Married with children and skint?

Hello Dear Reader,
That was us! Two children, two low wages and utterly skint! We had just enough money to feed and clothe the children, keep a roof over our heads and that was utterly it! On top of that I was at university and trying to keep going with about 25 paid hours work a week on minimum wage and DB working in a low paid job. God knows we tried!
It’s more and more the case that families are really struggling and the figures
(see here ) on the BBC today from the Minimum income standard are quite sobering.
You see we had a tomorrow, we had hope and there was work on the horizon when I got qualified. It took us a few years to get straight and then have savings but what if you don’t have decent qualifications, job skills or experience? Are you expected to live on the edge of poverty for years on end?
Is this going to be the new normal, the type of normal we saw when there was mass poverty? I know as a teacher, thousands of children have no access to any hobbies, activities, clubs, days out, regular clean clothes and have prepayment meters so if there’s no money for the electricity card or gas card then there’s often no hot water or cooked food. Is this going to be the new normal?
I think the figures below are a bit far fetched, I mean £80 a week on alcohol is a drink problem as far as I’m concerned! Personal services, like what? A window cleaner? Any who one earth can rent anywhere for £91 a week! I’ve looked up rents around here and they are on average £750 a month! As for buying a home? That’s a dream millions will now never aspire to achieve. Wages are frozen, a permanent contract is a dream and every month families are worse off than ever.
So, here’s my question, for millions of people, is living on the edges of poverty the new normal? Should it be the norm now for people to expect less? Are some of us the last generation to afford our own homes?
I’m interested in what you think and how people are faring in your neck of the world.
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs
Your household – if you had two adult and two preschool children.


For a basic standard of living,
you and your partner each need to earn:

£21,055 per year (£42,109 per year between you),
giving a net income of £843.39 per week

So that your income, after tax and benefits adjustments, is enough to cover what the public think is needed for a minimum acceptable standard of living.

These calculations assume the household is eligible for benefits and tax credits, depending on its income.

Show outgoings breakdown

Weekly outgoings(?)


Water rates
Council Tax
Household Insurances
Gas, electricity, etc
Other housing costs
Household goods
Household services
Personal goods and services
Travel costs and motoring
Social and cultural activities

Show income breakdown

Weekly Income(?)


Your Pre-tax Earnings
Your Income Tax
Your National Insurance
Partner’s Pre-tax Earnings
Partner’s Income Tax
Partner’s National Insurance
After Tax Earnings
Working Tax Credits
Child Benefit
Child Tax Credit
Childcare Tax Credit
Housing Benefit
Council Tax Support
Income Support / Jobseeker’s Allowance

37 thoughts on “Married with children and skint?

  1. Well that explains why I often feel skint. Our joint income is not the recommended amount. No wonder I like being thrifty. I think that it is true that we are the generation to own our own home and that future generations will be at the mercy of the rental market. People do seem to want more and children are bought up with high expectations that are hard and often unnecessary for parents to meet. We have been turned into a nation of consumer units and the pressure to spend, have and constantly update and replace items is huge. It takes a brave parent to say No to their children. Parents feel guilty if they dont provide material items. When the truth is, these items dont really matter and are not important to bringing up children. Children need love, attention, a sense of right and wrong and educational support. When you consider that most of the electronics and high tech phones are actually produced by child slave labour in the third world, it really should make us re-evaluate what is important. There is my moral rant for the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a look at that article earlier on the net.
    I personally don’t know any young couple with 2 kids who have that amount of money coming in. One of my sons is an accountant, his partner a nurse and they have 2 toddlers but don’t earn that!
    (We’re in the north)
    As for mine & hubby’s category, there are things on the list of outgoings that don’t apply – £53 a week on petrol, £9 on alcohol and £76 social and cultural activities. On the other hand it doesn’t cover all outgoings either. The figure puts us as having a basic standard of living. (We need according to the article £426.81 a week for the 2 of us).
    Where we live houses are still affordable- just! A terraced house would be 50-70k, semi 90-130k, detached 130k upwards. P.s. we live in an area voted at the bottom of the worst places to live in the UK!
    Don’t believe everything you read – it’s no worse than anywhere else!

    Liked by 2 people

      • We have a television programme, made by the BBC, Called ‘Wanted down under’ where families try moving to Australia, house prices were often well below the amount you quoted depending on the area. However, the more affluent the area and the more available work, the greater the cost of the house. It’s the same in the U.K., house in London cost several millions


    • Nicole’s right. $500,000 doesn’t buy a lot of house in most parts of Australia. I live in a suburb or Perth, Western Australia where the housing standard is decidedly mixed and the median house price is $850,000. As in the UK, Millenials have a considerably harder time breaking into the housing market than their parents experienced.

