Author Topic: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up and increase income with baby in tow  (Read 4820 times)

shelivesthedream

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27 year old woman, living in London, married and on maternity leave with a five week old baby.

My husband takes home approx. £1800/month. When I work (part time arty type) I can be confident of earning a minimum of £500/month but my work is quite seasonal (e.g. £2000 in one month then nothing for two months). I currently get £560/month in statutory maternity allowance (from the government).

The kicker is that we get a free house with my husbandís job. We donít get to choose the house, but itís totally free and we donít pay water or council tax.

So, here are our expenses, based on the last year of tracking but mostly averages of 2018 so far:

Fixed:
Gas and electric: £64 (recently switched supplier)
Internet: £18.99 (contract expires in seven months)
Contents insurance: £48 (averaged over the year, expires in September, auto-renewed last year but planning to compare this year. Have the highest deductible possible and no extras Ė basically insured for the house burning down.)
My phone: £6.50 (discount for unused data, usually ends up £5.50 ish)
Husbandís phone: £14 (working on persuading him to switch)
Charity: £100 (non-negotiable)
Personal spending: £175 each (recently reduced from £225. Covers haircuts, non-underwear clothing, meals out, booksÖ)
London Review of Books: £8 (non-negotiable)

Variable:
Food: £350 (this is kinda high because I stocked up massively before giving birth so our house is bursting with food. £290 is a more usual average. Includes fancier food for having people over, which we have been doing regularly Ė obviously less so in recent weeks!)
Booze: £60 (we are discussing massively cutting back on this. I donít drink, my husband is cutting back, and weíre not having people over so much.)
Date night: £5.82 (this is the exact monthly average, honest)
House items: £40 (includes home improvements and buying things like pillows)
Garden: £15 (we have declared a moratorium on garden spending this year unless it comes out of one of our personal money)
Healthcare: £25 (vastly inflated because of my end-of-pregnancy Gaviscon consumption. Usually a few quid on OTC things like ibuprofen or hayfever medicine.)
Travel: £66 (My husband usually walks to work, so this is recreational or me doing odd trips for work (with equipment/materials so canít cycle). TFL is really expensive! I wasnít able to cycle at all while pregnant, and honestly donít feel like Iíll be able to with the baby for a long time.)
Holidays: £200 (we went on two lovely holidays while I was pregnant but wonít be going anywhere for a long time now, other than train rides to stay with family or friends)
Coffee beans: £13
Baby items: £167.32 (all Ďcapitalí baby things like cot averaged sine January. Only ongoing expenses are nappies and I am hoping to switch to cloth in the next few months when everything feels more sorted)
Cash: £36
Misc: £75

TOTAL = £1487.63

Debt:
Only UK student loans.

Assets:
£91,000 distributed across LISA, ISA and SIPP.

Goals:
My husband wants to quit his job. He kind of wants to quit his field entirely. Heís talked himself down off the ledge of walking out imminently, but wants to go when his contract ends in mid-2020. He is not massively employable outside his field, and I donít exactly earn a lot as an arty type. The real bummer would be losing the free house Ė with no housing expenses, we are living a very luxurious life. I really want to maximise our savings for the next two years so we can have as big a cash cushion as possible to fall back on. I donít know what we will do then as itís only just come to a head, but it seems like time to finally post a long-overdue case study.

So please, donít hold back. I donít know how much advice Iíll be able to action in the near future, but Iíd be very grateful for some new eyes to hack through all the details.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 04:06:34 AM by shelivesthedream »

Kwill

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How much do you pay per month for the student loans? Or do you pay per month for that? How long until they are gone?

Can you get reimbursed for work travel?

It sounds like you have already made some cuts and are being thoughtful about expenses. It's good you're thinking about comparing vendors for recurring expenses like insurance and your husband's phone.

Personal, booze, house items, garden, cash, and misc seem to overlap as discretionary categories and make up £536 or 36% of your monthly spending. Would you be comfortable shrinking that a bit?

SpreadsheetMan

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I'm sure you could make savings, but the fundamental problem to come is housing cost, pretty much all the south of England (at least where there are jobs) won't be affordable on even your Husband's current income.

I don't know what to suggest really - saving a few quid on gardening isn't going to address the problem :-(

shelivesthedream

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I pay nothing on my loans and my husband pays £6/month out of his gross income. They are genuinely a non-factor. They will be written off in a few decades.

I get reimbursed for travel outside London (which is rare) but not for bus and Tube fares.

Personal, booze, house items, garden, cash, and misc seem to overlap as discretionary categories and make up £536 or 36% of your monthly spending. Would you be comfortable shrinking that a bit?

I think we can shrink personal further but it will take a few months to get Mr SLTD to agree. Garden is £0 from now on. Booze needs to be at least halved, I think. Maybe it can be eradicated. I need to work out what the heck cash and house items have gone on. I can't recall buying anything significant for the house this year - mainly a couple of kitchen things (replacement spatulas and colander). I *think* misc is largely related to my hospital stay (I.e. Lots of sandwiches from the cafe for Mr SLTD) but I should check this.

I'm sure you could make savings, but the fundamental problem to come is housing cost, pretty much all the south of England (at least where there are jobs) won't be affordable on even your Husband's current income.

I don't know what to suggest really - saving a few quid on gardening isn't going to address the problem :-(


This is not super duper helpful. Obviously we need to have a good hard look at what we plan to do in the future, but there is also stuff we can do right now. The free house is a big part of Mr SLTD's compensation - our similarly-educated peers earn a lot more in other fields.

---

Please be savage! Facepunches welcomed!

