The arrival of Hannah was meant to be one of the happiest events in Felicity and her partner’s lives. And indeed it was. However, Felicity on sharing her story, admitted that the early days and months of motherhood were affected by a growing debt problem. She had been diligent in preparing for the birth – acquiring the necessary hardware (buggies, cot, car seat etc) and a large supply of hand me down babygrow’s.

She was slightly less organised when it came to day to day living costs. But only less organised because there wasn’t a lot she could do about it. With rotten timing, her partners hours were cut at work, reduced income by way of maternity was kicking in and the child benefit payment may as well have gone straight to Pampers, such was the size of the nappy bill.

Ultimately it came down to a choice between paying the rent and paying for the 2 loans she had. Citizens Advice Bureau told her that the choice was a no-brainer. It had to be the rent. Similarly, council tax or credit card – has to be council tax every time. And there was the car on finance – that was simply unaffordable – payments were missed and the car was taken away. Followed by a bill for the shortfall.  

Felicity explained that at the very point income reduced, expenditure increased – which somehow felt all wrong. Little Hannah grew out of things a startling rate. The heating bill doubled. And the expenditure side of things all round simply escalated. A neighbour rather unhelpfully declared that she shouldn’t worry about the finances, things will only get worse.

Returning to work after maternity leave is still under active consideration, but with childcare costs being as high as they are, and Felicity‘s preference “to be there for her child”, it’s by no means certain that she will do so. Then she will enter more fully into the world of tax credits and other benefits – a thought that terrifies her given some of the stories she has heard.   

Felicity’s IVA (including the car shortfall) started recently and she regards it as an amazing relief combined with a touch of regret that it was necessary. She had previously harboured the completely unreasonable assumption that people in debt must have been reckless and indulgent.  She is now a good deal more sympathetic to the plight of the many in debt – and young mums in particular. She explained that she is hoping for child number 2 at some stage in the future, but this next time she will approach the event with her eyes wide open.