We love each other very much but our lives are very different. I am 10 years older than her so not all that surprising. I am married with three children aged 14, 12 and 8. Last week, while I tracked my spending diary, was a busy week. As any parent with a child knows, or anyone who is mad enough to drive in the city knows, it was back to school week.
So what did you spend your money on this week?
I am not going to witter on about the massive expense of this. In my opinion I don’t see how parental duty can be talked about as an expense. It’s life. Anyone who breeds and thinks doing so won’t add a few quids to their weekly outgoings is living in Scandinavia. The key is to manage it. Having extra expenses in September if you have children should not come as a surprise to anyone so start saving in October and it won’t be a shock.
At this point I’m sure Rosemary would request that I check my privilege. I am very aware of my privilege. Very. I work part-time running my own online marketing consultancy. My husband has a steady enough job in a multinational financial company. We are currently earning less than we have ever earned in our lives before. In the early noughties I worked for a non-profit organisation for six years. I have never since had a job where I was paid as well. Sigh.
For us though, quality of life trumps ambition every time. It took me a while to make peace with this. It sometimes feels that having a relatively stress-free quality of life in the 21st century is a laudable ambition in itself! We live in a gorgeous semi-detached house in Crumlin, near family and friends and loads of green space. We can cycle nearly everywhere we want to go. We had a lovely summer, missing most of the amazing weather here, while we drove to the French Mediterranean for some actual camping in a real tent. I am aware of our privilege.
Now just wait till you see what my first payout was and your eyes are going to actually explode out of the top of your head you’ll be rolling them so much!
Our Saturdays are usually busy during term time. Mine usually starts either running or volunteering at Tymon parkrun where I am a member of the core team and regular run director.
While I’m there, my husband will be ferrying the Nippers to music classes. The classes have yet to begin this year but I did get a bill for their fees from the Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin Institute of Technology which have to be paid in part or full by Monday, August 27th.
Due to a mix-up with one set of fees, I only pay for two of the children. €715 for the one-on-one bassoon lessons and €415 for group recorder classes. This fee includes their musicianship lessons and also allows them to join the choir if they wish. Ensembles are compulsory of orchestral instruments and the eldest trumpet player can go to two if he wishes.
For a full year of at least 2.5 hours a week with excellent teachers I think it’s great value for money. It’s also tax-deductible as DIT is a third-level institution. Bonus!
As we know this cost will come in every September, we put aside a certain amount every month for this purpose. We also save for car insurance, summer holiday and Christmas.
Once I have finished reeling from that payout, the eldest and I set forth for Dundrum Town Centre. We get the bus, despite the Pope’s best efforts. We pay with our Leap cards which is very easy, but I couldn’t tell you how much the journey cost. I juice up my phone en route to maximise the spend 🙂
Dundrum Town Centre is a not-quite-necessary evil in my book. It wouldn’t be my favourite place in the world. We had to go because town wasn’t an option with the Pope cutting us off. I had already done the main uniform shop in M&S* earlier that month but we hadn’t been able to find shoes to fit Nipper 1.0. He was the only one getting new shoes thankfully. Although he tried on a pair of Dr Martens in Office*, I was secretly thankful that he hasn’t the perseverance to break them in. A summer of runners meant that every pair of shoes he tried on were “so uncomfortable”. When I expressed my horror at the cost of Doc Martens on Twitter, the sage son of a friend had these words of wisdom.
I did the exact same with Middle One. Gawped in horror. By the time he’d have broken them in, he’d have outgrown them, he noted. I said, how about this; when your feet stop growing we’ll get a pair and we can both wear them. He thought this a good plan.
— Joyce Hickey (@JoyceHickey) August 26, 2018
We eventually landed on a pair of very plain shoes, only slightly too big but passing the comfort test, from Marks & Spencer. They also passed the cost test at €35. When we arrived at the till, the cashier handed me a 15% discount so the grand total was €29.75. As Nipper 1.0 said, “I’ve bought games that were more expensive.”
As I had run very fast at parkrun that morning, I was exceedingly thirsty so I bought myself an Ice tea and a pack of chewing gum for €3. Nipper 1.0 bought his own out of his oodles of pocket money.
