How I Manage My Money: Editor, 33, on £2k a month who can’t afford to have a second child
Abigail Willford, a 33-year-old freelance copywriter and editor from Brighton & Hove, is a working mother who is struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living while managing a higher mortgage. The cost of childcare is quite high, and she believes it should be either free or heavily subsidised. She has stopped contributing money into her private pension and, along with her husband, does not believe in the viability of having a second child.
Abigail has a monthly income of around £2,000 after tax from her freelance work. Her husband, who works as a freelance musician, earns about £45,000 a year but does not receive a fixed monthly income. Their monthly outgoings include a mortgage payment of £1,500, grocery and household items at £650, debt repayment of £400, gas and electricity at £250, council tax at £170, water at £40, car fuel, insurance and parking permit at £60, insurance and boiler cover for their home at £60, broadband at £30, mobile phone bills at £60, streaming services at £50, contact lenses at £25, a cleaner coming twice a month at £240, and childcare at £300.
A High Cost of Living
Abigail was raised and grew up in Brighton & Hove and considers herself lucky to have been raised in such a beautiful place. She and her husband bought their house for £425,000 in October 2018, with half of their deposit gifted by Abigail’s mother as an inheritance from her father who had passed away in 2012. As a freelance copywriter and editor, Abigail earns £2,000 a month after tax. Before her child was born, she was making approximately £50,000 a year.
She pays £300 a month for her son to attend nursery two mornings a week, and her mother watches him another day a week. She does not qualify for free childcare as her son is not yet old enough, and she feels that this is ridiculous. The cost of living has hit them harder than expected, and the reality of being working parents has made them worry more about money. Being freelance gives Abigail control over her income, but at the same time, no income is guaranteed. Quitting self-employment is tempting, but the cost of full-time nursery (which would cost about £15,000 a year, even with the tax-free childcare scheme) is prohibitive.
A Second Child is Not Viable Financially
Abigail and her husband would love to have a second child, but it is not currently financially viable for them. They live in a three-bedroom terraced house and their mortgage payment used to be £1,100 a month on a 1.4% fixed rate, but now it is £1,500 a month, with a mortgage rate of 3.9%. They have approximately 30 years left on their mortgage term.
Three years ago, they took out a £20,000 loan for a new kitchen and extension, which they have paid off halfway. They are still paying £400 a month for the repayment, and in difficult months, they use their credit card to pay it off. Nevertheless, they believe it was worth it, since the kitchen is the most used room in their house. Due to the high cost of living, Abigail stopped contributing to her private pension of £150 a month, which had accumulated a few thousand pounds. Her husband does not have a private pension, and they both have expressed scepticism about whether they will be worth it when it comes to their generation.
- Child benefit is paid at £96 a month to Abigail and her husband
- Abigail thinks that childcare should either be free or heavily subsidised
- Tax-free childcare brings some relief to the cost of childcare fees, but it is not enough
- Short-term financial needs require more attention and thought than long-term pension plans
The cost of living is soaring, and it is affecting even the middle class. Parents, particularly working mothers, are struggling to manage costs and save money for the future. The high cost of childcare forces some parents to sacrifice their careers or quit altogether. The choice of having a second child is not just a personal preference but sometimes a financial one.
Abigail’s story highlights the financial challenges that working parents with young children face in today’s economic climate. The cost of living is high, and the cost of childcare is prohibitive. As families struggle to make ends meet, the government must implement measures to provide financial relief for working parents who want to raise their children and still maintain their professional lives.