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Wanting the best Vs affording it

43 replies

Cathy1 · 02/01/2003 11:34

This is a difficult one to explain and I'd love to hear your thoughts. I have 1 DD who is 12 months. I work full time and she is in full time nursery and we are all happy. We earn decent salaries, have a large mortgage and are comfortable enough but money is tight - we are now spending a little more than we earn each month, and there are no real areas that are easy to cutback on. But - my problem is that any childcare or parenting discussions that DH and I have are boiling down to the fact that whatever I would like can't be done cos we can't afford it. For example, I am conscious that I work full time and don't want to spend the weekends cleaning so we had agreed to get a cleaning lady for a few hours but now it seems we can't afford it. Also- when baby no. 2 comes we'll have to take DD out of nursery and get a cheaper childminder and possibly not have her attend playschool/montessori etc (cos of the cost)...which I really want her to do. Also - deep down I think I always thought that after 2 kids I would work part time but I think there is no chance of that now. I'm just dissapointed that all the things I wanted or I feel are best for my kids will be curtailed by cost. I know everyone is in the same boat (mostly)....but I feel that my priorities differ from my DH's here. So many other peoples DH's seem to agree that the childs interests should come first and spend their money on good childcare etc rather than house stuff or holidays etc. I'm rambling but it has helped to put my thoughts down. anyone else any thoughts like this ??

OP posts:

RosieT · 02/01/2003 11:46

Oh, Cathy, I do sympathise ? I think a lot of us are in similar boats ? whether we work or not. One thing I think it's important to bear in mind re: childcare is that expensive, quality, full-time childcare is needed only for a relatively short time, and once your two are at school, the hours of care they'll need will shrink rapidly. (Mind you, the logistics of juggling the school day and holidays with full-time working is another thing altogether.)
Did you hear the Today prog. this morning talking about the fact that from April all working mums with children under 6 will be entitled to request flexible working hours? Of course that doesn't mean you'll automatically get it, but your employer will have to give a good business reason if not, why it can't be done.


Bozza · 02/01/2003 12:04

I sympathise with this as well Cathy. Before we had DS we never had disagreements over money although I was always better at budgeting but because it wasn't tight there wasn't an issue. The only thing DH ever seems to want to cut back on is holidays (ie having them rather than luxury versus budget) whereas I'm really desperate for the change of scenery. Now we have the big issue that I really want another baby and DH doesn't think we can afford one. But we can afford for him to buy £160 golf club....

Actually though on the positive side, I found that once DS was 12 months old our finances improved quite a bit. Although I don't think was entirely down to baby related expenses (DH also had a reasonable pay rise, I went back on the call rota at work etc).


SimonHoward · 02/01/2003 16:53


I'm in a similar situation. Money is now very tight and DW wants to have baby No2.

We had the childminder/nursery discussion and there was no way DW could work enough hours to afford to pay for the costs. I would have offered to help but all my salary goes on the household costs. Now we know that the costs are going to rise due to mortgage going up and I can't work many more hours than I do (60-72 a week)so we are in a bind.

The short term solution is that we are going to rent out a room to a lodger but when baby No2 comes along that may have to stop.

As for spending on holidays and luxuries etc I worked out that if I cut out those from my budget I may save £40 a month if I'm lucky.

The idea that we will have to cut back even basics to have baby No2 is not a pleasent thought.


Crunchie · 02/01/2003 20:01

Two thoughts here Cathy. Firstly you say when you have number two you'll have to take her out of nursery and get a cheaper childminder. This is not always a boad option. I had a childminder who was great, I felt even better than a nursery. Montessori and expensive plyschools are not necessarily better for yur child. I know it seems so important to gove the children the best of everything, but the most expensive is not always the best. I don't know where you live, but if it's not in London other options can be better. We have a nanny which is actually cheaper with two children than any other form of childcare. Our eldest then goes to the local village pre-school which is run simply in the village hall. SInce I am never going to afford private school for my kids I prefer they start to mix with teh rest of the kids she will grow upw ith. Now London is a different matter, nannys seem to command huge salaries and 'local' playschools are less easy to find. Good luck this motherhood lark is full of two things, guilt and compromise!!


GeorginaA · 02/01/2003 20:08

Another thing to maybe look at is your mortgage (if you have one) - can you get it cheaper elsewhere (if you're not "locked in" to the current one - do ask advice from an IFA if you can)

We're currently looking at extending our mortgage when we move to a 30 year mortgage rather than 25 year which helps reduce the payments considerably. No reason why you couldn't do that without moving.

