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Unum Income Protection Challenge feedback thread

(270 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 09-Jul-12 13:20:43

This thread is for the 50 or so families taking part in the Unum Challenge.
For more information on Unum please visit the Unum pages on Mumsnet.

The families taking part in this challenge have been asked to see how they can cope if one wage earner in the household had their income dropped down to the level they would be entitled to if they became unable to work due to illness or injury and were receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). We have a range of families taking part - those with only one income, those with 2 incomes, and a range of family sizes and income levels.

We'd like challengers to give feedback across the week. We'd like to see feedback at least 3 times (diary-style) plus a roundup of your thoughts at the end of the week.

The aim of the challenge is two fold:
~ to show how families cope with living on this amount - the challenges faced and to explore what families see as priority expenditure and what can be dropped. Those taking part also need to consider other resources they may have access to including savings, benefits, loans and family support. Obviously this varies from family to family so they will need to have a think about what would apply.

~ Unum say "above all we want you to think about how you and your family would cope if this was real life situation and it wasn't just for a week, but for a prolonged period of time. Does the challenge motivate you to put plans in place (if you don't already have plans)? Does it make you more likely to consider asking your employer about the sick pay policy and whether they offer Income Protection?"

Of course Unum know that every family is different and that circumstances will vary. They're asking folks to do this for a week just to get a snapshot of what their initial thoughts and actions are when faced with this challenge.

They want you to think about the following when adding your feedback...
~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?
~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
~ Any other issues/ comments?

As a thank you for taking part there will be a prize draw of £100 of Amazon vouchers to 10 lucky challengers who add feedback as required

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

antonchigurwouldliketomeetyou Mon 09-Jul-12 23:00:26

This wasn't a great day to start - my first day back at work af ter mat leave - but then there isn't really ever a great time to have your income cut.

My travel budget was the first thing to be stretched, as my boss asked me to go to a different base involving an extra bus journey. Obviously someone on SSP wouldn't have this specific expense, but I reckon it is right to include work expenses in the stead of the other expenses illness brings. Next all my colleagues, who I hadn't seen for a year, were getting in coffees and cakes. I sat them out. A reminder of that slightly embarrassed feeling you have when you can't join in with everyone else...

We had takeaway tonight. The budget is looking a bit thin already.

aristocat Mon 09-Jul-12 23:02:03

Hello, our challenge also started today and it is also so far so good smile.

DH has the only income here and would be paid 2weeks full pay before getting SSP shock

I did a big food shop last Saturday so have spent nothing on food today. I have spent £3.00 for DD to go to a disco tonight but this is not a weekly expense. It was her end of year Brownie disco.

The car has half a tank of petrol and is usually used by myself to go swimming and shopping. DH cycles to work every day - so no expense there.

DCs and DH all have sandwiches/packed lunches.

Total spend so far = £3.00.

satine Tue 10-Jul-12 06:58:18

Well, the week hasn't started well as it is my mum's birthday, and I had forgotten to order flowers for her. So that's £25 gone already! Plus I need some petrol, but I think I can make do with £10 worth, especially if I use the 5p off per litre voucher that I have.
As my outgoings are at the moment, I wouldn't be able to survive on £85 per week - my total monthly bills (mortgage, insurance, council tax, phone, electricity & gas etc) come to about £950, without buying any food or petrol! But this is a very useful exercise to make me think about how to economise.

On to the freezer leftovers for lunch today as usual DH made sandwiches again.
PILs went home yesterday morning, let themselves out while I was at work, but they ate a loaf of bread and drank all the milk (thanks MILangry), I'm going to have to send DS to the shop if I want breakfast, That's £2.50 I wasn't planning on spending this week.
DS has guitar after school (£5), then off to scouts for their free end of term treat.
School dinners again (I pay termly but am counting day by day) £1.80 each.
DD afterschool fees £7 again.
Total today £18.10
This week £33.70
I will almost certainly go over budget this week once we get some foodblush
However, pretty much all my costs this week are childcare or clubs, if we were living week to week on £85 these would go. I'd keep the school dinners as the DCs love them, and if we were both ill it would be easier than buying and packing lunches every day.

