Thursday, 12 September 2013

Dear Abigail & Theo, be clever with your money...

Dear Abigail and Theo,

When Mummy and Daddy first met we had a choice, live apart on other sides of the country and save up for the future, or live together and be poor. We chose the later. We chose to be poor and happy. And it was the right thing because money isn't the most important thing in life. I worked while Daddy finished university and we lived in a little council flat in one of the poorer cities in the country. But we were very very happy.

Where we started.

You don't need to have a lot of money coming in, you just need to manage what you have and concentrate on the important things. Be clever with what you have. If you have a lot then save some to buy the bigger things in life. If, like us, you have a little then prioritise what do you need to survive and what is important.

When I was pregnant for the first time we survived on my one wage, knowing that maternity leave would take a cut while Daddy looked for a job after finishing university. We had very little left over after our bills were paid. What was left over went onto a prepaid cash card so we each had a little pocket money. We couldn't afford all the things we needed for a baby so we asked family and friends who wanted to buy us a present to choose from a list rather than another cute outfit. What we didn't get as gifts we got second hand.

Everything a present or second hand, but you wanted for nothing.

Daddy got a new job in a new town where we can give you a much better quality of life. When you were both born we still lived in that tiny council flat. Now we live in a lovely big 3 bedroomed house with a garden We have some debt from getting moving down here and it will probably take a while for us to clear that. Although its not ideal to have debts but without that debt we would not be were we are today.

Now Daddy works so I can stay at home and look after you. Money is still tight but you don't want for anything. We budget our income and are never late paying a bill. I write menus so we don't waste food and cook from scratch to save money. When it comes to your toys we get creative. Some of your favourite toys at the moment are wooden spoons and bowls bought from a pound shop, others have come from a charity shop. Instead of buying expensive toys I've made you story sacks and put together activity boxes which are probably more fun and allow you to learn more than most shop bought toys. We don't go holiday in a hotel in another country, we holiday in a tent, though at your young age your probably wouldn't like the heat abroad anyway. And besides camping is amazing fun and gives us a lot of time together as a family, something money cannot buy. What little we have we make go as far as possible to give you both a fantastic start in life.

Jumping in muddy puddles.... Free and fun!!

As soon as you are old enough to get pocket money you can start to learn to be clever with your money as well.
  1. Remember money doesn't grow on trees, once its gone its gone. You need to earn it. Sometimes you can find ways to earn more money, but you got to put in the work.
  2. Work out what needs paying now and what you need to save for. When your older this will mean making sure your bills are paid first.
  3. Write it down. When you can see where your money is going you know what's left over. Its amazing how much you can spend when you don't keep track of things. Separate the money you can spend now and the money you will save. When you are little this will mean putting it in a piggy bank and different wallet. When you are bigger it might mean using a bills account, a savings account or a prepaid cash card to ensure you don't spend money you need. 
  4. Find less expensive ways of getting what you want. Look for the best deal. Consider pre-loved items. Consider a different model. Ensure you are not wasting money on postage or travel.
  5. Money won't make you happy, but don't let it make you sad. Debt can makes you sad. Avoid debt if you can. There will always be something you "need" and if you are paying back money for something you needed in the past then you won't have money there for what you need today. Only use debt if your truly need to and know how you will pay it back.
But for now don't be sad if we don't buy you everything you see. As a teenager you might resent this, but when your an adult and a parent yourself you will understand. Even if we can't afford to buy you every outfit, toy or game you won't miss out because you have a Mummy and Daddy who love you very much and will give the most precious thing there is, our time and our love.

Love from Mummy and Daddy

This is my entry for a competition with ThinkMoney to win some vouchers.

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