I would stress the bit about not doing anything without getting advice from an IFA though!!


helenmc · 02/01/2003 20:33

We're in the same situation, except perhaps we've made ours as we pay for school fees. But I'd go along with Crunchie and GeorginA. We've changed our mortage last year and our childminder is fantastic and all my girls had mornings at nursery. My friend shared a qualified nanny , so that might be something to think about. Remember children do seem to get cheaper as they get older, for starters there's no nappies. Also when they get to 3/4 depending on your area, you can get help for nursery fees. Also have you checked you're getting all the tax benefits you should be getting? DH has a totally different outlook on life to me.

One thing you could try is keeping an accurate record of where your money goes. I'm not organised enough and I'll go into Tesco's to get a couple of pints of milk and come out with £15 of food, when there's enough at home. I'll also spend whatever I have in my purse, so New Year's resolution is to take out some money at the beginning of the week and when its gone, its gone.

Sorry this is a pretty dull message, but I think it's also good to know you're not the only one feeling this way, so cyber hug
helenmc xxx


SofiaAmes · 02/01/2003 21:55

I would agree with most of the comments. A childminder, if you find the right one can be a very good option when the children are young. There is plenty of time when they are older to go to playschool/nursery. I don't think you should view it as giving your children 2nd best. Is your dh disagreeing with you just because he doesn't think you can afford it, or does he actually disagree with what you think is best for the kids. It might be worth getting to the real bottom of this. For example, it took me a long time to convince my dh that we needed a cleaner. He kept saying we couldn't afford it, which was completely untrue, and that he would do the cleaning (we both worked full time so this really wasn't a great option imo). With further probing it turned out that he hated the idea of a stranger in the house going through/seeing his personal things. He had never had a cleaner before, while I had grown up with one. Eventually I convinced him to at least try and he never looked back.


Bozza · 02/01/2003 22:02

SofiaAmes you are so wise. I was exactly the same as your husband about internet shopping. I convinced myself that I couldn't afford the £3.50 a week for Asda to deliver so I would go (and its 8 miles) after I'd worked a full day and put DS to bed. I convinced myself that the travel wasn't costing anything because of DH's company car so I couldn't justify it - notwithstanding DH's car filled with company junk mid week so nowhere to put the shopping. BUT its not costing me anymore in the end. Of course I put it down to my upbringing and my Mum thinks I'm crazy - how do I know what I want to buy?


Enid · 03/01/2003 08:42

Childminders are a fantastic option for under 2's. A good one can be worlds better than an indifferent nursery - cheaper too!


Alibubbles · 03/01/2003 09:27

Bozza, I use Ocado and, I find I spend far less doing my shopping on the internet, don't have DD (16) throwing things in the trolley that she should use her allowance for, for a start!

I also find that the time it saves is invaluable, £5 to cover 10 miles return and an hour and a half if you are lucky is nothing. I charge my time at 10 times that!

I find when Tesco deliver I am putting it away as fast as they bring it up the drive, it's all done in less than 5 minutes.

I start a list up and add to it everyday as I think of things or run out of stuff. I'm not tempted to spend extra, though I do always look at the special offers.

We have also changed our mortgage to an all in one - Nat West One, so we can put large amounts of income in when they become available, and schedule things like school fees and large bills to come out at certain times so the capital is in for as long as possible,

We just have a very large overdaft!! It looks a bit scary on paper but we will save a lot of money and pay off our mortgage a lot earlier.


kkgirl · 03/01/2003 09:36

I've looked into the internet shopping with Tesco and Sainsbury, but found that some things like milk I need 24-30 pints a week are only available in smaller quantities, ie not 6 pints at a time, so it put me off.
The idea of doing shopping on-line and having it delivered is great but if you can't get everything you want then it defeats the object for me


bossykate · 03/01/2003 10:05

kkgirl, you can get milk in 6 pint cartons from sainsbury's, we do. hope i have understood your point correctly!


Onadowner · 03/01/2003 10:07

Tough one, this.

I suppose from a personal perspective, I have been raised to only get something if you can really afford it, hence why my credit cards are always paid off in full and DS (16 mths) will not have branded trainers until he he knows what branded trainers are and wants them and we can afford them.

Cathy1, will DD really know that she has missed out on Montessori? I agree with what others have said - expensive does not necesarily mean the best.

I know that, like most parents, you want the best, but maybe you could get the best that your present financial situation will allow you?

I hope you come to some kind of compromise which will be good for DH, you and DD.


helenmc · 03/01/2003 10:10

kkgirl, you surprise me , I get a mix of 2/4/6 pints of milk from Tesco and put them in the freezer (we have a large chest freezer that everything goes in , even the utterly butterly spread...well eggs and fruit don't). The milk thaws quite quickly if you leave them in a sink of cold water. It is a bit annoying when they don't have stuff (we had a week when there was no weetabix of any shape, size, form even Tesco own brand) , but that would have been the same if I;d have been trudging thro the aisles myself.


kkgirl · 03/01/2003 10:52

Wow guys I thought that when I had been on the website that you couldn't get large quantities of milk and other stuff. My mistake, I will definitely place an order from home, it will cut our shopping bill because we always pick up more than we need and will make life easier for me as I work four days a week.


