In response to last month’s article on grocery spend, I was referred to a website called ‘Free Our Kids – The toddler and me and our year for free’. This UK mommy has undertaken to stop spending on her toddler. For a YEAR!
1) No buying of kid-specific food.
2) No kiddie clothing and shoes.
3) No toys. Expensive or otherwise.
4) No extra-curricular activities or group classes (school obviously excluded).
5) No disposable nappies (Wow!)
6) No professional haircuts.
7) No professional childcare more than 3 times a week, when she works.
Is she mad? That was my first thought. And then I put my skepticism in my pocket and had a look at what she’s actually saying (check it out yourself).
It’s pretty cool. This mum, Harriet, got retrenched. So she was forced to look at what she and her husband were actually spending. And they were horrified.
Excluding school, their annual spend was R80,000. But the cool toys, music classes, fancy prams and organic ready meals weren’t making little Johnny (his real name) happier, healthier or smarter. His folks were just getting poorer.
And not just them.
The Daily Mail says that the second biggest source of mom-worry (after not being able to spend enough time with our kids) is not being able to afford what they want.
So which of the 7 things above could I – and you – stand to stop spending on? Not because I’m anticipating retrenchment, but because consumerism is at an all-time high, non-recyclable waste is piling up and disposable income is tight for everyone… Let’s look:
1) Kid-specific food
Thank goodness our two-year-old doesn’t eat specific foods. At home she eats grown-up food. At restaurants she shares with us. And her snacks are the usual pretzels, biltong, mini biscuits, raisins, fruit, cheese, etc. Processed baby food nearly bankrupted me when she was eating that stuff, because I refused to cook it fresh. But those days are thankfully gone. You?
2) Kiddie clothing
We buy this very seldom, largely thanks to family hand-me-downs – which are usually gorgeous – and generous grannies. The only things we’ve bought our daughter this season are a bathing suit and a winter dressing gown (she has a strange obsession with dressing gowns). Could I stop buying her the odd lovely thing, for a whole year? Probably. But I won’t. Because I enjoy it and because almost all of that moolla comes from my former clothing budget.
We haven’t bought new toys in ages. She’s into books now. And drawing. And the inside of the loo roll. And plastic cups. And the calculator. But I’d love to do a swap with my friends, circulating some of our stuff to new homes and vice versa.
4) Group classes
We did Baby Gym. We did Baby Massage. We did Kindermusik. We did Clamber Club. We loved all of them. Now that she’s at school, the only class my kid attends is swimming once a week. And I’m not giving that up. But I do get how kids can be entertained, with the same measure of stimulation, at home and at friends’ houses.
5) Disposable nappies
Nope. Not doing reusables. No chance. Sorry.
6) Salon haircuts
She’s never had a salon haircut. I’ve cut her fringe once and my husband’s cut it once, and both haircuts were utterly disastrous. But hopefully we’ll get better with time, because I see no reason whatsoever to take her to a hairdresser. She won’t sit still for long enough anyway.
This is a tough one. For some moms, even those who don’t work, some childcare is critical. So I’m not sure this line item should be negotiable. It may be worth shopping around, roping in loving grandparents and doing exchanges with close friends, but how moms feel about childcare is so personal that I can’t (or perhaps I’m too scared to) generalise about it.
Oy vey. I didn’t do very well. I’m only prepared to consider 3 of 7. What do you think? Is she mad? Am I? What are your personal tips for cutting back?