How on earth do people afford to have so many children?

(60 Posts)
MrsJaffaCakes Wed 14-May-14 10:39:41

As per the title really?

I know several people who, despite having a seemingly average income, have loads of children and a great lifestyle too!

Someone that I know has just had her fifth baby, and is already planning a sixth. She is a SAHM, her husband works in a call centre. They have a brand new build 5 bedroom house, all five children wear expensive branded clothes by Joules, Boden etc, and the older children all do loads of activities. My friend is also always buying "stuff"; things like £400 food mixers, and £500 bespoke curtains. She has also recently had a mural painted on her childrens' playroom wall, which I would not think was cheap.

Another acquaintance has got 4 children. She too is a SAHM. Her DH is a chef but he has frequent periods of unemployment. They have a lovely house, and the children don't seem to go without anything. She is always immaculately turned out, and has things like gel nails, and hair coloured on a regular basis.

I just don't know how people do it. We have stopped at two children as that is all we can afford, and I have to place a limit in the activities they can do. They don't have expensive branded clothing etc as we can't afford it. And that's with us both working in professional jobs.

How do people afford it?

qwertypop Wed 14-May-14 10:45:53

The largest family I know have 8 children. 5 of the children are disabled as is the mum, and so the parents are both carers and according to the mum get an almost unbelievable sum in various benefits (around 1k a wweek.

However I also know someone with 6 children whose partner has a reasonable well paid job and they are just very careful with money. They manage fine but don't have a flashy lifestyle at all.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 14-May-14 10:47:03

Well you can never know anyone's full story.

Maybe theyre up to their eyeballs in debt. Maybe family help them. Maybe secret lottery win they never told anyone about.

Maybe they are very careful with money?

Maybe they have better paying jobs than you think?

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Wed 14-May-14 10:50:38

Things are simply not as they seem. I have a couple of friends who appear to be good with money and claim to have got on the property ladder without assistance. The truth of it is that they get assistance year round, receiving cash from parents and grandparents in addition to interest free loans for cars etc.

They are good to not piss it up the wall but are still receiving a lot more than their salaries every year.

So it's either benefits, hand outs, debt or something else that you don't know about.

We're similar to you I suppose, both working and paying for full time childcare. Enough money to live, we are not poor but certainly not rolling in it in terms of disposable income.

qwertypop Wed 14-May-14 10:53:47

Should add that I don't want to sound like I'm benefit bashing. With 5 disabled children (one severely so) and 1 disabled parent they obviously cannot work and are in need of financial assistance.

I do find their decision to have so many rather bizarre but they are free to make that choice so <shrug>

Impatientismymiddlename Wed 14-May-14 10:54:33

If their homes are rented then they will get a lot of help with the rent which will leave them with more disposable income than if they have a mortgage.
They might have had inheritances which have helped them to be more comfortable.
They might eat beans on toast most nights and use the money not spent on food for other things.
They might buy all the branded clothes from ebay or charity shops.
They might have a lot of debt.
They might be doing something illegal which is quite lucrative for them.
They won't be spending any money on childcare because one is a SAHP.

There are many many reasons why things sometimes seem to be the way they are.

D0oinMeCleanin Wed 14-May-14 10:55:10

Works in which call center and as what? Some of them, particularly IT or web helplines pay very well, especially if you are higher up in the chain.

Where I used to work 3rd line tech support i.e the people you got out through to when all else failed, were on around £15 ph, that was 8/9 years ago.

I was having this conversation with my mum. She wondered aloud about a family member.
You never really know someones circumstances and sometimes it is that they are up to their eyes in debt and others it's different priorities. I also think one persons perception of skint is different to anothers.

My mum would describe herself as skint yet he house is full to busting with 'stuff' both parents have ipads. They have a huge telly and if it broke tomorrow have the means to go out and get a new one.
The family member prioritises a family holiday every year. Her house is lovely and comfortable but basic. Don't think one is poorer than the other just prioritise their spending differently.
I have 3 children and actually dipped into some equity in the house before I had the first and have found the subsequent children cheaper. I already had all the big stuff, do tend to buy as good quality clothing as I can afford because it gets handed down and am a good cook so feeding everyone is no more expensive either.

