12k for a day

Ahh yes my wedding day. One of the best days of my life and not simply because of the amount of money we spent on it. 12k for a day is a lot of money but 12k in debt plus all the cash we also paid is just insanity when it was never our original plan.

Original Plan

Originally our plan, or my plan really, was to keep costs as low as possible. Back then before the madness overtook me we were trying to save for a house. Not much has changed really! Still trying to save for a home of our own.

Well the plan was to keep costs down. The vibe was a comfy cozy winter wedding. Think woolly jumpers and soft scarves.

The early stages

I spent days upon days googling how to make my own wedding cake. I even started baking in the hopes that said cake would be edible and taste decent. Yup, I was planning to bake my own wedding cake with no baking experience.

It gets better! I have some skill at knitting, nothing to write home about but I can manage basic stitches and if I’m following a tutorial I can hold my own. So that naturally led to me googling knitted wedding dresses. Which in all honesty are really beautiful and unique but way above my abilities. An example of what I was thinking of can be found here. Beautiful right?

Don’t think it stopped there, oh no my dear reader it went so much further! I was googling bouquets and how close to the day they needed to be assembled. If only I could find the link! In a nutshell they need to be kept alive (obviously) but you don’t want the flowers to open until the very last second. I would have to assemble the bouquets the day before. So there I am planning on assembling bouquets the day before my wedding while simultaneously icing a wedding cake for however many people.

A deep dive of google taught me that flowers bought at wholesale are substantially cheaper but if memory serves me correctly a vat number is needed. So that was the nail in the coffin of that idea.

But wait! Theres more..

Surely that’s as bad as it got? Ha! I wish. I found a beautiful venue that was very reasonably priced. Off season and midweek. All was going well. Then I tried to convince my then fiancé that stew and mash was a solid main meal option. He doesn’t even like stew or mash!

Bridesmaids dresses? Yeah I had 5 bridesmaids. I wanted all of sisters standing with me. So hi-ho hi-ho it was off to Ebay I went. I found some lovely dresses that were really well priced and well made. My bridesmaids hated them. Back to the drawing board I went.

How it actually went?

That beautiful venue got the axe when we walked around the area and found a used contraceptive on the ground and a used sharp near it. Really didn’t suit the family friendly atmosphere we wanted.

The cake I was going to make was made by someone who knows what they’re doing. It cost a lot. It was worth it. Cake is always worth it.

Sorry I got carried away thinking about chocolate sponge with a chocolate buttercream filling.

The wedding dress went through many stages. At first I bought a dress off Ebay. It was atrocious on me. So rather than waste any more on dresses I hated we went dress shopping. I found a beautiful dress that made me feel not like a mammy. That was the main criteria. I wanted to feel like me but not look like a mammy.

It goes without saying at this stage I paid a florist to do the flowers. However I had my talented mammy make the bouquets out of broaches and artificial flowers. They were raved about and with good reason!

Bridesmaids dresses drove me insane. I changed them so many times to try please all 5 girls. In the end I went with multiway dresses and broaches to personalize them.

Was it worth 12k for a day?

Indecision, competitiveness, comparison and the date we settled on all had a part to play in our 12k debt. Once again I made the decision to go with the most expensive option and picked New Years Eve.

The date drove the price up with all of our vendors. Its a peak date during a peak season.

That date drastically upped the cost and inevitably led to our “12k for a day” debt. Our wedding cost substantially more than twelve thousand euro but I didn’t mind the cash price. It’s the debt that annoyed me. It took a full year to pay that back.

Was it worth it? Maybe. I loved my wedding day. It was elegant and beautiful. If we had paid cash for everything I would say it was worth every last cent. My only regret is the debt had a massive affect on our ability to buy a home.

Lessons learned?

Pay for things that matter to you. If they’re not something essential or that you actually care about they don’t need to be in your budget.

Better still, actually write a budget! Don’t just wing it and assume it will all work out for the best.