Jasper1980 Tue 10-Jul-12 07:31:52

Well we put our £30 budget in the car. So now have an average of £5 a day left(a bit less really). The kids wanted to get the train to the museum today, but it would cost more than our daily budget so we had to say no. I didn't like this as it was only £5.35 for three of us(very short journey) and would have been a lovely treat. And as a one off during the holidays, we would normally have said yes to them without a thought. They are only 5&3 and dont really get it, though we do try and teach them the value of money, and I am just using this excercise as another lesson for them(and us).

herethereeverywhere Tue 10-Jul-12 08:25:15

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible? The seemingly easiest one to change is the food bill as you think you can just live off pasta or cupboard bits but I while I found it easy to reduce the big shop down to $40 there were little things we ran out of during the week like toilet roll, cleaning stuff etc which costs a lot when you are trying to keep the amount you spend down
~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer? I am currently on maternity leave so my income has gone down drastically whilst my DH has stayed the same. I currently get Child Tax credits and CB
~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life? I think I would be entitled to some sort of sick or JSA benefit but my previous experience is that these take a long time to kick in. When I previously wanted to claim a beneift it took 6 weeks before it was sorted and they lost documents several times so it was even longer before I saw any money.
~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP? Our biggest cost is our mortgage followed by utility bills and council tax. Even with one of us out of work we would not be entitled to help with those so we would be relying on family helping until we could get back on our feet. Realistically if it was going to be a long term situation we would have to sell our home if we could not afford the bills.
~ *How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge? *At the moment my DS is only 5 months old and bf so his basic needs are met without any outgoings. However extra things we do for him such as baby swimming classes would have to go.
~ What sort of family support do you think you could get? I think our families would help as much as they could but they are on limited incomes themselves so it would be for a very short time that thye could help and then we would have to do soemthing like sell our house to help with costs and debts.
~ Any other issues/ comments? I actually did this last week as I wanted to see if we could live off $85 whether I was selected for this challenge or not and when I started I thought this will be fairly easy because I am on a low income myself at the moment anyway but when I added up the costs I realised I spend more than 85 a week on bits as when things run out during the week. Also the car has needed work this week which is an additional $75 so based on the last 7 days I would not have been able to pay for everything i needed to pay for if i was limited completely to $85

<sorry for the $ sign but not using a UK laptop>

EddieIzzardIsMine Tue 10-Jul-12 08:38:16

Went shopping yesterday but due to DS's mega-nap we ended up going later than usual and hit the time everything gets reduced so stocked up on some 'yellow sticker' things for dinner and the freezer - spent £25 but probably saved £12-ish from the normal prices

Not having a big freezer (tiny little cupboard type thing) makes this harder we decided, if we had a big one/chest freezer we could get some extra 'on offer' bits everytime and build up a stock for if we ever had a 'short' week/month

However DS decided to do a massive poo whilst at the supermarket and we had left the house with no nappies/wipes so had to buy an emergency pack of each of those wich was an extra £3 or so but we did buy the basics nappies as emergency ones but if they turn out ok we might use them routinely saving £8 or so a week....

Obviously all baby expenses are essential (formula/nappies/wipes/clothes) but we do try to save here when we can - saving up points at various places/buying on offers/ebay or nct sales for clothes etc

mynameis Tue 10-Jul-12 10:16:03

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible? Day two and I am struggling! Easiest expense to cut is petrol, live close to the school and DP happy to walk to and from work. Haven't yet needed the car for any other journeys.
Food shopping is our downfall, two hungry teens, fussy 6 year old and 1 year old with allergies is not helping to lower the shopping bill.
I already do a daily scout of the reduced items.
I am feeling quite concerned how we would actually manage if this was a long term thing. Not something I had really worried about previously.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Ds2 is registered disabled so I get carers allowance and we are entitled to a small amount of housing benefit. HB took weeks and weeks to sort so it's quite a scary prospect to be without wages and having to wait all that time.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
DP has no sickness or income protection at work so we would be relying on the state. Tax credits are the the only ones who move quickly to change your payments. I guess our housing benefit would rise but I am assuming this would take a while!

