At times our childcare costs have been crippling. We tried everything to survive and make our monthly income balance the outgoings so I’ve put together this survival guide to help give you some ideas on how to make it through.
Simply PLAN your family
I’m not joking. My baby boy is one of the eldest in his school year. If we’d have had him 2 months earlier we would have reduced our childcare costs by a whole year or in pounds that would be: £7044 !!!
Here in the UK our children start school the September after they turn 5 and the cut off date for that is the 31st August ie: if your child turns 5 on the 1st September they have to
wait another full year before starting school. Back in my day (I love sounding like my grandparents) there was a staggered intake meaning schools took another set of children around Easter time. I personally think that is better for the child too as my little boy has his birthday in October and his last 6 months at nursery became testing as he had simply outgrown it and was ready to be a school.
All that said, we had had complications before having our first child so we really were delighted to just have a baby regardless of when he arrived so we had to resort to all the other steps in this survival guide to help us through this costly period of our lives.
Create Extra Income
I tried a lot of extra money makers while on Maternity leave.
- I started knitting and managed to get my products into a local shop, they took a hefty commission but I actually got to the point that I couldn’t keep up with demand. I later realised in terms of my time I was earning about 79p per hour!
- I bought bulk products, broke them down and sold them on Ebay.
- I made my own APP.
- My husband and I set up a Mobile cocktail bar. We won a contract with a local events hall and although we only worked once a month it generated a very nice profit from 1 nights work as we had a very captive audience.
- By far the easiest method I found was money making Apps. The ones I use most frequently are:
VoxPox record 30 second review videos on questions given to you and you get.
RecieptHog photograph your receipts and earn coins, get enough and either claim Amazon vouchers or a paypal cash deposit. What’s more use my referral code: frol7417 and we’ll both get a bonus.
GeoTask This one is by far the simplist, I literally do nothing and from time to time I get a small payment into my Paypal account simply by the app using roaming and collecting data while I’m on the move. Use this referral code qmxsZV when completing registration and you will have already earned 50p.
One Pulse Use this invite code FYUAL and get reward for your opinion. This is one of my favourites as it asks fun and topical questions each day that only take 20 seconds to complete.
Roamler and Streetspotr,
Mystery Shopping apps which provide small tasks in your local area.
Put Your Household Budget on a Diet
Compare the market and USwitch are great websites to help you ensure you have the best possible deal when it comes to insurances, energy suppliers.
Not only this but let’s be realistic, ask yourself: do I have non essential costs? Sky, Mobile Phone contracts (lets face it babies just chew phones anyway so could you go for a less expensive handset to reduce your monthly costs?) Other examples here could be cinema cards, Netflix or TV subscriptions, Amazon Prime or monthly clubs, even paying for your bank account could be considered non essentials. I suppose you need to think what you get out of your subscriptions and if they are indeed either a legal requirement, something you need or something you can still afford and love having. This theory is somewhat ecco’d in the Marie Kondo method of tidying up which I will talk more about in future posts.
Negotiate with your suppliers. I switched paying the council tax on our house over to a 12 month period rather than the standard 10 months, the overall cost was the same but it meant our monthly outgoings became slightly more palatable.
They come in very useful but for me it was important to realise that a)my parents are older and tired b)they are retired for a reason. They want to enjoy their freedom.
My parents are happy to help but find a set routine restricts them much like the routine of their jobs did.
Getting this mind-set balanced with the fact that they love spending time with the grandchildren is hard and I think requires a really open discussion with them so neither of you jump to conclusions over what either of you want or expect from using grandparents to help you with childcare. I think it’s important that they get the right level of enjoyment out of the children and their retirement.
Taxfree Childcare vouchers.
There are various government schemes that can help support with childcare, even down to a child getting funded hours at certain ages.
We also took advantage of Childcare vouchers offered by our employers. They took the money from our salaries before tax which meant between us we saved £115 a month paying our nursery with the vouchers. The vouchers can also be banked and used in some schools for school trips or out of school clubs in the summer holidays.
Selling our outgrown Baby equipment
As the children grew (too quickly) I seemingly had endless amounts of equipment that was lying around the house. There a a lot of ways to sell all these things even down to baby socks and scratch mits (search for baby clothes bundles on EBAY). There are baby table top sales all over the country, very much like a carboot sale but with a target audience meaning the buyers coming to the sale often NEED your equipment. There are also an abundance of Facebook selling sites, so search around Facebook using your town or district too to find your local selling pages.
By far my favourite method of clearing out particularly larger items is on Gumtree as there are no fees involved and it is so easy to use. I have given a guide on how to sell via Gumtree in a previous post.
I meal planned like a pro, my shopping list and all things that came into the house were used and eaten, leftovers were utilised and before going shopping I would empty all our food cupboards and started to construct my weekly menu from what was already in our cupboards. Ultimately nothing gets wasted anymore.
Finally, Cut down your spending
This goes without saying doesn’t it really. I have spent very little money on either myself or my husband it what feels like forever. At the end of the day we don’t grow out of clothes as frequently as the children.
Some reducing spend is easy with kids ie: we don’t go out so much anymore so taxi’s drinks or meals no longer require including in my monthly budgeting but also. We don’t just wander aimlessly through the town centre browsing on a weekend anymore which means we spend less.
Don’t get me wrong we spend in different areas now but the spending feels much more valuable these days. A day out at the farm, the travel to get there, having lunch and feeding animals creates memories for my children so if it costs a little meaning I can’t get a new pair of jeans then so be it.
There were times that it would have been as financially savvy of me to not return to work. What stopped me? Having two children under 2! I value my independence and becoming a mother meant that my only time for independence was now at work. I’m lucky enough that I really enjoy my job and spending time with my colleagues but also it meant that I don’t have to listen to two mini humans bicker over pretty much everything.
Anyway guys, good luck with getting through the childcare costs. If there are any other ideas you have had on how to survive it please comment on this post and share with us all your solutions as I’m sure I haven’t covered everything here.
Thanks for making it to the end of this post xx