When you have children there are several benefits you can claim to help you with the costs. Some come with requirements and some may be more beneficial to you than others, depending on your specific situation.

At this point in your life your thoughts will be on how you are going to get by financially right now. Raising children isn’t cheap – in fact the average cost, for just one child up until the age of 21 is a whopping £230,000!

Meanwhile, your pension, which you are still many years from claiming will, perhaps, be at the back on your mind. However, it is important to be considering it or you could come to regret it in the long run.

What exactly is your state pension?

The basic State Pension is a regular payment you will receive from the government when you reach State Pension age. To get it you must have paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions. The most you can currently get is £119.30 a week.

This increases each year by whichever of the following is highest:

  • Earnings
  • Prices
  • 2.5%

There are ways you can increase your basic State Pension – but you won’t get it automatically, you will have to claim it.

And, what are Child Benefits?

There are many benefits you can claim when you are pregnant or have children to help you with the costs including Child Benefits. This is a regular payment from the government which is available to anyone responsible for a child under

16 – or under 20 if they are in training or education.

The rates for the 2016-17 tax year are:

  • £20.70 per week for the eldest or only child
  • £13.70 per week for each additional child

You can claim this by downloading the relevant form from the government website, however if you or your partner earn over £50,000 a year, you will have to pay back some or all of this in the form of extra Income Tax.

So, the big question – is your state pension at risk if you do not claim child benefits?

In short, yes. New mothers are being warned to register for child benefit even if they are not entitled to it. Why? Because not doing it could leave them with a far smaller state pension than they are expecting.

Changes to the child benefit system, introduced in 2013, could see new mothers lose more than half a billion pounds in state pension.

Follow:

make home lighter

When you rent your house there’s a limited number of things you can do to brighten up your home. You can’t knock any walls down, or make windows bigger or put in big glass doors or anything – you’re kind of stuck with what you’ve got when it comes to the basics.

If you’re lucky, you might have a landlady who lets you do a spot of painting. The last time I was allowed to paint walls though I got a bit carried away, and painted my kitchen in these colours, on opposite walls:

brighten up your home

Nice right?

Okay, so perhaps it’s an acquired taste.

So other than painting the walls in colours that make guests feel a bit sick, what can you do to brighten up your home? I’ve got some tips: View Post

Follow:

how to choose broadband

I’ve recently learnt a new skill. I’ve learnt how to cast things from my phone to the TV via AppleTV.

#firstworldskills

I was pretty pleased with myself because I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that something weird has started to happen to me. Perfectly simple things like remote controls have started to scare me. I’ve essentially lost the ability to switch on the television in someone else’s house. I see all the buttons, but I can’t figure out which one to press. I can see why older people end up staying with the insurance company for 40 years even though it costs twice as much – the prospect of having to figure out exactly what cover you need and what forms you have to fill in is sometimes just a bit much.

If this sounds like you then I’m here to help you. I’m focusing on broadband today, and if you find it useful then let me know and I can always write some other guides for things like utilities, insurance, how to make a sandwich etc. This post has been written in partnership with the wireless broadband provider called Relish, whose model I think is ace. That’s why I mention them a lot. Even if Relish isn’t in your area yet though, I’ve made the information useful regardless. I’m looking forward to them rolling out their service across London and then nationwide soon.

This post was actually really useful for me to write, as I’ve never been quite sure about what things like ‘download speed’ mean. Belle is always complaining about the broadband strength in her bedroom, and occasionally I bandy the words ‘signal booster’ around to try and appease her, but I don’t actually know what they mean.

If you’re worried that you’re paying too much for your broadband, or want a new provider but aren’t sure what to look for, then read on Macduff*… View Post

Follow:

This post about my new DFS sofa contains three of my favourite things:

  • Winter
  • Cosiness
  • Sitting down

I’m not going to be one of those people, and call it Hygge just because I put a blanket over my knees, (I ranted about this), but I will say that I do like a cosy winter’s evening at home on the sofa.

What’s not to love really? Christmas is all done, spring is on its way, and in the meantime you have an excuse to put your pyjamas on at 4pm every day. Snuggle up with a cocoa, light some candles and crack out the Fresh Prince back catalogue. (Sooo excited that this is now on Comedy Central.)

My snuggling has been severely impaired until now by the fact that our biggest sofa was also the least cosy sofa in the whole world. It had no arms, no squishiness – what on earth is the point of a sofa with no arms? You may as well just sit on the floor and lean against the wall. That’s not very cosy is it? That’s like being 13 and on a school camp in an old mansion house and hanging out on the floor in the corridor because you think you’re cool.

No more corridor floor chic for me though.

I’ve got a new sofa from DFS – the Zinc 2 seater sofa, designed by French Connection. You see how comfy yet stylish I look?

DFS Zinc sofa review View Post

Follow:

amazon packaging

First up, I know. I know I shouldn’t shop at Amazon and that if I have a problem with Amazon packaging then I should go to my local shop with a string bag and chat to the greengrocer and generally be a better person. But I’m not, so let’s get over that. Sometimes I just don’t have time.

Okay, so Amazon packaging.

I have two issues.

Firstly, what’s with the tape designed to slice off your fingers??

I’m picturing a big meeting room with one of those annoying glass tables where you’re afraid to put your mug down in case you smash it. This is how I imagine the conversation going:

‘So, packaging ideas – hit me with them.’

‘Guys! I know what we should do! We should add some hidden cheese wire to our tape, so that the next time someone innocently slides their finger underneath it to try and open their parcel, they’ll just be left in a bloody mess!’

‘Genius! Then they’ll have to order antiseptic wipes and plasters – the ultimate upsell!’

It doesn’t stop there though. If you can actually open your parcel without hospitalising yourself then you’re in for a second treat.

It looks something like this:

amazon packaging

What’s that you say? That looks just like a massive box full of scrunched up paper?

It does rather doesn’t it?

Pull out the entire tree’s worth of paper though and inside you’ll find… what? A single book? A pencil? A box of tic tacs?

Seriously Amazon – what the hell is the matter with you? Why do you feel the need to send everything in boxes as big as the world when you know then you just have to fill them all up with paper??

It drives me nuts.

*orders colouring book from Amazon to calm down*

Images – Hadrian and Jeramey Lende both from Shutterstock

Follow: