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Hi! I’m Faith, a mother of two and money blogger at Much More With Less all about moving to the country, living on less and making the most of it. I live in Suffolk with my husband and children, who are now at primary school. I used to be deputy personal finance editor at The Daily Telegraph before having children, but became a freelance journalist afterwards.
I didn’t go back to my office job, but before I went on maternity leave, I promised to restart to writing a weekly column three months after my daughter was born. As a new mother, I had no clue how hard that would be! It was tricky trying to cram in phone calls and writing while my daughter was asleep.
I completely changed my hours by going freelance. Did bits and pieces from home when I didn’t have any childcare, then paid for my daughter to go to nursery two days a week from the age of one. I found it difficult committing to the nursery fees when I didn’t have guaranteed work, but without the childcare, I couldn’t pitch for more work. Vicious circle! I still work from home, and only finally stepped up my hours when my second child started in reception.
Saved like mad and paid extra money into my pension while I was working. We also moved when I was 7 months pregnant, so the mortgage calculations were based on my previous salary, but we took out a smaller loan than we were offered. I wasn’t sure if I’d go back to full time work after maternity leave, and the smaller payments meant we could afford them on my husband’s salary if I didn’t.
We had so much stuff passed on, that we didn’t buy all that much. Probably the pricey wooden ride along ladybird, bought because I loved it, and my daughter played on one at someone else’s house. Hardly looked at it when we bought our own.
At the time, it felt like we clamped down on everything. Looking back, I can see that we could have saved more. I should have ditched the Ocado deliveries much earlier, for example, and switched to a cheaper supermarket.
Looked for savings everywhere, such as using hand-me-downs or buying second hand baby stuff wherever possible. I also started reviewing baby products for a website, which meant we got sent some stuff for free. But fundamentally our living costs were lower because I didn’t go back to my office job: no commuting costs, taxis after late nights, work clothes, dry cleaning and lunches out. I cooked more, which was cheaper than takeaways and restaurant meals.
Switch to cheaper options sooner, to cut expenditure, and start childcare earlier. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the first year.
Look at ways to cut your living costs before having a baby, like clearing debt and switching bills. If you can get used to living on less, it can bring the freedom to delay returning to work. Also, aim to be a ‘good enough’ parent. If you and your baby can get to the end of the day and everyone’s fed and (mostly) clean, you’re doing well. Don’t crucify yourself trying for perfection!
Keep a spending diary. Seriously, write down every single thing you spend. Made me much more aware of where our money disappeared, so I could make changes.
You might also enjoy… 12 Reasons For A Spending Diary
Thank you so much for taking part Faith!
If you’d like to find out more about Faith you can follow her on social media.
And her #MoneySavingYear Facebook group
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about all things money with a little life organisation thrown in for good measure. Join me!