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Do you have to be reasonably wealthy to have a large family and live comfortably?
41

ChoccieLover1 · 03/05/2012 21:35

I know it seems like a silly question but I would love to have 4 children (have 2 at the moment) but can't help thinking that I need to try and make myself financially stable/ more employable first.

DP works and we are doing okay at the moment but I can't help feeling that if we had another baby things would be tight and my kids would miss out on swimming lessons and fun days out.

I know these things are a privilege as it is and can't compare to the joys of another sibling but I don't want to feel like I've limited my current children's standard of life due to my own selfish desires to have more kids.

(This feeling is really strong and I don't want to leave the gaps too big and would ideally like to be finished having babies by the time i'm 30 as I started young.... i'm 25 now)

Sorry to waffle on, but would be really interested to know if parents of large families try to financially prepare themselves before extending their brood or just go with the flow and just manage.

Any advice on what you would do if you were me would also be appreciated.

Thanks

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Flubba · 04/05/2012 13:24

Can't really give you advice per se, but can give you my experience; we have three children, and I 'can't afford' to go back to work because childcare costs are higher than I would earn (and pension's crap anyway, so not going to gain much by staying in employment for that).

We are on a tight budget with three - and don't have spare money for swimming lessons and days out etc. While we're not in a position where we can't afford to feed the DCs, our food shopping is definitely restricted and we're sticking to a very tight budget.

I would love to have 4 kids. DH wouldn't. We've got some big plans for travel in the future, and these wouldn't happen if we had a fourth.

We've had to buy a new car for the three, and would have to buy another for a fourth.

We have a three-bed house and it's fine for now (our DCs are 5, 3 and 1), but when they're a bit older (teens), I would like to have a bigger house. Possibly a pipe dream.

We didn't look at finances before deciding to have a 3rd, and don't regret him for a single milisecond, but we are financially a lot worse off than if we'd stopped at two.

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Mosman · 04/05/2012 19:24

I think it's a massive responsibility. We have 4 and it's more than 50% more mouths to feed its the fact that 50% of the earning potential has gone for quite a long time. Two parents working full time with four children is very very hard and not fair on anyone IMO.

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lollystix · 05/05/2012 11:08

Mosman - I disagree on the work front but that's another issue. I am going back to work with 4 kids and only one is in School. I'll be working full time and 25% of my salary will go on tax, a further 50% on childcare and I'll be left with 25%. I am well paid though and I realise I'm priviledged to have the choice. I choose to work for a few reasons which is a whole other discussion.

BUT I would say despite DH and I bringing in about £90-100K together I do massively worry about money - everything is 2nd hand and the food bills are increasing every week. We have eaten 20 bananas in about 4 days!!! And the milk is just ridiculous - anmd it's only going to get worse. However I figure the childcare will get better so that cost will be replaced by food, clubs, clothes and parties etc. We are in the realms of 4 bed houses now too which round our way costs money so when we get sorted we'll have a massive mortgage (and we already have a good deposit to put down).

TBH It's choice I think. I am willing to go without to have more kids. I'm not into stuff/big holidays/expensive day trips but I do think you need a certain amount to keep going. But then I've never been eligible for any benefits other than child benefit so that could help a bit if on a lower income. I think some of it is down to area you live in too. If you live in a much cheaper housing area where a 4 bed is around £200K then it's all that much more possible. Sadly we don't.

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 12:17

Well I don't know how your managing that lollistix because I earn more than you and your DH put together and we would be paying out 70% of wages in child care maybe you haven't factored in school holidays at 150 per week per child on top of nursery. It's a huge amount and then yes another 1500 per month for a 4 bed house.
I think you either have to be on benefit or very rich

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lollystix · 05/05/2012 12:24

so Mosman - you (not you and DP) earn £100K and so I assume you lose about £30K to tax leaving you with £70K? (massive assumptions) and then you lose 70% of that to childcare (inc holiday clubs) - circa £50K on CC then? I'm assuming you must be central London.

My point to you personally was that you said it wasn't fair on anyone to have 2 parents working full time which IMO is a personal choice.

Everyone's circumstnaces are different. If I could earn what I do in a more provincial town I reckon I would be able to afford the big 4 bed house but sadly I can only do what I do in capital cities where childcare and housing is expensive and I'm assuming you're in the same boat.

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 12:30

Absolutely and the person it's most unfair to is me quite frankly

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lollystix · 05/05/2012 12:38

We'll I'm with you there. It's crap all round - no only do we have to work full time, we have to take full responsibility for our kids lives (parties, childcare choices, homework) and the house and finances (well I do anyway).

My PIL think I should give up work (as I'm a mum) and 'get a part time job' near them (i.e part time coffee shop). What they don't get is that I earn more than DH and so we take a 60% cut if I give up. Then move near them and he can't work so we're broke, homeless and with 4 kids. We (were) trapped really. Could be alot worse though. I say were as we actually emigrated 6 weeks ago to break the trap. DH got a transfer and we're building up our lives again here and I've just been offered a similar role here at a similar salary but the costs are all that bit easier (i.e the 4 bed house here is a similar price but is two timers the size with a garden). I'd highly recommend it if you can in your job.