From the outside we probably look not badly off but in reality we currently live month to month but manage our money well and have 2 cars because we need them and dp can do all the maintenance himself.

YoureBeingASillyBilly Wed 14-May-14 10:58:28

If their homes are rented then they will get a lot of help with the rent which will leave them with more disposable income than if they have a mortgage.

Who will? confused

bakingaddict Wed 14-May-14 10:58:39

You just have to have the mind-set that nothing on the surface is as it seems with families and as long as they seem happy I don't really care about their financial set-up or how they can afford some of the things they do. I tend to focus my concentration on the things that I can afford otherwise you walk the path to resentment

EverythingCounts Wed 14-May-14 11:00:14

I would bet they get 'help' from family.

GrassIsSinging Wed 14-May-14 11:01:42

You never know what people's circumstances are. Maybe they are in debt or living on credit or had an inheritance or have had huge help buying a place from parents etc.

The two people I know with large families are both very hard working and frugal people.

And yes dp was much better off when he was in a call centre. He got overtime rates for evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Now he's salaried actually less well off over the year.

sleepyhead Wed 14-May-14 11:05:05

I think the key is being able to afford to be a SAHM. If you can afford that with one, then you can afford it with two or three, probably four.

The costs of raising children are far, far smaller (at least in the early years) when childcare is taken out of the equation.

Childcare costs are non-negotiable if you work. There are very few ways to avoid or even reduce them, short of working less, working opposite shifts, having very large gaps between children. Even "free" childcare from grandparents etc means relying on goodwill and the continuing availability of the person doing the childcare, so risky over the long term.

Most other costs associated with children can be cut to fit your circumstances - eg sharing rooms, budget food shopping, secondhand clothes.

Coulsonlives Wed 14-May-14 11:05:23

We have 4 children, 2 cars and own (well mortgage) our own decent sized house. Ideally have more bedrooms but the children share ok and couldn't get a bigger house where we want to live at the moment.
Dh and I both work part time and didn't claim TCs until last year when I became disabled and couldn't work ft. I'm not entitled to disability benefits as it's 'temporary'.
The reason we look ok is that dh used to have a good job and we both had property and savings prior to living together so mortgage is pretty low and we've a bit of savings dipping far too fast so can replace things that break.
We are very careful with day to day expenses meaning that we can do things like lunch out and holidays.

paperbaghag Wed 14-May-14 11:08:50

I have a friend who appears to have a much better standard of living than us despite earn much less

In truth her parents take them on very expensive holidays, out for very expensive meals and treats, helped with deposits for a flat and house etc. She swears they get no 'help'. These things make a huge difference to your life especially if you don't have to pay for them. For every grand they spend on them, that's another grand and a half they don't have to earn

it pisses me off but only because she's so obsessed with how much I earn 'you earn LOADS.'

I'd rather earn ten grand less and get to go to the Maldives and Michelin star restaurants and have two properties tbh

I look forward to us having DC and her getting even more help wink

elQuintoConyo Wed 14-May-14 11:12:40

My DBil has five children a mortgage and one car. They budget.
We club together at Christmas and get them tickets to a zoo/aquarium/theme park/waterpark otherwise they wouldn't go. But they live in a seaside town in a hot country, so not bored in the summer!
Both parents cook well, shop around for bargains and kids wear some new, some hand-me-downs. I have just taught DSil how to use a sewing machine.

In the country we live in, you must buy all your children's school books, €150-220 every September. Unless you are a civil servant, which neither are.

DH is one of 6, my DMil one of 15, my DF one of 9,. You just cope. No one I know from/in a big family has shedloads of holidays as they don't have a 'keeping up with the Jones' attitude.

Some people budget, some are in debt. What did you think, op? And what is it to you?

Drquin Wed 14-May-14 11:12:48

Can only echo that you only really know what you see happening - you won't know what goes on behind the scenes.

