They will be the quiet heroes, or rather heroines, of the post-Brexit economy. Welcome to the world of supermums, the hard-working women who keep Britain’s households afloat but risk wrecking their own finances in the process.
Of the 14 million women at work in the UK, more than two million are now breadwinners – of whom two-thirds are single parents.
But stay-at-home mums are far from idle, doing the equivalent of a £30,000 salary in unpaid work and childcare every year, according to insurance firm Sunlife.
These mighty mums are far from invincible. Squeezed by the cost of childcare and the impulse to provide a home for Generation Rent, they are also footing the care bill for elderly parents and in-laws.
Indeed, research from pensions adviser Portafina shows a third of working adults subsidise our ageing population to the tune of at least £10,000 a year.
Sadly, mums pay the price for their selflessness, often losing out on higher earnings, better returns on their savings and their full pension entitlement along the way.
So here is our six-point plan to help supermums get financially fit in 2017.
1. TONE UP YOUR BUDGET
Blitz any lingering debts. Set aside money to pay down store cards and loans as quickly as possible.
You can do a ‘soft’ credit check to see if you qualify for a top zero per cent balance transfer deal, such as the 43 interest-free months now offered by MBNA.
Take advantage and pay down what you owe. Note down renewal dates for your insurance policies and the end of costly contracts on a calendar so you can shift to better deals, and kill any needless direct debits.
2. SLIM DOWN YOUR CHILDCARE COSTS, BULK UP YOUR BENEFITS
This year the Government is rolling out a new tax-free childcare scheme, available to parents who work more than 16 hours a week. Each parent must not have income of more than £100,000 a year.
Parents can get 20 per cent of their yearly childcare costs, up to £10,000 per child, paid for by the Government. This could mean payments of up to £2,000 per child. Tax-free childcare vouchers offered by employers are the first port of call for higher rate taxpayers with annual childcare costs of £6,252 or less, and basic rate taxpayers with costs of up to £9,336.
All three-year-olds and four-year-olds in the UK are entitled to a minimum of ten hours of free early education for 38 weeks a year. Some two-year-olds are also now eligible, but this will depend on your income status. Check with your local council.
3. WEIGH UP YOUR MORTGAGE
You may have clung to a standard variable rate mortgage because the rate is low, but interest payments are bound to rise at some point.
Claire Walsh, chartered financial planner at Brighton-based Aspect 8, says: ‘There are still some really good mortgage deals out there. If you fix for a long time it will be peace of mind. Known monthly repayments with no nasty surprises will make budgeting easier.’
Jump on tip-top deals before they vanish. For example, Coventry Building Society has a ten-year fixed-rate deal at 2.69 per cent for a fee of £999.