Archive for the 'Mummyeconomics' Category

Alternatives to Easter chocolate

Although Easter still a way off, the inevitable questions about whether it’s ok to buy my little one chocolate have started.  At 20 months she’s too young to be consuming lots of chocolate so I’m opting out of the chocolate egg option.  

I’d like to share one of the loveliest alternatives suggested by one of my mum friends.  The idea is to preserve the fun of the easter hunt along with a basket and optional daffy easter bonnet – I can still remember decorating mine at school with screwed up balls of yellow tissue paper – that’s for another year though!

The difference is to ask friends and relatives who want to ‘celebrate’ easter to spend a few pounds on a little easter toy such as a bunny or duck instead of a chocolate egg.  The idea is to complete the easter gift hunt and then culminate with a tea party for all the new easter toy friends in the lounge at the end.

I think its a really cute idea.  My relatives seem happy to join in with the approach, liking the fact their money is spent on toys she can continue to enjoy after the event as opposed to the short terms chocolate thrill.  That’s not to say there won’t be some chocolate eggs included.  But that’s not the main focus.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s alternative approaches to easter chocolate.

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Single parents aren’t poor because of bad money choices

Interesting guest post from Gingerbread on the TUC’s website talking about single parenting spending and Gingerbread’s recent ‘Family Finances’ report which reports on how single parents’ incomes and spending patterns compare with families with two parents. 

The good news is it’s not down to bad money choices.  The analysis shows that family budgets are divided fairly similarly regardless of whether its a couple or a single parent family.  So hurrah for all us sensible single parents.  However the bad news is that:

  • overall incomes for single parents were much lower than for couple families
  • single parents earn less per hour than mothers in couples, let alone couple dads who work
  • single parents are also likely to work part-time
  • nearly a third of part-time single parents are below the poverty line
  • 22% of single parents who work full time don’t earn enough to lift their families out of poverty

This makes me sad and frustrated, particularly at the thought of single parents busting a gut and working full time, missing out on key time with their kids, but who are then still unable to escape the poverty trap.  I know nothing about politics but I wish I had some bright ideas.  I wish there was a way to reach out to these single parents and try and help.  Sadly they probably aren’t the sort of single parents that have got the luxury of time to read blogs like this one. 

Acknowledgement to Salvatore Vuono for the image.

Single parenting: reducing costs and self sufficiency

Openconversation’s post on Budgeting as a single parent chimed with me as I’m currently in the throes of looking how I can reduce my costs significantly this year so that I can take three weeks statutory parental leave.  This is of course unpaid which, along with the week’s leave I’ve bought as part of my company benefits scheme, means that I’m looking at sacrificing a month’s wages.  Except it’s more than that because I then also need money to be able to do things with my currently 18 month old daughter on that time off.

I’m still pondering (all tips gratefully received) but one objective is to try and grow some of my own vegetables. I try and purchase organic food whenever I can and I’m trying to make the shift to buying seasonally but my addiction to Indian and Italian food means that I’m not yet emotionally ready to sacrifice tomatos and peppers in the winter despite my knowledge of the food miles they are travelling.  At this point my organic, seasonal, sustainable side goes sticks its fingers in its ears and says “la la la not listening” and I begin muttering about the cost of the inevitable trauma counselling that might ensue.

Stage one is complete.  I have bought a ‘grow house’ which is a metal frame with a plastic covering over the top the size of a greenhouse which I can use in the small patio I have with my flat.  Idea being if my landlord turfs me out in the summer when my tenancy is up it’s quick and easy to move it.  My aim is to grow tomatos and peppers and try and cook sauces and store them as much as I can in addition to having a longer season of the red goddesses than usual. 

The greenhouse was £40 and the seeds were about £3.  I buy about 6 organic tomatos at about £1.38 per week so x 52 that’s about £72 worth of tomatos a year.  I also buy about 4 organic peppers per week at a cost of about £3.10 per week or £161 per year.  It’ll be interesting to see if this saves me any money this year.

I’m looking forward to my daughter seeing the process from seedlings to plants to plate.  Companion planting is a new subject to me but I’ve been reading up on it and apparently you should grow marigolds to deter aphids so I’m putting munchkin officially in charge of the marigolds over the summer.  Allotment Growing has been an invaluable aid in researching this subject.

Stage two is underway – cooking extra food with dinner so take into work as lunch each day.  This one is going to need work.  When I can stop eating the extras cooked with dinner as part of dinner then maybe this one will progress.  This is going to be a natural hindrance to stage three which is actually use my gym membership and start to get fit working on the assumption that a fitter mummy is a leaner mummy who may eat more of the right things, less of the wrong things and hence the food bill will go down accordingly.  Otherwise I shall remain as a female adult version of my daughter’s most beloved of all bears, Winnie the Pooh…smiling and tum te tumming in a cute way but don’t mention the belly sticking out from under the t-shirt.

Watch this space!

Cost saving cards for Christmas: Quilling

I’ve made a donation to Kids Company this year instead of sending cards to the 30 children and nursery workers at Munchkin’s nursery, work colleagues and friends. 

I’m making cards for a few special family members and decided this year to have a go at quilling.  It’s super fiddly and I ended up covered in glue but I’m pretty pleased with my first attempt.  It’s got a kind of shabby chic groove going on.  You need a special tool and quilling papers which most good craft shops sell.  Hobbycraft have a beginner quilling kit.

There’s some lovely patterns on the internet you can copy – this angel quilling christmas card is very pretty and if you get really good you can make christmas decorations too – here’s a snowflake quilling christmas tree decoration.

Quilling christmas card


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