This week I have waved goodbye to three pairs of socks. I finally admitted defeat when A giggled that she could see my heel. Yes, my socks have worn away to oblivion. They have been discarded peacefully into the bin with the scraps and crusts of bread. I have yet to replace them and I am running low on socks! Why haven’t you bought new socks? I hear you bellow out over the Internet waves! Sheesh, what a loser. It’s simple really. I have no money. And any tuppence I do have, goes to the house and A. I’m a good Momma Bear like that. No, I lie. I do have money but for some bewildering reason I rarely spend it on myself these days. B is quite the same. I call it our new Parenting Norm also known as Parenting Finance Sucks.
Oh Pennys, I Miss You
Let’s face it, pre-A, I could be seen shuffling outside Pennys on O’Connell Street on a Friday morning, waiting for the chimes of the clock over Easons bookstore to strike 8:30am. Opening time! Gifting myself a thrifty jumper or a pair of faux suede ankle boots was nothing out of the ordinary. I’m a jumper and jeans sort of girl. Dare I say, I would wander into Pennys with great intentions of spending €15 and walk out with a credit card bill I unintentionally landed on myself.
These days, I slip past the nation’s favourite budget clothes store with its doors firmly shut before opening time and wander into work minus a cheap treat. I no longer wait with the early morning workers ready to pick up a bargain.
What happened? Where did my self indugent gifts disppear to? Looking into my wallet, it is more sparse than flush these days. Like B, any spare change I have goes on potential sandwiches at lunch time or a generous coffee before work. Everything else goes to the house or to the needs of our growing child.
Payday used to be exciting and an excuse for a takeaway or dare I say a meal out. These days, once the last day of the month rolls round, my bank account looks healthy for all of half an hour before I start the wonderful joy of online banking and proceed to pay the bills.
I have zero, zip, zilch disposable income
Having a baby in 2013 coincided with our decision to move house. The two biggest financial decisions you can ever make. Clever us. Every spare penny went to savings, nappies and a gazillion soothers. FYI soothers are ridiculously expensive – a teething baby has a wonderful habit of chewing through them or losing them in a matter of days. I lament a lost soother on the pavement and wonder how that poor parent is coping with a child that is craving the gentle soothing of their soo soo. I digress. We saved religiously for the two years before we finally moved in 2015. A was almost two and in her first couple of years she needed a wealth of clothes, toys, furniture. As our first baba, we dismissed frugality and bought everything new. There we go again being wonderfully clever. Of course, as they say, hindsight is a great thing.
Our new house needed modernising and some vital work, our daughter continues to grow at a rapid rate and we still need to live and enjoy life. It was tough but we finally have some sort of a balance and we’re learning about the best ways to manage our money.
It Might Hurt, but it’s Worth It
No, our lives are not the same. We have little money for ourselves individually but does that really matter? We don’t necessarily need these things – well, I do need socks. We live without the little luxurious that came naturally to us pre baby.
Having a family means sacrifices. Monetary sacrifices. B has given up splurging on games and restricted himself to games on sale. When I say sale, I mean games that are cheap as chips. When I say cheap as chips, I mean games that are more or less labelled retro. I shop when I’m given vouchers for New Look for my birthday. Thank you Great Aunt and P, you’ve kept me simmering above water in the fashion stakes – not that I have much stake at all these days. The best parenting tip I ever received was dry shampoo. I’ll kiss the boots of the person who invented the magic dust should I ever be in their presence. FYI I haven’t had a haircut since last year but maybe I’ll treat myself to a Rachel for the LWI Awards Night (eek finalist – still haven’t got my head around that).
Money Comes Money Goes
For two people who enjoyed splurges, mega shopping days and spending a fortune on Christmas presents, we’ve culled our spending and focused our money to where it’s needed most. The little pumpkin who runs around in fairy dresses dropping glitter with every step she takes. A wants for nothing. You’d imagine she is on the verge of growing up to be a spoilt child, asking for and expecting to get everything she wants. She’s not. In fact, she’s quite the opposite.
At almost three years old, B is teaching her a gentle grasp on money. She rarely asks for any toys or sweets. And yet when she does, if the time is not right or money is not available, she is appeased and doesn’t expect it. So far we’ve had no cribbing or crying about wanting this or wanting that. Long may this continue.
Future Finance is Never Certain
We know money may not always be there, that we may run into hard times. Our parents raised us in Ireland during the recession in the 80s. I’m certain that it wasn’t easy for our parents but I don’t remember any of the hardship. I was a child, oblivious to any financial concerns my parents may have had. We have just about made it out of the current recession with a new home and good prospects. I thank our lucky stars that we have managed all we have in the last few years through such hard financial times. I like to think we have our heads firmly screwed on and will ensure that our financial situation is kept in the black for A’s sake more so than ours.
Money is always a contentious issue in families. I worry about money incessantly. Who doesn’t. But what good is worrying. Action is needed. So we clear debts, we save, we envisage the future. We believe we will be ok and if something goes awry… well, thats a much longer post for another day. At the moment, we make sacrifices, we make do. We’re not unique. We’re all doing it. Our children come first.