SunnyDays

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As I am Canadian, I can't say if your numbers are reasonable or not, so I can't offer much on budgeting, other than cut everything to the bone. (13.00 on coffee beans jumps out.)  However, looking at the bigger picture, you say that your husband "wants to quit," maybe even leave his field, your friends in other fields make "a lot more" but your husband is not "massively employable in other fields."  Your own income is low and sporadic.  Plus you have a newborn (congratulations!).  So what's the plan?  With a baby now you can't just wing it and hope for the best.  Is your husband so seriously unhappy in his work that he HAS to make a change soon?  Does he know what field he does want to work in and can he use the next 2 years to gain skills or some kind of experience in it?  What would such a job pay and what would your expenses be if you had to provide your own housing?  Once you're finished mat leave can you do something to bring in more, and reliable, income?  Maybe your arty stuff needs to be a sideline with a different full-time job. Could you live with family if you needed to?  The baby complicates things, but in my opinion, you need to seriously hustle while you're young and have the energy.

SpreadsheetMan

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OK - facepunching version:

27 year old woman, living in London, married and on maternity leave with a five week old baby.

My husband takes home approx. £1800/month. When I work (part time arty type) I can be confident of earning a minimum of £500/month but my work is quite seasonal (e.g. £2000 in one month then nothing for two months). I currently get £560/month in statutory maternity allowance (from the government).

The kicker is that we get a free house with my husbandís job. We donít get to choose the house, but itís totally free and we donít pay water or council tax.

So, here are our expenses, based on the last year of tracking but mostly averages of 2018 so far:

Fixed:
Gas and electric: £64 (recently switched supplier) - ok
Internet: £18.99 (contract expires in seven months) - ok
Contents insurance: £48 (averaged over the year, expires in September, auto-renewed last year but planning to compare this year. Have the highest deductible possible and no extras Ė basically insured for the house burning down.) - Very expensive! (high crime area?) Down to £25pm.
My phone: £6.50 (discount for unused data, usually ends up £5.50 ish) - ok
Husbandís phone: £14 (working on persuading him to switch) - Down to 6.50 too
Charity: £100 (non-negotiable)
Personal spending: £175 each (recently reduced from £225. Covers haircuts, non-underwear clothing, meals out, booksÖ) - Down to £100 ea, just don't buy stuff.
London Review of Books: £8 (non-negotiable)

Variable:
Food: £350 (this is kinda high because I stocked up massively before giving birth so our house is bursting with food. £290 is a more usual average. Includes fancier food for having people over, which we have been doing regularly Ė obviously less so in recent weeks!) - down to £225 via getting rid of luxury items and using Aldi/Lidl
Booze: £60 (we are discussing massively cutting back on this. I donít drink, my husband is cutting back, and weíre not having people over so much.) - £10, 1 bottle of wine a month
Date night: £5.82 (this is the exact monthly average, honest) - Zero
House items: £40 (includes home improvements and buying things like pillows) - Zero - not your house, not relevant.
Garden: £15 (we have declared a moratorium on garden spending this year unless it comes out of one of our personal money)- Zero - not your house, not relevant.
Healthcare: £25 (vastly inflated because of my end-of-pregnancy Gaviscon consumption. Usually a few quid on OTC things like ibuprofen or hayfever medicine.)- £10 max
Travel: £66 (My husband usually walks to work, so this is recreational or me doing odd trips for work (with equipment/materials so canít cycle). TFL is really expensive! I wasnít able to cycle at all while pregnant, and honestly donít feel like Iíll be able to with the baby for a long time.)- zero. Walk+cycle. Reclaim all work travel as expenses or increase rates to cover.
Holidays: £200 (we went on two lovely holidays while I was pregnant but wonít be going anywhere for a long time now, other than train rides to stay with family or friends)- zero. No holidays.
Coffee beans: £13- zero. In the food budget.
Baby items: £167.32 (all Ďcapitalí baby things like cot averaged sine January. Only ongoing expenses are nappies and I am hoping to switch to cloth in the next few months when everything feels more sorted)- Don't know - whatever it takes to keep a baby running.
Cash: £36- zero, comes out of personal spending.
Misc: £75- zero, comes out of personal spending.

TOTAL = £1487.63

Debt:
Only UK student loans.

Assets:
£91,000 distributed across LISA, ISA and SIPP.

Goals:
My husband wants to quit his job. He kind of wants to quit his field entirely. Heís talked himself down off the ledge of walking out imminently, but wants to go when his contract ends in mid-2020. He is not massively employable outside his field, and I donít exactly earn a lot as an arty type. The real bummer would be losing the free house Ė with no housing expenses, we are living a very luxurious life. I really want to maximise our savings for the next two years so we can have as big a cash cushion as possible to fall back on. I donít know what we will do then as itís only just come to a head, but it seems like time to finally post a long-overdue case study.

So please, donít hold back. I donít know how much advice Iíll be able to action in the near future, but Iíd be very grateful for some new eyes to hack through all the details.

Saves £771.32 plus whatever can be saved on the baby budget. You'll probably need to build a bit of travel back in to visit parents and friends etc.

The non-negotiables would be next to be cut, or get better paid jobs (given that all work sucks, may as well get paid as much as possible).

never give up

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Hi sltd. As we post in each otherís journals quite a bit I was a bit hesitant to respond. You should get a wider range of views here so I thought I may as well post my thoughts as well.

Well done on your assets and lack of debt. Thatís really great. Youíre at the point where compounding will kick in more and more and you will be rewarded for the past sacrifices you have made.

I had unfortunately just renewed my house and contents insurance just before finding MMM and my payments are similar to yours. Iím sure we can both do better here at our next renewal dates. I think the personal spending, holidays and misc are the areas to target. I went years without a holiday when I was trying to clamber on the housing ladder. I know itís hard especially as you have enjoyed a couple of great holidays in recent times.

I appreciate the charity payment is non-negotiable but all I would say is it is very high relative to your incomes. A reduction for a time to help you through this period could just be seen as a loan. I.e. when compounding sees you FIREíd in the future youíll be able to increase your charity contributions so much youíll easily make up for the Ďloaní you take from resting these payments for a while now. Apologies if this genuinely is a non-negotiable item. I just thought looking at in a different way can sometimes help so thought Iíd mention it.

Knowing your food habits I donít think you have much to improve here you just had a high lumpy month. I agree with minimising expenses on a house you arenít going to own.