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sleeplessinsuburbia · 05/05/2012 12:50

I think you first have to consider the cost of housing and a car to accommodate you all.

For us our house is a fixer upperer, we expect it's a 5 year process to get it up to scratch but that's not a problem for us. Even with enough rooms there will still be 2 dcs in each room for as long as possible.

Next big expense is childcare, I work and most of my disposable income is childcare but I know once all the dcs are in school I won't have childcare costs which is very fortunate and with public schooling money is only tight short term.

It's not necessary for your dcs to do lots of activities, these can be delayed until they're older and your childcare costs go down.

Snacks seem to absorb lots of the food budget, you could bake and freeze if you're so inclined.

Basically think about your life in 30 years time, would you ever regret children and their cost?? Doubt it.

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 12:54

We are emigrating too I am counting down the days, although to a more expensive city at first im hoping Itll end up being cheaper in the long term.

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lollystix · 05/05/2012 13:01

Sydney? I've gone to a more expensive city too but I haven't been near a Costa coffee or soft play centre since I've got here so saved alot there and the childcare hours you get here from the govt are much better so it's cheaper. Houses also bigger for your money despite costing a packet. Good luck with it - I've no regrets that we've made the wrong decision. Kids are very happy and we've relaxed immensly. Now I'm out of it I can see how 'stressy' the UK is when working with kids.

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Youattheback · 05/05/2012 13:05

You don't need money no, we all know people who had 34 kids to a bedroom and three slept in the coal bunker Wink BUT I can't see how much fun it can be for anyone to be squeezed into a small house and having to forgo swimming lessons, treats etc simply because there are more children than be realistically provided for.

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sleeplessinsuburbia · 05/05/2012 13:22

Children can be as expensive as you let them be. If you want them to each have their own bedroom, holidays a few times a year, designer clothes, an activity every day, private schooling. It would be very expensive.

OP if you're worried about your children resenting the expense of another child stop. You could argue that your second dc affected your first and so on. I couldn't imagine someone wishing they had no siblings so they could have [insert activity here].

One day you won't have childcare costs, your pay (might) keep going up a bit each year and you'll find yourself cashed up again!

I personally didn't try to prepare financially, I just have faith that it will all work out!

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 13:42

You'll be lucky not to pay child care once they are at school three of mine are at school although frankly they are never there. I think it's 39 weeks a year plus your annual leave of you are lucky it's usually taken up with illness or training days or strikes last year didn't help.

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sleeplessinsuburbia · 05/05/2012 13:50

I'm a teacher!

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 14:12

If you believe the teachers on mums net they have the worse time of it, but inu experience the kids never seem to be there so I assume the teachers aren't either and you'll be fine !

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5madthings · 05/05/2012 14:16

i guess it depends on your definition of comfortably?

we have 5, dp works i am sahm, his job is long hours, shifts, evenings, nights wkend, plus being on call and getting childcare would be nigh on impossible to fit around his job and me working as well.

we arent well off, we have a 3 bed house, would like bigger but its fine, they kids still do music/swimming lessons etc, we DO have to budget but its manageable! we wont be going on any foreign holidays anytime soon but we are going to devon this summer and have short trips away camping etc in the summer as well.

i think you just have to cut your cloth so to speak, we wanted 4, ended up with a bit of a bonus baby, i am not going to say its easy, there are moment of madness and it can take a bit of juggling, ie the eldest two both have school trips away this yr and we have ahd to budget more carefully to afford them and paid in instalments (school offers this one of the trips is over £300 not that many parents can afford to pay it in one go)


anyway we arent wealthy and dont earn anywhere near the amount some posters do on this thread, but we make it work :)

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 14:34

Hi lollistix yes Sydney I cannot wait I think it'll be a smaller house to begin with until I'm organised with schools and all that. I'm hoping to give up work as the last three years since number four came along has been exhausting and he's such a bag of beans keeping him safe and stimulated is a full time job on itself.

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ChoccieLover1 · 05/05/2012 23:12

Thank you for the all the replies. It's been very helpful and interesting to hear all of your views. I see that quite a few of you have emigrated which seems to make things easier in the long run. But unfortunately i'm not in a position to do that as I live in London and can't even afford a mortgage.

I agree that two parents working in a large family is down to personal choice and that childcare costs are a big factor. As well as food and the need for a new car.

However, I am not a materialistic person so when I say live comfortably 5madthings your situation describes the type of lifestyle I would like to provide for my kids a few extra activities and the odd holiday to butlins or somewhere similar in the summer.

A friend of mine has 3 kids and she seems to think that if I want another baby go for it as the benefits she receives are roughly the same amount I would get by working 30hrs a week in a standard 9-5 job.

While I have another friend who is on maternity leave after having her first child and due to the trouble she is having finding affordable childcare with hours to suit her and her husband's shift work.

She is thinking of having another baby (as her mat pay plus benefits is sufficient to live off) and advising me to do the same before I embark on any sort of long term employment or career path. As she now wishes she had kids before her career.

Of course I do not agree with this line of thought and get frustrated that the benefits system has led people to think like this. But as mentioned above with the cost of childcare this may be the situation I would end up in (for a few years at least) if I have baby number 3.

