Financial Challenges and Planning Ahead

2020 has come with a lot of income uncertainty for our family. G left a permanent job in February just in time for lockdown to hit the UK which was wonderful timing. It should have been fairly easy for him to get a new job, but with offices closed, many out of work and recruitment slow it’s been more challenging than expected. 

a black and white image of a several piles of small change

Our family has been fortunate in that we started off in a good financial position and a short term contract during the summer helped us too. We are now just waiting on him to start a new job and hoping to make it through until then by spending as little as possible this month. Money getting so tight has made me think a lot about out financial security though. Times might be tough and with our work experience and knowledge we have a good chance of finding new jobs, but what if we were unable to work due to illness or injury? We have no income protection

For various reasons G has always managed the main finances in our house. It made sense for everything to come out of his account before I was divorced and then when I gave up my permanent job to look after our daughter he continued to pay the bills. After a while we got a joint account for shared expenses, but the main bills like our mortgage were never moved across to it. This means I have very little oversight of the money coming in and out. At the end of last month I got incredibly anxious worrying about money and it was made worse by having no clue how we were doing.

Talking to my friends it is surprisingly common for the men in relationships to manage the finances and keep their partners in the dark. We would probably all claim we were equals in our relationship and not worry about it, but having separate accounts makes it easy to hide when there are problems. 

When I finally got G to share how much money we had left and how much we needed to tide us over until his first pay day I was shocked. I knew our mortgage was nearly £2k a month (we live in an expensive part of the country), but all the other bills quickly add up too. The amount of money we need each month before we even consider food or luxuries made my eyes water a little, this is not money you can scrape together by spending a bit less or selling a few things, this is serious money.

It was hard for G to open up to me about. He’s not exactly archaic in his attitude to family life; he probably changes more nappies than I do and he does all the washing up, but despite our “modern” relationship he still has this deep rooted belief that it is his role to look after and protect us all. Not being able to do so is really difficult for him.

3 children on a sofa, a young boy is standing on it and looking out of the window, the girls are looking at books

We will be ok. If we are really careful we will have enough money to get us through to the end of the year and G’s first pay cheque from his new job. I am determined we will manage this ourselves without borrowing money or asking family for help (yes my beliefs around being independent are probably as deep as his are about providing for his family), but I can easily see a situation where things could be different. There are state benefits available, but when you are used to having a regular income your outgoings can be quite high so they wont cover it all.

The reason we have managed this year is because we had some savings and G is able to find a new job so we will work to build up a cushion again, but what if he couldn’t work? What if for some reason in his new job he developed an illness which meant he was sick long term? Most employers have some paid sick leave and there is statutory sick pay too, but with a long term illness it wouldn’t be enough to cover the bills. Income Protection can provide reassurance that if G became unable to work due to sickness or injury we would have some of our bills covered. The amount would depend on the type of policy we chose and obviously the more comprehensive ones mean paying more upfront, but this year has really made me worry about how we would cope in various scenarios. We have life insurance in case one of us dies, but at our age it is more likely we would be too ill to work. It isn’t the answer for everyone, but it is one way of helping to insure against future problems. 

It’s hard to think about “what ifs” and it is so much easier to hope for the best, but have you thought how you would manage if your family's income was lost? It is better to put a bit of planning in now to protect you as much as possible later. 

***This is a collaborative post***

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