RECRUITMENT adviser Gabby Smith is struggling to make ends meet on maternity leave and is dipping into savings to pay for bills.
The 26-year-old, who lives in Kent with her seven-month-old daughter Anna, was earning an annual salary of £27,500 as an operations supervisor in a recruitment firm.
But while six weeks of maternity leave was paid at 90 per cent of her salary, since then she has received statutory pay of just £666 a month.
Maternity pay ends after 39 weeks but Gabby is keen to spend another four months on leave with Anna – and that means she's quickly running out of cash with only £1,000 left in savings.
While our Cash Clinic expert, Holly Thomas, has found it hard to make cut-backs from Gabby's already-tight budget, she does find ways to save her a few hundred pounds a year.
Plus, she recommends plenty of top tips Gabby can use to boost her income – for example, she could fill in online surveys to make extra cash – as well as looking at childcare options to keep her bills low when she does go back to work.
Gabby told The Sun: “I have used most of my savings to pay towards bills and outgoings since my daughter was born as maternity pay and benefits do not cover my outgoings. I’ve only got around £1,000 left.
“I want to take time to enjoy my daughter but be comfortable and not have to worry each month about paying the bills.
“Ideally I want to be debt-free and not run out of money during my maternity leave.”
I don't want to have to worry each month about paying the bills
Gabby also gets Universal Credit of £530 a month and child benefit of £86 a month.
But as she owns her own home, the Universal Credit doesn't pay for mortgage costs, and she had to live off savings for five weeks while she waited for her first payment.
Here's what our Cash Clinic recommends.
Why we've launched Cash Clinic
THE Sun has launched its new Cash Clinic series because we want to help you, our readers, to save cash.
For some, it's easy to get caught up with work and family life and to put our own finances on the back burner.
While for others, it needs an expert's eye to work out where further cutbacks can be made to already tight budgets.
If you'd like our Cash Clinic expert to review your finances and to feature in our series, please email Holly Thomas at [email protected]
Bills: £262.55 per month
New spend: £248.85 per month
Savings: £13.70 per month
Energy costs Gabby £56 a month or £671 a year with supplier Octopus.
Her bill is below the average of £1,200 a year but she can save 25 per cent according to comparison site Energyhelpline.
The cheapest deal would save her £164 a year (£13.70 a month) by going to Outfox the Market’s One Variable 8.0 plan.
Broadband and line rental with BT costs £29.99 a month.
Gabby should check every few months for cheaper deals by punching her postcode into broadbandchoices.co.uk.
Gabby could switch her energy provider to save £13.70 a month
Contents insurance at £7.20 a month with Bradford & Bingley and is good value and in line with the cheapest deal we found through GoCompare.com.
Gabby’s mobile phone bill is just £12 a month on a SIM-only deal.
Council tax is £110 a month which includes a single person’s discount.
Gabby pays £12.99 a month for Netflix, £13.20 for a TV licence and £8 a month for water.
At the same time as taking out her mortgage, Gabby took out an income protection insurance policy – a smart move as a single income household. She pays £13.17 a month, which represents good value.
Housing: £650 per month
New spend: £650 per month
Savings: £0 per month
Gabby took a variable rate mortgage at 3.24 per cent with Newbury Building Society on her two-bedroom ground floor flat she bought in August 2018 through shared ownership.
She borrowed £63,500 which bought her just under a 40 per cent stake of the property valued at £163,000. The mortgage and rent combined come to £550 a month.
On her current deal, if interest rates are hiked, her monthly mortgage repayments will rise too.
But Gabby is unlikely to be able to switch to a cheaper fixed deal while on maternity leave, so she'll need to look at this once she's back at work.
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