SimonHoward · 03/01/2003 11:02

I've been using Tesco's home delivery service for over 2 years now and I can honestly say that it has cut down our monthly bill quite a lot as DW now doesn't browse the shelves looking for nibbles.


GeorginaA · 03/01/2003 12:01

I've used both and and although I prefer many things about Tescos (in particular their own brands, range and the ease of use of their website) I found that they were lousy at substituting when something was out of stock. Often they didn't bother or chose a completely nonsensical replacement. Sainsburys however usually make a semi-intelligent guess at what I might prefer instead and I rarely have to refuse anything. Either would be much better if you had a notes field (the old Sainsburys system used to) to specify what you'd like instead.


AnnieG · 03/01/2003 12:09

I tried the Sainsburys service in November and found it to be totally useless.Half of my first order was missing and despite arranging to deliver it the next day, they did not do so.I tried for 3 further weeks hoping the first might just be bad luck but it did not get much better.I do a large shop every week-about £150.00 worth-and many items were out of stock and either substituted inappropriately or not there at all.I ended up having to go to the shops every week and ended up spending even more than usual!Have now reverted to trudging round the supermarkets.


Lucy123 · 03/01/2003 12:13

Agree with everyone else about childminders. and internet shopping sounds wonderful!

I think the idea of keeping a record of where the money goes is a good one - there are always things you can do without. Anyway a few other money saving tips (you'll be surprised how much they add up!)

  1. turn down hot water by 1 degree, if you're on economy seven set it to a timer to come on early morning and again in the afternoon. Same goes for central heating if you have it.

  2. get your windows/doors insulated somehow if they're not already double glazing.

  3. use carrier bags instead of bin-bags

  4. mend things!

    5 eat vegetarian every now and again!

  5. Cooking things from scratch is much much cheaper than buying things (anything - from pies to cakes to lasagnas). I know time is also an issue, but the children can help with cooking and it can be fun (really).

  6. use terry nappies - they're not much extra work really.

    Sorry if any of those are a bit patronising, it's just that i am very proud of my budgeting skills and the obvious ways really are the best ones...

SimonHoward · 03/01/2003 12:22


I totally agree on those points.

one thing I would add is to get cavity wall insulation if you can.

We did earlier this year and it has already proved it's worth.


helenmc · 03/01/2003 14:14

sorry kkgirl - have reread my post on milk and its sounds rude and abrupt. I've Tesco have made 'intelligent' substitutes, but some-times are a bit lax on the best-before dates (like the next day). But its it better to supply something that hasn't got days of shelf life than not supply at all?? Right I'm off to shop for tomorrow. Bye mumnetters


kkgirl · 03/01/2003 14:21

Its OK HelenMC I didn't find your posting rude or abrupt. I am just glad that I can try the home delivery service. I think it will be good if I can save some time and stress trudging around with anywhere between 1 and 3 kids in tow and I think I will probably buy less because I won't be so tempted as if I was in the shop


RosieT · 03/01/2003 15:24

Lucy123 ? your tips are great, and not at all patronising. To add mine (which sound much more scrooge-like) cut back on expensive coffees from Starbucks on way to work (saves me a good fiver a week); make sarnies the night before ? or better still, get DH to make them.


Marina · 03/01/2003 19:33

Completely agree with RosieT about the sandwiches - that's how we pay for our cleaner whom we could also otherwise not afford.
I check out the local charity shops for toys and clothes for ds and have occasionally found real bargains - an entire and pristine Playmobil fire engine for £3.00, for example. (OK, that was extreme...)
Would also suggest that if you prefer not to go the Internet route for shopping (no Ocado in our area and I have had bad experiences regarding quality of fresh produce from Tescos and Sainsburys) do a menu for the week, work out what you need for that menu, and don't buy anything else! We cut about £30 a week of daft impulse purchases, we reckoned - it really shocked me.
I think there are loads of other good suggestions here too, Cathy...but I did just wonder whether dh had any areas where he might also economise and help you find the money for the cleaner...?


WideWebWitch · 03/01/2003 19:54

That's a good idea Marina, I might try that since I'm always buying bits of food throughout the week and I bet it adds up to that too. I'm going to stop buying magazines for a while as I reckon that'll save me about £50 a month. And I'm going to use my mobile less and the land line more. Keep them coming, these are great money saving ideas.

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