Nipper 3.0 gets €5 pocket money every week. Her job is to set and clear the dinner table every day. Nipper 2.0 recently renegotiated his to €10 a week by agreeing to take on the responsibility of hanging out and taking in (or up and down depending on the weather!) the laundry. Nipper 1.0 gets negotiated a per task rate and is responsible for washing dishes and babysitting. I feel like we are taking advantage of Nipper 2.0 but, Lordy, that child needs to burn off energy and undertake a mindful task!
Daily total: €1,187.75
We went to Ant-Man and the Wasp in a certain cinema which I probably can’t name because Rosemary is doing a promotion for their competitor. We booked online for a 10% discount and two adults and four children cost €37.20. We never buy snacks in the cinema as the cost is outrageous.
I always feel very put upon as I have paid for my ticket and then I have to watch a truckload of ads for which the cinema get paid. They should be feeding me to put up with that nonsense. Also, I saw on a programme a long time ago for which I can’t give a credible source that the box the popcorn comes in costs the cinema more than the popcorn. I am waiting for the day some employee challenges me for bringing in my own snacks. Good luck to them!
So we told the kids if they wanted anything they had to use their own pocket money. Nipper 2.0 duly spent €7.50 on pick ‘n’ mix. That’s 750g of sugar, folks. So many things wrong with that. I pointed out that he could have bought us all toffee popcorn in Lidl for half that and he was somewhat chastened. I brought water and a bag of trail mix from home in case anyone couldn’t survive the length of a cinema trip without sustenance.
We bought potatoes in Dunnes for dinner (€2).
Daily total: €39.20
I started work just after 6am as I do most days. I ended up working straight through until 1.30pm, so was still in my PJs by that stage! I wanted to get a lot of work out of the way because I knew it would be an unsettled and unsettling week.
Himself was on a day off so he took the Nippers swimming in Rathmines Pool which was €13. They were about to cycle there when they realised that Nipper 1.0’s bike was no longer fit for purpose. Very not fit for purpose. This was bad news as we had been hoping he would hand that down to Nipper 2.0, who cycles to school everyday. Then we would get him a secondhand bike in a month or so. As he gets the bus to school, a bike is not as essential to the older fellow. I was working away, so they took my bike and left me in peace. There is a happy ending to our bike saga. Ask me on Twitter or Instagram if you desperately need to hear it.
The four of them don’t seem to be able to visit Rathmines without dropping into Ernesto’s so a cappuccino, orange juice, matcha latte, a San Pellegrino orange and a bag of coffee later, he had spent €27. The coffee, I’m told, is a money-saving tactic as he makes his own in an Aeropress instead of going out. Funny how I also make my own in a Bobble Pressé at home and my coffee only costs about €4 in SuperValu but I digress.
The two of us headed to our Running Training with Kevin English on Monday evening which was €5 each. We had to borrow the change from Nipper 3.0! I paid her back on Saturday!
Daily total: €50
Nipper 1.0 went back to school for a few hours today so we’ll have the added cost of his twice a day bus trip. He will also start getting the bus for other activities too.
On Tuesday our subscription for our bamboo toothbrushes from Georganics went through. This is €21.65 every three months for five toothbrushes. I think I may increase the frequency now that we have run out of plastic toothbrushes. It was hard to gauge how frequently I should set it. Still though €21.65 is not bad for five toothbrushes delivered to your door!
As Nipper 1.0 is progressing to an older ensemble at music, himself and his brother will be now travelling separately to their rehearsals so I had to bite the bullet and get Nipper 2.0 a phone. In case of emergencies… So a new SIM for an old phone for Nipper 2.0 was €22. Sure he’s only delighted with himself.
I had to pick up a last few things for school. I forgot to get the two younger polo shirts for sports – four of them cost €10.50. Can’t resist a bargain rail: fluo jacket of dubious waterproofness which is perfect for Nipper 3.0 cycling to school cost €7. As we were in Dunnes, I picked up a few essential groceries: free-range eggs, oranges and peaches (€8.28). I had one of those vouchers they add on to the end of your receipt in Dunnes. I wasn’t sure if they would count the clothes. The bill came to €25.78 – €5 discount voucher and lo! the total was €20.78.
I also got another time-limited voucher.
