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Your money

On top of having to look after your child and keep up with other life commitments you may find the extra money you are having to spend begins to have an affect your finances.

When your child is ill life can be unpredictable and your outgoings can be unpredictable too.

Where you once knew roughly how much you spent each month and could budget for this, you might now find that you have to spend extra money because your child is ill.

Things such as petrol, travel and parking, food and drinks, household bills, additional childcare costs soon add up.

You may also have to take time off work. 

 

Take control of your money

You may think your money isn’t your main priority but if you don’t take control and seriously look at your money you could end up with more problems such as not being able to keep up with bills or going into debt and these will cause you extra stress and worry in the long run.

 

Your money….what comes in and what goes out…how to get it right

There are some good websites to guide you in working out your money and all of them will tell you that you have to be completely honest about what you spend. It’s easy to look at the big things such as household bills, fuel, childcare but we often forget other things we spend on such as children’s activities, leisure, cigarettes, drinks, meals out as well as money spent on pets or subscriptions. If you’re not honest with yourself you won’t be able to get a real picture of your spending.

 

Sticking to your budget

All the websites have a budget planner that you can fill in to help you keep track of your spending. The aim is to make sure what you spend isn’t more than what you get each month – if it is you will need to look at how you can cut your spending.

Checking through your money may seem like a daunting task and when your attention is naturally focused on your child you probably don’t want to spend precious time doing it. It can be much easier not to have to face the fact that we are not covering our costs.  But if you don’t do it early on the extra costs may begin to add up and it is very easy for things to get out of hand resulting in debts which are difficult to pay off.

Taking a long hard look at your income and outgoings will give you a clear picture of what is happening to your money and may help you identify where you can make some savings. 

 

Household bills

Go through your monthly outgoings to see if there is anything you can cut back on. We often let things such as gas/electric insurance/phone or TV packages run on and forget that we can re-negotiate our payments towards the end of our contracts, haggle or switch to other providers.

Always remember to check what you are paying before you renew.  If you don’t you may find you are paying more than you need to or prices have been increased.  If they have you can switch to another provider.

Switching may save you money as may re- thinking packages you have: do you really need the packages you have or could you cut back on them?

It’s worth going through all your spending to see if there is anything you no longer need and to check you aren’t paying things you meant to cancel.

Here are some sites which provide advice on how to budget and provide budget planners to help you be in control of your money and your spending:

citizensadvice.org.uk

moneysavingexpert.com

moneyadviceservice.org.uk

 

Food and drinks

Bringing  food, drinks and snacks with you rather than buying them when you’re at the hopsital will save you money.  Although it’s tempting to  buy hot drinks from cafes they are expensive and once in the café it’s tempting to add extras and buy other things.

When we are stressed it’s easy to buy things we know are not good for us such as sugary snacks and high calorie foods and they can often be impulse buys which push up our spending.

Planning ahead or asking someone to bring more healthy options will help reduce the temptation to slip into spending on impulse buys.

At home, you may need to readjust what you buy on a weekly basis if you’re not going to be there as often and ordering online will save you time having to go to shops and again be tempted to buy things that you may be able to do without.  Shopping around and checking on comparison sites can help you save money as can changing your usual brands to cheaper ones.

Cooking for any siblings can be difficult if you are stuck for time or at the hospital – friends and family often don’t know how to help so asking them to help you with practical things can give them a feeling of being able to ‘do something’ for you and also be good for the children as well as you. Maybe your other children could go for tea or friends or family could come over to your house to help out with meals, shopping or childcare

If you do need to eat out, have a look online before you go to see if there are any offers or vouchers to use.

You may also have to spend more on food for your child who may be on a renal diet or whose tastes or appetite changes due to treatment. We have dietitians who can advise you on your child’s diet.

 

Help you might be able to get:

Food while in hospital

Have a look at the Ward E17 page to see what you are entitled to when if your child has to stay in hospital

Travel and parking

If your child is an in-patient, you may be entitled to reduced rate parking.  

If you are on a low income you  may be able to claim your travel and parking costs back by applying to the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) – you will need to be on certain benefits or you may meet the criteria for the NHS Low Income Scheme.

