Future planning - single Mum

Hi
I couldn't really find the right place in the forum to put this.   I've post twice - once in budgeting and bank accounts and once in moneysaving mums for different perspectives/audience.

Single parent, 2 children - 1 additional needs/limitations with ASD.  No support, poor financial past. Need future security and better life for my children.  Received a small inheritance lately which I spent a bit on an (old, sensible!) car, new white goods and carpets, all of which were on their last legs and below is what I have left. I need a sensible plan for the future:

Current Account: £7,450 
Everyday ISA: 15000.09 (sure the interest rate is like a ridicouls 0.05)
Shares (via Wombat ISA, just a small amount out of curiosity so I could learn without risk) - £50.65
Cryptocurrency: (Earned via suveys etc., didn't gamble any money here) £21.96
Approx value of my car: 3000 (2014, Dacia Logan with higher mileage - extremely sensible, practical, useful and economical for us)
HelpToSave Account: £150.00 (50% return after 2 and 4 years, but max contribution of £50pm)
Cash: 455

I think if I could tuck the money away somewhere and forget about it, until an emergency, or I'm in a position to buy a house or something (which will be a long time, limited work hours due to young children, 1 with disability and currently in 1st year of Uni to better myself), then it would be safer.  I worry about inflation reducing it's value.


Current monthly income = £2167
Outgoings =
Rent - 490
Council Tax (currently free due to student status however expect to pay £85 in July, Aug and Sept as due to being an OU student I only get exemption when actually studying modules)
Electricity and Gas: 93 per month (just compared and switched)
Life Insurance: 9.03 (To leave in a trust for my children, as they have no-one else to provide for them and help them start in life if something happens to me)
Home Insurance: 12.35 
BT: 32.00 (this is more expensive than previous suppliers but due to needing extensive safety and controls for child's needs it is well worth it)
Mobile phone: 17 (in future I will get a sim-only plan when contract runs out)
Car insurance and breakdown: 37 (tax is free)
Kindle Unlimited: 7.99
Amazon Music 3.99

Groceries/Food: 400 (have previously been spending more on this, but this is my new goal, with juggling kids, mental health, studying, work and family problems I don't feel like batch cooking, 
Clothes: 100 (I buy mine on eBay now, have bought way too much in the past and thrown out stuff and regretted it due to fluctuating style and confidence)
Birthdays/Xmas: 100 (1200 per year, 200-300 each per child birthday and Xmas plus grandparents, nephews etc.)
Holiday: 100 (1200 per year = one caravan weekend at April this year, and a week in Summer, to be near my very best friend who moved 7 hours away, when things settle down I would love to use some of my Dad's money for a memorable holiday but first I want to make sure it's some security for us!)
Diesel: 110
Alternative health: 30 
Entertainment/activities: 50 (probably low but everything I like doing is outdoors and low-cost)
School trips: 25 (300 for daughter's first major school trip)
Car MOT/Maintenance/repairs: 50 (approx, just paid this when needed before, is it realistic?!)
Takeaways: 50, not required and brings me no joy or fulfilment, but self-control always gets the better of me.
DLA related expenses (300ish, I've put this aside as I spend this on things that directly benefit my son, family passes to safe outdoor farm park etc. that make life better as well as sensory clothing and toys, replacing things

I need to find a system of "pots" for the yearly expenses?! 

Extra info (don't need to read this if you have any financial advice but useful for context if anyone is interested):

 Things have been very hard and I am just trying to secure a good life for us.

Overspending has been an issue - e.g. before my inheritance I paid off debt and saved £3k during a long, good spell of mental health and then when isolation from lockdown hit my mental health condition spiralled and I managed to spend the lot with nothing to show. 

I think that I have learned to live frugally, compare and am good at reducing expenses but being able to maintain the self control long-term is hard.  I have posted separately .  I should not need to overspend but I do.  This is why I think it would be best to tuck my money away where it cant be spent on impusle, as well as use specific pots for yearly/infrequent expenses.

Working part-time, 16 hours per week (I was working longer hours than this, but gave it up to concentrate on studies and caring responsibilities) Plus tax credits and child benefit and child's DLA.  I've been studying full-time with Open University (BSc Psychology) to improve future prospects, just finished my first year.  I don't want to be rich, I just don't want to have to worry constantly about money or go back to living week to week.

 I expect my son's DLA to end next May at renewal, as it is difficult to claim, and due to NHS cutbacks on the support services and assessments we get because of Covid, I have no further evidence, our local NHS is over 2 years plus waiting for each stage! 

