Time to start my race to zero

135

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  • Cornish_mum
    Cornish_mum Posts: 630 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post
    Hello I thought I’d pop by to say hello, and best of luck; we also had a big mortgage (now much improved thanks to this site) and a high monthly spend to go with it, your current budget is very similar to ours. In fact our groceries and council tax are a bit more, so I think you are doing a great budget. If you haven’t found it MSE have a great page on frugal baby prep that it is worth looking at.  Freezer fake-aways and second hand baby things (if you can get hold of them) can save a lot in the first few months. 
    Best of luck 
     CM
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Newbie
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited 3 May 2020 at 6:11PM
    Hello and welcome! 

    Well done for taking the first step, and huge congratulations on your impending arrival. I'm a big advocate for home births having had both of mine at home through choice ☺️☺️ There's nothing like getting in your own shower and bed after giving birth, and the midwives clear all the messy bits up! 

    I am a Leeds lass, so your mortgage is huge to me 😏, but therein lies the biggest north/ south divide! Can I ask, what is your income? What wriggle room is there in the monthly budget for OPs? 

    Your insurance figure is high, we only have life insurance as anything else seems a bit excessive at the moment (early 30s, no issues etc) and pay just under a tenner a month for £150k insurance. 

    A bit of advice, babies cost what you want them to cost, so don't let anyone tell you how 'expensive' they are. Nappies at Aldi are cheap as chips and fantastic quality (or consider cloth bumming), babies do no need brand new everything, they need milk, cuddles, sleep, nappies and attention. None of which cost much 😍. Our kids had second hand/free everything except car seats and are no worse off for it 😉. 

    All the best, enjoy the journey, it's a fun one (I've paid off £90k in 5 years on a modest salary so it can be done if you want it enough) 
  • Hello I thought I’d pop by to say hello, and best of luck; we also had a big mortgage (now much improved thanks to this site) and a high monthly spend to go with it, your current budget is very similar to ours. In fact our groceries and council tax are a bit more, so I think you are doing a great budget. If you haven’t found it MSE have a great page on frugal baby prep that it is worth looking at.  Freezer fake-aways and second hand baby things (if you can get hold of them) can save a lot in the first few months. 
    Best of luck 
     CM
    Thank you - and glad to hear you've had good luck with those ideas, gives me some more confidence!  Whilst my wife's furlough sucks, it has given us far more opportunity to plan things out.  We've been scouring eBay and talking to various friends (who are also furloughed) and it seems like we'll be able to get nearly everything for free via one means or another.  It is staggering how much people seem to spend in some cases, although I can understand wanting everything perfect and / or Instagram worthy - that's just not who we are!

    The main thing I need to add to our list is to get to Wilko to buy some more plastic freezer boxes, because I agree that's a great idea.  I've done big batch cooks in the past (beans and rice is my go-to) so we were thinking of maybe doing that, plus a curry of some kind, plus one other and then we've got plenty of choice over the first couple of months and all at extremely low cost.  I think my beans and rice works out at 30-40p per portion which is pretty hard to beat.
  • OhIJustLostMyShoe
    OhIJustLostMyShoe Posts: 41 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 3 May 2020 at 7:47PM
    Hello and welcome! 

    Well done for taking the first step, and huge congratulations on your impending arrival. I'm a big advocate for home births having had both of mine at home through choice ☺️☺️ There's nothing like getting in your own shower and bed after giving birth, and the midwives clear all the messy bits up! 

    I am a Leeds lass, so your mortgage is huge to me 😏, but therein lies the biggest north/ south divide! Can I ask, what is your income? What wriggle room is there in the monthly budget for OPs? 

    Your insurance figure is high, we only have life insurance as anything else seems a bit excessive at the moment (early 30s, no issues etc) and pay just under a tenner a month for £150k insurance. 

    A bit of advice, babies cost what you want them to cost, so don't let anyone tell you how 'expensive' they are. Nappies at Aldi are cheap as chips and fantastic quality (or consider cloth bumming), babies do no need brand new everything, they need milk, cuddles, sleep, nappies and attention. None of which cost much 😍. Our kids had second hand/free everything except car seats and are no worse off for it 😉. 