There arenít many areas to improve massively but two years of saving an extra £300-£400 a month would give you some more security for your two year plan.

Your big wins at the moment are the house and lack of council tax payment. That really is worth a lot. It would seem increasing your income has more upside potential than your expenses have downside potential. I know you have mentioned before that a slower path to FIRE with a more pleasant lifestyle now is more important to you both than the work like crazy for a shorter time period approach. Your 20ís and 30ís really is the time to work hard though rather than being forced to do it later. Using the next two years to retrain, gain new skills and increase income would seem to be the best approach for your husband but I appreciate thatís easier said than done. Similarly in the future will there be the chance of you doing something that pays better in addition to your arty work?

I guess location is a key point too. Is that up for grabs in two years time? That is probably very relevant with regards to housing costs.

Iím not sure Iíve helped much. Probably just mentioned stuff you already know, but donít stress about this. You are debt free, have assets working for you and have a Mustachian mindset. It will become clear what path to take and you have a lot of skills in your favour here.

SpreadsheetMan

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Hi sltd. As we post in each otherís journals quite a bit I was a bit hesitant to respond. You should get a wider range of views here so I thought I may as well post my thoughts as well.

.....
I must say @never give up, you've got a knack for saying things in a much more palatable (and kind) way than I usually manage.

Good points.

never give up

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With my kind manner and your spreadsheet skills hopefully between us we can help  :-)

cerat0n1a

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I'm sure you're completely on top of this, but just checking that child benefit, child tax credits etc. are all in hand?

Other than that, insurance (*never* let it auto-renew) and booze seem the obvious places to start.

Moomintroll

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2018, 07:40:55 AM »
Quote
London Review of Books: £8 (non-negotiable)

Awesome! We also have this line item in our budget, also 100% non negotiable. I find it is the best money we spend, always read it cover to cover and always learn something fascinating.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2018, 09:43:13 AM »
Contents insurance: £48 (averaged over the year, expires in September, auto-renewed last year but planning to compare this year. Have the highest deductible possible and no extras Ė basically insured for the house burning down.) - Very expensive! (high crime area?) Down to £25pm.
Yes, a high crime area. It's about doubled from where we lived before! Still need to compare at appropriate juncture.

Quote
Husbandís phone: £14 (working on persuading him to switch) - Down to 6.50 too
PAC acquired, change underway.

Quote
Personal spending: £175 each (recently reduced from £225. Covers haircuts, non-underwear clothing, meals out, booksÖ) - Down to £100 ea, just don't buy stuff.
Reduced to £100 on trial basis.

Quote
Garden: £15 (we have declared a moratorium on garden spending this year unless it comes out of one of our personal money)- Zero - not your house, not relevant.
It's pots as the garden is concreted, so moveable, but agreed now £0.

Quote
Healthcare: £25 (vastly inflated because of my end-of-pregnancy Gaviscon consumption. Usually a few quid on OTC things like ibuprofen or hayfever medicine.)- £10 max
We both need new glasses - will have to work out how to do this. I have ordered glasses online in the past and it didn't go well but they were just backups.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2018, 10:24:43 AM »
Let's leave aside my husband's job for the moment.

My maternity allowance runs out at the end of this year, when my baby will be 8 months old. My main talents/experience are in textile art, writing and admin/organisation. My parents will be able to look after the baby occasionally but I have no prospects for regular free childcare. my arty jobs are likely to be quite chill about me taking the baby with me when I need to go in, and I mostly work from home, but the prospects for earning a lot more than £500/month are limited without being footloose and fancy free.

Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare? Advice or resources appreciated. I don't feel like I have a lot of time to invest in something tremendously speculative that may or may not pay off.

Kwill

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2018, 03:43:47 PM »
Baby-inspired arty stuff? I'm not sure what textile art is, and previously I'd imagined maybe drawing or painting. I have one friend who seems to have made a go of art as a sideline and another friend who just got her first commission for a limited edition print. So I was imagining you maybe taking sleepy baby to various scenic spots and making London+baby themed art that would sell like hotcakes online and/or to tourists.

The friend who's been doing art longer and more professionally has this website: http://www.matthewalderman.com

It's a very particular niche--religious illustration, ecclesiastical interior design, and heraldry--but he knows his material and his audience. I think the website does a nice job of presenting the range of what he does and, without really pushing sales,  including enough information that you can buy things if you like them.

chasingthegoodlife

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2018, 04:34:36 PM »
Freelance writing and copy editing has worked well for several mums with young ones I know, but it can depend a lot on your connections.

Sorry if stating the obvious but have you investigated what government rebates are available for childcare? I (Australian) had a much much worse picture of how much child care would cost than is actually the case once rebates have been applied for our low-to-middle income situation.

Seconding that your contents insurance seems very expensive. Depending on the amount and quality of what you own, is going without insurance at all an option? As you said, with a high deductible you are really only going to benefit in a catastrophic situation such as a house fire. If you have a smaller house and minimalist/thrifted possessions over the years you may end up paying out more than your stuff is actually worth.

I have no face punches. I suspect having a newborn is a good time to change up some of your spending habits as your lifestyle is also changing. But don’t be too hard on yourself at this time!

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2018, 02:39:14 AM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare?

 Got your tax credits & child benefit ?
 Have you taken the banks for all their freebies ?
 Stoozing ?
 Got your emergency fund in something with a over inflation rate ?
 Matched betting - is ideal for someone with a lot of time at home. Extra £300 p/m is very do-able without a huge investment of time. More than happy to answer questions via PM about it.
 

SunnyDays

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2018, 11:40:52 AM »
Maybe find some evening and/or weekend work if your husband is able to look after the baby during those hours?

kei te pai

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2018, 04:35:00 PM »
Do you know Spoonflower.com? Print on demand fabric and wallpaper. Upload your own designs, or buy from thousands of other people's. I wouldnt say its cheap, but its not outrageous, and you can order very small amounts.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2018, 01:47:26 PM »
Apologies for not interacting more on here - baby makes it hard to type anything complex. But a few random replies...

