Hi, what’s your name?
Hi Becky, I’m Cat from Yellow Days. I’m a 34 year old married mum currently living in Birmingham.
I have two boys, Elliot who is nearly 5 and Toby who is 2.
Do you work? FT/PT?
I worked full time until last October as an NHS Project Manager but took the opportunity of voluntary redundancy and now work part time from home as a freelance writer and blogger.
Why do you work?
We couldn’t afford for me not to work but to be honest I think I’d probably want to anyway. Being part time at the moment is the best of both worlds for me. Plenty of time with the kids but still having the opportunity to do things I find really interesting too.
What are your child care arrangements?
Elliot is now in school and Toby goes to the nursery attached to it 3 days a week. We’re really lucky that both boys have always loved it which has helped to reduce that working mum guilt, especially when I was full time.
How do you manage for money?
My husband and I have been lucky enough to have had pretty stable jobs with decent salaries but like a lot of young families found ourselves with a large mortgage and huge childcare costs along with debts from before we had kids that never seemed to quite get paid off. Since my redundancy I’ve been able to pay off a lot of our debts which is a relief but I now earn much less than I used to so we’re in pretty much the same position financially.
Do you worry about money?
Absolutely, especially now we only have one regular income. We can balance the books every month at the moment but don’t have anything left over to save so I’m very aware that we don’t have much of a safety net if anything were to go wrong. I’ve also lost my NHS pension which makes me very nervous even though I’m a long way off retirement.
What do you waste money on?
I’m a terrible ‘fritterer’. If I have cash in my wallet I end up wasting it. Just a couple of pounds here and there on a coffee or a magazine or a snack but it adds up quickly.
Have you made any big financial changes since having kids?
I keep a much closer eye on our finances than I used to now we have to make it stretch further. I have a big spreadsheet of the balances of all our accounts, loans and cards every month and use it to model what is likely to happen over the next few months. I also think further ahead than previously, trying to plan for when we might move house or send the boys to college or actually retire. Gosh, that makes me sound really sad, doesn’t it?
How do you make extra cash?
Until last year I’ve always just relied on my salary but now I’m having to think a bit more ‘out of the box’ keeping an open mind about different ways of making small amounts of money rather than for one bigger monthly income. I’ve started making money from my blog rather than doing it purely for fun and that also led to me getting freelance writing work. I’m also going to look into selling some of the boy’s old stuff as we seem to have lots of clothes and toys that are virtually unused.
Can you share 3 top budgeting tips for other parents?
1. It’s easy to get carried away with buying stuff you think you need for babies and young children, especially your first, but try not to. It’s worth going for cheap or second hand versions of most bits of kit because those things that seem essential so often don’t really get used and if they do it’s not for long.
2. Make a list and then do your grocery shop on line. Even if you have to pay a couple of quid for delivery you’ll save so much more than that by not picking up extra bits and pieces on your way round. You can check the offers section first for the things you need then find the best deal on everything else by comparing the displayed ‘cost per kg’. It also saves you from the tantrum at the checkout, bonus!
3. Get a slowcooker. This has been hands down my best ever investment. They aren’t expensive and you can make great meals from cheaper cuts of meat, bulk up with veg or beans to cut costs further and make big portions that you can freeze for busy days.
Thank you to the lovely Cat for her great advice
Yellow Days is a upbeat blog about family life with lots of recipes and competitions thrown