Vendors charge money. They’re not a charity and are running a business. Choose vendors that offer the service that matches your needs and your budget. If photography is important to you then it should be reflected in your budget. Cut back an area that isn’t important to allow for the larger photography cost or you could find yourself also looking at “12k for a day” debt.

If cake isn’t important to you then go without. Alternatively consider a dummy cake for photos and a sheet cake in the kitchen to serve from.

Dresses are big money because weddings are a multimillion if not billion euro industry. Think of it this way, all that material and hours that goes into making a dress has to be paid for some how. If a dress isn’t a priority for you but you’d still like a wedding day feel then maybe look at preloved dresses. Maybe a suit or a simple white dress is more your style. Go with what makes you feel beautiful and confident.

The biggest lesson I can share is DIY is not always cheaper. Mistakes cost money. Indecision costs money. Materials and equipment cost money. Simply put DIY can save money if its already a hobby you are interested in. It does not always save money. Trust me.

I’ll leave you with this photo from my wedding day.

Fat Funny Girl

A weird way to describe yourself I hear you say. No, this isn’t a – woe is me, please feel sorry for me and give me all the love and attention you have spare – type of post. In fact this is a self loving notion that has taken root in my mind and I want to share it with you. I’m a fat funny girl.

Why would I describe myself that way?!

The short answer is its a mindset shift. I could easily have said I’m a funny fat girl and that would be completely wrong. The emphasis here is on my sense of humor. I just happen to be fat. I’m not funny because I’m fat. See what I mean?

How does this mindset shift help?

Well instead of focusing on a negative attribute of mine I’m choosing to focus on a part of myself that I actually like. There is nothing at all wrong with knowing the things you’d like to change about yourself. I believe we need to know the good and bad about ourselves and not hide from it. The key thing is not to focus completely on the negative. Be aware of it but don’t let it consume you.

What’s this got to do with money?

Not everything we do in life has a link to money but a positive mindset is surely an asset when dealing with money issues. Fat funny girl might just as easily be broke and budgeting instead of budgeting and broke. Broke and budgeting implies someone is broke but doing something about it. Budgeting and broke however implies someone is budgeting but the numbers aren’t adding up.

How to use this idea in your own life?

When you implement a budget in your life you need to be conscious of how it’s going. Are you sticking to the budget or is it more of a guideline? Be mindful of how you are using your money. It’s well and good writing a budget every month but if you’re not using it you might as well plant a €50 note and hope a money tree sprouts.

Being truthful with your self really is the most important element. If you’re not consistent with your budget you can’t realistically expect great results from it. If you took up jogging and did it off and on for a year would you really expect the same results as someone who did it every day?

Remember to focus on the positives!

Being truthful is only part of the equation. Focusing on the wins and where things went well makes staying on course easier than getting bogged down in where things went wrong. If you make a mess of the budget it’s not the end of the world. As an alternative to saying “I can’t get this right” consider saying “I made a mistake but I learned this (insert lesson) from the experience”. Be honest with yourself but focus on the positive that came from the lesson.

Further reading

If you are interested in reading some more around positive mindset shift I found a piece written by Larry Alton that I found interesting. Here is the link. Larry also believes in turning mistakes into learning experiences and in turning negative self talk into positive self talk.

An anxious mind and money

I know what you’re thinking. Anxiety is a buzz word right now. The world and his wife is lining up to talk about their anxiety and mental health. It’s one of the few things I’m grateful to the Kardashians for. The Kardashians made opening up that little bit easier because they normalized talking about feelings. So today we will look at an anxious mind and money.

What is anxiety?

It’s simply a state or worry or tension that can range from mild to severe. At some point everyone experiences anxiety. Lets say you’ve a big party to plan for your brother and you’re feeling stressed because you have so much to do. Chances are you’re also dealing with some anxiety. Anxious that guests won’t arrive or anxious that you haven’t enough food organized. That form of anxiety is fairly reasonable I’d imagine.

