I’ve always thought of myself as a thrifty person. I look out for 20% off codes before I shop for clothes. I try to stock up on things in the sales. I go to a few different grocery stores, which has reduced our spending loads as we used to mainly shop from Ocado. But recently, I’ve realised that I’m not as thrifty as I had imagined.
At the weekend, we took the kids to the Natural History Museum. Regular readers will know that Dubz is crazy for ‘dinoroars’. We packed a lunch, and off we went. The museum is free, and there is free street parking on a Sunday. Sounds like a fun but thrifty day, right? Wrong. At the end of our visit, we let the kids pick out a few things in the gift shop – £40 later, I realised that I was far from thrifty.
So, I’ve decided to be more conscious of what we spend on family outings. I will endeavour to always bring a packed lunch. I will try to avoid gift shops. I will be in charge of the monthly budget for outings (currently this is Husband’s domain, and he is the least thrifty person I’ve ever met). I’ve gone back to being a Mystery Shopper with Market Force. You can find cafes, restaurants, pubs, and enjoy a free cake or meal and get paid for it. There are also opportunities at shops, opticians and bowling alleys. You set how far you are willing to travel, and it shows you the opportunities available. You can then pick which ones you would like to take part in. This week the children and I will be eating pizza, for free, plus getting paid for it.
Also, I have just donated a bag of old clothes to H&M’s Long Live Fashion campaign. They have rewarded me with a £5 off voucher. Normally we give old clothes to the recycling tip or to charity shops. But this way helps with my next shopping trip (I love H&M for clothes and accessories for me and the kids). And as I have until the end of August to use it, I can use it in the sales. I have another bag ready to be traded in for another voucher.
Lastly, I have loads of baby/toddler toys that I will be selling. I’ve never sold anything on eBay before, so I may try it out. Or else, I may use a local selling group – perhaps Netmums or NappyValletNet.
Is there anything else I can be doing? How do you stay thrifty and stick to a budget?
Birthday parties are expensive enough, even when you’re not hosting. Besides the buying the gift, you often have to dress up. Superheroes, Spies and Alice in Wonderland are just a few themes we’ve had this year. Some costumes can be worn again, some can be fashioned out of other costumes. In the third picture, we took Moozles’ witch costume from Halloween, an old tiara, and a giant heart she coloured in, and we turned her into The Queen of Hearts.
My daughter is in Year One. With 30 people in her class, this equates to A WHOLE LOTTA birthday parties. We don’t get an invite to every birthday party, but we get many invites. Since September, Moozles has been to 12 parties, four of which have been joint birthday parties. That’s 16 gifts so far. This not include birthday gifts for the children of close friends and family.
As a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I try to watch the pennies. I used to spend £10 per gift, but now keep that amount to £5-£8, depending on the child. But this means being organised. Once a month I go to TK Maxx and buy a few presents. TK Maxx are extremely good for jewellery-making kits, puzzles, yoyos, books and Lego. I used to buy gifts from Amazon, but I’m trying not to shop with them very often because of their non tax-paying ways. Also, Amazon aren’t that cheap as you would expect for toys and crafts. Supermarkets sometimes have special offers on toys so it can be worth checking from time to time. I also stock up from department stores during the big sales in the summer and after Christmas. Things like girls’ jewellery and pretty hair accessories are nice gifts as sometimes you can get bombarded with crafts and makeup (I’m not keen on the latter for my five-year old).
|TK Maxx bargain!
I have re-gifted a few things as well, as Moozles got so many gifts for her last birthday that she never got around to opening everything. Also, I try to buy unisex wrapping paper, which can randomly be on special at your local supermarket. Sometimes I buy gift boxes and wrapping paper at pound shops. And I always have my daughter make the card. Not only is it cheap, but it is a fun little activity for your little one. How do you handle the costs of kids’ birthday parties?
And for more Thursday thriftiness, see Cold Tea & Smelly Nappies.
I find that I now think about money A LOT! I knew, when I chose not to return to work after my second maternity leave, that it would be tough living on one salary. I knew that I would have to get used to going without on certain luxuries. I knew all these things, yet now that I am living with this lifestyle, I still find it a shock sometimes.
Normally I am good at budgeting. I am good at finding deals and saving money. I think most people assume that my British Husband is the thrifty one, and I spend all our money on shoes and handbags. Maybe because I am American, people assume I am a spendthrift. But I am quite the opposite. I rarely buy myself anything, and if I do then I make sure I am getting a bargain.
But there are times when all I can do is dream of getting a massage/facial or spending the day shopping and buying whatever I like. But they are dreams. And I need to focus on the fact that I get to spend each and every day with my children and I never have to feel guilty about missing milestones. Yes, I get milestones not massages.