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I’m sitting on a soft, sandy beach, while the Caribbean laps at my feet. My perfectly tanned legs are stretched out before me, and I recline on the sun lounger with a cool, refreshing drink beside me, and I think about perhaps having a back massage or a facial later on in the spa of the 5 star hotel I’m staying in. Of course, I’m in the penthouse suite; with butler service, an enormous bed, separate living room and study; and I have gourmet meals in the private dining room every night, while being serenaded by Michael Buble. The actual Michael Buble. In person…

Sorry, what’s that you say? I was dreaming? Was I? I don’t have gourmet meals? I haven’t got a suite in a 5 star hotel? Michael Buble would rather dip his head in tar than sing to me because I can’t afford him?

Sigh.

Well, okay it was a bit of an extreme ideal, but I am trying to make a point.

That luxurious life is currently well out of my reach, and probably always will be, but I was thinking recently about the struggles that so many of us have nowadays just to pay for the normal, everyday things in life, let alone holidays or meals out.

Babies cost money.SONY DSC

I read online recently that the latest estimate of the total cost of raising a child in the UK today is around £218,000.

I will wait a second while you mop up the tea you just spat out all over yourself…

Yep, you heard me right, £218,000. And that’s just one.

The hubby and I recently went away overnight for a Valentine’s break to a local hotel that was offering a special discounted deal. This was our first night away from the baby since she was born, but that wasn’t the big issue. It was the agonising decision over whether to spend the money on the hotel break or not. It’s hard, you can’t but help weigh up how much you are spending against the equivalent of what you could get for the baby with the same money – the cost of a coat for example, being the same as a few days of childcare. Almost every spending decision is taken with so much more care and worry than before the baby came along, and the idea of saving money becomes so much more important too – because you never know when you might need it in the future.

I think it’s very hard to be able to juggle your finances even before you have a baby, and when a family does come along, it is doubly hard to make the same amount of money go further, as well as paying for childcare. It also doesn’t help that maternity pay (the sort I received, anyway) really doesn’t remotely stretch far enough to replace the usual income you receive when you are in full time work. For me, it made maternity leave much more stressful than it should have been. Thankfully, I had a helpful family, and understanding creditors who I made arrangements with, and happily, I’m back on track. There are other options like getting a loan, or using savings to keep you on track, and depending on your personal situation, either would work. I’ve tried hard, too, to avoid buying anything frivolous, and to just budget for the basics that we need – as even those things are expensive nowadays. I never thought I would be so boring as to exclaim to the G Man in the supermarket; “Christ, have you seen the price of those eggs?” but that is what the current economical climate has reduced us all to. There is one thing though; that I still save a little money aside for, and that’s a lottery ticket.

I can dream, can’t I?

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