Anxiety left unchecked and unmanaged is exhausting and can lead to poor mental health.

So what is an anxious mind?

This isn’t my area of expertise but as someone living with an anxious mind I believe I can talk on it a little. While some anxiety is to be expected in life, an anxious mind can spend a big chunk of time in an anxious state. What does that even mean? Ok let me give an example. It’s the first day of big school for your first born. You’re anxious that they might struggle to fit in or to learn the new rules. You’re anxious they won’t adjust to the big changes well or maybe they will struggle with toileting on their own. Whatever the anxiety your feeling in this scenario is perfectly normal.

An anxious mind like mine is coping with all of that and more. My mind starts to worry about if I’m allowed to walk them into the classroom. Where do I go when my child is sitting down? Should I stay with them or should I speak to the teacher. Maybe I should figure out what I’ll say to the teacher. What do I call the teacher? Do I use their title or their given name?

All of that goes through an anxious mind in a very short space of time. If it only stopped there it wouldn’t be so bad. No instead we tear apart every word we said, every word the teacher said, every facial expression and the body language given off. Bet I looked like an idiot when I said.. I’m sure the teacher thought I was “one of those parents” because.. I definitely annoyed the other parents by taking up so much of the teachers time when they needed to get off to work.. etc. The list goes on.


Oh boy this is where the real fun is. Someone who isn’t prone to anxiety will make a friend and that’s it. Yes they will fall out from time to time. Yes they will have disagreements and yes they will need to work on the relationship now and again. A friend with an anxious mind might struggle with maintaining the friendship in a healthy way. In this scenario we will assume it is a new acquaintance and a budding friendship in the making. For one person it is a simple case of meeting a person they like and enjoy hanging out with. For the other person its a series of anxiety ridden thoughts such as..

Are they only talking to me because they feel sorry for me or to be polite?

Am I taking up too much of their time? I’m sure there is someone they would much rather be talking to right now.

Why did I have to say that? Now they won’t want to speak to me again.

Lets assume now the friendship has progressed and the relationship is well established. Would it surprise you to learn those thoughts don’t go away? Those thoughts continue to crop up but now there is an added challenge. There is a friendship that needs to be nurtured and taken care of. Sounds bonkers doesn’t it? The very thing the person wanted was a friend and now they have one they’re just as anxious not to mess it up. Thoughts such as..

Am I am a toxic friend? I’m forever dumping my struggles on my friend. Surely they’ll get sick of me sharing all my drama soon.

I promised I’d do something but now I don’t feel I can. Is my friend going to be cross? What if they don’t forgive me?

I’m the friend they feel sorry for. They’d much rather be talking to the “normal” friend who doesn’t always have issues.

An anxious mind and money

Money is no different. An anxious mind and money go together about as well as oil and water. There is always a worry of some description around money. Most people do feel some anxiety around finances. In an issue of the Irish Examiner from 2019 it is claimed that 44% of workers face financial strain that leads to money stress.

Someone struggling with financial anxiety might overspend to make themselves feel better in the moment. They may have been under financial strain and found themselves doing some shopping to relieve the stress temporarily. Then they find themselves worried about the overspending. This creates a vicious circle. It’s hard to break this pattern but it is do-able.

Another person with financial anxiety might hoard money to create a sense of security. This person is trapped in a constant state of fear that they don’t have enough to cover an emergency or day to day living costs. Perhaps they’ve known financial struggle before and so they’re afraid of going back to that place. They might not realize that money is a tool to be used.

These are two extreme ends of the spectrum. There are, of course, a whole range of ways that financial anxiety manifests itself.

How to cope?

The first step in my opinion is to realize and accept there is an issue. That’s not to say that everyone who over spends or hoards money is struggling with anxiety. If you think you’re dealing with anxiety please do get the opinion of a medical professional such as your G.P.