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP? Rent we would get help with but certainly would not be covered entirely. We do have a few smaller debts which I would have to speak to the companies indivually to see what they could do to reduce our payments.
Longer term does not bear thinking about. Family would help but we could not rely on this entirely.

~ *How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
My teens. (15 & 13) have said that they would happily either cut or pay for activities themselves. Luckily they are quite sensible with birthday/Xmas money and both do paper rounds. They both admit that thy would find Xmas disappointing with less presents though. My younger two wouldn't yet really be affected, ds2 is happy with the great outdoors so is easily entertained for free.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
We would be able to ask for help but I would imagine it would be short term and we would be expected to pay back any loans once we were on our feet again

~ Any other issues/ comments? Let's see what the rest of the week brings.

StellaMarie Tue 10-Jul-12 10:58:19

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible? Started this challenge yesterday but have been thinking about it for the last couple of months as a general way to cut down unnecessary expenses. Things that are easy to change are walking to town more, making lunches for school/work/days out and not impulse buying. Harder things are deciding to cancel the Sky subscription (even though there are so many useless channels anyway!) Impossible things are those 'extras' which the children have eg subscriptions to scouts/guides, swimming lessons etc.

What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer? We get nothing from the state.

What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
DH would be covered for sickness and income protection through work although I'm not sure how long this would last for. I am self-employed so I would get nothing. DH currently earns above limit for tax credits so we wouldn't get anything like that.

What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?
Mortagage is 1000/month and then gas, electric, 2 cars, tv licence, phone/broadband, 4 mobiles in the family, various buildings/contents insurance. In the short term I think the mortgage we can do holiday payments on. 1 car would have to go, the kids mobiles would go and then we could share 2 between 4 of us. Long term who knows!

How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
My 2 teens are thankfully not that demanding in terms of new clothes, gadgets etc. They understand that whilst we are comfortably off we like to save and plan for the future rather than buy for the sake of it. They are interested in the challenge to get ideas for how they can budget in later life.

What sort of family support do you think you could get?
I'm sure we'd get some but would be reluctant to ask.

Any other issues/ comments?
Freezer suprise anyone?

LineRunner Tue 10-Jul-12 11:25:55

<still thinks it's a pointless exercise.>

Housewifefromheaven Tue 10-Jul-12 11:36:31

Im a sahm two kids 15 and 10. I thought this wouldn't be as hard as it is. Already I have spent £57 and it's only Tuesday!

I bought the minimum food needed for meal plan but that was still £40 what with cat and dog food needed. The dog food (nature diet) was £12.99 for 18, and she has 1 a day so it works out at 72p per day. I thought that was a bargain but if this was going on for longer than a week she'd be on the chum. Cat food was a tenner for 40 pouches, again I'd have to use tins. No dog treats.

The kids were moaning about smart price crisps, but still ate them. Hubby didn't like the smart price carton skimmed milk and neither did I but blimey there is a difference in price compared to fresh.

I have enough food to last now for the week but it is a dramatic difference to normal and I feel guilty sad

The other £17 was £10 petrol which didn't even register so how long that'll last is anyone's guess. I normally fill up every 10 days or so £75. £7 on a school sponsored run.

We have sky in every room so that would go saving £100, karate £65, meals out, take aways approx £150, crap impulse buys from eBay, qvc etc. clothes. Holidays. I'm going to cry in a minute.

We don't get benefits.

Mortgage £1100
Life ins. £51
B/c ins. £50
Pet ins. £33
Utilities. £250
Mobiles. £100 ish

I don't think we'd be entitled to any benefits.

The kids are ok I suppose. Kids are notoriously short in the empathy department grin

Both mine and my husbands family would do all the could to help out. We would find it difficult though.

Will report back tomorrow grin

Jasper1980 Tue 10-Jul-12 12:45:13

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

We get child benefit and nothing else.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

Dp is entitled to Six months full pay, then six months at half pay and referred after that, to occupational health for an assessment before anything else would happen. But pretty much almost covered for a year.

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?

