Our resident Dad, Pat Fitzpatrick, takes a look at some of the do’s and don’ts of saving money when you have kids. (This article is not regulated by the Central Bank. Pat Fitzpatrick knows less about saving money than your average Russian billionaire. The best you can hope for here is a few cheap laughs.)
1. Wet Wipes
Research shows that Irish parents spend 75% of their income on wet wipes every year. Why? Because anything less than 110% water ones, hand-crafted by wet wipe experts in Switzerland, is the height of bad parenting. Those 98% water ones with a tiny bit of perfume? You might as well be dumping your baby on the steps of an orphanage. The trick is to use less wet wipes. This means the return of “The Cloth”. You know, the stinky damp thing your mother had hanging off the tap. Use that instead of a wet wipe to clean the small faces. That’s a 10 grand saving right there.
The buggy has two main uses. 1: Ferrying your kids around. 2: Making other parents feel inadequate because they can’t afford a Bugaboo Donkey. (It’s so much cheaper than buying a new BMW.) Buying a second-hand buggy is of course a great way to rub your friend’s face in it. (You feel so sorry for her little Jack, being pushed around in a Greco.) That said, you might want to buy second-hand now, while it still works. Why? Because you live in the only country in the world which puts the year on car-registration plates. That’s how snobby we are. It’s only a matter of time before we have buggy license plates showing when it was first purchased. And who wants to be seen pushing around a 2012 UPPAbaby. The mortification!
Good news. The government is looking at proposals to reduce the burden of childcare over the next few budgets. Bad news. There is an election next year. If you really believe cheap childcare is anything more than an election promise, please send us your credit card details, as our uncle, the former President of Bugandanzia, would like to deposit $100 million in your account so it can be used to help polar bears. (Don’t worry, it’s all above board.) Look, there is still only one way to cut childcare costs. Pay a gorgeous young Spanish woman 120 euro a week to rear your kids. This is proving very popular with Irish dads. Irish moms? Not so much.
Those of you with small boys might have noticed that a wet nappy is still perfectly dry at the back. So why not turn it around and use it again? Because someone will find out and you’ll be the subject of a TV3 documentary called Super Scrimping Parents from Hell. So that’s out. Here is another false economy. You buy 300 size 4 nappies in the supermarket because they are on special offer. Your sneaky baby has a growth spurt on the way home in the car. You put him in the size 4s anyway. They can’t hold all the wee. You decide to have another baby to use up the size 4s. That costs a fortune in the long run.
5. GP Fees
This is one for you first time parents. Your baby sneezing twice in five minutes isn’t necessarily a sign that she has the bubonic plague. Obviously something will have to be done if she keeps sneezing. Some people make an appointment to see their local GP. Bye, bye, all your money. The correct treatment for a slightly off baby is to dress them up warmly and bring them to the doctor’s waiting-room. By the time you get there, the baby will be fine. Works every time. You can always call in on the doctor when the government makes good on its promise to give parents a GP medical card. If you still believe that is going to happen, then our agents are standing by to take a 10 grand deposit for your guided-tour of the sun. Call now!
You might be familiar with the term Gentleman’s Family. That’s when you have two kids, a boy and a girl. It’s a good thing, apparently. Unless you are the second kid and a boy. That’s you in the family photo aged two and a half, dressed in your sister’s tights. They’re not even navy. Moms. They just can’t resist squeezing another few months out of the eldest one’s clothes. Here’s the lowdown on dressing your little boy in his sister’s clothes. 1: Vests and onesies are good up to one. 2: Coats and hats work up to two. 3: He will blame you for anything that happens to him for the rest of his life if you put him in the dress from Frozen. Be careful of that.
7. Plastic Property
Yes, property prices are starting to pick up around the country again. But it’s still possible to find a 3 bed semi-d in some places that is cheaper than a Little Tikes Playhouse. And the problem is that once your little tikes get used to one house, they will start demanding the even more expensive castles and other such extravagant buildings. The best thing is to scare them off with a spooky house story. It was a stormy day in 2007. Mom and Daddy signed the mortgage forms for their lovely new house. And now they are imprisoned there forever by evil bankers. Cue claps of thunder and evil laughter. It might be funny if it wasn’t true.
How do you mean you don’t know about the Smith’s Voucher arrangement. This is where a group of Moms comes together and agrees that everyone will give everyone else a €20 voucher for their child’s birthday present. (If you think Dads have anything to do with organising presents for their kids, then you are actually mental.) So with say 10 kids in the circle, you get 10 x €20 vouchers for Sophie’s birthday. You give her 3 of them and keep 7 to give to other kids in the circle when their birthday comes around. Good, isn’t it? Well, yes, as long as Sophie is one of the older girls in the circle. Otherwise, it’s a pyramid scheme, where you get stuck with a load of vouchers you can’t pawn off on the older kids who are too old for Smiths. Give them all to Sophie and she’ll think you’re loaded. That’s a shortcut to bankruptcy right there. Here’s a trick if you have one of the youngest kids in a Smiths Voucher Circle. Hang around the door of the class below your Sophie’s in the crèche. You never know when you might meet a bigger eejit than yourself.