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Wellbeing

Money worries and pregnancy Part 2

Posted 27 September 2015 by Christine Walsh

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Are you pregnant and worried that you’ll fall into unmanageable debt? Read our blog, it’ll tell you how to prepare financially for the big arrival and what to do if you’re already on a debt solution.

In yesterday's blog we had a look at how to prepare financially for a baby. Today let's look into the help you're entitled to, how to boost your income and how to deal with a drop in income.

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Find out what you’re entitled to

Make sure that you find out what you’re entitled to in benefits, as this could really help ease the financial strain. Child Benefit is paid by the Government to help with the costs of raising a child. If you’re eligible then you would receive £20.70 per week for your eldest or only child and then £13.70 per week for every other child you’re responsible for. Click here to download a claim form. 

Separate from Child Benefit is Child Tax Credit. It’s different because it’s means tested and whether you get it or not depends on how much you earn, how many children you have and whether or not any of them suffer with a disability. Find out whether this benefit applies to you by looking at the Government’s website

Do you also know about the Sure Start Maternity Grant? If you’re already receiving certain benefits or you’re expecting your first child (or you have children, but you’re now expecting twins or triplets) then you could qualify for a one-off payment of £500 from the Government. The time window to claim this grant starts from eleven weeks before your due date and ends three months after the baby’s birth. 

You should also get…

There are other things that you may not be aware that you’re entitled to if you’re pregnant or have a child. For instance, while you’re pregnant, and for a year after the baby is born, all your prescriptions and dental care on the NHS is free. You can ask your doctor, health visitor or midwife for the form to apply for this exemption as soon as your pregnancy has been confirmed. 

Healthy start food vouchers are designed to help those on low incomes from allowing this to have an impact on the nutrition and health of their baby. It may be possible for you to get vouchers to spend on specific, healthy products like milk and fruits and vegetables if you’re already receiving certain benefits. Learn more about it including whether you qualify by clicking the link.

Can you boost your income?

Some new mothers find that working from home is the ideal situation, as they get to spend lots of time with their child but can also continue earning. Think whether you have any skills that would allow you to work from home. Is it possible to speak to your current employer and ask whether you could do your old role at home, or combine working some days at home and some days in the office? 

Of course, when you’ve just had your baby your mind will be completely pre-occupied with your bundle of joy and you’ll want some quality time to get to grips with being a mother. However, a few months into your maternity leave (or whenever you feel able to) why not put some thought into gaining new skills that would allow you to work, or supplement your income from home. Could you gain or brush up on skills in writing, proofreading, crafting or teaching that could provide a new income stream? There may be options for earning that you haven’t considered before that would allow you to supplement the income that you’re getting throughout your maternity leave and beyond. 

If you’re wanting to boost your income on a more causal basis, then consider whether you could devote some time to taking online surveys and giving your opinion on products and services. Save the Student have put together a list of the best companies offering this kind of work out there. There’s also MySurvey where you can earn points and rewards for taking surveys. 

 

I’m worried how I’ll cope when my income drops

If you’ve got debts that you’re coping with at the moment but you’re worried that the impact of having a baby and seeing your income fall will mean you can’t cope, then it’s important that you speak to someone and get some advice. It won’t be good for your finances in the long-term if you simply miss payments on outstanding debts without any explanation in the hopes that the situation will sort itself out. 

Have a look at your budget and how well you’re coping at the moment and really try and identify whether you’re going to be short for your debt repayments when your income drops and if so, by how much. If you think that you’re going to miss payments, or not be able to make them in full, the best thing to do in this situation is to contact your lenders and explain your situation to them. It might be possible for them to give you a payment holiday if you think that you’ll only be struggling for a certain amount of time, or if necessary they might be able to lower the payments and allow you to pay it back over a longer period of time.

Another option is to consider a debt solution if you think that your problems are long term or you have multiple debts that you think you’re going to be struggling with. Simply being pregnant, or having a baby certainly shouldn’t stop you from entering into a debt solution, if it’s the best thing for you. If you came to Debt Advisory Centre for help, we’d listen carefully to your money concerns and take a good look at your finances. We’d then recommend the best debt solution for someone in your circumstances, like we would with any other person struggling with money. 

Use the options to the left to contact one of our experts or have a look at The Money Advice Service for lots of free and impartial money advice and information. 

Tomorrow, we'll have a look at what you should do if you've found out you're pregnant and are already on a debt solution. 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.