Friday, 12 February 2010

Penny-pinching parenting

I feel like I'm becoming the Queen of Mean. No, I am not embarrassing people with putdowns Anne Robinson style, I'm just trying to stretch the pound further in our household. Sign of this condition appeared as I grew up in a penny-pinching household (my parents married for love and my mum was 20 when she had me). Going on a tangent, the other day I shocked myself making a parallel between me and her. I have a little girl who is three in April, while my mum was age when I was 23 and at university.

Anyway, back to the development of my mean streak. After I graduated I decided to move to London and lived there for 14 years. The first years I didn't have much money, but managed to save. Eight years later the savings joined a mortgage in the purchase of a Victorian terraced house that needed refurbishing.

Around two years later I met my current partner, sold the house and we bought a house together, our combined savings financing a step up on the ladder and getting us a Victorian semi. When we decided to move out of London in 2008, we sold the house and lived in rental. When the credit crunch cornered us, our savings became both a lifeline and a future deposit on our next house.

It's safe to say that I have been penny-pinch for years for a reason or another. Having already done the renovation on a budget thing, in 2007 I was ripe for the next challenge: budget parenting. This (ironically) was easier in London, where there are plenty of places where you can buy things second hand. I did a lot of freecycling too, which worked out very well as I disposed of things I didn't need anymore and acquired items I needed. This continued in Rugby, where there were plenty of shopping bargain to be had (I became quite fond of charity bazaars and school fetes). And let's not forget the NCT Nearly New Sales, which have been great everywhere I have been. I have been singing their praises in NCT newsletters and online.

So what about Cambridge, my new ciy? There is an NCT sale coming up on 28 March, which I'm very excited about and there are plenty of charity shops (Burleigh Street is a great place for bargains). Freecycle is present here and there are plenty of shopping opportunities, especially with the sales, which have been lasting longer this year. We have been to a few charity bazaars, too. I'm a sucker for homemade jams made by sweet old ladies.

Of course shopping at different shops, chasing bargains and comparing prices require time and effort. So I was particularly excited about John Lewis's new value range as it's one of my favourite department stores. I have already bought three lovely pans for £12 and two really good paring knifes at £1 each. I'm quite tempted by their bedlinen and other bits and pieces below...

John Lewis Value Plain Polyester Cotton Duvet Cover Sets, Blue

John Lewis Value Toaster, 2-Slice, White
John Lewis Pancake Pans  (complete with free online recipe for Pancakes to celebrate Shrove Tuesday) 

And this is an article for baby on a budget with lots of ideas for new parents

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1 comment:

  1. I think there is a fine line between being thrifty and frugal and being a miser. (not sure that was the exact word I was looking for but best that came to mind)

    I have over the years gone to both extremes.

    Today, I firmly believe in not spending more than you can afford. I believe in budgeting so you know where your money is going to be spent before it is spent. I also believe that putting an allocation of money just to "spend" into the budget on a monthly basis is a healthy thing. There should be some for the husband and the wife and you can spend your money on whatever you want without having to account to the other.

    I also think it is very important to teach kids from a young age about money management. By age 5 or 6 I would be giving them an allowance. I like Dave Ramsey's (see link below) method of it being a "commission plan" not a straight allowance. Figure out what you want to give the kids weekly (I give them 50 cents for each year-age 5 $2.5 a week) and then tie that amount into certain chores. My kids ages 11 &12 do 4 chores a day 5 days a week and over the weekend they help out with whatever I ask just because they are part of the family. I also put a built in fine of about 25 cents if I ask them to do something not on their chore list and they refuse. I didn't want a situation where they weren't helping out because it was not their chore.
    If they do their chores, they get paid, if not they get paid only for the chores they did.

    We then separate their allowance into 3 parts, part goes into their wallets or a jar for spending (they use their money when they do things with friends), another part goes into a savings envelope and the third (10% ) goes into a charity envelope.

    This method has worked nicely.

    My older kids know about the budget concept. My older son does the shopping and he knows how much my budget is for food weekly and monthly and he gets that if we go over one week we have to cut back another.

    BTW-I love thrift stores.

    And I love this site and his program! - Get REAL debt help: Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover Plan