Thursday, 15 December 2011

Money money money.

I watched a documentary on iplayer tonight (ok, half of one, on the laptop which I balanced on the loo whilst I had an ACTUAL BATH) which you can find here (the documentary, not me in the bath - this isn't that kind of website). It showed a number of people/couples/families and how they financed and budgeted for their lives and different situations.

According to the documentary the average British family lives on a net (ie after tax) income of £40,000 (with two people working). That's more than we come home with but kind of what we'll hope to be earning in another few years (at the age most of the couples in the show were for sure anyway!).

It was very, very interesting - and made me realise something really significant.

Most people now live beyond their means.

Life now is made up of a great long (and totally accepted) list of ways to live beyond your means. Mortgages, loans, credit cards, hire purchase, buy now pay later.

My husband and I got into debt before we met which we both dealt with badly at the time (minimum repayment...nope, cinema trip and a kebab, definitely. Oh, red bill...bottom of the drawer for YOU. Hmm...snotty phone call - change mobile number, move house - hurrah for dealing TERRIBLY with debt!) 

This meant that we, in our early twenties, were in a situation wherein we couldn't get more credit. Between us we owed about £12,000 when we met. Since then we've accrued zero more debts and been steadily paying it off. (By we I mean HE has been, since he's been working and I've been breeding and sponging off him for a living until recently!) 

We get no benefits beyond child benefit - which pretty much everyone reading this gets. That buys nappies. 

Tonight I sat down, after watching (half of) the show and worked out how much, usually, we'll come home with after tax and we listed all of our outgoings.

We listed all the essentials and - because I'm now working - we upped our old weekly shopping budget from £50 to £100 - I feel giddy just thinking about it. I'll go to asda, I'll grab a trolley, I'll walk around and buy THINGS I ACTUALLY WANT TO EAT and not just very VERY basic things that we can only just afford. MEAT! I'll buy MEAT - more than once a month! ACTUAL MEAT! That is genuinely something we've had long periods of our time together being unable to do. 

After totting up all our expenses we saw that childcare costs us - even having got an EXCELLENT price for it (baby is half price when we pay for full time for toddler) double our rent, which used to be our biggest expense.

My husband pays the rent and all of the bills and buys our shopping - these are costs he's always covered.

I pay for the childcare.

After paying for all of those things we have a similar small amount left (totalling less than £300 which is A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF MONEY compared to how we've lived until now.)

Most of this is going to go to paying off our debts. We could think about moving out of this flat - but moving here was such an excellent financial decision that we want to stay longer and reap the benefits for a few more months at the very least - it's saving us £250 a month compared to our old home and that is making great inroads to other things, and has made a massive difference to how we eat/live day to day.

We could think about buying more things/going on holiday etc - but we'd rather clear debts and start saving a little than do those things - we've lived this long without diamonds and sun soaked hotels - we can survive another year.

I look around me at the majority of the people we know and the population (which the people in the documentary seem a fair and broad representation of) and I think, for all that we're living hand to mouth at times and we've struggled on a limited income, we're in a much better place than most people. We are travelling in the right direction - earning more, owing less as time goes on. Most people our age are getting MORE in to debt and taking more credit year by year.

In five years - less really - we'll be debt free and have a buffer of savings behind us. That's a nice feeling. It's been really, really hard at times. Having to say to friends that I don't fancy meeting for coffee because I literally couldn't justify £2.50 to buy one. Having to keep my boys at home because the £1 entrance fee for a playgroup is more than we have. Having to live on noodles because even value beans are extravagant. Having to think of imaginative ways to eat toast because we can't afford butter. 

We have been VERY poor. It has been VERY hard. But we made it through that - and now we're doing ok - and we're doing it on our own, with no credit, paying our way in cash.

Don't get me wrong - we have had a LOT of help from family in that time, a huge amount - and we are so grateful for it - and we plan to pay that back too now - we wouldn't have survived without having to ask for help at times - but we were lucky that the help came from the right places and didn't get us into even more trouble.

We are so lucky - and so grateful for where we are. 

Knowing that next month I can treat my husband to a meal out, knowing that I've been able to buy my children Christmas presents - that's a great feeling. A great feeling. One I honestly, for a long time, didn't think I'd ever have. I am so relieved to be where we are now - and to have got here still strong and together when it's been so hard. 


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

When do I get to stop?

A day in the life of Momma.

6.30 - alarm goes off. 

6.50 - actually get up, wishing I'd a; got up twenty minutes ago, b; ironed my clothes for work the night before.

7.00 - sit both boys on their seats with breakfast, after a quick bum change and story.

7.15 - after quickly applying make up and ironing, dress myself, the boys, pack their bag for the day wishing I'd done it the night before.