So even if I wanted to work it may not even be finally possible! It makes me feel that for some women it really is a choice between family and work.

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Mosman · 05/05/2012 23:20

The trouble with relying on benefits is that the rules can and do change and you can't send the baby back lol
Seriously a friend of mine missed out on about £4,000 because her baby arrived a month too late

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BackforGood · 05/05/2012 23:23

It depends on lots of things. I have 3 dc, and we didn't have much money when they were little, but I kept working (PT after the 2nd) all through, and now they are older that means I'm on what I think of as a good salary although nothing like lollystix and mosman are arguing about so that all helps.
Expenses that are fairly commonplace are transport - you need a bigger car, or a whole lot of bus passes, and cost when you go anywhere - be that a family holiday, days out anywhere, the cost of a meal out, or paying for school trips or camps with guides or whatever. We buy most clothes in charity shops, and we keep the heating turned down, but we have enough to let them go on trips and camps, and to have music lessons. that said, we buy cheaper food than many as seen on lots of threads on here.
Money certainly isn't everything, but life's pretty miserable without enough of it, so, to some extent it depends on your outlook in life.

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ChoccieLover1 · 05/05/2012 23:29

That's the thing Mosman I don't want to be relying on benefits but as BackforGood said it depends on my outlook and will just mean downgrading on things like food and finding free kids offers ect.. which to tell the truth i've started doing already.

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lollystix · 06/05/2012 11:07

choccielover - I think you just need to do what you need to do to get by. Everyone's circumstances are so different and in this day and age I really believe there is no template for managing with small kids in the UK (and I think this is crap tbh).

We had no family help so most of our salaries went on mortgage and childcare. Holidays were a week in the UK in a cottage and clothes were second hand. Yes we did have sky TV, contact lenses, mobiles etc but nothing flash. We didn't get benefits other than child benefit (which we would now be losing) and I honestly did feel like the squeezed middle that they speak off. Working 10 hour days for not that much at the time but better prospects longer term (although I miss out on seeing DC in the day). Divorced SIL lives off full tax credit benefits with her teenage kids and could afford a couple of centre parcs holidays a year, private tuition for her kids and a weekly trips to nandos. I did used to scratch my head about that one alot - especially when I was constantly criticised for working by her - it made me an uninterested and uncaring mother apparently.

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imnotmymum · 06/05/2012 11:11

We have four [had 4 in 5 years] and you do have to be financially more better of obviously as need bigger house/car/more food etc and also the other things to consider are holidays, school trips, outings, hobbies especially as get older. That said the benefits of a large family are fab and I would not change a thin

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PipFEH · 06/05/2012 19:27

I think it is very expensive! We only have 3, but we have certainly felt the difference financially! I suppose some of it will come down to how much you are prepared to compromise on and how much you are prepared to sacrifice. We needed a new car and we will also need to extend our house eventually (at the moment I have 3 very happily sharing, but this can't last forever as we have 2 boys and a girl). My food bill is scary and all 3 children are only little (under 4) - I dread to think what I will be facing when they are teenagers, especially as both my boys are 98th centile gulp! I could probably do it for less, but I only buy fresh stuff and good quality (preferably organic) meat and wouldn't compromise on this. We have at least 2 holidays a year - in the UK at the moment, but we will be going abroad when they are older - I had a childhood with no holidays and this is not something I am prepared to compromise on AT ALL. I can't really hand any clothes down as ds2 is a lot chunkier as a baby than ds1 was and also one is a summer baby and the other a winter - dd wore one pair of ds1's jeans (boyfriend jeans!) and we have reused sleepsuits and that sort of thing but that is about it! Buying shoes involves an astronomical payout....I want them to do all the activities they want to. I'd like one more (hubby not on board mind), but realistically we can't really afford it.

I haven't been back to work as I had ds1 and dd very close together and was heavily pregnant before my first mat leave was over (13 month gap) - childcare for 2 would have obliterated my salary. I have no plans to go back at the moment. My hubby is the sole breadwinner - he earns just under 6 figures gross - we don't consider ourselves wealthy and only have a little house with no hope of moving anytime soon. We choose to have more children and a nice lifestyle over a big house though - so much more important in my opinion.

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Usedtobefun · 06/05/2012 21:35

I have 4dc (13,11,6,4) currently a sahm and undecided if I will go back to work when youngest starts school in sept. Currently the oldest one is at private secondary with dc2 due to start in sept.
My DH earns a a good salary but not quite six figures. We don't live in the capital which definitely helps! We manage ok. All the kids are involved in sports activities and go to various sports clubs outside of school. We manage to save money most months but don't have to watch every penny. We usually manage one holiday a year which sometimes is abroad (but not often!)
The dc don't go without but they certainly aren't dressed in designer gear nor do they have all the latest gadgets. Almost all of our food is home cooked and and we rarely have takeaways/ convenience food. I also manage to buy nice things for myself occasionally but certainly don't spend a fortune! I do think that you can have a large family and a pretty nice life, it just takes careful planning and the frequent use of the word no when the dc badger you for stuff!

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