Lockdown has thrown every areas of our lives into disarray, and none more than our finances. With food prices going up and many parents furloughed, managing a family budget is even harder than usual, as this family of three will testify.
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Mum of one: 33, working five hours a week as a cleaner
She says: 'I'd say we’re pretty comfortable as a family, considering we live off one salary. That said, we do have a lot of debt, which we're aiming to clear in the next three years. When it comes to money I'd say we have a worry-free life, but it hasn't always been this way – when I stopped working it was a big change to adapt to just one wage.
'Being in lockdown has meant we’ve naturally spent less than usual, but I have used Amazon more than ever. Everything seems more expensive than normal ... in the first lockdown we needed dog food and everywhere we looked, it was out of stock. We found some online but paid double to get it!
'Looking ahead, I do worry about a recession. I was hopeful I’d be able to return to work full-time this year and, before coronavirus, I'd often see opportunities for my previous line of work, as a community worker. I worry due to increased unemployment these will now disappear or be impossible to get.'
Earnings: I earn £1,500 a year, my partner earns £39,000 a year. Our total household income is £40,500.
Take home pay: After tax, we bring home a combined income of £2,425 a month.
Benefits: We get £82 in child benefit per month for my daughter, six.
'When she was a baby, we used the £82 to cover nappies, clothes etc. but now we save half for her future and the other half goes towards things she needs such as books and school shoes.'
'We've never had childcare costs as, when we became parents, we decided I wouldn’t return to work. We don’t live near any of our family and childcare is very expensive in our area so although it’s hard to give up a salary, it’s was still the best solution for us. I picked up some work as a cleaner recently as the hours fit into the school day. The plan was for me to return to work full-time this year but COVID has impacted that.'
'We rent our three-bedroom house after selling our first home a few years ago. We previously owned a small house, which we outgrew once we had our daughter. The house took four years to sell in a bad market and we lost a lot of money in the process, but we desperately needed more space so had to do it. The loss on our house is the reason we have debts.'
'When it comes to utility bills, we're more savvy! We always shop around for the best deals to make sure we're saving money where we can. We recently switched our energy tariff and it'll save us around £100 a year.'
'Compared to people I know, our food bill isn’t very high at all – some of my friends spend over £100 a week. We do our food shop online so I can make sure we never go over our £70-a-week budget.
'The first week of the month is always the most expensive as I buy in dog food, toiletries and cleaning products. We're spending a lot more on groceries during lockdown, as well as eating more food than usual. We've also bought a lot more 'treat items', like wine and beer, than we would normally!’
'We live very close to my husband’s work, so he walks in every day. We're also a short walk from my daughter’s school. I do drive to work once a week but other than that everything we need is within walking distance. There can be weeks when we don’t use the car at all and we haven't used it once during lockdown.'
Mobile phone bill: £141 mobile phone us both plus home phone and internet.
'Both of our phones are on a contract, but we’re not loyal. We switch when the contract ends for a better deal and a new phone.
'We've definitely used our phones a lot more than usual, it’s a good job we have a good deal on free data and minutes.'
We save a little each month – we’re still managing to do it during lockdown, thankfully. It isn't much, but we know we have our little pot of money in case something goes wrong. Previously we would have used credit cards to cover a spontaneous expense or an unplanned cost, but we’ve reigned that in and decided to save a small amount each month, so it's there if we need it.
'My husband has a very good pension but I don’t have anything, which does worry me as I’d like to know we have something to live on when I’m older.'
'Our daughter has weekly swimming lessons at £6 a week and also attends a dance group after school at £5 a week. She loves the groups and we think they are very reasonably priced, so it’s worth it.'
‘A lot of this is debt repayment; we pay back a loan and credit cards monthly. We over pay the minimum and will do so until these debts are cleared. We hate having such high amounts of debt but, at the time, if we hadn't borrowed the money we couldn't have stayed afloat.
'We pay monthly for Netflix (£7.99per/month) as there’s something for all of us on there. We live very close to a National Trust property so we pay £10.50 a month for membership to make regular visits cheaper. We also pay for life insurance policies and £6 monthly for our grocery deliveries.'
'Today we bought Trolls World Tour on Amazon Prime for £14.99 – it felt like such an expense. We don’t usually buy films on Amazon, but then we’re doing lots of things we don’t usually do!
'We had planned to take H to the cinema to see it pre-lockdown, and that would have been a lot more than £14.99, so it’s not all bad. Besides, she’s actually been brilliant during the pandemic so we felt she deserved a treat.'
'I did the online food shop, it was £132. I couldn’t believe it, we don't even spend this much on food at Christmas! The usual cheaper brands we buy were out of stock so I had to go for expensive options.
'I paid £2.50 for 500g of pasta! I usually spend 55p. I hear that places like Lidl are well stocked and reasonably priced but I don't want to go into a supermarket if I don't have to. We’re fortunate we can afford the luxury of a delivery.'
'I haven't spent anything today. I usually work on a Wednesday and grab a coffee with my friends afterwards, before school pick up. In some ways we are saving a lot of money during lockdown as we aren't putting petrol in the car or meeting up with friends etc.'
'Today I ordered a £15 picnic hamper for a socially distant street party. The hamper feels like a nice treat and we're supporting a local business at the same time. The owner was really grateful of our custom and tells me they’ve had to furlough staff. It’s moments like these I count my blessings.
'My husband is still working, which makes me feel uneasy as I don’t know how safe he is. But we are so grateful he still has a job in these awful times and can provide our main source of income.'
'I ordered some clothes online for my daughter and spent £47.82. Usually we would have a day out shopping to Primark where I could probably get all we need for less than £25 but with that not being an option, I had to order online.'
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