Penny pinching

We had one of those grown up, slightly scary conversations this week where we decided to review the financial situation. Never fun. We’d been frugal earlier in the year but then when I went back to work there was so much going on that this had slipped a little. Time to get back in control.

We’ve got some savings to fall back on if necessary but I prefer not to use those unless absolutely desperate – you never know when you might them. So I drew up a spreadsheet of income and expenditure (I told you we’d been grown up) using July’s bank statement.

The sum total is that S has asked at work if he can get some more hours and we’re making a few cutbacks. Though I should say we’ve hardly been profligate – I bought a couple of paperbacks at a railway station (buy one get one half price), S bought some gardening magazines, and after realising I was wearing clothes to work that I wore for two-three years before E was born, I treated myself to a skirt, trouser and a blouse last week. Sum total – £31. Our holidays in recent years have involved staying at generous friends and family’s houses. Crazy eh?

Being a public sector worker, I’ve had a pay freeze and the slight pay rise from last year went towards increased pension increases so in real terms we’ve had a wage cut, like so many households these days. And obviously E comes with expenses, though, thanks again to the generosity of friends and family, not as much as there might have been.

There is a school of thought that says that people who can’t afford children shouldn’t have them, to avoid sponging off the state. (I should mention in the interests of full disclosure, as well as E’s child benefit we get a small amount in child tax credits.) But that of course doesn’t take into the fact that people have changes in circumstances – ie, shit happens. And, as a friend of mine pointed out, it’s a ridiculous state of affairs that two people who’ve worked their whole lives can’t afford to comfortably have a child.

But I’m not really moaning. We’re hardly destitute. We’ll be fine. I did some belt tightening this week and there are a number of places we can cut down without trouble. Who needs holidays or new clothes or alcohol or the occasional trip to a coffee shop in town? In the meantime the things E likes best are free – library books, trips to the park to see the ducks and tickles. Which is lucky.

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