However anxious mind or not budgeting can be a great source of comfort for anyone. It gives control back to the individual over their own finances. Making decisions about your future and focusing on what you can control.

If you’re interested in learning how to budget I have another blog post you can find here. This blog post outlines a step by step process for beginning to budget. Included are some free printables to help get you started.

A fantastic article on getting in control of your money was written by the Irish Independent. It discusses money management strategies that beginners and long term budgeters can benefit from.

Where ever you find yourself financially there is help available. For free, impartial and confidential financial support consider reaching out to MABS. They are an organization dedicated to helping people get better control over their financial situation. An anxious mind and money issues can be healed with the right support!

Sinking fund or cash flow?

Whether you are new to budgeting or an old hand at it deciding whether to use a sinking fund or cash flow for an expense can be a pain in the neck. Lets start at the beginning and talk sinking funds for a moment.

What is a sinking fund?

Sinking funds are money you put away regularly to pay for a known expense in your short to medium term future. Take back to school expenses for an example. They come every year without fail. There is always something needed for school be it a new school bag, a new uniform or maybe the whole kit and caboodle. So the best plan of attack is to squirrel away a little bit of money, regularly, to cover the cost. A sinking fund in a nut shell.

What is cash flowing?

Now we know what a sinking fund is. What is cash flowing? For this to make sense let me give you a scenario. You’re doing your budget up and remember it’s your neighbour’s 60th birthday in 3 weeks. You are not prepared and do not have a sinking fund. However you want to get her a small gift and you know there is a small amount of money in your budget you could allocate to it. So that’s what you do. You decide how much of that available money in your budget can be allocated to the gift.

How do decide if you need to use a sinking fund or cash flow an expense?

Write down a list of short term expenses in your near future. Christmas, birthdays, dog grooming, date night, turf or home heating oil etc. Now decide which are the priorities. What do you actually care about? You will have a mix of big and small birthdays coming up. Your son’s 7th birthday is naturally more important to you than your co-workers 42nd birthday. For your son’s birthday should you use a sinking fund or cash flow it? I would say sinking fund. There will be a rough estimate in your mind of what its going to cost for his birthday. It would be easier to put away a small bit each week or month to cover that cost.

Now what about the co-worker? Depending on how close a relationship you have you may want to use a sinking fund or cash flow this. Assuming this is your work bestie and you know 3 months out you want to buy them something special you may want to use a sinking fund. However if the co-worker is someone you occasionally talk to and would like to get them something you may chose to cash flow their birthday.

There is no cut and dry formula with personal budgeting. You do what works best for you. So if there’s a specific amount you know in advance you want to spend I would use a sinking fund. If you’re happy to allocate whatever you have spare to an expense then I would use cash flow.

What if you haven’t enough in your sinking fund?

You’ve saved all year for Christmas and you don’t have enough saved. You under estimated the amount you needed to put aside. All is not lost! Cash flow it. An example would be €900 in sinking fund but need €1050. You’re short €150. You know there is €100 spare in the budget that you can cash flow but you’re still going to be left €50 short. You’re options are

-borrow from another sinking fund and pay it back.

-tighten the budget. Maybe less spent on personal money/ family fun or takeaways.

-earn some extra money. Work a few hours over time or sell some unwanted items. Maybe do some paid online surveys.

The key thing to take away from this experience is to up your sinking fund contributions for next year. You don’t want to be caught short a second time.

There you have it, whether you chose to use a sinking fund or cash flow an expense comes down to personal choice. That’s why its a personal budget and not a bog standard one size fits all.

For more information about using a sinking fund or cash flow check out..

The Irish Budgeting Mammy, also known as Ann-Marie, has a great post on sinking funds. If you’d like to check it out press the link. Ann-Marie is a mammy first and foremost but she is also the creator of The Budget Book. She includes sinking fund trackers in her budgeting book because they are a great tool when you are organising your money.