    All the best, enjoy the journey, it's a fun one (I've paid off £90k in 5 years on a modest salary so it can be done if you want it enough) 
    Yeah it's a complicated one at the moment with the births - we're trying to be fairly neutral on decision making right now until we've got more up-to-date guidance from the local midwives because we don't want to get our hearts set on a certain approach and then find that the trust has changed their policy due to COVID.  Either way, we're positive and we'll make it through just fine :)

    And yes, the mortgage is ridiculous!  I have friends and family in Staffs and South Yorks and I have to sit there and grimace when they complain about how insane their house prices are (after all, it's not really helpful to one-up them).  We do benefit from London salaries though, roughly £6,400 per month between us after tax, student loan deductions and pension contributions.  So in terms of wiggle room, a lot.  Right now we are throwing most of the surplus at investments (and I don't track every £ spent so there will be a few bits that escaped the analysis), but I might change tack in due course.  My logic is that if we're deploying at least 50% of our income in something with a return (e.g. pensions, investments, paying down mortgage) then that's a good approach.  And based on my figures today it does look like that's the case.

    Insurance is a really difficult one for me.  We are heavily insured, to pay off the mortgage in full and leave a few hundred thousand in the event of death, plus income protection for up to 35 years, and I have some CI as well.  My health has been a bit variable over the last couple of years and I just feel more comfortable that way.  Plus had a relative who passed away at 32 and a few weeks later the bank started foreclosure against his penniless wife, which played on my mind when we took out this mortgage.  I might re-evaluate the CI in a year or two, but reluctant to drop anything yet.

    I am hearing more of this logic on babies as well, which is really reassuring - so thank you!  I've spent years hearing this endless "it costs £700k to raise a child" and so on, but then I see people spending £15k on kitting out a nursery and buying a brand new BMW X5 and think "that's probably why".  It looks like the council might send us a cloth nappy sample, so that's a good start, and hopefully we can get the vast majority of stuff free or cheap second hand.  It helps that 3-4 friends are not planning any more children and are keen to get rid of the stuff kicking about in the garage!  As you say, it's the overall approach of raising children that matters the most - I think that will make more sense to me after the birth.  But I know kids will remember how they were brought up, not brands of what they were brought up in!


  • Spent some time today doing some financial mop-up.

    My old energy supplier owe me around £400 but haven't paid it yet, agreed that my complaint about mobile contract price rise was mishandled so £30 incoming for that (and complaint is being re-opened so it can actually be addressed), and I've just found out that the terms and conditions of one of my credit cards were changed - but the bank never told me.  I'm sure they'll blame a non-existent spam filter at some point, but let's see!

    At least I feel like I'm £430 better off than I did this morning.

    On the downside, just saw that Santander are cutting the interest rate on the 123 account again.  I've been debating the effort and time that I put into finding savings accounts for a while now, and now seeing that my expected rate for all cash savings over the next 12 months is 1%.  Furthermore, the vast majority of that is due to Lloyds (Club + 2 Regular Savers).  We have slammed very quickly into new territory where the income from savings is far inferior to my mortgage payments!  

    For the last few years I've effectively treated my mortgage as "informally offset", i.e. that whilst I was borrowing <2% and getting net interest on savings in excess of that, there was no immediate benefit to paying down the mortgage and I could benefit from the flexibility.  Obviously that is no longer the case!

    Seems like the obvious options are:

    1) No longer hold cash in excess of what's owed on credit cards, using it instead to overpay the mortgage
    2) Investigate the option of an offset mortgage when I renew next year
    3) Accept a small "loss" of the difference between interest rate on mortgage and interest rate on savings and continue to maintain a cash buffer, on the basis that the cost is worthwhile to have quicker access to funds in an emergency than relying on underpayments

    Most likely it will be a combination of all 3.  But it was quite a shock seeing that again today!
  • Just done another big shop, and trying to batter my way through the "essential baby purchase" list that we've drawn up.

    I'm finding the frugality aspect a real challenge at the moment.

