Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Counting the pennies

I know it's not really the done thing to talk about money, but we're a few months into statutory maternity pay here at the Young & Younger household, and things are starting to bite. Young Daddy and I have never been the most efficient budgeters, tending to live in the moment, rather than plan for the future, and we're paying the price now. We're living off dwindling savings, and though we know we need to stop burying our heads in the sand, we're a bit too scared to brush off our grown-up hats and talk about serious stuff.

I wouldn't say we're profligate - we don't spend, spend, spend. We buy the babies the absolute essentials in terms of clothing, relying on hand-me-downs from friends, though a lot of our parent mates are hanging onto their old baby clothes, ready for baby number two. I should probably start making clothes, but I'm not sure where I'd find the time.

Our food shopping is one area we could try to trim down. By planning our meals properly we wouldn't waste so much food. And we could definitely save some pennies by visiting a market once a week to get all our fruit and veg. Oh and growing some of our own is another good idea. The amount of food the babies need has taken us completely by surprise, and it seems we're steaming and pureeing an endless amount of fruit and veg.

I had to distract myself this afternoon. We would usually be spending it at our Monkey Music class, which the babies love, and I look forward to all week, but I've had to make the tough decision to drop it this term, and find a cheaper drop-in music class instead. We'll really miss our friends from the class, but it was something that had to be done and I know there are other local music classes out there that I'm sure we'll enjoy just as much.

With our typical rashness, we booked a holiday a few months ago to Sardinia in May. We naively chalked it up as a cheap getaway - the accommodation is practically free (long story), and we got dirt-cheap flights. But as usual, we hadn't thought about all those nasty little extras, which quickly add up. Two baby passports have added another £100, then we realised we would need to hire a car to get from the airport to the campsite, as jumping on an unreliable and long airport shuttle bus isn't really an option now we've got two young babies along for the ride. Plus the excess baggage costs (budget airline allowance doesn't come close to what we'll need to take), and buying the essential gear for the break and we're looking at a hefty final total. Lesson learnt. We'll be borrowing my parents' caravan and driving somewhere in the UK next year.

How do you manage to balance the books? Do you stick to a strict budget? Got any money-saving tips you'd like to share? Right now I'm off to fish down the back of the sofa for enough change to buy a lottery ticket....
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