And here is my top tip! The last time I was in SuperValu in Sundrive, the cashier asked me, as standard, if I had any vouchers. I didn’t as it happened and she said, “What about Dunnes vouchers?” I had none of those either, I’d probably thrown some away! She told me that they would take Dunnes vouchers too but not Tesco! So I vowed to test this theory the next time I was shopping in SuperValu.
Daily total: €64.43
As it was the very last day of the holidays and Nipper 1.0 was finishing at 12.30 we arranged to meet in Mayfield in Terenure at 1pm for lunch. This also gave me a good excuse to wake them all at 8am so they could have breakfast early and then be good and hungry by lunch. They sure were and scoffed their delicious lunches. We had three adult’s dishes, a kid’s meal and a cappuccino for €45.20.
Of course I had to pick up more groceries (Dunnes-brand Weetabix, cream and bananas) which came to €5.17. I signed Nipper 2.0 and 3.0 up to gymnastics classes for one term. I paid online and this came to €290 for the two of them. They are very excited by this prospect! Long may it last.
Himself went to his yoga class which was €13 as part of a five-class pass. During term time I will often go to a yoga class in Little Bird on South Circular Road. I will head there straight after the school run with my laptop, get a cappuccino, skim through emails and then indulge in a bit of self love with the most excellent Kitty Maguire leading the way. After a couple of injuries and health scares this year I felt I needed exercise at a slightly different pace once a week.
Daily total: €353.37
At last the hallowed day has arrived. All the Nippers went back to school today. Hallelujah!
So I treated myself to a post-school run cappuccino (€2.70) with some actual adults in Pickles in Sundrive. It’s strange how people who you see and chat with everyday, sometimes about life-changing decisions and events, can be gone from your life for two whole months. Working on my own, as much as I enjoy my clients’ company, I certainly need that interaction with real people during the day!
Of course I had to pick up more groceries which came to €13.17. It was mainly fruit and vegetables: salad for my lunch, fruit for smoothies, avocado and iceberg lettuce for burritos. I also picked up a prescription for €22.99. If you are really nosy and need to know what this prescription was for I may write about it over on my blog in the near future as it has been life-changing…!
I also finally signed up for my Patreon sub with Rosemary. Morto! But I had been justifying not subscribing to date based on all the help I had given her with her site when she started out. However, I find her work hugely entertaining and insightful. I’m impressed by her ability to get to the heart of a matter. I think having somebody like her making a living from shining a light on many issues is worth, eh, a €5ish a month from me. That seems so mean. I’m sorry, Rosiebuds.
Thursday lunchtime I put together the menu for the week and the shopping list for the week.
Meanwhile Himself was at work and then had to head off to his family homeplace for two nights. Luckily the company he works for also have offices there so he can make himself available. Return train ticket for him and his bike (actually no extra charge but limited spaces must be booked) cost €17.99.
I also realised while I was cycling the kids to their “amazing! Brilliant! So much fun!” gymnastics classes that we had no milk so I had to pick up two litres of milk in a garage (€1.95). Nipper 3.0 offered to go in while I minded the bikes and came out with own brand milk with no source. Who knows what the hell we were drinking!
Daily total: €63.80
As the other half was in his home place he had the added expenses of €6 for lunch €4 for coffees, €20 for groceries for dinner.
Meanwhile, I did the week’s shopping at home. For a long time now we have been planning our weekly menus, just the dinners. We have a large fridge and a second freezer which previous owners left behind in the shed. This means that I buy milk and bread for the week and if I see a bargain I can buy extra if it can go in the freezer. It also means I can make double batches of certain things and freeze them. We have at least two, possibly three, nights a week where I don’t have time to cook during the day so being organised is essential. If you are interested in what we cook check out my blog.
Our grocery bill for the week came to €160. Initially it was €188, but I had SuperValu loyalty vouchers for €23 and I was able to use that €5 discount Dunnes voucher. This was a less expensive week as I didn’t buy any beer or other high ticket items like laundry detergent or dishwasher tablets. I also didn’t buy any wine, as we stocked up while in France!
Daily total: €190
Weekly total: €1,948.55
If we take away the extraordinary extracurricular class payments that comes to €528.55 which seems about right for five people.
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