Another great resource on the topic of sinking funds can be found at this link. Santis from The Caribbean Dub has created her own budgeting style based around priorities. So sinking funds would be part of her Four Families budget and would be under The Long Family. There is also the Walls, Jones and Fundays categories in Santis’ priorities based budgeting system.

Meal planning is pointless

Meal planning is pointless. Why waste time planning meals ahead of time? It’s so boring eating the same meals over and over. Meal planning is for poor people. And weirdos.

Some of the commonly shared opinions about meal planning, from people who have never meal planned, can be summed up with those few lines. Look meal planning isn’t glamorous. But to say “meal planning is pointless” is a ludacrous statement only made by those who haven’t tried it.

Why bother to meal plan?

Meal planning has so many benefits but lets start with the one most likely to appeal. It saves people money. A lot of money! Have you ever done the shopping and then, between one thing and another, didn’t get around to eating the food you bought?

Lets take salad ingredients as our example here. So you took the time to travel to the shop. Paid for the fuel to get there, bought the ingredients and travelled home. You then paid to store the salad ingredients in the fridge and as we all know electricity is not cheap. Then what? You didn’t fancy the salad? Didn’t get a chance to eat it? Forgot to bring it with you to work and bought a salad at the deli? You didn’t eat it and now it’s only fit for the bin. Ah but now you have to include the cost of binning the salad too! To some that up, you paid for diesel to and from the shop, paid for the salad and then paid to bin it but never took a single bite.

That brings us nicely to the next benefit of meal planning. It’s better for the environment. Less waste going to Landfill can surely only be a good thing in this day and age. How else is meal planning beneficial for the environment? Well back to our salad example, it takes an enormous amount of resources to grow and produce those ingredients. Not alone that think of all the fuel involved in transporting the salad from farm to shop to home to landfill.

Meal planning is boring!

Ok so we’ve put to bed the idea that meal planning is pointless but is it as boring as it sounds? Well that depends on you. A meal plan can be as simple or as adventurous as you like. You will be the one to decide what goes on there. All that’s changing with a meal plan is you won’t be buying food you won’t get around to eating.

Meal planning isn’t eating the same 7 meals every single week unless that’s what you want to do. It can be eating 31 different dinners if you can come up with that many and if you enjoy that much variety. Your tastes, creativity and budget sets the tone for your meal plan. The Budget Mom, Miko, is a huge advocate for meal planning. Miko is a single parent who paid off colossal debt and cut her family’s grocery budget in half with a meal plan. If you want to check out Miko’s YouTube video about meal planning this is the link .

The thing I found most interesting about Miko’s method is the use of leftovers. She makes bigger potions to ensure leftovers. The idea is to have days during the week in the meal plan where she doesn’t have to cook. Sounds amazing right?

Fine I’ll give meal planning a try, but how do I do it?

Start by checking what you have on hand in your home already. Prioritise food that needs using up to avoid throwing anything in the bin. Lets pretend you have an onion that’s looking very sorry for itself and a bit of garlic that looks very lonely in the fridge. Somewhere lurking in the back of the press in a tin of chopped tomatoes and a squeeze of tomato puree could be found. Hey ho you are well on your way to a decent pasta sauce. You could call it a day with those ingredients or if you wanted to add some protein you could hunt out a tin of tuna or that chicken you’ve been meaning to use up for weeks in the freezer.

Make a list of the meals you can make with the ingredients you already have. There will be some that you can make with just one or two extra ingredients needed. You have more in the house than you think! A great place to learn more about the power of meal planning is mrshawkinshouse.com. What Ruth doesn’t know about meal planning isn’t worth knowing. A great resource on this topic is Ruth’s €50 Aldi Meal Plan And Shopping List From My No Spend Year post. Meal planning is pointless couldn’t be further from the truth once you read Ruth’s post.

Let me leave you with this short story..

