The bank of back to school

The internet is alive and buzzing with back to school chat, where the best place to find lunch boxes, what size bag should I buy my darling Tarquin, endless articles appearing in your time line beat the back to school blues, depression free drop off, 5 things you should do to prepare for back to school.……Not one of them mentioned wine!

This time last year, I would have read them all, this year not so much as I learnt I’ve learnt through experience. When I was at home in Ireland I was watching the news on RTE the average cost of a child return to primary school is close to €300, granted these non fee paying schools so parents responsible for buying books etc but WOW that’s just for one child.

Can you imagine the cost here in Dubai if we had to buy books etc?  The fee’s are increasing each year with the less expensive schools still averaging between 11-13,000 per term, this is without the costs of ridiculous medical fees and diaries for school nurses that do……….in my opinion, not a great deal. This is without new uniforms that schools change at the drop of a hat, prices have been cranked up this year for what I feel is less than mediocre quality clothing adding school emblems everywhere so parents can not even take advantage of supermarket uniforms back home. New bags, shoes, socks, football boots, lunch boxes the list goes on and on.

When your child starts school for the first time it’s so exciting, you buy brand new everything down to the underpants and I’m sure when Miss C starts FS1 next year it will be the same, although I’m trying not to think about that. This year however I’m taking the attitude if it not broke then don’t fix it.

I have brought him two new shirts for school as the others we’re ruined and I do want him to have some of the new uniform, we are lucky that we have the rest of the year to purchase the new design so that’s gives parents a helping hand with the costs. My son has a metabolism that most people would die for so everything pretty much still fits…..when I say pretty much I mean it’s still to big and his shorts will continue to fall down this term.

I am lucky that every summer I go back my mam likes to buy the kids shoes, I think they feel like they get to join in the excitement of school prep as they’re so far away. So this year LPV has had new school shoes fitted properly in Clarks in the UK and new football boots too (in spiderman colours may I add). Yes I am a bad mother and forgot to buy new socks at home………HELP MAM & KELLY However the new shirts and hats are probably my limit this month.

LPV doesn’t have a brand new lunch box this year, why? because he doesn’t need one he has two fully functional in perfect condition lunch boxes already. There’s not a mark on them, they’re labeled so that’s it. He doesn’t need a school bag as he still only needs a book bag, again nothing wrong with so it stays. Some mothers may be reading this and think I being a tight arse and mean, maybe I am but why do we have to waste money and end up with a cupboard full of unused lunch boxes. We would all go this nuts buying new stuff at home? Probably but then we are at an advantage in the UK, schooling in free and the cost of living is lower, not much these days but lower. Here in Dubai as the same all over the world there are families from every type of class system going to schools, some can afford it and drop the fee’s like they’re paying for lunch, some are fortunate to be on company debentures and some struggle to make ends meet and save all year round for school. So why should we put extra pressure on ourselves by increasing the costs of new everything?

LPV is at the age of ECA…The dreaded extracurricular activities, last year he took part in football which I know he is keen on doing again. I will not begrudge him this he loves it helps with his coordination and I’m all for exercise. Again though we are looking at the best part of £15-200 this term for this. I would also like him to take up an instrument, which can be around £20 per lesson and most like an upfront term payment. Money for this money for that it really doesn’t end.

I’ve compiled a wee list of thing I think could help cut cost of going back to school……

  1. If you need stationary, buy it in your home country if possible and buy in bulk
  2. If something can be recycled from last year, then re-use it
  3. Labels- don’t make the mistake I made last year and put your child’s year group on, that way they’ll last another term or so
  4. Look on groupon and voucher sites for deals (pick up yourself a cheap spa treat too, you’ll need it 😉
  5. Wait!! If you can wait until school begins chances are it will go down in the sale, if it does buy two!!
  6. If possible shop for school alone, however this is easier said than done for shoes & clothing etc
  7. It’s OK to say no, if you can’t afford then don’t buy it
  8. If Tarqy really wants the Gucci back pack then make him earn it, with small jobs around the house he can save and learn the value of working for something he wants
  9. Search for deals, super markets, ikea, outlet stores, hit up Baby Bazaar!!
  10. Pick your favourite and only send them to school………….JOKE!!!!!!!!

So there we have it, how much do you think I could get for my spleen……

Photo source, google images

Photo source, google images

Frugal is the new fabulous

Well it is in our house anyway, due to unforeseen circumstances at the beginning of the year I lost my job. To be honest the wages never really made a huge difference in our lifestyle I wasn’t dripping diamonds and driving a porche but they did allow for financial back up, less worry and extra treats, thank god I brought my Micheal Buble tickets first. However, It was more that it was mine, I earned them.

It’s just crap as now I’m having to rely solely on expat daddy to support me again. No biggy, we’re a team we’ve always shared everything we had from the get go but I hate that feeling “oh dear can I have your credit card so I can buy you a birthday present, and you’ll know exactly what it is as you’ll see the bill before your birthday”

Everyone has pre conceived ideas about what my life is like out here, they think I wake up in the morning, the birds and butterflies puts on my slippers for me……………..

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Image taken from google

Caviar for breakfast then I dump miss C head to the gym for hours stopping off to get my nails done before playing the doting mammy role on the school run only to dump my children in a play space or activity. The actually reality is I hit the snooze button too many times, wake up looking like this

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Shout far too much whilst getting ready for the school run, usher the boys out the door, wrestle with the wee girl to stop her going out the door, then I eat and drink my breakfast on the go whilst getting ready. Go about my day just like you, food shopping, errands, doctors appointments etc I look forward to picking up LPV and most of the time we have fun at home or with friends.

My life is the same as yours but just with sunshine, Ok so I don’t work now and luckily we are in a slightly better position out here than we would be if I was a SAHM in the UK or Ireland to deal with this. The fact is I would work full or part-time but the nursery fee’s out here are the equivalent to a private school at home, so when you ask when I’m going back to work the answer is when I can afford too.

Dubai attracted so many expats to come and live the tax-free dream and it still does and if you to get an awesome package then you will live the dream. However for most expats now, gone are the days of saving copious amount of tax-free earnings, the rising in rents, school fees, cost of living are far over taking the amount of money that’s being saved. If you want a decent house not in the middle of nowhere then you have to pay decent house money, if you want some anchor butter on your toast you’re going to have to pay 59dhs (11quid) for it. People stay here, us included for a better quality of life, the sunshine, the beach.

All this is made me think about money a lot, I am very aware that we are very blessed not to be living on or anywhere near the poverty line and NO I am not in any way comparing my life to anyones. However I think its disgusting in this generation there are still so many families struggling to make end meets, in what parallel universe is it ok to pay bonuses to VP’s CEO’s of companies and corporations when its employee’s are being laid off or being paid way below what they are qualified for or deserve?

So with thinking about money a lot I wanted to make some changes in our lives, I am AWESOME at spending money so it’s mainly me that has to change. I have started keeping track of everything I spend during the week, going to the shop for milk and coming out with a 100 pounds worth of other shopping isn’t going to happen anymore. I’m meal planning so each week we will buy only the stuff we need for meals, a major money saver is bringing expat daddy food shopping, he’s a stickler for the list where I like a kid in a sweat shop. This week we managed to cut our groceries from 1550dhs (300quid) to 900dhs (just under 200). We swapped supermarkets to the less high-profile ones and I’ve learnt to say No.

Of course I want to be shopping, getting my nails done, having the fancy car, who doesn’t? And I would love to start my own business and I’m hoping that these small changes will make that happen sooner but right now my children’s further is a lot more important.

Do you have any tips on money-saving? What works for you and your family?