Sunday was a good day. I took my little girl into town to go shoe shopping, just me and her. It was lovely and we even had lunch in a cafe.
This was a test to see if you have been paying attention. The above sentence should have set your frugal money saving alarm bells ringing. Shoe shopping? How frivolous, surely that does not fall under allowed Austerity Month spending, and lunch in a cafe???!!! (this use of excessive punctuation is to denote your righteous horror).
Don’t worry (I’m sure you didn’t), it’s ok. All is under control. I haven’t thrown in the proverbial towel. It was all necessary, (says every shopaholic everywhere), my baby girl suddenly has size 8 feet and I had holy shoes. We were hungry and it was lunchtime. There. Happy? Now, I know that I made the rookie error of going into town at lunchtime but I sort of did it on purpose. I wanted to treat her, I never get time for just us these days and she loves going to cafes. It was something we did regularly as a family before we started saving and it’s the only thing I miss about our eating out ban. As it was, I had the cheapest egg sandwiches and a glass of free water. Being M&S though they were pretty decent sandwiches.
I have a secret weapon, however, which so far I have not disclosed. Child Benefit. It is the only money that comes into my account and doesn’t amount to that much. Luckily I am naturally more of a saver than a spender, so even before our new saving spree and trial Austerity Month, I had been careful to let it build up. Before, I used it for the kids and for me, meaning I didn’t have to feel guilty about spending money I didn’t earn or contribute to (I just felt guilty about spending the kids’ money instead, but what is life without some sort of Mum guilt?). Now it is a kids-only zone. Back in April when we were bashing out all the practicalities of starting our frugal journey, the only things that gave me doubts were the kids. We definitely don’t spoil them materially, and I turn into strict nasty mummy when it comes to sweets, but I didn’t want them to miss out on opportunities that may come up, just because mum and dad are exercising a new found stinginess. Child Benefit provided the answer and I was able to be fully on board with our plan. Essentially it means that the kids can have new shoes, ballet lessons, ponies*, swimming sessions, clothes and occasional treats without impacting the overall budget.
Alright, to be honest, the thought of the nuclear level tantrums the three-year-old would throw if we told her she could no longer do her ballet lessons was terrifying me.
On the subject of kids clothes, I know I have preached second-hand shopping. Confession time. I am rubbish at it. Toys, coats, wellies and equipment (like highchairs and cages**) are all fine. I second hand all of those things. But clothes are another matter. I am not squeamish about it, I just find all the lovely new cute kiddie things in the shops really hard to resist. I don’t go overboard with their clothes either but they have this annoying tendency to grow all the time. Each new season heralds a realisation that last winters’ trousers don’t fit anymore and that dress is now inappropriately short. New stuff time! Unless that new stuff falls into one of the above categories it will be brought new and sparkling from a shop. I must get better at it I know, but I am using the Child Benefit excuse; I have money especially earmarked ‘new stuff for kids’ so it’s fine, and they’ll get loads of use out of it (yeah right). I have found the only way to counter this problem is to stay away. I even have to exercise extreme will power in Asda not to venture beyond the fruit and veg aisle into the enticing land of homeware and cute kids clothes.
Going to attempt a bit of new leaf turning this weekend though. There is an NCT nearly new sale which I will brave on Saturday in an attempt to source a couple of things in the appropriate frugal way. Wish me luck!
**also a joke