Child benefit already sorted. Am self-employed so anything tax-related will happen in 2019.

Husband's schedule is very irregular and includes evenings and weekends, so he's great for taking care of chores or taking baby for a bit to give me a break but totally unable to do any regular (in the sense of same schedule every week) childcare.

AFAIK government help with childcare is available from two years, which will be when we move - so v helpful for whatever we do next but not right now.

Have looked at Spoonflower before, actually, but never done anything about it. Will have a look again.

Have also been thinking about writing an ebook about something for a while.

Have realised I need to distinguish between 'work' I do on maternity leave (not allowed to do proper work) and plans for actual work after leave ends. Probably best use of my time at present is a few low-key speculative things that may or may no have legs - baiting a few hooks to see what bites. And also coming up with a post-leave plan but starting on that in two months or so after baby has settled down a bit so I can know a bit more what it might be like. Also, of course, implementing our New Household Austerity Plan which Mr SLTD is on board with.

Mr SLTD has in the past vetoed going without insurance, though I'd be happy to at the moment. I will re-discuss come August/Sept.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2018, 01:49:24 PM »
And please keep suggestions coming! I promise to report back on our expenses at the end of the month.

SunnyDays

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2018, 02:21:01 PM »
Brainwave (maybe)!  Are you physically, and friendship-wise close enough to your neighbours to share wifi?  Not that your bill is very high by our Canadian standards (67.00 a month here) but every bit helps right?

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2018, 02:35:37 AM »

Child benefit already sorted. Am self-employed so anything tax-related will happen in 2019.


 To the best of my knowledge, tax credits is not paid a years in arrears for self employed. If you wait until next year, you could be forgoing a couple of thousand pounds. Access to it depends on your estimated income for this tax year if you live in a universal credit area or not.

 If your husband works more than 30 hours per week, I would urge you to apply - it's money the government thinks you should have and what your taxes have paid towards:  https://www.gov.uk/working-tax-credit

okits

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2018, 09:12:56 PM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare? Advice or resources appreciated. I don't feel like I have a lot of time to invest in something tremendously speculative that may or may not pay off.

Hi SLTD!  It's not everyone's preference, but my go-to suggestion for someone who wants income while parenting their child is to look after a second child (or more!) for pay.  Find a part-time, sporadic/flexible arrangement with a family that lives reasonably near you.  (I met one mom in my building who just needed someone a few hours a day so she could work from her home office.  If I'd been looking for a babysitting gig that would have been perfect!) 

Looking after one infant/toddler can already be very hard, but taking in another child is a way to earn when you are limited to things you can do with your own child in tow.

For Mr SLTD are there more self-care, psychological/emotional supports he can access to make the next two years more bearable?  All the usual suspects (exercise, nutrition, sleep, social time) plus more structured supports (counsellor or self-help books or programs to help him mentally reframe his situation or increase his emotional resiliency, etc.)?  My biggest concern reading your OP is that he is so unhappy he wants to quit immediately.  My priority would be ensuring the job burnout doesn't get so bad it harms his health, your family relationships, and the atmosphere at home. 

Hirondelle

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2018, 12:13:45 AM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare? Advice or resources appreciated. I don't feel like I have a lot of time to invest in something tremendously speculative that may or may not pay off.

Another income-increasing idea: I see you mentioned writing and I think I've read earlier that you went to a pretty good/fancy university. I've recently started a side-gig of proofreading/correcting people's thesis and so far it's working out very well. In my first month I made Ä200 and this month I again have a client lined up for at least another Ä100. No huge amount of money, but a good per-hour pay and lots of flexibility/freedom and it would mean a pretty high % increase to your current average income.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2018, 01:48:42 AM »
Hi SLTD!  It's not everyone's preference, but my go-to suggestion for someone who wants income while parenting their child is to look after a second child (or more!) for pay.  Find a part-time, sporadic/flexible arrangement with a family that lives reasonably near you.  (I met one mom in my building who just needed someone a few hours a day so she could work from her home office.  If I'd been looking for a babysitting gig that would have been perfect!) 

Looking after one infant/toddler can already be very hard, but taking in another child is a way to earn when you are limited to things you can do with your own child in tow.

Glad you mentioned this! I had vaguely thought about it in the past. I think it#s definitely something I would be up for in, say, six to nine months time (when other parents with children the same age might be going back to work and BabySLTD might actually be aware of another child and vaguely interested in them and when solids start becoming a thing).

Quote
For Mr SLTD are there more self-care, psychological/emotional supports he can access to make the next two years more bearable? ... My biggest concern reading your OP is that he is so unhappy he wants to quit immediately.  My priority would be ensuring the job burnout doesn't get so bad it harms his health, your family relationships, and the atmosphere at home.

We#re on it. We#re already planning one way to change how he does his work here (he works from home a lot), and I think he#s sort of enjoying the New Austerity Regime as a way to secretly say F You to his job so he can feel like it is just this next two years and then he can do whatever he wants, including maybe take a break for a few months.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2018, 01:55:13 AM by shelivesthedream »

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #25 on: June 15, 2018, 01:54:43 AM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare? Advice or resources appreciated. I don't feel like I have a lot of time to invest in something tremendously speculative that may or may not pay off.

Another income-increasing idea: I see you mentioned writing and I think I've read earlier that you went to a pretty good/fancy university. I've recently started a side-gig of proofreading/correcting people's thesis and so far it's working out very well. In my first month I made Ä200 and this month I again have a client lined up for at least another Ä100. No huge amount of money, but a good per-hour pay and lots of flexibility/freedom and it would mean a pretty high % increase to your current average income.

This actually sounds really good to me. How did you start doing this? I just don#t know how I#d be able to find clients at first. I#m guessing people with English as a second language would be particularly good to aim at?

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2018, 01:58:19 AM »

Child benefit already sorted. Am self-employed so anything tax-related will happen in 2019.


