She saw an article about it in The Telegraph, and sent me the link. Once I started reading I realised I was smiling.
Basically this wonderful woman (Harriet), having been made redundant, and realising just how much unnecessary money people spend on their children, decided on a year-long "no spend" experiment to see if it was possible to raise children without spending so much. No child-specific foods, no money to be spent on toys or clothes, or activities for children. She and her husband and their two year old son were going "old school".
I'm disappointed not to have discovered this blog before. Her year long experiment is now finished, and I find myself trawling back through her posts to find out how to get on (it appears she had another baby during the year too!).
So... how much money do we spend on our children?
FOOD - I am delighted and proud to say that I have NEVER bought anything from the baby/toddler food aisle in the supermarket. My children have never had puree and have always eaten exactly the same as we eat. I do find that I buy more food, but I figure that's okay, they've got to eat after all!
NAPPIES - we MOSTLY used reusable nappies. We bought disposable when we were travelling on holidays, and for the first few weeks when nappies are at their most disgusting, and then we switched to expensive "pull-ups" once the children were potty training, so that they could get themselves to the toilet. Bug is still in pull-ups at night, and I can't wait until that finishes.
TOYS - when they were babies I don't think I bought them any toys. I made toys from bright sparkly things and pictures hanging from a clothes airer, and pasta in tubs and bottles and things like that. No, I tell a lie, I was proud of myself for being so frugal and splashed out on a wooden baby gym. As they've got older though, there have been more toy buys. I still try hard to make toys (the wooden cooker), knitted toys, some new pouches that I've just sewn (they were supposed to be pencil cases but ended up too short for the pencils - doh! more on that in a future post), but they are now into playmobil and lego, and have discovered money. C has just emptied his piggy banks to buy some playmobil on ebay, which at least is second hand and a lot less expensive than new. I don't think we spend nearly as much as some on toys, but we do spend.
CLOTHES - a lot of our clothes are hand-me-down. With older cousins of both genders, we do get plenty of clothes from my sisters, and there are also a couple of girls in the village who have passed on plenty of clothes to Bug, so actually I have little need to buy clothes very often. I'm just thinking about what new clothes we have bought over the last few months: vests, pants and socks, pyjamas, trousers and jumpers for C (he seemed to have very few for a while), shoes, waterproof coats. I think I could have got some of these second-hand, but I find trawling around the charity shops with small children in tow very trying, so tend to avoid shopping at all costs, and then just pop to the shop with something very specific in mind when I need something.
ACTIVITIES - aside from £2 per week at the local toddler group, I have no regular spends on children's activities. They are still free to get into the swimming pool, so I just pay for myself. We do have occasional trips to soft play, castles, museums, steam trains, safari parks etc. but they are usually either free or rare enough to be a special treat, so I don't think I overspend here. We do lots of playing at home, in the garden, walks and bike rides, parks and free museums, or make use of our Historic Scotland membership to visit castles.
How much do you spend on your children?
I'll be continuing to follow Harriet's blog, and hope that she continues to post as she ventures into trying not to spend to much with a baby in tow as well.