Job prospects in future - not sure, I have a passion for writing and would love to release a self help book - not sure if this is an impossible dream! Son needs strict routine and simple life, at the moment he wouldn't cope being put in extra childcare to allow me to work more although me studying from home is fine, I might need to think about future work I can do from home but at least with covid changes this isn't too unrealistic.  Psychology degree should open up lots of avenues for me and is fully funded for me - does not qualify me for an specialist positions but I would love to go into mindfulness teaching, counselling, psychotherapist - all of these will need self-funded training. 

I want to completely get off dependence on aid in the future - one massive worry for me is that if I am changed to Universal Credit I will lose all Tax Credits, childcare funding + son's DLA premium through tax credits due to capital rules.  So I want to be self-sufficient before this happens otherwise our security pot to make a better life will be decimated.

Still some things I need to buy - blackout curtains for daughters room, new bedroom furnishings as the storage and organisation we have isn't practical or easy to manage for additional needs kids and exhausted Mum, but I haven't worked out what would be best yet.  

Other - considered business ideas but with my focus on caring for my children, recovering my mental health, and studies this just isn't feasible.  The best I can do is not to waste anything and sit tight and wait until I can make better lie opportunities. Considered passive incomes but could not find anything realistic.  

Pocket money: currently suspended this as I have accidentally given my kids the idea that that spending is required for happiness as well as them having no impulse control with money and allowing them to constantly waste money on online game content, plastic tat in shops etc.

Thank you so much for reading this!
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Comments

  • kimwp
    kimwp Posts: 1,763 Forumite
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Post Name Dropper
    That's a lot on presents, I'd be looking to reduce that significantly and put at least some of it into junior ISA's for your kids. 

    Have you got a plan for reintroducing pocket money and teaching them how to save some, spend on experiences rather than tat etc?
    Statement of Affairs (SOA) link: https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/financecalculators/soa.php

    For free, non-judgemental debt advice, try: Stepchange or National Debtline. Beware fee charging companies with similar names.
  • Thank you for your reply!  Really good to have an opinion.  What would you suggest is a good figure for birthday and Christmas for a 9 year old and 11 year old?  Any tips on reducing?  Birthday/Xmas are a big deal and my kids spend all year waiting for them and asking for stuff. I guess I spend out of guilt/trying to keep up with what their friend's have and keeping up the "norm" I experienced as a child which was massive birthdays and Xmas (which Mum couldn't afford and were paid for on credit).  Their friends get new iPhones, quad bikes, designer clothes etc.  I need to teach my kids that these things don't equal happiness and that the experience is more important.  I have gone totally wrong in a similar way to pocket money, where my kids have no idea of the value/cost of money and this is something I need to work on.

    9 year old's birthday is soon, I bought the main thing second hand - Xbox One - 150, games - 30,  giant teddy - 15, a football -5, Star Wars toy - 25, fidget toys from his sister - 20

    I haven't got a plan for pocket money yet, just got to the point where it had to stop, I'm in for a tough few weeks of saying no but I know it's for the best!

    One thing I forgot about was books, they are big readers and an important part of our bedtime routine - they can get through 1-2 books a week at a cost of £3 on eBay.  And private swimming pool hire at £20 for an hour each fortnight which comes off son's DLA - this is a massive wellbeing boost and happy stress relieving time for us, we did try lessons which were a bit cheaper but instead use a private pool as son can't cope in groups.
  • pollypenny
    pollypenny Posts: 29,393 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    What about the library rather than Kindle Unlimited?  Likewise, Amazon Music seems a waste when there are so many radio stations to choose from. 

    Keep your dream, but don't bank on publishing a book. It's a dream for many, especially English teacher like me. 😀. 
    Member #14 of SKI-ers club

    Words, words, they're all we have to go by!.

    (Pity they are mangled by this autocorrect!)
  • Thank you, the reason I've gone for Kindle Unlimited in the past is for masses of self-growth and inspirational stuff available. I have membership for our local library, but there isn't very much available and it has long waiting lists for eBooks and audiobooks.  I did have Audible too but I've recently cancelled it and will listen to free podcasts etc.  I guess I could find the things I like to read online free too. Great idea.  Amazon Music is also a great point, I have a select few songs I like to listen too but also enjoy the radio and it's free to listen on YouTube if I want a specific song.  I cancelled Netflix as I have free Prime for 6 months for being a student.