Years ago I was doing my shopping as one does. I would buy the same things week in and week out. Every week was the same. My husband, then partner, discovered I’d bought gravy yet again. By this stage there was apparently 6 tubs of gravy in the press already. Now I didn’t know there was an abundance of gravy granules. Truth be told if I had known then there was better ways to be spending the euro I’d wasted on another tub. Anyway I’d bought another tub and this was the straw that broke the camels back so to speak. My husband flipped. Complete waste of money that tub was because hubby sent it sailing with a swift boot across the road and into a ditch! Yep that tub didn’t even get the chance to see inside the press never mind the bin.

There you have it. That’s the reason I believe so strongly in meal planning. That’s the reason I’ll never say meal planning is pointless.

Couponing in Ireland

Did you ever see the show that was out a few years ago, Extreme Couponing? The idea behind the show was simple enough. Families would spend their spare time gathering coupons from newspapers and flyers in order to reduce their grocery shopping costs. Every family on the show took couponing seriously. They had a stockpile similar to a small shop. In some cases they were so good at couponing they were making a small income from it. Couponing in Ireland is no where close to the level it is at in America.

My obsession

I remember when the show was at the peak of its popularity here I was glued to it every day. We had just had our first born and money was at an all time low with the country still in the depths of a recession. I googled “couponing in Ireland” and “where to find coupons in Ireland” almost weekly. One night I came across a thread on www.boards.ie where there was others like me trying to find coupons for their groceries. It was slim pickings. There was the occasional offer on pigback and there was random coupons on brands official websites.

At one stage I was so fed up with watching Extreme Couponing and not being able to do couponing in Ireland to the same extent that I found myself on google yet again. This time I was googling flights to America and the import duties on a container of groceries. Needless to say I couldn’t wrap my head around all of the information and so abandoned that plan. I’m not sure how I planned to find enough coupons to make it worth my while going to that effort!

What I did learn about couponing in Ireland?

I learned during my obsession that it is unlikely to take off to the same extent here. There was a Killeen coupon if memory serves me right that was abused and most likely put many brand off. I believe the coupon was a five euro off with Killeen products offer. The trouble arose when some people abused the voucher. They bought one Killeen product like sponges and used the remaining value of the voucher on other brand named groceries.

The other issue in my opinion is that Ireland is a small country with a small population. This makes offering coupons a bit pointless from a brands point of view. They’re unlikely to sway enough customers away from another brand. It comes down to brand loyalty. Lets pretend you sell cookies and there is a pool of 10 customers but there are two other brands selling cookies in the same pool. The chances of swaying enough customers over to your brand to make discounting them with coupons worth your while is slim enough I should think.

So is all hope lost for couponing in Ireland?

Truthfully I doubt Ireland will ever see couponing like America or even the UK have. However in recent years with the introduction of stores like Lidl and Aldi we are seeing a much more competitive market. Lidl brought out an app that offered coupons every week on certain items. Tesco is after introducing clubcard offers that heavily discount some items. Dunnes have had their ten euro off fifty euro spend offer for years but now they’ve introduced an app. I can’t help wondering if we will see some coupons or discounts on the Dunnes app soon. It will be interesting to see what other changes the Irish supermarkets under go in the coming years. We will just have to wait and see!

Budgeting for Beginners

Downloadable budgeting for beginners work sheets

This is going to be a step by step guide of budgeting for beginners. First you need to know why you want to budget. are you planning a holiday or a wedding maybe? Or perhaps you have a baby on the way and want to take some unpaid maternity leave? Retirement might have crossed your mind or college fees. Whatever the reason is you want to get your finances in order. Keep that why at the forefront of your mind while we go through these steps.


Track your spending.

With pen and paper or an excel sheet you need to write down every time you spend money for the next month. You need to know what direct debits go out of your account, how often and how much. At this point if you realise you are paying for something you don’t use or get value from you can look into cancelling it. By the end of the month you should know where every cent of your money went from main food shops and top up shops to daily coffees and hair appointments.