7.50 - wonder how that took so bloody long, wonder where the other shoe is (for me, Jellybean, Midget Gem or all of the above) 

7.55 - panic, shout to Daddytwo (if he hasn't already left for work himself) that we're all running late as if he is entirely to blame, run downstairs clutching one child and a bag and hope he's following with the other child and bag/coats/shoes/things I've forgotten/coffee

8.05 - drop the boys off at the childminders

8.10 - pull up around the corner from the childminders, have a little blub, drink coffee in magic pink cup that clips to the window, wish I'd brought more coffee

8.15 - turn music up very loud, drive to work.

8.45 - having parked badly, totter into work in totally unsuitable shoes (having driven there in flat boots) and turn on computer whilst hoping someone else is about to make a hot drinks round because the first of the day is EVERYONE and takes forever, and we're almost always out of milk/sugar/coffee

9.15 - realise I've stared at my inbox for half an hour and done no actual work besides make a list of things that must be done IMMEDIATELY.

10.45 - wonder if the snacks trolley will be here soon, having congratulated myself on not partaking of the cakes in the office so far. Eat cakes.

12.30 - run downstairs whilst phoning to check on husband and phoning to check on children to microwave a big mug of soup, eat soup with slightly stale bun, congratulate self on low calorie lunch, buy crisps and chocolate, head back upstairs ASAP and reply to freelance emails before lunch break is over.

2.45 - wonder if there's enough caffeine in the world to make the mid-afternoon slump bearable. Experiment with excessive caffeine. Feel sick. Eat more cake.

4.30 - try to make sure the to-do list for the day is complete, call a dozen people, swear because they aren't getting back to me because it's almost the end of the working day and they're winding down to vamoose at five on the dot.

5.00 (on the dot) turn off computer and dash for the door, ringing husband to say "Have you collected the children? I know, you're not home from work either, but can you? Super. What's for dinner?"

5.45 - realise I'm about 30 seconds away from home but it's going to take at least another 10 minutes to drive that distance and park.

6.00 - curse that last set of traffic lights, park (badly), lock car, dash down road, dash back up road, unlock car, pick up mobile, turn off headlights, take front off stereo, lock car, dash back down road.

6.05 - get into flat, wondering once again which moronic neighbour keeps leaving the front door to the building unlocked, pick up both children from around knees, kiss their happy little faces, sit on the floor, say hello to husband, take off shoes and coat, put bag down, try to hang things and put shoes away with children attached and wailing at me because I'm not sitting still to be clambered on.

6.10 - complain to husband that I'm starving and beg for my dinner. Attempt to change into jim jams with children attached to limbs.

6.20 - sit kids up at the table, plonk self on sofa, inhale food, talk to hubby about day and wonder how it's getting so late.

6.30 - play on floor with children. Beg them to be more gentle and not elbow Mummy in the face/jump on Mummy's back/headbutt Mummy/steal Mummy's glasses/pull Mummy's hair/bite. Try to encourage colouring in and stories. Give up, play toy cars and bashing things together and shouting a lot.

7.00 - try to calm wailing children enough for a bath after someone bashed someone else and both realised they are actually tired.

7.15 - bathe both children, singing songs and telling jokes to distract from the trauma of washing hair.

7.25 - clean two tiny sets of teeth whilst trying to avoid being bitten.

7.35 - try to wrestle slightly damp and totally furious children into pyjamas without losing temper.

7.45 - feed very grateful baby some bedtime milk whilst husband, who has cleaned entire kitchen and tidied all toys away, tells stories to Jellybean. Feel jealous of those cuddles he's getting. Feel guilt.

8.00 - tuck Midget Gem into bed, pop and give Jellybean sleepy cuddles and kisses, sing the shooting star song and tuck toy dog back into the bed after he's thrown it on the floor specifically for this moment.

8.10 - make cup of tea for husband and self, sit down, try to think in straight lines. 

8.30 - remember cup of tea and train of conversation with husband.

9.00 - try to muster energy for starting ever increasing 'to-do' list of things that must be done. Fail.

9.30 - get into bed with a book/twitter app/laptop planning five minutes of whatever activity is started.

11.00 - wish I'd gone to sleep at 9.30

12.00 - feel very grumpy that I'm still not asleep.

1.30, 3.00, 4.45 - wish baby slept right through without needing me to give him a drink/his dummy/a cuddle. Realise this is entirely my own fault. Get mad. Cry.

The list of things I need to get done is ever increasing and the list of things I used to do that my wonderful husband now manages instead is immense. He is immense. 

I love my life - I love my family and I love my job and now that my husband is doing the housework (ie it's actually getting done) I love my home - but I do miss hobbies, and actual baths instead of showers, and relaxing. Most of all I miss my babies.