Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Spendthrifts Stab at Frugality - Part 1

The summer holiday here in Canada at my daughter's school arrived two weeks ago. Two bloody weeks ago. What the hell is that about?

That means it is roughly three months of entertaining two gorgeous, screechy, energetic, diverse, doll-obsessed, train-obsessed children for umpteen weeks by myself from 7am-6.30pm.
I thought my daughter's 6 weeks holiday back in Blighty was bad enough.

That makes me sound like I don't like my children, which I do. A lot. But I also like brie and champagne a lot too but wouldn't want to be force fed it for 3 months. This morning alone we have:
  • Read stories in bed
  • Had a friend come over for 2 hours and played fairly well at 'Star Wars - Let's Pretend the Toddler is Darth Vader and Attack him for the Duration of the Playdate'
  • Gone for a very slow painful bike ride around the block, each taking it in turn to whine if the gradient rises even slightly on the sidewalk
  • Play-doh toss and hide in Mummy's soles of her socks.
  • Etc.

I seem to lose my temper every quarter hour. Help. It is going to be a long summer if this carries on.

Anyhow, the reason why I have written this is that I seriously need to budget.

Seriously. As in 'Oh Shit, I am scared to look at the bank balance'

You see, this part of Canada is not as cheap as you think. Coupled with the fact that I am not allowed to work and my husband is on an academic salary (read that as low), we are up a creek financially. Our rent takes up the whole of the salary even before we wake up. And the expenses, mainly on the kids...eeeek.

We have accepted every second hand thing thrown at up. Begged, borrowed and nearly stolen. But some things have had to be bought. Like a new bed, as the futon the house came with was like being interrogated by the Spanish inquisition. Like the 3 helmets my daughter needed, one for skating, one we bought thinking it was a skating helmet and turned out to be a skiing one but couldn't be taken back, and the one for her bike. I mean, come on, how many ways can you hit your head?!?

Like swimming lessons for my daughter, who goes off in an almighty huff if she suspects my husband and I are trying to teach her swimming ourselves. Like two snowsuits and boots for the winter, like new sunsuits and shoes for the summer, like the kettle which exploded week 2, like the kids cutlery, like the frying pan, like sheets for the bed. AAARRGH.

I am hopeless at household budgets. I am no stranger to charity shops, all my books come from the library. But bugger me if the money still rolls through my fingers. Like a dieter who secretly knows where they are going wrong but deludes themselves they are perfect - my list of no-no's is terrifyingly long. Here they are:

  • Magazines. Just the odd one, but they add up.
  • Coffees at coffee houses. I don't know how I will stop those, as half my social life takes place at a fantastic cafe with a train table which keeps my toddler happy for a blissful hour.
  • Presents for other people. Did I really need to buy my friend a handmade wooden chopping board. Yes I did, it was from such a cuuuuuute farmers market.
  • Expensive meat. Because cheap meat gives me the eebie-jeebies.
  • Shoes. Perhaps buying Fit-Flops for $100 was not a good economy. But you never know, I may get buns of steel from wearing them. Hmm.
  • Just petty little crapola spends in a day which you don't even notice and yet there they are, adding up.

So, like a dieter, I am going to write down what I spend every day this holiday (or until I forget) so that it may bring back control to my life and possibly even a degree of shame.

Today's total spend, thus far = Nothing!

Hooray. But I must point out I have really not left the house properly yet. Ah well.


  1. Fit-flops are fab. I bought mine two years ago and they are still going strong, so consider them an investment buy. Not only that but you'll need to feel comfy running round after your two for such a long time :)

  2. I'll be following this with interest, I have the exact same problem and it's been not good for a while, but now it's REALLY bad!

  3. Oh good luck. Unfortunately the little treats of coffee and magazines add up. I was bad at buying coffees and decided to take the plunge (scuse the pun) and invest in a grinder and coffee beans and now make better coffee for myself than I could ever buy. Initial outlay was pricey enough, but for the cost of two coffees at a coffee shop I get a week of coffee at home. And I invite people over to join me :D

    When the children are on holidays though it really isn't easy, I mean you have to do stuff with them and it all adds up very quickly.

    Look forward to hearing how you get on.


  4. Thank you so much for your support!
    Suzanne - I Looooove my Fitflops, they are sparkly, give me an inch in height (very important to a runt like me) and my butt may become less doughy.
    Emma - we are at the REALLY BAD stage as well. Hence, the blog direction. Yipes.
    Jen - grinder sounds a great idea. The sad part about me is that I actually prefer instant coffee [slinks away in embarassment]

  5. Ugghhh budgetting is no fun is it? Especially on school holidays...did I read right - 3 months?! No way. That is obscene! I always think that better mothers than I can create fun for kids day after day with nothing but good will, a few pine cones, some pens and paper and a milk bottle top. However for me - I normally think of cinema, bowling, lunch out! All costs money and there are only so many walks you can take kids on. If all else fails we go beach...but that only works if you are not land locked. So I share your pain - mine have 9 weeks off this summer...and I thought that was too long. Love them, but my goodness they need more stimulation than little old me! Lou x