Write down every source of income

Every source of income you rely on or expect to have should be included.

Earned income

Unearned income such as rent received or a lodger

Social welfare payments such as working family payment or domiciliary care allowance

Child benefit

Maintenance payments

If it is an income you expect to receive in the coming pay period it needs to be included. Make the money you worked hard for work for you. Give your money a job or you’ll find it disappearing.

Write down your expenses

Using the information you put together when you tracked your spending you need to list your expenses.

All of your direct debits, the dates they go out and how much like car insurance and mortgage/rent.

Day to day living expenses like food, fuel and childcare.

With budgeting for beginners it is best to be as accurate as possible. Write your real numbers and not the numbers you would like to achieve. In time when budgeting is more natural for you you could look at cutting your costs for example reducing the food bill by five euro a week or maybe ten euro a month.

Put your information on a calendar

Assign one colour to your income and assign another colour to your expenses. If money comes in on the 3rd of every month or comes in every friday then colour those dates in on the calendar. With your second colour if money is due to go out on a specific date colour that date on the calendar. If money comes in and goes out the same date then colour it both colours.

Income is equal or greater to your expenses

Your income needs to be equal to or greater than your expenses. If your expenses are greater than your income you will create debt very quickly. Assuming your income is greater or equal to your expenses you can go onto the next step in this budgeting for beginners guide. If your income is not greater or equal to your expenses you have two options..

Increase your income or

Reduce your expenses

This could take some time to achieve but try to stay current on your bills as best you can and avoid creating (more) debt if at all possible.

Income exceeding your immediate needs

So what do you do with any extra income? Earlier in this budgeting for beginners guide I said to give every cent a job but now you’re not sure what to do with remaining income. The answer is sinking funds and goal payments. Sinking funds are regular payments saved up for a short to medium term goal such as Christmas, winter fuel, birthdays and holidays. Assign an amount to a few sinking funds that would make life easier for you. Don’t be tempted to have lots of sinking funds when you’re only starting them. Pick maybe 3 or 4 to start with and as time goes by and you become more confident with them add some more in slowly. Any income remaining after you’ve established how much you are saving in sinking funds goes towards your goal. Remember that? The reason you’re reading this budgeting for beginners guide. Yep, thats the one!

Budgeting for beginners

Its time to budget. *Using the calendar sheet and your list of income and expenses dates and amounts start to fill in the information you know. write down the date of the budget, the amount you will receive and then write down any day to day expenses such as food and fuel. Make sure to include the amount you will be allocating. Now look on your calendar, what expenses go out before the next pay period? Write them down and the amount. Subtotal time. The income should be greater or equal to the expenses. If not you will need to do some thinking about what absolutely must be paid and what can be removed. Once the subtotal equals zero or more you can move onto the next pay period. *

Repeat the steps above starting and finishing at the *. Any remaining money from the first pay period can now be allocated to your sinking funds and then your goal.

Bumps in the road

There will be bumps in the road like there would be when you take up any new skill. It’s important to persevere and not give up. Mistakes in the beginning and to be expected and will help you learn so much more than this budgeting for beginners guide ever could.

Best of luck

The very best of luck on your financial journey. I hope you achieve all you set out to do and more. You can have any thing you want in your budget just not everything at once.

Download Budgeting Sheet

How to afford a baby?

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Having a Baby on a Budget

How to afford a baby? Babies don’t have to be expensive. Yes there are some things that simply have to be bought but the majority of “essential” baby equipment on the market today is not in fact essential. You might find yourself wondering  ‘should I buy new or used?’ ‘Is it worth it to buy preloved?’ Listen there are pros and cons to both sides. I’ve bought both new and used in my time as a mother. It comes down to a number of  things such as value for money and defining your priorities. A safe but convenient car seat might be your non-negotiable or maybe its a pram that makes getting out for walks easier. What ever your priority is that’s where the bulk of your money is likely to be spent. To offset that cost maybe looking at second hand items for your other needs is on the cards.

