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Stop money worries

SewingThere's a popular myth that women are a disaster when it comes to managing money. Really? When it comes to family finances, mums are often the ones in charge.

Women unravel an often complicated tangle of family finances to ensure their children are fed and schooled and, occasionally if they're lucky, treated and spoiled. Here, five women reveal their money worries – and the juggling tricks they perform to beat them.

I was worried that my house was too small

  • My solution: Extending our mortgage

Our two-bed terrace was ideal, until I recently discovered I was pregnant with our third child – when it started to feel a little small! We thought about moving but we can't really afford a much bigger house unless we move far away from the station and school which isn't really an option.

So we spoke to our bank about extending our mortgage a little – about £15,000 – to pay for an attic extension. We'll get a builder to do the important structural work but we'll do some of the simpler DIY to keep costs down.

It's much cheaper this way than the cost of moving, which would be at least £10,000 in stamp duty and fees before you even think about a more expensive house. Even though I'll soon be on maternity leave, the increase in my monthly payments is very low.
Vicky, 36, mum to William, 4, and Florence, 18 months

I was worried about the economic climate

  • My solution: Becoming an Avon rep

We live pretty modestly – I hand-make a lot of things for my daughter and me by modifying old clothes and my husband is a typical academic so wears clothes until they're falling apart anyway! But I'm a recruitment consultant and my commission-based income is affected by the economy.

I'm not a natural saver but I do take on odd-jobs for extra cash so I've just become an Avon representative. At first, you have to put in the hours to build up your customer base, maybe four or five hours a week, but once you have that base, if you look after them well, they should keep ordering. Then you can add a couple of new customers each week going forward, and take your hours down to two or three a week. It's a social thing as well as a work thing though, as I sell to the other mums at school.

And really, how much you earn depends on how much you sell – so if you sell, say £200 every three weeks, you keep £50 and Avon takes £150.

I think it's a great option for mums, as it's really flexible – when you're delivering, you can take babies out in their prams with you, and you can get the kids to help with the fun bits, like packing the boxes.
Katie, 34, mum to Astrid, 3


I worried about keeping spending in check

  • My solution: Draw up a spreadsheet

My friends laugh at me because I keep a spreadsheet of everything I spend, down to the last latte. But with three children growing out of clothes at an alarming rate I have to keep an eye on things.

"We wanted to pay off the mortgage as quickly as possible so we've been overpaying the maximum that we can without penalty. We use the library to borrow books and toys and happily accept hand-me-down clothes.

"The car is only used when absolutely necessary and children's entertainment at the moment is limited to a run around the park or feeding bread crusts to the ducks. We're looking to downsize our work commitments so that both of us can escape the rat race and spend quality time with our children as they grow up.
Amelia, 39, mum to Jonathan, 4, Ben, 2, and Gemma, 10 months


I was worried about Christmas

  • My solution: Save throughout the year

I hate the idea of being in debt, particularly for just one day of the year. But I'm not a humbug! I love Christmas with all the trimmings. I'd just rather scrimp a bit more in the run up to it, than be depressed by paying lots of credit card bills afterwards.

Generally I save £10 a week for the first half of the year then increase it as Christmas comes closer - £20 by the summer holidays and then maybe as much as £30 or £40 in November or December if a big present like a bike is on the cards.

I put it in an ordinary current account that I keep separate – the money's not there long enough for a savings account – but by keeping it apart I know which card to use for Christmas shopping and exactly how much is left in my budget.
Alwen, 29, mum to Dylan, 10, and Iestyn, 6

I was worried about paying for childcare

  • My solution: Having a budget plan

I work from home and until now it's been easy keeping my son at home with me, but now my work is picking up after a maternity break and he's getting more active, I need to arrange childcare. But I was worried that I'd be working just to pay for that.

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My husband is making use of the employer childcare vouchers that means he sacrifices some salary but gets it tax-free in the form of vouchers for pre-school. For my part I'm earmarking the pay I get from one of my freelance clients solely for nursery fees, then I know how much more I need to work to cover the extras.

I've found that if I prioritise rent, then food and bills, then childcare – after those costs I know exactly how much spare I have a month.
Jemima, 37, mum to Rosie, 7, and Stanley, 2

For handy tips on how to manage your money on the go and saving options for your family head to Barclays on Mumsnet.

Head to
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Last updated: over 3 years ago