had my dd. I spent it on different things - nappies instead of commuting costs, etc. So figure out if you can survive on what you would get for maternity allowance. Also, think about what you'll do after. If you're freelance (I was also when my first was born, and doing a PhD), you'll have a lot more flexibility than the average 9-5 professional. To start, I went back only 2-3 days a week and then did extra work in the evenings or weekends when my dh was home. So I got close to full time work done, but I only paid for 2-3 days of childcare. I did that for 2 years and it worked really well. I actually really enjoyed early weekend mornings when I could sneak away to a cafe and do some writing and it gave my dh some quality bonding time as well. I went back full time when my work load necessitated it. If you can hold out until baby turns 3, you'll get 30 funded hours a week, which makes a huge difference in terms of how affordable childcare is.
Realistically though, yes, you can probably do it all just fine. I would say at the time my dh and I were on about the same or even less than you and we managed perfectly well. You just have to be mindful of how your money is spent. Babies don't need much and if you don't blow money on lots of clothes you don't need and gimmicky toys and gadgets, they really aren't expensive.
Thank you so so much for your advice. My partner & I have spoken it all out & budgeted & we're going to start TTC in September! This is because I can't be due January when I have a book out (on the off chance we conceive straight back away!) & I've a place in Berlin marathon I'd still like to take up. I think, because of growing up with very little, I've been overly cautious but my freelance income has been fairly steady for for four years & that's without really hustling - I think even with a baby I can maintain my income + I've always worked from home so I can work around my partner's hours.
I'm nervous but excited!! Thanks so much for your advice & perspectives - really, really appreciated!
I think you should go for it as well but the main concern for me would be your housing situation. The private rental market is not secure and that's not a huge deal for childless adults but is a very different kettle of fish when you have children that you don't want to be moving around all the time for their stability and you need to be near schools for them, some LLs won't let to families that have children at all, etc. I'd be seriously considering whether it would be possible for you to buy at some point in the near future or go on the housing register as social housing whilst not what it once was in terms of security, is still vastly more secure than the private rental market. Even if you've been renting where you are now for a very long time, you have no way of knowing whether very soon your LL will decide to sell up and you would need to move, and that process could occur numerous times and indeed does put a lot of families in difficult situations. Not trying to put a downer on things but please do think very carefully about your housing situation. It is unfortunately very, very easy to become homeless through no fault of your own.
Im freelance xx on my second baby xx i rent a cottage privately xx i got £500 a month last pregnancy - statutory maternity pay from the government.
I am the bread winner in our family as my husband did a big career change a few years ago (had a nervous breakdown in previous job). I am worried ofcourse, but personally i find that well we always manage somehow. Tighten our belts etc. I will probably get back to work after 3 months though, say 3 days a week and that how we will get by. I don't doubt it will be difficult but i am blessed with being able to work from home so its not so bad xx
I don't want to buy a house at the moment personally. Not until i can really really afford it. Dont want a massive mortgage over my head as i am pretty much the sole bread winner, be too stressful i think. we would have to take a big step down in type of property just to get on the housing ladder too... Personal choice.
You never know which way life will take you under any circumstances x having my daughter is the best thing that has happened to me and has taken us as a family in a direction i would never had thought before - moved out of our tiny rented flat in London to a rented cottage in the countryside and i now work remotely. My husband and i share childcare x
I say go for it xx xx
Life and new life especially is exciting lovely xx xx
Thanks very much for both your comments. Meadowhay, I absolutely understand your concerns - in fact, much of my writing is around housing insecurity for low-income families. For a variety of reasons though this isn't such a concern for me - we'd have several contingencies available to us if the worst ever happened. Also, almost every family I know rents (because they live in SE where that is largely the only option). But I appreciate your concern...it is something I thought long and hard about...and we'll certainly look into housing associations and part ownership soon.
Appletree100, thansk for this. You voice a lot of my own feelings about it - that anything can happen to anyone and the most you can do is adapt and be as responsible as possible. BTW, you sound like superwoman - sole breadwinner, one kid and another on the way...it's wonderful to hear you're thriving! I echo your concerns about buying hastily - I know a lot of people who've ended up in bad situations because they bought a house that needed loads of maintenance/needed to sell and couldn't etc. I think that's just a different set of insecurities. There's always compromises.
Anyhow, thank you all again for your comments. It's the most helpful thing having the advice of women who've been there. Sure Mumsnet is going to be a real asset over the coming year!
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