 To the best of my knowledge, tax credits is not paid a years in arrears for self employed. If you wait until next year, you could be forgoing a couple of thousand pounds. Access to it depends on your estimated income for this tax year if you live in a universal credit area or not.

 If your husband works more than 30 hours per week, I would urge you to apply - it's money the government thinks you should have and what your taxes have paid towards:  https://www.gov.uk/working-tax-credit

Have ordered a form online. Should arrive within the next fortnight.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #27 on: June 15, 2018, 01:59:21 AM »
Brainwave (maybe)!  Are you physically, and friendship-wise close enough to your neighbours to share wifi?  Not that your bill is very high by our Canadian standards (67.00 a month here) but every bit helps right?

Alas no. We're semi-detached and the bit we're attached to is a community building (sans wifi) rather than another house.

cerat0n1a

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #28 on: June 15, 2018, 02:46:08 AM »
Hi SLTD!  It's not everyone's preference, but my go-to suggestion for someone who wants income while parenting their child is to look after a second child (or more!) for pay.  Find a part-time, sporadic/flexible arrangement with a family that lives reasonably near you.  (I met one mom in my building who just needed someone a few hours a day so she could work from her home office.  If I'd been looking for a babysitting gig that would have been perfect!) 

Looking after one infant/toddler can already be very hard, but taking in another child is a way to earn when you are limited to things you can do with your own child in tow.

Glad you mentioned this! I had vaguely thought about it in the past. I think it#s definitely something I would be up for in, say, six to nine months time (when other parents with children the same age might be going back to work and BabySLTD might actually be aware of another child and vaguely interested in them and when solids start becoming a thing).

There's a few loops to jump through if you get paid for any non-trivial length of time. You have to register with Ofsted, get a specific first aid certificate, have correct insurance, and do a simple  course on childminding and the relevant part of the national curriculum (seriously!)  Ofsted potentially do inspections to make sure you have smoke alarms, safe garden etc etc and reports every couple of years, too. There are currently grants to help with the costs of the above. Took our neighbours about 3 months to get it all sorted. I think you can sign up with an agency instead who will take care of a lot of the above.

Hirondelle

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2018, 03:26:15 AM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare? Advice or resources appreciated. I don't feel like I have a lot of time to invest in something tremendously speculative that may or may not pay off.

Another income-increasing idea: I see you mentioned writing and I think I've read earlier that you went to a pretty good/fancy university. I've recently started a side-gig of proofreading/correcting people's thesis and so far it's working out very well. In my first month I made Ä200 and this month I again have a client lined up for at least another Ä100. No huge amount of money, but a good per-hour pay and lots of flexibility/freedom and it would mean a pretty high % increase to your current average income.

This actually sounds really good to me. How did you start doing this? I just don't know how I'd be able to find clients at first. I#m guessing people with English as a second language would be particularly good to aim at?

I just posted an add on the Dutch verion of Craigslist and it has resulted in more responses than I expected (but it's thesis-high season now). I also made a website that I link to on the add so people can see my background and there's a few blog posts with advice.

That indeed sounds like a good group to aim at! It was also one of my intended target audiences, but I haven't found a way to reach them yet so for now I help Dutch students writing in either Dutch or English.

There's also companies for whom you could work (Google things like "Thesis help") but I prefer finding my own work over going through them.

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #30 on: June 15, 2018, 04:04:31 AM »
Hi SLTD!  It's not everyone's preference, but my go-to suggestion for someone who wants income while parenting their child is to look after a second child (or more!) for pay.  Find a part-time, sporadic/flexible arrangement with a family that lives reasonably near you.  (I met one mom in my building who just needed someone a few hours a day so she could work from her home office.  If I'd been looking for a babysitting gig that would have been perfect!) 

Looking after one infant/toddler can already be very hard, but taking in another child is a way to earn when you are limited to things you can do with your own child in tow.

Glad you mentioned this! I had vaguely thought about it in the past. I think it#s definitely something I would be up for in, say, six to nine months time (when other parents with children the same age might be going back to work and BabySLTD might actually be aware of another child and vaguely interested in them and when solids start becoming a thing).

There's a few loops to jump through if you get paid for any non-trivial length of time. You have to register with Ofsted, get a specific first aid certificate, have correct insurance, and do a simple  course on childminding and the relevant part of the national curriculum (seriously!)  Ofsted potentially do inspections to make sure you have smoke alarms, safe garden etc etc and reports every couple of years, too. There are currently grants to help with the costs of the above. Took our neighbours about 3 months to get it all sorted. I think you can sign up with an agency instead who will take care of a lot of the above.

Thanks for this. I was aware that being a registered childminder requires a bit of paperwork and effort, but I'll have to see what the threshold for that is - i.e. When does one cross over from casual babysitter to actual childminder. I've got a DBS certificate from doing some work with children and using the update service. I wouldn't want to do it loads anyway, but one child for an afternoon a week for someone I know already would suit me well, and might remain in casual babysitter territory. Or maybe we could barter somehow. Anyway, this one's well in the future!

shelivesthedream

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2018, 04:05:36 AM »
Does anyone have any suggestions for increasing my income in a way that is compatible with looking after a baby so my entire income doesn't go on childcare? Advice or resources appreciated. I don't feel like I have a lot of time to invest in something tremendously speculative that may or may not pay off.

Another income-increasing idea: I see you mentioned writing and I think I've read earlier that you went to a pretty good/fancy university. I've recently started a side-gig of proofreading/correcting people's thesis and so far it's working out very well. In my first month I made Ä200 and this month I again have a client lined up for at least another Ä100. No huge amount of money, but a good per-hour pay and lots of flexibility/freedom and it would mean a pretty high % increase to your current average income.

This actually sounds really good to me. How did you start doing this? I just don't know how I'd be able to find clients at first. I#m guessing people with English as a second language would be particularly good to aim at?

I just posted an add on the Dutch verion of Craigslist and it has resulted in more responses than I expected (but it's thesis-high season now). I also made a website that I link to on the add so people can see my background and there's a few blog posts with advice.

That indeed sounds like a good group to aim at! It was also one of my intended target audiences, but I haven't found a way to reach them yet so for now I help Dutch students writing in either Dutch or English.

There's also companies for whom you could work (Google things like "Thesis help") but I prefer finding my own work over going through them.

Great - I will file this away for after maternity leave.

shelivesthedream

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I've change the title to more accurately reflect where he discussion is going.

LFH86

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I admit I haven't read all the comments, but I wonder if you might be able to set up some sort of mum-and-baby artsy classes? I did all sorts of bizarre classes when my baby was tiny just to get out of the house! And if you're in an area of London where people generally have money to burn it could work out?

Also when you get to the cloth nappy stage, get them Preloved (loads of Facebook groups to buy and sell)!! And preferably borrow from a nappy library first.

Kwill

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For the thesis editing, you might get in touch with your former supervisor or other lecturers from undergrad who know your writing. They might be able also to give a sense of what level and type of help they would consider appropriate for their students to receive. In addition to English as a second language students, there are probably also American MPhil students who didn't do undergraduate dissertations and struggle with the extended academic writing requirement of a British master's degree.

aoedae

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Re: [UK] Getting soft - time to toughen up before big change in two years
« Reply #35 on: June 17, 2018, 03:28:34 AM »
Quote
Healthcare: £25 (vastly inflated because of my end-of-pregnancy Gaviscon consumption. Usually a few quid on OTC things like ibuprofen or hayfever medicine.)- £10 max
We both need new glasses - will have to work out how to do this. I have ordered glasses online in the past and it didn't go well but they were just backups.

Regarding glasses - is there any chance that your husband's work will cover this for him at least? I get free glasses or a hefty discount as I have an office-based job and screen-time damages your eyes, it's an occupational health thing. You're entitled if you work with Display Screen Equipment.
This has more information on the regulation:
https://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/health/employers-obligations-sight-tests-dse-users


-----

Regarding the new budget, the extreme-expense slashing has already been done (thanks @SpreadsheetMan), but I've put together my own version that's a bit milder below. I trust you on things you say are non-negotiable, and have tried to make this 'austerity budget' a sustainable one for your sanity/health over the longer term:

Fixed:

Gas and electric: £64
Internet: £18.99
Contents insurance: £48
My phone: £6.50
Husbandís phone: £6.50
Charity: £100
Personal spending: £200 total (£100 each)
London Review of Books: £8

Variable:
Food: £290 (I've read your other stuff, this seems like a sane amount for a young couple with a newborn)
Booze: £10 (pfft, you can get 2 bottles of wine for this per month.)
Date night: £5.82 (I have put this back in, as I'd personally never surrender this, but your tolerance is your own. However, I'd consider it an investment in the health of the relationship.)
Healthcare: £10
Travel: £50 (it sounds like cycling is out for you, but try and reclaim work expenses where possible)
Holidays: £50 (visiting family and friends is still pretty important for your sanity)
Baby items: £100 (hopefully the value can be reduced)
Cash: £36 (no idea what this is for, so no idea if it can be slashed)
Misc: £75 (no idea what this is for, so no idea if it can be slashed)

TOTAL = £1041.81, a saving of £472.82pm, which gives an extra stash of £11.3k over 2 years yielded from cost savings.

This excludes anything you can additionally raise by increasing your income. With a move in mind, when thinking about increasing your income, I'd make sure you have at least a couple of eggs in your basket that are location independent to smooth over the transition time with the move, which may cause bumpiness if any of your current income is based on being in the local area.

-----

Now, I'm also quite interested in the long-term plan - i.e. the two year horizon.

Many others on this thread have pointed out what is the most useful thing for you, with the highest potential for reward, which is an increase in income from either yourself or your husband. But I'm interested in projecting in what your monthly expenses are likely to look like in the future.

If the free house through work is lost, you have a large cost gap to fill with 3 of you. I'm assuming you'll be more location independent once his contract has finishes, which will help, so going north is a way to keep costs down. From my personal experience I'd be surprised if you got to rent anything 2 bed under £800pm in a useful city for work (e.g. Manchester) including bills (council tax, water) - but I'd love for some other homeowners of the same family size to chime in on this.

So it looks like in two years your ongoing expenses are likely to change to something that looks more like:

£1050pm +
£800pm
=> £1850pm.

at a bare minimum, which needs to be covered through either income or savings whilst Mr SLTD retrains.

---
That's all my thoughts for the minute, but I'm happy to bat other ideas around and answer any questions!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2018, 03:31:02 AM by aoedae »

shelivesthedream

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Originally posted in my journal but realised it really belongs here too!

---

Ive been thinking a lot about the various income and childcare combinations that might be workable post-June-2020. We could...

1. We both work full time and pay for childcare.
3. Mr SLTD works full time, I stay home and look after baby (toddler then!) and side hustle.
4. I work full time, Mr SLTD stays home to look after then-toddler and side hustles. (He has one idea.)
5. We both work part time and take turns looking after then-toddler.
6. Mr SLTD works full time, I freelance and use paid childcare as and when.
7. One of us starts a location-independent from-home business that we both contribute to and we take turns to look after then-toddler around that.

Our job prospects are sort of complicated - for example, there are very few full time jobs in my field, so I'd be looking all over the country and we'd have to move wherever I found one. And then there's the question of do we stay in London (which I kind of hate because it is huge and crowded and gross) and get free grandparent childcare (but I imagine two days a week max - my parents have stuff they want to do with their lives that doesn't involve changing nappies!) or move away for lower rent/house prices but minimal support network unless we move back to OldCity which I love but is basically as expensive as London.

And of course I need to answer the question about how much we think we really *need* to earn, and how we would like to balance having more time vs working more to save.

shelivesthedream

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For the thesis editing, you might get in touch with your former supervisor or other lecturers from undergrad who know your writing. They might be able also to give a sense of what level and type of help they would consider appropriate for their students to receive. In addition to English as a second language students, there are probably also American MPhil students who didn't do undergraduate dissertations and struggle with the extended academic writing requirement of a British master's degree.

