Money makes the world go round. We need it to survive.
Not having any money usually makes you feel miserable, anxious and worried. Once you become a parent, not having any money is even worse as you can add guilt to the above list.
Some interesting (but scary) financial facts…
- Research shows that money is the biggest cause of stress and anxiety in the UK, followed by relationship and family issues.
- The cost of raising a child from birth to graduation in the UK is over £230,000.
- 7 in 10 families in the UK are struggling to make ends meet.
- The average cost for a child in the first year alone is £7-9k (not including childcare).
- According to research this year, London, Birmingham, Ipswich and Dundee are the worst places to live if you want to be free from money worries
But it’s not all doom and gloom. By spending a bit of time making a few tweaks to your spending and budgeting and looking at ways to save for your family’s future, you could be much better off and hopefully less stressed.
Start by sitting down with your partner when the kids are in bed, and taking stock of your money situation. Look at your incomings and outgoings and set a realistic budget. Plan to sit down and do this every couple of weeks to keep on track.
It’s really important to be open with each other about money and to share any worries you have.
Use online tools and apps – The Money advice service has some good calculators, as do many of the high street bank websites. There are also lots of free apps which can help you with budgeting. Some of my favourites are: You need a budget (YNAB), On trees and Wally.
Switch your current account to one which offers spending insights, so you can easily track everything you’re spending. Starling Bank and other challenger banks, for example, offer great mobile accounts which are completely free.
Cut back on expenses. And yes this means being ruthless! Can you ditch the magazine subscriptions? Gym membership? Wine club? Weekly manicures?
How much are you spending on debts per month? Can any of them be moved to better deals such as 0% interest credit cards? There are always better deals and savings to be made if you shop around.
Make calls to every single provider you have, whether it’s your gas and electricity or your mobile phone provider. This will be a couple of hours well spent, as not only can it save you hundreds of pounds, you will feel like you’re seriously winning!
Thinking about your family’s future, and planning for the good and the bad, is something every parent should prioritise.
Take out insurance policies which will keep you out of financial difficulty should a serious illness or death occur. These should include life insurance, income protection insurance and critical illness. If you can afford to (or your company provide it) you could also look at a healthcare policy.
Make a will. Not something any parent wants to think about, but a must once you have kids. A will can be drawn up by a solicitor for £100-200. Not having a will could mean your children being taken into care if something happened to both parents.
Having savings is super important and everyone should have two savings goals – a rainy day fund of around £500 for those last minute emergencies. And a longer term, larger pot of around three months of income.
Think about what you want to achieve or buy and when, and set a savings plan. From paying off your mortgage to planning that family trip to Disneyland, it is key to write down your money goals. Without goals, how do you know when you have got there?
Savings rates are at historic lows but look for the best rates you can from reputable providers. Always make sure the provider is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which protects your money if the company goes under.
Savings or investments? Savings are usually lower risk/lower return. Investments such as stocks and shares are riskier but usually offer higher returns. A good compromise could be investment bonds – a better return than savings accounts but still low risk.
Make sure you are using your ISA allowance, as this gives tax relief for the first £20,000. For those aged 18-39 the ‘lifetime ISA’ (LISA) is a no-brainer. It’s designed to help save for a deposit on a property, as well as helping you save for retirement. You can save up to £4000 a year tax-free and the government will add a 25% bonus to this!
Open a Children’s savings account for your kids. They usually offer better interest rates than adult savings accounts and the annual allowance for Junior ISAs will go up in 2019/20 to £4,368.
Add the cash your child receives for birthday and Christmas presents and top it up with a bit every month. Over the years, even the small amounts will really add up!
There are lots of other ways to boost your cash flow, just by investing a bit of time and effort.
Check what benefits you are entitled to: childcare vouchers, child benefit and universal credit (the new tax credit) are just some you may be eligible for. Gov.uk will give you all the information you need.
Clear out your unwanted stuff and sell it on local forums, in Mum’s social media groups and at table-top sales. This is a double win as will make you some extra cash, as well as freeing up space in the house.
Don’t be tempted to spend money you haven’t got on the “must have” items. We all want to look and feel good in the latest fashions, and have interiors straight from the pages of Elle Decoration – but if you can’t afford it – don’t buy it!
Mortgages are usually the biggest monthly outgoing for families. Alongside childcare of course.
Overpay on your mortgage when you can afford to, as even making the smallest overpayments can save thousands in interest over the long term. The more you pay off, the smaller the mortgage, and the lower your future repayments. Great for times when you are living on a reduced income. Check that your mortgage provider allows this.
Pensions – opt-in or lose out. If you’re employed make sure you take advantage of employer contributions, you won’t pay tax on this. If you’re self-employed or not employed, speak to a financial adviser about the best personal pension for you.
At the end of the day, life is just easier and more fun when you’re not broke and worrying about money. Having money left over at the end of the month for the fun stuff is truly important, especially when you’re a parent!
You can find more information on everything above on Parentmoney.com, and the latest market leading deals on the main comparison sites. Good luck!
If you are struggling with debt, or mental health issues due to money, here are some useful contacts…
Citizens advice Bureau – lots of information on sorting out debt on its website section: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/
The charity ‘Mind’ – has a section on its website called ‘Money and mental health’ which includes advice on how to manage debt: https://www.mind.org.uk/
Other useful organisations include:
- Money Advice Service(0800 138 7777)
- National Debtline(0808 808 4000)
- StepChange Debt Charity(0800 138 1111)