The Middle Class Poverty Trap

7th September 2009 20 Comments

You know that feeling of being there, but not really being with it. Like you know that something is sort of impending, but you can’t really accept it. I seem to to have been living this existence ever since we had children. I have come to realise that we are in fact stuck in what I would say is a ‘middle class poverty trap’. You may laugh at this, but I really do find it impossible to make our out-goings and in-comings balance every month. Debt. I lie in bed at night worrying about what we are going to do. This means that instead of living a lovely little life, doing what I want to do and looking after the children how I would like, I will have to go back to work.

It’s not that we lead an extravagant life. The hubby has a fantastic job, we have a lot of money coming in every month. However we have a mortgage on our lovely large expensive commuter belt house that would make your toes curl. Its far more than two people on the minimum wage would earn in a month. This was fine pre-children. Post children its a nightmare. Working through our bills, we have less disposable income than people living on benefits, although we are not entitled to any. So, like many others in our situation, I find myself making clothes, buying food when its on special offer and buying nothing apart from essentials. If nothing else its a sharp reality check. I appreciate what I have more than I have ever done. Next time you look at someone who appears to have it all in terms of material possessions, just think; all might not be what it seems.

Claire Walsh

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  • Maternal Tales 7th September 2009 at 7:58 am

    You're so right…We have NO disposable income whatsoever (minus income actually). And what makes it even harder is that my husband is freelance so we never know how much money we'll have each month so it's almost impossible to budget. I know I'll have to go back to work at some point but I'm still fighting it because I can't bear to think that I won't be here for my

  • The wife of bold 7th September 2009 at 8:43 am

    I completely understand, all that glitters is not gold. In comparison to some of our friends me and our hubby have a nice sized four bedroom home, with a nice car and want for nothing, in reality we have debts that would make your eyes water and are shopping around for bargains and bogof offers!

  • cartside 7th September 2009 at 8:43 am

    I second this.<br>I work a 4 day week, more than I want to. Stopping work to spend time with kids? Not an option at all. And for us too it&#39;s the mortgage that paralyses us. In my case two mortgages because I can&#39;t sell my bachelorette flat…

  • Vic 7th September 2009 at 10:34 am

    No disposable income seems like a familiar story amongst us. I&#39;ve found the cash and carry can be useful for some items – the other day we bought a huge pack of chicken breasts (that in themselves were larger than the supermarket variety) for much cheaper than we ever would have found in the supermarket.

  • Emily O 7th September 2009 at 11:31 am

    Complete sympathy here, just read Insomniac Mummy with a similar post today too. I don&#39;t know how I could find a job which would pay for two children in nursery and leave us enough money to make it worthwhile. My husband was out of work for the first six months of this year too so we ran up debts. It was very difficult and still is. Very few people know we&#39;re in this situation. Did you

  • BNM 7th September 2009 at 11:49 am

    Same boat here too…<br>Makes things worse as husband has had no job for last year and we had to take Car out of nursery! <br>I juggle money in and money out every month.<br>What really annoys me is the fact that the government will not help in anyway as you are not considerd broke (!) .<br> For example, to qualify for free school dinners our joint income (or my income) would have to be less

  • Rebel Mother 7th September 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I havent had a penny since I was 17, the age I had my first child. Kids suck the money out of you faster than a hoover.<br><br>Now I&#39;m qualified there are no jobs!!!!!!<br><br>Cant win in this life. Hey-ho!<br><br>RMxx

  • Mark 7th September 2009 at 12:36 pm

    A few years ago some neighbours and good friends emigrated to New Zealand, essentially to avoid the trap you are describing. I found this astonishing; that they felt compelled to go half way round the world, to a country they&#39;d never been to – and ultimately, it was because of housing costs.<br><br>So you raise an important and difficult issue. On the positive side it is worth remembering

  • Muddling Along Mummy 7th September 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I know so many people in this situation – hideously large mortgage, reduced income from having periods of maternity leave, childcare costs eating up immense amounts of income and having to really struggle to make ends meet<br><br>I really hope something happens to improve things for you – horrid horrid situation

  • Pippa Haines 7th September 2009 at 3:26 pm

    In the same situation here too. I need to go back to work not to earn loads but mainly the money so we can use the second car, and keep up the kids classes. However with having no family in the near vacintiy either I need to find something part time that will pay enough for the nursey charge. At least Kai now gets a few hour for free but Alana will still need to be paid for. Childminder may

  • Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy 7th September 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Really hard situation to be in, and phenomenally stressful. Particularly when you have been used to earning and now aren&#39;t which doesn&#39;t half make you feel powerless.<br><br>Part of the reason we moved to Bosnia was because it was cheaper and gave my husband a decent chance at trying to make his software development company successful enough to support us (let alone employ someone else!).

  • sarahcollister 7th September 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Oh my goodness. Was just worrying about our finances before logging on to check my blogs! Started back to work last week because we need the money, but still looks like we are really going to struggle at the end of each month. Very careful shopping from now on!

  • miss leslieanne 9th September 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Room in that boat for 3 more?<br>It sucks doesn&#39;t it. It makes me angry to think of people on benefits with more cash for treats than the mr &amp; me who have worked non stop since we left school.<br>We&#39;re not hard done by- we have a nice home and food on the table, but it would be nice to be able to splurge once in a while without worrying about overdraft charges :(<br><br>…come on

  • Jo 9th September 2009 at 11:13 pm

    We do have choices though. A huge mortgage is a choice, as is choosing to live in areas with good schools etc. Having lived and worked in more disadvantaged areas it made me appreciate just how much we do have even if it is hard to make ends meet. We have the ability to move and downsize if we want to. So let&#39;s count our blessings as well as our pennies.

  • Who's the Mummy 10th September 2009 at 11:24 am

    I&#39;ve got a lot of sympathy for those with no disposable income – it&#39;s a rotten situation. <br><br>But I agree with Harry to an extent – most of us DO have choices. They’re not choices you want to make, but they’re still there. Move to a smaller house, sell the car, put the kids with a childminder instead of day nursery, sell unwanted stuff on eBay rather than sending it to Oxfam, switch

  • Surprised and Excited Mum 10th September 2009 at 11:38 am

    Gosh. <br><br>Strong words and feelings all round here, but that is nature of money I guess.<br><br>Sounds like it is tough all round, I won&#39;t bore you with my story (a little out of fear I guess)<br><br>Im a single mum, who works part-time but is lucky to be friends with her ex who got a pay rise as he left. <br><br>My pride is hurt at relying on someone else to support me and pay my

  • zooarchaeologist 10th September 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Lots of interesting comments, I was hoping to provoke some thought. I have learnt better than to comment further on tricky topics like this.<br><br>However, most people are sort of missing one of my main points which is that when you look at people and judge them for what they do or do not have, all might not be what it seems. Never judge a book by its cover!

  • slugs on the refrigerator 10th September 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Personally, I think its a case of making thieves and then punishing them. Successive governments have been hell bent on measuring success in GDP and consumer spending as well as placing exorbitant value on house ownership. Those people that had the choice to follow this socially hallowed route, have often ended up in a position of limited expendable income and are scraping by. No, its not

  • zooarchaeologist 11th September 2009 at 9:36 am

    Harry has asked me to remove the comment he made

  • Karen 1st August 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hi<br /><br />I was reading your post and if it is any consolation it is just as difficult when children are grown up in fact just as bad, I have worked my whole live to provide for my children and although they are 21 and 24 they still need support financially however because I can not get a job after finishing uni I am unable to help them which makes me feel inadaquate, I have one daughter at

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