If you qualify you will be able to claim for ‘reasonable travel costs’ such as public transport or petrol and parking.

There are certain charities that may help with non-routine travel costs and the renal social workers can give you information about these.

Car tax

If you receive DLA for your child at the high rate or if your child receives the enhanced rate of PIP, you don’t pay vehicle/car tax.  If your child gets the mobility component of PIP at the standard rate there is a 50% reduction.  You can apply for this when you tax your car.

Car insurance

You might be able to find cheaper car insurance by checking comparison sites – by putting in your up to date information you may realise you could get cheaper because additional drivers no longer drive your car or you no longer need cover for business use.

 Help with leasing a new car/vehicle

The charity Motability runs a Motability Scheme which can  help you to get a new car (it includes servicing, breakdown, insurance and maintenance) by using the mobility payment of DLA or PIP. The mobility payment has to be at the higher rate for DLA or the enhanced rate for PIP and there has to be at least 12 months left of the payment.

For more information see www.motability.co.uk.

Blue badge scheme

You may be able to apply for a Blue Badge – check on this website

Heating

Your child may be at home more because they are ill and you may be using the washer more because of their condition.  Either way, your gas and electricity bills may increase so it’s a good idea to think about if you can make any savings or get any support with extra costs.

If you are on a low income and you care for a child who has a disability you may be able to get help with heating through the Warm Home Discount Scheme, the Priority Services Register or with a Cold Weather Payment.

The Sheffield Parent Carer Forum and The National Kidney Federation have advice about this on their websites:

www.sheffieldparentcarerforum.org.uk

www.kidney.org.uk (Helpline – 0800 169 09 36   Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm)

You can also get advice about cutting costs on your energy bills on websites such as:

www.energysavingtrust.org.uk  

www.moneysavingexpert.com

This website has an energy saving club which will notify you if you begin to pay too much for your gas and electricity

 

Work

Time off work can be a big worry for parents and carers.  They may lose money or holidays and may feel under pressure from their employer to be at work when they are struggling with a sick child and trying to balance everything else in their life.

While some employees are very understanding when people need time off to care for their child, others, sadly, are not so it is a good idea that you find out what your rights are regarding having time off or asking for flexible working.

The following websites give advice on work

www.gov.uk

Know your rights to time off work when your child is sick

www.tuc.org.uk

www.contact.org.uk

www.citizensadvice.org.uk

 

Are you getting what you are entitled to?

Having a child with a diagnosis of chronic kidney disease may mean you can apply for certain government benefits

Have a look at the information sheets on three of the health related benefits you may be eligble for:

DLA (Disability Living Allowance) – for children under 16

PIP (Personal Independent Payment) for young people over 16

Carer's Allowance

The renal social workers, Lyn and Suzanne, can talk with you about these and help you apply if you meet the criteria. They will also point you in the right direction if you need more in depth information on other benefits.

The Citizen’s Advice Bureaux have branches in most cities and towns and often do drop in sessions in local areas.  An adviser can go through your financial situation with you and will be up to date on exactly what you can claim.

 

Childcare

Having to find additional childcare for your other children when you have a child who is ill and may be in hospital can be costly.

Check that you are getting any free childcare you are entitled to!

If you receive certain benefits and have a child aged 2 you can to claim 15 hours free childcare per week.

Any family with a child aged 3 or 4 can claim 15 hours free childcare.

If your  child is aged 3 or 4 and you go to work and you may be able to get 30 hours free childcare and still be eligble for this if you are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave or you are unable to work because you are disabled.

Have a look at this government website to see if you are can claim free childcare – there is a calculator to help you work it out

www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

 

Check your own insurance policy

If you have Critical Illness Cover, your child’s critical illness may be automatically included and this may mean financial support with having to stay with your child while they are in hospital, childcare and other costs.  It will depend on your child having one of the specified illnesses listed by your insurance company and there will be certain exclusions (things that your insurance company won’t cover) so you will need to check with your company.

 

Charity funding

There are charities around which support families who have a child with CKD.  The charities offer advice on their websites and also have free advice lines.  They can also help with some funding provided you meet their criteria.

Have a look at their websites to see what help they can offer:

Kidney Care UK

The Family Fund