      How close is GBP21,055 to the average UK annual wage? The equivalent average annual wage in Australia is closer to GBP48,000 so maybe the difference in housing prices in real terms isn’t so different.

      Hard everywhere.


  3. I can see your point. I have seen people begging on the road. Mostly they run to buy some cigarette after getting few dollars. Then there are people who are working and poor. I know people working at the coffee shops for years and giving kids good education. Their kids are going to university, by taking student loans. But, what makes me sad is some young people after getting a university degree not finding good paying jobs in their field. Even with a good income the houses in Toronto are out of reach for people. don’t know where is it going.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In a way things are difficult, in that prices are going up, incomes haven’t risen in years, our expectations are rising as is advertising. However, I think the article is rather pessimistic. I don’t think that that £40 odd thousand pounds is essential for a good standard of living. I reckon you can still have lots of fun with much less money if you think smart and try to be frugal. If you use with common sense you can survive this downturn. We are doing it everyday and not wasting our money on fripperies as we listen to your advice. I have only started saving and have a long way to go but know I can make it like you did.

    I don’t have kids and am an old maid though.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s depressing . . . My DH earns just over £18K and I’m currently on £11K (although about to lose my job when my contract runs out next month . . . I may be able to apply for the same hours but for less money . . . just over £8K). We are both in our 50s and have two children who are both still at school (old parents!). Very luckily though we are in the age group where we bought our first house together towards the end of the 1990s – we would not even be able to afford the rents on current rates. I have a degree and other qualifications but have definitely noticed the ‘race to the bottom’ amongst employment opportunities and am saddened at the wage/salary downward pressure plus the proliferation of contract work or worse, zero hours contracts. Employers now have the upper hand and the gap between rich and poor is so much wider than when I was growing up in the 70s and early 80s (before Thatcherism took hold!). This modern Britain is not one I would wish upon my children as they grow into young adults.


  6. Hi, I have been a fan of your blog for a while, I love it. This is my first comment on here.

    It has been a popular move politically to have low wages but keep credit accessible whilst pushing products and ‘must have experiences’ at individuals & their offspring since the 1930s. It is called neo-liberal free market capitalism. This has evolved onto state run services, so, pay less tax but pay for the services you need as you require them. So, on your figures, for NZ, you’d need to put cash aside for visiting the GP (between $40-70NZD a pop) plus more for the prescription script and more for the actual tablets/oil/whatever. There are very few illnesses considered chronic enough to get funding for a cheaper prescription/GP visit here. You might want to put some cash aside for an ambulance too. They are only free in some parts of the country and not where I live.

    I think that people pay very little tax in comparison to the past, so the state has less cash to spend, people get very little interest for their savings, like to shore up assets with a second home to rent out instead of or to supplement a pension. That’s all fine but with a lack of housebuilding coupled with the fact that the loudest shouters don’t like new houses being built near them and governments don’t want to build houses for some reason means that homes can get pricy and people just don’t have the cash to gather together enough for the deposit. It’s not really the mortgage that’s the problem it’s the deposit plus fees.

    Thanks for putting the UK figures up, it’s interesting to see that written down.

    It’s sad to realise that kids don’t have hobbies, hobbies are so important for creativity and an escape!


  7. Life is so expensive! My Dad wanted to have us closer but we couldn’t afford the rent in his area…he prefered to have me as a tenant and made me a good deal!


  8. I am in the US in California. Wages are high if you have an education like I do, but the money doesn’t go as far as you might think. Taxes are crazy high, so by the time I defer into my 401k (needed for my retirement as my job has no pension), pay my tithes, income taxes, car tags and property taxes….half my income is gone and I have half to live on.
    My husband is not educated, so he makes considerably less and is now out of work with a work injury that requires surgery.
    My food costs are a fourth of the remainder of my income, but I am feeding two parents, two college kids, one granny and several pets. Thankfully everyone has at least a part time job and the college kids get good money in food service which helps with their expenses and college costs.
    Homes are crazy expensive, too. My 1200 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 52 year old house sells for $585,000 USD. Can you believe it?
    You must have cars for every working adult here as well, as there is no public transportation and everything is so spread out that it is impossible to share. My husband and I make do by having one “better” car and one “older” car and an honest mechanic.
    After our son’s car was destroyed when he was rear ended, we gave him a down payment for a car and he makes the payment. He will pay that off soon, and we will pay off the car my husband drives soon, leaving only the mortgage debt.
    Medical care is expensive, even for those like me with employer funded insurance.
    Many people in this area eat take out several times a day, and then wonder why they can’t save! Salon grooming is an expected thing here and if you don’t keep up, it can cause trouble with your job. Crazy right? I color my own hair, spread out the haircuts and manicure appointments.
    Many of our clothes and other needed items are second hand. If we have to buy something new, like shoes, we try to buy quality that will last.
    We have had three “vacations” in our marriage (one was paid by my employer after 25 years of service), mostly we do road trips and camping for leisure!
    If my husband is able to go back to work after his surgery, we plan to buy a cabin in Texas as a getaway, and eventually a place to retire near family with a lower cost of living.
    Sounds like I have it better than many in Britain.
    May God bless you all with peace and prosperity.


  9. Big, nonnegotiable expenses in US dollars: house taxes:12K per year; house insurance: 7K per year; health insurance, 80% paid by employer, 20% by me, deductibles, copays for visit and medicine paid by me approx. 8K per year, dental: 2K? after insurance, life insurance: approx 6K, food is biggest consistent expense on credit card (not sure of total, husband buys some, I buy some–should track–potato chips a large chunk, I’m sure), car: 7K above what car insurance paid after car crash (newer model, fewer features, other person’s fault), furnace repair $500, repair person suggested financing new furnace for 3K; clothes: most second hand through thrift store, freecycle, free section of craigslist, or dumpster diving.
    We give things that we don’t need away, feels good to practice generosity. Terrible to feel poor, not able to give.
    I’m frugal and try to control costs as I’m able. I line dry our clothes, helps them last longer, some of mine are 25 year old; mostly cook at home; Netflix for movie watching, library books for reading; most of our case goods are vintage hand me downs, or alley finds. Our shelves and furniture are solid wood, long lasting. I dread having to buy a new mattress, big expense.


    • House tax here £1000 a year, home insurance £150 a year and car tax £175 a year. We lose 1/3rd of our incomes to tax, national insurance for NHS and state pensions. We pay 25% tax on goods and services and luxury goods (anything non essential) water charges are variable area by area, we pay £500 a year and we’re frugal with water.


    • Wow. It must be a location thing. I’m the central, south, US and property tax is less than $3K (this is high, my last house was $1.2k/yr on over an acre), homeowner’s ins is 850/yr, our life ins (500k on each, term, separate from the ins hubby’s employer provides) is $119 for both of us, health ins for a family of 4 is $254/mo (it’s an 80/20 split after deductible), car insurance on 2 vehicles is 350 every 6 months. House is roomy and very close to hubby’s work, local schools are excellent and because 1 car is a Prius we pay all of $80 or so a month for gasoline. Groceries run about $500-600 a month depending on stock levels – it’s high for vegetarians but one of us has celiac disease so certain things are pricey and non-negotiable. Apparently the center of the country is cheap. We’ll see how long that lasts all things considered.


  10. I live in a medium size college town in the upper midwest of U.S. Rent is kept fairly high due to the university, however nice older homes can be bought for $60 to $80k. New homes are more, $120 to $160k & higher depending on size. A few years ago I bought a home to lease out– a 3 bedroom craftsman style home on two lots with a huge new garage out back for $62,000. The neighborhood isn’t the best, but most of the houses were built in 1920’s. In my neighborhood not everyone has kept their homes in good repair, and when on the market can be purchased from $3 to $10k, but many repairs will be needed. My town used to be a major industrial hub that produced auto parts for big companies in Detroit, but most of those businesses closed when autos started coming from Japan & Korea. A good job here is very hard to find. In addition college kids take most part time jobs.

    When my two kids were little (a year apart in age), daycare was $150 a week each. It would have cost more than the house payment. My husband had a good salary, so despite my being a nurse, I stayed home with the kids. I saved more money working at home, than working as a specialized nurse and paying costs of child care, a second auto, & extras spent because I worked. I used cloth nappies, sewed all of kid’s clothes & mine, made drapes for our new home, canned & cooked from scratch. We were able to save money on one salary, because we lived simply.
    Now I am disabled by chronic illness, and am on a fixed income. My living costs are low, and food costs are low thanks to Aldi. My current partner is self employed and does ok, but business expenses and taxes are really high. I see so many young couples really struggling to make ends meet, but most are unwilling to wash diapers, not buy cigarettes, forgo the latest electronic devices or even hang their laundry on the line. Some don’t seem to understand that it really takes hard work at home & at a job to accumulate a savings. Times here in U S are difficult, standard of living for middle & lower classes has gone down. Sadly, I don’t expect it to change soon.


  11. In a way I feel sorry for young people nowadays. They have access to fantastic technology & opportunities to travel, but are burdened with a dangerously overheated housing market and, as another commenter said, a race to the bottom when it comes to job security and decent wages.
    If I was advising a teenager on how to be financially secure in life I’d say ‘get a trade’. Learn a skill – engineering, plumbing, electrician etc – and you’ll always find work. Ideally start saving for your pension as soon as you get your first wage slip. Plus, don’t get suckered into buying endless consumer goodies, seductive as they are.
    I’m firmly into middle age now, and I’m staggered by how much many people expect to possess – and think they’re missing out on if they don’t have. Wide screen TVs, latest model mobiles, 1001 kitchen gadgets like Nutribullets and high tech coffee machines (with those wasteful plastic pods). As a society we desperately need less zero hour contracts, more affordable housing and higher wages, but we also need a collective wake-up-call to stop leaping onto the consumer merry go round and wasting what money we have. It’s bad for our wallets and worse for our planet.
    Morning rant over. I think a calming cuppa is in order …

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Thank goodness we decided to clear all of our personal debts, overpay our mortgage and save an emergency fund. People told us to enjoy ourselves, have holidays, eat out but we stuck to our plan because we didn’t know what the future held. Two months ago, my husband became ill and within four weeks, lost his salary and was put on statutory sick pay, which is £88 per week. I am studying so earning nothing. We have one teen son who, fortunately, commutes to university so has no living costs other than travel. We have applied for a council tax reduction. We have mortgage protection but they may not pay out as my husband was being treated for several months for his condition before going on long term sick leave. It doesn’t appear that we are entitled to any other help. He has worked hard all his life, rarely taken time off sick, and we are reduced to living on £88 per week. Our savings aren’t huge, but will hopefully tide us over until he can return to work. You don’t realise how little support there is until something goes wrong. Thanks for all your frugal advice.


      • In U.S. we pay property tax which goes to local government to pay for local government and schools. We pay for water, garbage collection, electric, gas, etc…. All separately.


      • Except that now 72% of our local council tax has to be spent on services for vulnerable adults and children leaving only 28% to take care of everything else so this is why our libraries are closing, the roads have huge holes in them, the refuse is collected fortnightly etc etc etc. This is what happens when for various reasons there is not enough money to go around . . .


  13. I’ve been following your blog for some time because I like being frugal. I’m also currently in the middle of a PGE Cert in Sustainability and Adaptation, and the most recent module was Politics and Economics. It’s quite an eye-opener, and the problems are much more systematic then anyone thinks. In large part families aren’t struggling because of poor financial sense or unrealistic expectations, there is a genuine hollowing out of the power of labor and most, if not all, of the current housing, debt and increasing inequality can be traced to the de-regulation of the banks form 1971 onwards and the massive expansion in private money creation ( again by the banks ), leading to loans being pumped into fixed assets, principally mortgage and household debt, in all the advanced economies. I would urge everyone to look up Positive Money UK, the UK’s homegrown monetary reform group. They have a lot of information put together in an understandable format. It’s high time that ordinary people look in the right direction, because there’s a lot of misinformation about, a lot of it deliberately propagated by the media ( I’m looking at you, Daily Mail )

    Liked by 1 person

  14. According to the Minimum income standard website, my husband and I do not earn enough for a “minimum standard of living”. However, I think that we live a luxurious life; we buy quality (albeit second hand) not quantity, we eat healthy home-cooked meals, I am a stay-at-home mum and my husband works part-time, we overpay our mortgage annually, we have a car, we have savings, we have a comfortable (although a little worn around the edges) home, we take holidays, we go out on a date night once every few months, our children take part in lots of activities, and we have lots of free time for our hobbies, family and friends. In my opinion this is a lot more than a “minimum standard of living”. I should note though that we don’t buy lots of stuff or use services if we can do it ourself.

    This wasn’t always the case and in the past we were high-earners and big-spenders, although at the time we couldn’t see where the money was going. This lifestyle would of made us sit well above the “minimum standard of living” and to the outside world we looked like we were “living the dream” but it didn’t make us very happy or provide us with peace. However, reducing our working week to below this “minimum” level of earnings has meant that we have less to spend on “stuff” but more time to spend on things we enjoy.

    Liked by 2 people

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