Our fixed costs are, two mortgages, electricity and gas, council tax, debt repayments to credit cards etc, two cars, broadband, sky, 2 contract mobiles, life insurances, car installs, house insurance and kids clubs. I think that's it. If dp was on SSP we would need to cut back a lot. We would lose a car, probably sell our flat that we rent out as we make no profit from it. We would switch to pay as you go mobiles at the end of their contracts. We would probably manage a mortgage repayment break. Depending on the the reason dp was off work, we would possibly get an income from one of our insurances. But that depends on why she would be off.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

My DS and dd go to swimming lessons and DS and dp go to martial arts. This costs us £100 a month and would have to stop since it is a luxury. We would really work to keep the swimming lessons going though. Right now they are a bit young to really appreciate that money doesn't grow on trees. They were mid learning this anyway. We say no quite a lot to sweet and toy requests, so this hasn't changedgrin

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

We would get help. I would need to get a job if dp couldn't work and my family would help lots. My mum already pays for some swimming lessons. My mil would help out financially if we asked her too.

~ Any other issues/ comments?

Not yet

AnaIsAlwaysShocked Tue 10-Jul-12 13:00:18

In our house only DP works, his employers are very generous and give 6 months full pay for sickness followed by 6 months half pay.

Well first day yesterday,
DP is abroad working, DD1 was at a school induction day, DD2 was at nannies house and DS and I did housework and did sod all so no cost at all.

DD1 had lunch provided by the school as a taster of their cooked meals and DD2, DS and I had cooked lunch at their nannies. Evening meal was ham and cheese toasties much to newly arrived home DP annoyance. But quite frankly if he didn't have a job he wouldn't have been abroad and would of eaten at his mums house with us. So he can bugger off if he thinks I'm treating him any differently because he chooses not to go along with this imaginary scenario and actually have a job.

Today DD1 and 2 are at nursery for their free hours and will be eating both meals there. DS is teething and requires a case load of own brand calpol. We do the weekly shop which comes to £38 as DP was away last week the cupboards are still quite full. I am a strict shopper normally and our bill is about £50 most weeks. This afternoon I shall be going to the gym which costs £20 a month so £5 a week and includes free swimming for me and the children so I would keep that going if DP was on SSP. I also filled up on petrol £60 that lasts 1 month so £15 a week. Tonight DP and I will have steak (thanks morrisons really cheap last week on offer and homemade chips) DS will have homemade baby mush out of the freezer.

Monday no cost.
Tuesday £38 shopping
£5 Gym
£15 petrol.

So far I've not changed anything and I not sure where our money disappears to normally. DP as a food allowance everyday he works so feeding him would be extra if he was on SSP. The only thing I can imagine that we may have to alter but find really hard if DP was on SSP and thats the DC activities. We have two that do ballet and tap and one doing tumble tots which is £25 a week.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
WE aren't eligible for any benefits at all on DP wage. His employers give a company car, travel allowance, daily food allowance, family health plan etc. They also organize events to mix families together i.e. indoor ski days and bowling that they fund and provide transport for. We as a family also receive and allowance for time DP spends abroad to cover costs of phone calls airport parking or traveling to collect him etc and we can request to attend overseas trips as a family that they will fund.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
I'm not sure, I think Benefits are based on savings so we would have to wait a while before we could claim.

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?
I have no idea of our fixed costs, I would say we could cope with them for a little while though before needing help. Our fixed costs are probably lower than the average family so we would cope on benefits.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
DC are too young to understand, they never ask for anything but I think they wouldn't be pleased if their activities suddenly stopped.

jimswifein1964 Tue 10-Jul-12 13:05:03

What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?

Nothing is easy to change, as we are very frugal anyway. All our bills are direct debited & so are the same each month. Our outgoings are constant.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

I get child benefit, and have just been notified that we will get zero child tax credits now, & owe a % back. This is worrying me immensely. Dh has death-in-service cover through work, and 20 days sick pay. I don't get any sick pay. We pay £10 a month for death cover for me.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

I really don't know, I assume we have protection on the mortgage? blush . I readily admit to having my head in the sand.

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?