    I'm a little embarrassed by the writing and grammar in my first post now that I know you're an English teacher!  The post was rushed and cut/pasted and changed so a bit messy, sorry! Yes it's a nice dream to have but not an easy achievement!
  • kimwp
    kimwp Posts: 1,763 Forumite
    First Anniversary Photogenic First Post Name Dropper
    Thank you for your reply!  Really good to have an opinion.  What would you suggest is a good figure for birthday and Christmas for a 9 year old and 11 year old?  Any tips on reducing?  Birthday/Xmas are a big deal and my kids spend all year waiting for them and asking for stuff. I guess I spend out of guilt/trying to keep up with what their friend's have and keeping up the "norm" I experienced as a child which was massive birthdays and Xmas (which Mum couldn't afford and were paid for on credit).  Their friends get new iPhones, quad bikes, designer clothes etc.  I need to teach my kids that these things don't equal happiness and that the experience is more important.  I have gone totally wrong in a similar way to pocket money, where my kids have no idea of the value/cost of money and this is something I need to work on.

    9 year old's birthday is soon, I bought the main thing second hand - Xbox One - 150, games - 30,  giant teddy - 15, a football -5, Star Wars toy - 25, fidget toys from his sister - 20

    I don't think there's such a thing as a good figure, I think it depends on your budget and what your priorities are. It's tricky if their friends are getting these things, but you have to decide if they are more important than putting money aside for their future or buying things that improve your lives such as blackout blinds. An alternative to your son's presents (though don't beat yourself up about it), would be to have the Xbox from you and the games from his sister, the football (or other family activity) as a family birthday present and put the remaining 60 pounds in a savings acount for him. I have seen another mse-er say that they don't give their children presents as they get enough from the grandparents. - do your kids get presents from family?

    I'm personally not surprised that your kids don't know the value/meaning of money, they're only young.  Pocket money is a good way of introducing them to a budget - you can give them a small amount to start with for treats and introduce them to the idea of saving up for a bigger treat or for experiences and then as time goes on give them more, but to cover more eg clothes, talking them through what they might consider. There are bound to be difficult and sad moments, but it's best that they learn while they are at home. There's a live pocket money thread at the moment that mght be worth looking at.
    Statement of Affairs (SOA) link: https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/financecalculators/soa.php

    For free, non-judgemental debt advice, try: Stepchange or National Debtline. Beware fee charging companies with similar names.
  • theoretica
    theoretica Posts: 12,293 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Books make great presents - doesn't matter they are second hand as it is what is inside that matters - and it is money you would have spent anyway and more to unwrap.  Win all round.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 7,929 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 8 June 2021 at 1:04PM
    There are a few bank accounts that allow you to set-up named pots, but I just use a spreadsheet to track the allocation of money that is all within one savings account to my different pots. 

    I have shared a simple spreadsheet to do this here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bHRz6KmSfk3boB9N_gUNv055obXKf8gk/view?usp=sharing

    Anyone is welcome to use it, but I can't provide any support for it. Use it at your own risk. 

    You can make a copy of this spreadsheet to your own Google drive if you have one. Google Drive is free to setup - you setup a Google Account - and you get access to the Google Sheets application so that you don't need to have access to Microsoft Excel. If you don't already have a Google Account, you will also get a Gmail email address when you set-up a Google Account. This can be very handy as a recovery email address to use with your main email address.
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • sarahsays
    sarahsays Posts: 36 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    I think your figures for birthdays and Christmas are spot on - similar to my own - as Christmas. especially, has always been a big deal in our house - really important to have something for children to look forward to and get excited about as well. Mine never got the iphones etc, but then they didn't ask for them - happier with lots and lots of cheaper alternatives. I used to pick up second hand xbox games and books etc - they never noticed they weren't new. They didn't get pocket money when very young but did as teenagers. Our staple days out (cheap or free) when they were little were park, swimming, cinema matinees, cheap local soft play, and library - once a week they would get a pile of books here and maybe rent a DVD or two from library too at really low cost - they really looked forward to going and my youngest (now grown up) still loves going to the library for the nostalgic value, as well as borrowing books.

    Your figures seem really sensible and well thought out, and you're building lovely memories for your children. For what it's worth, I think you're doing a great job.

    I used to save for mine in the local credit union - surely if it's in their name it can't be seen as capital? I don't know this for sure though - does anyone have any advice on child ISAs and how they work etc?

  • tealady
    tealady Posts: 3,742 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Mortgage-free Glee!
    Have you looked at charity shops for books? 2nd hand doesn't always mean 2nd best.
    Or how about swapping books with other parents.
    Also try Freegle or local Facebook groups, you never know.
    I would also suggest to family and friends to have a "no presents" policy, it saved me a fortune when I did that. 
    HTH
    Find out who you are and do that on purpose (thanks to Owain Wyn Jones quoting Dolly Parton)
  • evebeme
    evebeme Posts: 90 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post
    You obviously have a kindle.  Have you checked out smashwords.  All kinds of stories, educational and just plain entertainment. All for free. Youtube has music galore, all for free. Good luck on your education and getting ahead.
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