Thanks! Itís been a while so I donít know that theyíd remember me, but getting in touch with the faculty admin to send out an email blast might be a good idea to kick off with.


Regarding glasses - is there any chance that your husband's work will cover this for him at least? I get free glasses or a hefty discount as I have an office-based job and screen-time damages your eyes, it's an occupational health thing. You're entitled if you work with Display Screen Equipment.
This has more information on the regulation:
https://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/health/employers-obligations-sight-tests-dse-users


How interesting! I had no idea this was a thing. Unfortunately:

ďThe critical criterion is whether glasses are required specifically to view the screen clearly at this distance, and this would not be possible with the user's uncorrected vision or using glasses already required for general day-to-day use. ď

Weíre both sufficiently short-sighted that no one would ever believe he doesnít need day-to-day glasses! I once had to go out without mine and I couldnít board a bus without help as I couldnít read the numbers to flag down the right one Ė and heís blinder than I am!


Quote
Regarding the new budget, the extreme-expense slashing has already been done (thanks @SpreadsheetMan), but I've put together my own version that's a bit milder below. I trust you on things you say are non-negotiable, and have tried to make this 'austerity budget' a sustainable one for your sanity/health over the longer term:

Ö

TOTAL = £1041.81, a saving of £472.82pm, which gives an extra stash of £11.3k over 2 years yielded from cost savings.


Thatís very encouraging! I am aiming at a sub-£1000 July (because we were already part-way through June) and itís very nice to see the potential stash addition.

Quote
Now, I'm also quite interested in the long-term plan - i.e. the two year horizon.

Many others on this thread have pointed out what is the most useful thing for you, with the highest potential for reward, which is an increase in income from either yourself or your husband. But I'm interested in projecting in what your monthly expenses are likely to look like in the future.

If the free house through work is lost, you have a large cost gap to fill with 3 of you. I'm assuming you'll be more location independent once his contract has finishes, which will help, so going north is a way to keep costs down. From my personal experience I'd be surprised if you got to rent anything 2 bed under £800pm in a useful city for work (e.g. Manchester) including bills (council tax, water) - but I'd love for some other homeowners of the same family size to chime in on this.

So it looks like in two years your ongoing expenses are likely to change to something that looks more like:

£1050pm +
£800pm
=> £1850pm.

at a bare minimum, which needs to be covered through either income or savings whilst Mr SLTD retrains.

---
That's all my thoughts for the minute, but I'm happy to bat other ideas around and answer any questions!

Thanks! Iíll file that away.

The location options are:
1.   Remain in London (near friends and my parents, so reduced childcare costs)
2.   Move back to OldCity (walkable, near friends, including some with young children, but frigging expensive)
3.   Aim for maximum income and go wherever in the country that takes us
4.   Aim for minimum COL and go wherever in the country that takes us

If we donít do 1 or 2 then we have no particular connection to anywhere else so the whole countryís up for grabs. Obviously itíd be a little bit of 3 and a little bit of 4, but weíd have to decide which to prioritise. And weíd be looking for somewhere to really settle down for a long time Ė weíve moved every two or three years for nearly a decade! For example, we live in a bit of a rough area right now and while Iím not so fussed about excellent academics at school as long as theyíre adequate (Iím sure we can make up the difference) and primary school is usually pretty crime-free (:P), Iíd be genuinely concerned about teenage BabySLTD going to the local secondary school because seriously, students get into drug gangs and get killed. I promise I am not being snobby. Sure, we can bring him up ďproperlyĒ but I remember being a contrary teenager and that was at a fancypants private girls school Ė not somewhere where prison is as normal a rite of passage as university. (Sidenote: see my high contents insurance costÖ)

I admit I haven't read all the comments, but I wonder if you might be able to set up some sort of mum-and-baby artsy classes? I did all sorts of bizarre classes when my baby was tiny just to get out of the house! And if you're in an area of London where people generally have money to burn it could work out?

Also when you get to the cloth nappy stage, get them Preloved (loads of Facebook groups to buy and sell)!! And preferably borrow from a nappy library first.

This is a great idea, but I think for someone else whoís more face-to-face people-oriented. Iíll certainly keep it in my back pocket, but I think itís near the bottom of the list, Iím afraid!

Weíve already got all the stuff! I got a big pile of prefolds from Freegle then bought new covers online, most of the cost of which was covered by a voucher from my local council. Wet bags were the only serious expense. Iíve done two trial days and they were OK but I was still a bit overwhelmed with dealing with all BabySLTDís other needs to cope with working out when he needed changing and doing the laundry. Feeding and sleeping are a bit more settled now, and heís happy to be put down for ten to fifteen minutes two or three times a day so I stand a chance now! (Tried the sling for chores but he would wake up and thrash angrily every time I bent over, so it only worked for fully standing up ones!)

shelivesthedream

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Using some enthusiastic estimates about our cost-cutting and very conservative estimates about my earning power, I reckon we could save:

£7162 in the remainder of 2018
£15,950 in 2019
£6075 in the first part of 2020

which would give us a NW of £122,187 when we move.

shelivesthedream

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Here's a conundrum: breakfast.

Pre-baby, all winter I would make myself porridge for breakfast. At some point (in May, usually) it would get too hot and I would switch to toast (homemade) or muesli. Then in September or so I would switch back. Now, however, I am too laden with baby to make my ownbreakfast so Mr SLTD leaves me a tray when he goes to work (usually before I get up).

The tray has thus far been a bowl of very expensive cereal and a jug of almond milk. The cereal is Dorset Cereals muesli. I have Very Strong Feelings about cereal. Low sugar, non-mushy, no orange bits. This is the only cereal I have found which fulfils my requirements - but it costs a fortune.

What cheaper option could I have for breakfast which can sit around on a tray for an hour or two and be eaten one-handed while breastfeeding?

