My Money: 'Most of our spending is on our son'

Image source, Ned Vincent

My Money is a series looking at how people spend their money - and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here, Ned Vincent from Norfolk takes us through a week in his life during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ned is 31 and lives in Dereham, 15 miles outside of Norwich in Norfolk. He works for an audio visual company as a purchaser. His wife, Cara, is a part-time beautician, splitting her time between work and looking after their two-year old son, