Well. That went well. Further to my last diary entry about renewing my child benefit & tax credit claims online because my now 18 year old is staying in full time education, I didn't receive my child tax credit payment last Friday. I was expecting £180 - but received nothing. I was expecting to be able to pay my bills, but left floundering. I tried to access my Tax account online but was unable to. So I've just spent 50 minutes in total - most of that on hold to apprise HMRC of my situation. In order to do that I had to top up my phone. Oh! The irony! Turns out that my claim for Child Benefit had been updated, but the info somehow hadn't gone through for the Child Tax Credit department, even though it asks you if you want to inform them at the same time. Technology can be the bane of a benefit claimant's life. One mistake can upend your bank account & it takes up to 14 working days to put it right. Meanwhile, you're left adrift until the money comes through. Of course any arrears will be paid, but when you are in need, it feels like an eternity. It's a good job my 18 year old has received his PIP today - I'll have to borrow from him until it's all sorted. I shouldn't have to, but that's what you're reduced to. And you feel a constant failure as a parent as it's not my son's responsibility to keep us afloat.
The summer holidays is nearly over. It’s been a tough one on entertaining 3 children. Wish I could have done more for them but hopefully next year I’ll be able to, even if that means planning a few months in advance.
But I feel optimistic about the future, surely it can only get better.
You. Hi. Just answering the question of the week. Thank you. I'm definitely worried about the cost implications of getting my son to his two separate three separate provisions and the necessary equipment that he needs. Especially as in the new year, my financial situation will really significantly change. I'm not sure how I'm going to manage it. And really, the worst part about it for me is continually trying to hide the concern from my son, and it doesn't work all the time. So they end up, whether we like it or not, I think that they end up with some of the concerns that we have and some of the anxiety that we have surrounding the extra expense. Not sure how you change that, because we're human beings at the end of the day, so we're not superheroes. Despite the fact that we try really hard, our children are affected, and that's just a continual issue. It's never ending. It.
I rely heavily on support from the school, and extra funded clubs.
It’s been difficult this year more than others due to my daughter finishing primary and entering secondary school after the summer: the added expense for prom, leavers disco etc has had me awake at night crying wondering how to make ends meet without her feeling like the odd one out and left out of doing x, y & z with the rest of her classmates & friends.
I feel that we are glossing over the many price rises we are facing as supermarkets, including the ‘go to’ cheap ones, raise the cost of everything.
I want us to talk about the doubling of the price of female sanitary products… I want us to talk about deodorant and toothpaste being almost doubled or more in some cases, that tape and wrapping paper is massively hiked in price.
I want us to talk more about the level of greed in this country making the gap between its people and their living conditions, so much wider.
I want to talk about our kids being unable to have life affirming experiences and the children of those of us living in poverty being so directly affected by the huge, huge stress it brings to parents and carers who are just trying to make ends meet.
That washing our clothes is a luxury! I want to talk about that!! I want us to be brutal in our criticism of corporate greed meaning that affording our phones is touch and go, where anything beyond the immediate is becoming unreachable for so many of us…
Why are we not talking about these things more?
When we do go back to lower inflation, the prices won’t return to what they were, so it’s not the huge relief it should be. Because so many companies have exploited our need in such a grotesque way, and got away with it, the power imbalance is so much greater than it ever was and that, is so frightening to me.
Poverty is not something we should just expect… but we are being made to believe that it is ‘a cost of living crisis’ and we need to pull our belts in and there are media influencers giving us ‘tips’ on how to live ‘better’ with our meagre income… it is not the cost of living, it is the cost of greed and the many who cannot afford it at all, are footing the bill.
I want us to talk about cancelled hospital appointments, the ultimate effect of this on already reduced people, the worry over our health, our finances, the future, I want us to talk about the bitter taste that leaves us with… I want us to talk about why, we are raising a generation of children to believe that this is how we are meant to live…
I am in constant battle with my teenager over what foods to buy and eat.
I tend to buy cheap boxes of cheesy pasta costing around£1 each and cut a garlic baguette into 3 to stretch out for 3 teas.
My daughter wants to eat at different times from me, so I wait until she eats and finish off what's she leaves rather than open 2 packets of pasta.
The oven of the gas cooker that is part in my private rental home does not work. It's been reported to landlord many times but he lives abroad and in no hurry to fix it. I can use the gas hob. This leaves me limited what to cook.
I do not enjoy cooking as my teenager is fussy and I don't see the point in cooking for myself.
It's a lot of bother of peeling vegetables and washing dishes. I'm conscious of how much energy costs to fill up the sink for dishes.
I buy porridge or ready brek which is warming and filling to fill me up.
It's quick to make and eat so I can get upstairs to my bedroom where it's warmer than downstairs where it is very draughty.
I'm aware of our diet is not healthy. I don't enjoy eating and feel guilty for not providing healthy meals.
I buy fruit but it goes off quickly. Fruit is expensive from the local Co-op. Three tangerines cost £1.35. I can buy 4 pack of chocolate for 99p and it doesn't go off.
Other cheap food I buy are super noodles and tins of soup. I tend to buy cheaper white bread to make toast to eat with the soup.
In between, cups of tea (hot drinks to warm up) I fill up with cheap biscuits, although even cheap biscuits costs have risen in price.
I worry if some foods are not available to buy locally. Food deliveries to the Co-op is on a Wednesday and other locals tend to get to the store early to buy up cupboard food in bulk. It is still like lockdown at times here with empty spaces on the shelves.
I find food shopping, budgeting and eating healthily on a budget is very difficult and time consuming. It is even harder to meet special dietary needs, dairy free, low saturated fat, vegetarian & no artificial sweeteners, colours or flavours. Recently the significant cost of cooking has to be taken into account as well as the cost of ingredients.
I cook 1 healthy meal a day that meets every body's dietary requirements and we all eat together in the evening.
We enjoy meals like 10 veg lasagne, veggie sausage pasta bake, cauliflower & chick pea madras, spicy bean stew, broccoli & stilton soup, chilli and veg burgers.
We get treats for the weekend from the local pantry and sometimes try new foods from there as it isn't an expensive mistake if no one likes it. Us adults have cut down on the amount of food we eat and just eat one snack and the one meal a day. Our daughter has 3 meals a day and snacks. We all get to choose a couple of meals to go on the menu each week.
It is my priority for my family to eat nutritious home cooked food every day to maintain our good health. I choose to eat one high quality nutrient dense meal rather than cheaper foods more frequently and this has benefited my health dramatically.
I batch cook, use leftovers, substitute with cheaper ingredients, plan ahead, portion control and offer no alternatives. Eat it or go hungry are the menu options in our house, just how it was when I was a kid.
Hi, I would like to say it's difficult most of the time, I try to feed my children first and then eat what's left. Sometimes I have much smaller portions or just have a snack. I cant afford to buy fish anymore, so the diet is not varied and healthy all the time.
My hopes are I find a better paid job as I can no longer live just getting by. I want to be able to give my children the best upbringing I can and the last few months we've barely been making ends meet.
My new year resolution is going to be making my children's future happy. I want to be able to buy them treats and random gifts. I want to be able to take them on holiday abroad for the first time and this is my year, I will do everything I can to achieve this.
I hope that I can budget enough to get my family through these tough times. Our house is getting a lot of mould due to us using the heating less but it is already costing us £9 a day and that’s with having the heat on for an hour in the morning and in the evening. I don’t want the children to notice that we are finding things tough so I shop alone and fill our weekends with free or very cheap days out.
It's starting to get back to a bit of normality after the stress and financial burden of Christmas. Overall, my daughter and I had a good but quiet time, though this has been the most difficult Christmas we have lived through. My daughter is old enough to understand some of the difficulties we are having and has been very understanding and supportive. Fortunately it did not get too cold, so I did not feel to guilty about not putting the heating on, she has used some of the time to catch up with her school work/ revision which has helped to keep her busy. I am happy that I no longer have to walk around the local shops looking at shelves of treats and sweets that are beyond my budget. There is, however, the thought of what the next year is going to bring with the prospect of rising prices on essential items like food, household bills and clothing for my daughter. I will carry on as best as possible avoiding the use of gas/ electricity while my daughter is at school, avoiding breakfast and lunch which is not always possible as I am diabetic. It also seems like the clothes that I do own will have to survive another year. The most important thing to me is trying as hard as possible to support my daughter through her young life so she can make sure she has the best chance to make a real difference, be strong and happy in her future.
It’s impossible to hide it fully, but I don’t want them to feel worried that we can’t afford things. I often say ‘we can’t afford this’ and I know they are sometimes scared to ask me for things.