I’m tightening my belt – and not just because my frenetic physical assault on my body is finally reaping results. No, the preverbal budget belt is going on a diet too. We’re hoping to buy a new house (I know, I know, we’re mad to be selling in this climate!!!) and we need to gather every penny about ourselves.
Phase One of Operation Opulent (spend less, feel richer is my motivating line..) began before Christmas. We cut back on childcare, waved a tearful farewell to our cleaner, and decided to eat the food that’s actually piling up in the cupboards instead of continually buying new stuff. “I’m a hoarder, I can’t help it!” I confessed, as my husband counted 14 tins of chopped tomatoes in the back of the larder. “Learn” he says sternly, suggesting a week’s worth of recipes using the offending tins. So once I’ve exhausted my repertoire of chilli, lasagne and bolognaise, it’s back to the recipe books for some inspiration. No bad thing probably… my repertoire could certainly do with a little revitalising.
Cutting back a couple of hour’s childcare a week means I’ll have to write in the evening when the girls are asleep. No bad thing probably – it’ll keep me off the sofa munching chocolates (two punishments, I mean birds, with one stone), and I get to spend more time with the girls. Getting deep and dirty with the Ciff won’t kill us – I use the word ‘us’ because housework is a shared responsibility (I’ll keep you posted on how THAT one works out..). But again, no bad thing probably. I can get the girls involved and make it fun. (OK, I’ll keep you posted on how THAT one works out too!).
We have now begun Phase Two of Mission Money Saver. More childcare cutbacks, holiday cancelled, and a few painful choices on which friend’s 40th’s, weddings, and family birthdays we can go to. No bad thing really – do we really need the hassle of dragging ourselves and the kids to multiple overseas weekends throughout the year? And you know the surprising thing? It actually doesn’t feel that painful. It actually feels a little good. It feels good to look at the price of food before I drop it (or not) into the shopping trolly. I never used to. It feels good to patch up a few holes in the girl’s trousers instead of throwing them straight in the bin. I didn’t use to. It feels good to savour family time than zoom off on yet another expensive exhausting weekend. We didn’t use to.
And the girls? Are they suffering? Are they moaning? Of course not. They’re as happy as always and probably a bit more. And us? So we have to clean the house and we have to stay home a bit more. There are other sacrifices we are making, but they won’t kill us. They might even make us stronger, as the saying goes. But we have a roof over our head, (multiple) food in our larder, and two happy kids. So, while our credit is definitely crunching, I write this with respect and real sorrow for those people for who this recession is really hurting. For those whose children will suffer. And for those who can’t afford to spend less.