    My normal approach is to buy things in bulk at a good price, and if it's not perfect I'll just suck it up - but obviously with kids that doesn't necessarily work.  I've been warned about buying, say, 1000 baby wipes and then finding out that they bring my baby out in a rash.  And that has been playing on my mind a bit, but probably too much (blame the sun and far too much time on my hands!).

    The current plan is to make sure I've got roughly 100 nappies in size 1 from at least two different brands (supermarket own labels looking best value at the moment), then another 100 size 2, just to give us some breathing room in the first couple of weeks.  Then wipes from 2-3 different brands so that we've got some different options to try out.  But to be frank I have no idea!  I know I can always hit the panic button and go out to the supermarket or order something from Amazon, but I like the idea of having some flexibility and choice in the first couple of weeks to reduce the amount we'll need to do and think about.

    I've got friends who swear by a specific brand of various things, and I totally understand that they've got there through trial and error - but also conscious that just because that's where trial and error took them, it might not be the same for us.
  • Have you thought about reusable wipes? I love ours and must've saved a fortune after 2 babies. We just used cut up old flannels and towels and my auntie edged them on her sewing machine. We also bought some baby flannels, 6 for £1 from poundland which work well too. Just pop the in a Tupperware tub and wet then when used we put them into a wet bag and this gets opened when full, popped in washer and washed on 90 degrees. We also used cloth nappies part time, which I loved at certain times x 

    I also tries to buy most things second hand online, as it's hard to justify the prices when .its stuff is barely used. They grow out of everything so fast.  Good luck
    Mortgage start date Nov 2014  - £90,545 over 25 years
    Re-mortgage Oct 2017 - 78,295 over 23 years
    Re-mortgage Jan 2020 - 55,000 over 26 years @ 1.94%
    Current Mortgage Outstanding Middle December 2020 - £
    47893.35 - a reduction of £42,652 in just over 6 years!  


  • Have you thought about reusable wipes? I love ours and must've saved a fortune after 2 babies. We just used cut up old flannels and towels and my auntie edged them on her sewing machine. We also bought some baby flannels, 6 for £1 from poundland which work well too. Just pop the in a Tupperware tub and wet then when used we put them into a wet bag and this gets opened when full, popped in washer and washed on 90 degrees. We also used cloth nappies part time, which I loved at certain times x 

    I also tries to buy most things second hand online, as it's hard to justify the prices when .its stuff is barely used. They grow out of everything so fast.  Good luck
    I was a bit sceptical but we put some on the wishlist just in case someone decided to buy some.  That's really good to know that they've been so well used - my main concern was that they ended up getting gross and thrown out after a few weeks (or days!).

    Definitely will make sure that we have them in advance.  The more we can re-use the happier I'll be - there's something that seems so wasteful about the default approach!
  • kaycastle
    kaycastle Posts: 357 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic First Post
    It sounds like you have a good solid plan. How regularly do you make overpayments?
    I thought your energy costs could be worth a comparison or usage review. We are in a large 2 bed semi and energy costs 55 a month with ovo energy. Usually have a bit of surplus build up as well which earns an interest reward.
  • kaycastle said:
    It sounds like you have a good solid plan. How regularly do you make overpayments?
    I thought your energy costs could be worth a comparison or usage review. We are in a large 2 bed semi and energy costs 55 a month with ovo energy. Usually have a bit of surplus build up as well which earns an interest reward.
    Thanks.  No overpayments as yet with the rates being as low as they are, but it's something I'm evaluating.  So far, I've liked having the flexibility, and given that it was trivial to earn >3% on savings I didn't see any benefit to overpayments yet.  But now that rates are plummeting, the question has shifted to how much flexibility I want - i.e. cash on hand.  I'm reluctant to lock too much away at the moment - most likely the next big evaluation point will be when I renegotiate the rate next summer, as I might decide to shovel more cash in to pull down the LTV.

    I think the energy is somewhat higher than ideal because of the computers in use - gas is sitting at around £20 per month, but electricity more like £60 per month.  I've debated it a few times, but always end up in knots - partly because if I rebuilt the computers as more energy efficient equivalents, the outlay on equipment would immediately eclipse the savings, and partly because the hassle would be significant.  It is an obvious source of optimisation for the future, though.
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