It's very easy to be far from the mark when estimating someone else's budget by the time you factor in your assumption versus actual salaries, help from extended family, previous inheritances, use of credit (cards, loads, overdrafts), purchase of branded clothes new versus from outlet stores / eBay / hand-me-downs or gifts.

I was with friends at the weekend, and had the usual "what would you do with a lottery win" conversation. I mentioned that my ideal (I think) was just an average (!) amount which would pay off my mortgage, maybe upgrade the car, and then I'm instantly better off. I was thinking the most anyone would assume was that I'd had a pay-rise ..... But maybe not!

DillydollyRIP Wed 14-May-14 11:14:18

We have 4 dc. My dh is in a quite well paid job but I'm a sahm at the moment. We're not entitled to any benefits etc.

I was 'lucky' that I inherited some money that I used as a deposit for a house rather than anything fancy which enabled us to keep the mortgage at an affordable level.
My db on the other had frittered his away on cars and nice holidays and now has nothing to show for it.

We don't get any monetary help or any other help from relatives. We are careful with food shopping, do it online and meal plan to keep on budget. We go camping as we can't afford holidays during school holidays and 4dc fine would be too much to take them out term time.

I either buy clothes during the sales or from eBay or similar, I used to buy all brand new and just give them to charity when grown out of but I ebay most things now and use the paypal fund on other things, a lot of places accept paypal now.

WipsGlitter Wed 14-May-14 11:20:01

Interesting. We are fairly well off, as our most parents at our DCs school but lots of us were moaning about money recently and the amount we were paying out for stuff - snack money, trips etc etc. You never really know what someone's financial circumstances are unless you see their full financial position.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 14-May-14 11:20:12

We have one house owned outright and a very small mortgage on our home.
I have always been a sahm and dh doesn't earn much above min wage. We are considere low income. Our dd has private tuors and 4 music lessons per wek.
We manage several holidays a year.
Tax credits have been a life saver when the older dc were little as we had 3 dependant dc at one time, although this stage was very short.
You do what you can OP, when we first started out we were so frugal and not one penny was spent that wasn't needed.
We over paid on mortgage when we could, and had no luxuries for about 15 years.
It annoys me when people talk about tax credits allowing a sahp, this is only true for the frugal. Many people with the same income couldn't manage with the tax credits alone and would find work.

Johnogroats Wed 14-May-14 11:38:53

For various reasons a friend has had more money than me from external sources (about �100k towards a house) plus regular money from ILs (think �5k pa). He earns a similar amount to me.

In some ways his life style was massively more exciting than mine (house full of expensive stuff) and yet he could not (without IL help) afford a holiday.

The problem is they were living hugely beyond their means without much to show for it. Over the past 10 years, he has had about 5 mortgage extentions, while we have lived within our means and paid off a lot of mortgage.

So what I want to say is that you can never tell what the story is...the life style may look fab, but you won't necessarily know about the debt / additional income.

Ludways Wed 14-May-14 12:07:56

I know people who work in managerial roles linked to call centres who are earning just shy of £100k and anywhere up to that, they work in jeans so you'd ever know they're higher tax bracket earners.

MaryWestmacott Wed 14-May-14 12:22:41

A lot the "how can they afford it" threads when OPs insist that people have "similar" jobs, assume a similar wage, for example, DH was contacted about another job recently, he works in IT. The other job would have a similar job title, be a similar level of responsibility, but pay nearly 70% more (yes, I was a bit shock too).

I know someone with the job title "PA" who earns around £20k, I know someone with the same job title earning more like £60k (I saw her role advertised).

I know 2 people with virtually the same house on a road not far from here, one paid £200k-ish for it quite a long time ago, the other bought hers 2 years ago for £450k. Their mortgages will be vastly different on a very similar 1960s house that's decorated very similarly.

Someone working in a call centre could be on commission. when I worked in one 10 years ago, the bigger sellers were earning 3x their wage on commission. A chef's wage can vary significantly.

And yes, some people have families who have given them money to buy, or inherited lump sums to pay down mortgages. Or have parents who buy the boden/Joules clothes for them.

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