What Did We Buy New And What Did We Buy Used?

When my first born came on the scene we didn’t how we would afford a baby but I went wild and bought everything I could possibly need and more. We had the carseat, bottles, buggy, cot, changing bag, changing mat, play mat etc. In our excitement we had it all set up before he was even born and I won’t lie it was a wonderful feeling. I felt like we were adulting at its finest. Then my first squish arrived and I realised buying stuff didn’t make me an adult.

When the second squish made his grand entrance I had mellowed somewhat. I knew I didn’t need half so much and didn’t rush to buy anything except the carseat and a baby carrier. Of course it goes without saying I bought a ridiculous amount of stuff as well as these two things but the car seat and the carrier were my priorities this time around.

The eldest had everything new. However as we were deep in the recession and broke beyond anyone’s worst nightmares we did accept and use second hand clothes. (We did this with both our boys btw.) The youngest had a lot of hand-me-downs from his brother and a mixture of new and used odds and ends. 

The pros of using preloved?

Clothes are one of those things that there is no downsides at all to using pre-owned. How often do you remember wearing any item of clothing until its completely worn out? Very rarely I’d imagine. So thinking about it the pros for clothing are..

They have plenty of wear left in them.

They cost a fraction of the price and often times can be gotten for free. This really helps when you are figuring out how to afford a baby!

Better for the environment with less going to landfill.

What are the cons?

When you think about it those same pros can be applied to everything we buy second hand or preloved. So where does that leave us with cons? Lets take a buggy for example, so you’ve found a great bargain and its in fantastic shape. It needs nothing more than a wipe down. A few months later you get a flat tyre after a big walk in the park. It’s no big deal, it’s only an inner tube. Off to google you go to find a replacement inner tube only to discover that model is no longer in production and as a result finding the inner tube you need has gone from being a cake walk to a pain in the neck. All of that to say that any replacement parts you need as time goes on may be difficult to source.

Another con of buying used is there is usually no manufacturers guarantee because the item is generally older than the guarantee allows for. For this example we will look at a high chair and again you’ve found a bargain in great condition. Time passes and you notice some damage to the straps, if the highchair was still under guarantee you could contact the manufacturer about replacement straps however because the guarantee has expired you need to source the replacement straps and pay for not only the straps but any shipping costs too.

When you buy new you’re assured the quality you pay for but it comes at an environmental and financial cost. When you buy preloved you take a gamble on quality and there’s no knowing how long it will last but its better for your pocket (in some cases) and the environment.

So what would I do differently?

I think the biggest lesson I have learned is to look for quality items that last. This doesn’t always mean new or even expensive. I would set myself a budget and I would shop within that budget for the very best quality I could afford. Even better if you know a friend or relative who would like to pass things down to you! Make a list of things that are truly needed and stick to it. There are cute things to be bought everywhere but you neither need them nor have the space to store everything you come across. It is surprising how little a baby actually needs. Try not to buy too many gizmos and gadgets before you need them. You might find you never need them or can get by without them

There you have it, how to afford a baby. Prioritise the expenses that can’t be avoided and what you consider essential. Anything else is just frosting on top of the cake. 

Download baby planning list

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A little bit about me..

I’m Chloe, the most important things you need to know about me is I’m a mama lioness to Squish and Squash. They are my reason for everything. The other thing you should know is I’d like to achieve f.i.r.e (financial independence retire early) with my soul mate who happens to be a Magpie. My husband is one of those people who sees a shiny new gadget or gizmo and has to have it.

The reason for this blog? Really it’s just somewhere for me to share my ramblings and hopefully help someone somewhere. Over the years I have learned some useful tips and tricks to live a frugal and somewhat sustainable life.

If you’re interested in hearing more from me please check out my Instagram page @frugal_mama_ireland where I’m sharing our journey to f.i.r.e, home ownership and a simple but beautiful family life.