Mortgage, bills, travelcard x 2 - our direct debits are around 900 a month, dh has a season ticket loan from work. In the short term, we could survive 2 or 3 months on savings, then we would be stuffed.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

The biggest hit would be to stop their sports club, which is 4.50 a go and they do it twice a week. I'm not doing this in reality for the challenge as they are grading next week and it would damage their chance to pass. Btw, this will be £50, but only happens every 6 months. They ar ebeing affected by the lack of impulse purchasing after school - no ice cream, no paying park-cafe prices for snacks, no buying food just because you dont want what we have already!

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

As in support from our families? Well, my mum sends the kids a bit of spending money, but she is in no way able to help us financially in the event of a crisis. My dad could, but i'm not sure if I'd want to even ask.

~ Any other issues/ comments?
I spend £80 in tescos last week, so we are quite stocked up on bits. I've had to spend £15 on party presents already (3 parties), and I spent £25 on xmas presesnts for my kids as they were 70% off, so thats a long term economy. I had to renew my monthly pass, so thats £72 gone. Have spent £12 on fruit and milk. So thats £52 spent, plus 1/4 of the bus pass I suppose ie £18. So £70 total. But the direct debits are carrying on as normal, not taken into account.

Lemele Tue 10-Jul-12 14:05:29

This is from yesterday.

I'm a SAHM my DH works at the local supermarket. We have 3 kids under 3. We did a big shop a couple of weeks ago but reserves are dwindling, so it's probably similar to how things would become when first on SSP...

So, Monday: Using up reserves as we would were we on SSP for the first time, we had cereal from the cupboard this morning. My babies are BF so they're free. I took the kids to the park instead of walking into town coz that's free. Thankfully the rain held off! Lunch was some left over crumpets (80p a pack) and christening cake (free!). Unfortunately I realised we were short of several essentials (milk, bread and the like) so texted DH and asked him to get them on the way home. He bought what I asked him to but also, I noticed, bought some wine (not an essential item in my book!). This is probably quite realistic since I'm sure if he went on SSP he would feel the need to treat himself (I don't drink, myself). He spent £8 in total anyway - not too bad I hope. We didn't really have anything proper for tea - weren't hungry for some reason. I went out to a house group (we all put in £2 towards cheese and wine - but I forgot to pay, oops! confused ) DH and DS had toast in the I think... (bread: £1.35).

So far so good, but without including bills... will answer all the specific questions later in the week. smile

ShatnersBassoon Tue 10-Jul-12 14:27:55

No expenditure today, although I am thinking about things like 'Should I put the tumble drier on?' because I have no idea how much it costs to dry a load of washing. The bill gets paid automatically, I don't need to worry about it, but I would if we had a very low income.

charlieandlola Tue 10-Jul-12 14:48:31

I have just had my electricity tarrif renewal letter in the post today and am shock at how much electricity I use, double the national average. No wonder my bills are so high. I would have just ignored the letter had I not been in "survive on £85 a week" mode. If you are living on £85 a week, this level of bill is just not possible. Need to change my ways.

R2PeePoo Tue 10-Jul-12 15:44:01

We used to be very short of money and even though our circumstances are better old habits die hard. Our weekly shopping for the four of us (two adults, one 7 year old and an almost 3 year old) is never more than £60 and I know I could get it as low as £40 with a little more effort. We eat very healthily with meat three times a week, lots of veg, free range eggs etc but often top up with luxuries on additional shops, which would stop. DD has packed lunches which cost approx £1 a day, but I have lots of store cupboard food which I could supplement with e.g. make flapjacks etc which would bring it down further until they ran out.

We haven't been shopping this week yet as I have been unwell. So far only expenditure has been on a train ticket to London so DH could talk to his boss, which wouldn't count if he was on SSP. He took DS to playgroup today so probably £1-2 on coffee and biscuits.