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Could you possibly make your own version of the cereal you like on the weekend to last at least a week?  That's what I do, it only takes about 5 minutes and then I can control what goes into it.  Basically chuck the ingredients in a bowl, mix them together and either toast in the oven on a tray or leave as is.  Sometimes I add melted honey, vanilla and a little bit of fat (usually coconut oil) for flavor and to crisp everything up if I'm baking it.  To make it less expensive you can go heavier on the oats and cut back the nuts a bit.   

Hope this helps :-)

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Overnight oats. Wholegrain rolled oats soaked (I use natural yoghurt, but you could do almond milk) overnight, then topped in the morning with fruit (berries, and or banana, stewed apple, pear etc) and a small handful of nuts such as almonds or walnuts. Or otherwise a couple of tablespoons of your expensive muesli. I like the contrast of creamy oats and crunchy nuts.

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Donít know if Iím a bit weird here (probably knowing me) but I prefer to use porridge oats as if they were a muesli. Just need milk and anything else you want to add. It wonít go soggy, doesnít matter if itís left and could definitely be eaten one handed. A perfect summer use of the breakfast you enjoy in every other season?

shelivesthedream

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Hm... I have made muesli sucessfully in the past but the only kind of flakes I ever found that didn't go mushy were rye flakes from a very specific non-chain health food shop in OldCity. All other kinds of oats and the like have gone repellently mushy the second the milk is added. Is this me being very sensitive to mushiness or is this a user error wrt the oats?

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I haven't found it goes mushy myself. I just use bog standard porridge oats. Tip them into a bowl and add milk. I normally wait 5 or 10 mins and then eat them. Its never been mushy to me.

cerat0n1a

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I haven't found it goes mushy myself. I just use bog standard porridge oats. Tip them into a bowl and add milk. I normally wait 5 or 10 mins and then eat them. Its never been mushy to me.

I've been eating oats like this since I was at infant school (except I don't bother with the waiting 5 or 10 minutes) and never met anyone else who does it... I very occasionally add other stuff - ground flaxseed at the moment, sprinkle of dessicated coconut in the past.

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Sensitivity to mushiness varies from person to person. I like my porridge such that you can almost stand a spoon up in it, others find that repulsive and are practically able to drink their porridge. I thought I'd love Bircher muesli type things (oats and apple, steeped overnight in milk, more or less) but can't stand it. Way too mushy for me.

Anyway, flapjacks might be the way to go. Bit sugary but plenty of oats to keep you going.

My current go-to breakfast is egg muffins. For this week's, for example, I grated a carrot and a small courgette and put a little bit of each in the bottom of each cup of a bun tray. Whisked six eggs with a little bit of milk, salt and pepper and poured that mixture onto the veg. Bake at about 180 for 10-15 minutes. I usually eat three of those (so approx. 1.5 eggs) every day from Monday to Thursday and then on Fridays I'm allowed to go to the bakery to get something less healthy for breakfast. :)

shelivesthedream

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The damage is in!

Fixed:
Gas and electric: £61.84
Internet: £19.99
Contents insurance: £48
My phone: £6.50
Husbandís phone: £7.50
Charity: £100 (non-negotiable)
Personal spending: £100 each
London Review of Books: £8 (non-negotiable)

Variable:
Food: £200 (but we are *so* stocked up on everything except fruit and vegetables; includes nappies)
House items: £32.60
Healthcare: £106.38 (glasses for me)
Travel: £20.30
Baby items: £12.50
Cash: £0
Misc: £302.56 (the vast majority of this is because a number of our friends have had significant life events in one month Ė would not expect a repeat of this in our lifetimes!)

TOTAL ~ £1220

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Iíve never replied to one of these things before, but I think Iím going to be fairly harsh and probably not very helpful at all.

So youíre aware, Iím a 35 year old male, married, no kids yet, found MMM in 2014, wife is fully mustachian as well.

We live in the South West of England about a 1 hour drive North of Bristol.

-------------

You currently donít pay any rent/mortgage, council tax or water.

Letís look at a scenario where you do have to pay for those things. Iím going to deliberately keep these numbers what I would call unrealistically low.

Rent/Mortgage: £500 a month.

Council Tax: £100 a month.

Water: £10 a month.

Ask yourself now, if not much changes with your household income and your household spending, could you cope with an extra mandatory outgoing of £610 a month?

Iím not convinced you could. If you want to live in the Birmingham area, or anywhere South of that (that isnít South Wales or Cornwall, or a complete hell hole) then youíre going to be paying FAR MORE than £610 per month for those 3 things.

Who cares about messing about with trivial savings on wine and phones etc. Sure, I get it, itís important and it does help but itís almost being ďpenny wise and pound foolishĒ.

It seems that nobody here wants to talk about the elephant in the room which is that 2 years from now, if your husband quits his job, youíll need to be £800 per month better off than you are now, just to stay as you are now in terms of standard of living because youíll actually have to think about house related costs. Thatís before we factor in child care costs and other things your child will need that we canít even fathom at this point in time.

If my wife and I didnít have to pay the mortgage, council tax and water like you do now, do you know how much extra that would give us each month? £1,320. That would be going straight into savings and investments. If you could see our house, you would not be amazed. Itís a 4 bed detached house, but itís pretty modest and in a reasonably nice area. It is far from palatial. Itís not on ďmillionaire rowĒ far from it.

What Iím saying is, youíre currently in a bubble. Youíre not in the real world. When that bubble bursts youíre in for a shock. A truly massive shock, particularly if youíre still arty and not really earning much.

You need to start preparing for this now. Either that or hubby keeps his job, but that's like being held at knife point. If for some reason the job goes, you're on the street.


never give up

  • Pencil Stache
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Yes but your assumption about household income not changing isnít realistic here. Any job that Mr STLD gets as a replacement (that presumably doesnít include rent, council tax or water) will pay considerably more than his current job. So how secure SLTDís finances will be depends on the size of the income from Mr SLTDís new job.