I take DS out several times a week to the library (I tend not to buy books unless I have vouchers from review sites/survey sites) and usually go to a cafe afterwards. If our income was restricted I would probably go to the library cafe more often rather than one of the nicer ones, as a carton of drink and a packet of crisps for DS is £1 rather than £5-6 for a coffee/drink/cake etc. In general we would go out a lot less as a family as we spend quite a bit on outings, petrol to visit family etc as they all live 50+ miles away from us. We are well protected financially (insurances, savings etc) and DH has a very flexible job in the public sector so we would have somethings to fall back on. My greatest fear is to be struggling again so we have a tendency to be quite frugal and careful with what we spend.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?

Child Benefit.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?

We have mortgage protection and quite a bit of savings. DH's work would probably be very good although I am not sure exactly on the levels of sick pay he would get.

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?

Mortgage, utilities, one car, I have a mobile and so does DH, mine is ancient but I am not sure about his contract and how much it costs so that might have to go, broadband/Tv bundle. We could pay most of these from savings for a while.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?

Children are used to us being careful, but I write reviews and do surveys to get Amazon vouchers so they get regular treats which might have to stop to keep the money for birthdays/christmas. I'd probably sell their outgrown toys and clothes rather than passing them on to others/charity. Neither of them have long term extra activities, although they have done so in the past.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?

My mum would help us out, so would my dad if I asked. Both they and their partners are employed in good jobs. DH's parents would help as much as they can but they are on a low income themselves.

I started the week on Sunday by making a list of what meals we were going to have through the week, including packed school lunches, everything. I decided to be tough on myself and not use anything already in the freezer for the week. The shopping came to £21, as we already had half-used boxes of cereal, half-empty jam and so on. I didn't buy any drinks, as I don't drink alcohol and we already had opened bottles of squash, tea bags and coffee. Unfortunately my car started the week on an empty tank, so I had to put £20 in the car. I usually put in £35, but decided to make do with less.

So £40 down, £45 to go.

Now to answer some of those questions.

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
Food is easy to change, but I don't think I can feed the two of us for less than the £21 I spent.
Harder things to change are the bills, namely electricity. We are extremely careful with what we use, and our bills come to around £80 per month. (We don't have gas thank goodness) We get bills quarterly, so all of a sudden there is a bill for £250 to pay. Thank god it didn't turn up this week is all I can say.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
Child tax credit and child benefit. Free school meals. Some maintenance from my X but nothing else at all.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
I hope income support or DLA I assume. I work for the NHS, but only 'on the bank' so if there's no shifts, then there's no money. No sick pay, nothing.

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?
Bills: household bills, car insurance, council tax (reduced by 25%), childcare of about £15 per week (except this one!), petrol of around £35 (we live in the sticks).

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
This week I can't afford to do anything much with my son. We usually go to the beach, or to softplay, both of which cost money (£5 for softplay or £5 for petrol) My son is a bit too young to notice anything is different (he's 5).However he did whinge on Sunday when I said I couldn't afford a CBeebies magazine.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
I don't think I'm entitled to anything if I get sick.

~ Any other issues/ comments?
This is going to be relatively easy for a week. It would actually be doable for a month if you take into account savings (I have a small amount), stuff in the freezer/cupboards. If I'm unlucky I get the electricty bill, car insurance and car service all in one month, which is not possible on £85 per week.

trickquestion Tue 10-Jul-12 18:27:15

Thought we were doing well today with only £2.50 spent on teabags (they are delivered weekly). Then I paid £27 for a massage - my monthly treat and I'm due to go to a BodyShop Party tonight. I can see that I actually have quite a few treats and luxuries which I justify by saying that I earn the money so I deserve them. On £85 a week it'd be basics only and a grim time that'd be. This whole exercise is making me see how I spend a few pounds here and there and justify it madly to myself and how it all adds up.

I haven't spent anything so far today, but I'm about to spend £20 on ds1's speech therapy (which is INCREDIBLY cheap - most SALT is £50 plus per hour).

flapinko Tue 10-Jul-12 18:55:24

~ What cost or expenses are easy to change and what's hard? What's impossible?
Food and personal expenses are easiest to cut down. My Tesco order is usually around £100 a week for a family of four, so I was happy to get it down to half that, but I see others are a lot more thrifty than I am.

~ What sort of benefits do you currently get from the state / your employer?
I am self-employed so no benefits, but I do get Child Benefit still.

~ What do you think you'd be entitled to (and when would they kick in) if this happened to you in real life?
Statutory Sick Pay, and it probably is going to happen to us in real life, as my husband (the main breadwinner) is looking to have a major op that'll mean he's out of action for 2-3 months.

~ What fixed costs do you have? Housing, childcare, utility bills - how would you cope with these in the short term and in the longer term if you had to live on SSP?
Mortgage, childcare, travel, utility bills and council tax in that order. We would rely on savings (which are small) and, as a last resort, credit cards, until we could get back on our feet. As someone said above, if it was going to be a long term situation we would have to sell our home and downsize.

~ How are children affected by cutting costs? What do they think about the challenge?
Mine are a bit too young to be affected at the moment, but they both do after-school clubs, so they would have to go, but we do live near lots of lovely parks, so if the weather cheers up, we are lucky as have free entertainment on our doorstep.

~ What sort of family support do you think you could get?
Limited - they don't have much money themselves. We would only ask in an emergency, and would try and find away to sort it ourselves with savings or downsizing, if it came to that.

Today I've spent £12 for a school trip - that's it.

Dogwalks Tue 10-Jul-12 19:23:02

My Husband and I earn £80,000 combined and have a very small mortgage
everything is paid direct debit and we have no loans, we both drive company cars so no expenditure there. I am trying to live off the £85.00 for day to day things as his wage will cover all the essentials. Here Goes

Day 1
Meal planned the week, eating whats in the cupboards.
Thought I did really well yesterday only spending £4.80 on milk and bread.
Then remembered I had ordered my daughters costume for Oliver in the school play (no time to make one) £30.00 gone, (hopefully sell it on ebay and recoup some of the money. Friend called to taunt me that the Boden sale was on, filled my basket but didnt pay for anything. (virtual shopping).
Swimming lessons £5.00
Football £2.00

Day 2
Yikes no fruit in the house all eaten, by hordes of children visiting after school.
Have to wait till I visit Aldi tomorrow as the local Booths is way to expensive this week.
Went to Tescos for a takeaway coffee instead of Costa saved about £1.80 and was fine.
Finding it very hard to get through the day without spending on bits and pieces that usually I wouldnt even think about.
kids off to Youth group £4.00.

ColinFirthsGirth Tue 10-Jul-12 19:40:35

Second day

First day I have spent anything. If I was living on SSP then I would try to use up as much food as possible from my store cubboards. Luckily I often have lots of pulses in. Everyone in my family is a vegetarian - this helps to keep food costs down as lentils and pulses are relatively cheap. However buying lots of fresh fruit and vegetables can be expensive.

Today I had to buy toilet roll, bread and some other food this came to £11.00. We will not have any petrol costs this week as my husband cycles to work everyday (22 miles a day) and I dont drive.

All our bills are paid my direct debit and so have been paid already for this month. However if I my husband was on SSP for along time then it would have a much bigger impact on our ability to pay our bills.
It helps that we live a frugal life already but this also means that there is very little we can cut down on accept cutting down on the food bill. Our families could possibly help us out abit in an emergency but they are not well off themselves.

I my husband was on sick leave I would try to get a job straight away out of my normal field as it is hard to get clients in my industry at the moment. I would try to get work in a supermarket or something like that. We have over paid our mortgage in the past so we immdiately ask for a payment holiday. This would help immensely with our ability to survive on this amount.

SpottySlippers Tue 10-Jul-12 19:46:02

Day 2........I have investigated DH's sick pay policy and he would receive full pay for 100 days and half pay for 100 days after which we would be entitled to SSP. This is reassuring given that as previously stated we could not survive on £85 a week. I think we might be entitled to child tax credit if DH were to receive SSP but little more as I earn a wage.

After a no spend day yesterday, I filled the car with fuel today and it took £71......in theory this leaves just £14 for the rest of the week. If DH were on sick leave then this fuel would probably last us over a month, having said that it may still as he has accepted this challenge with gusto and is cycling to work.

Food wise we are likely to need milk, bread and fruit top up later in the week.

I am thinking about our expenditure across the board.

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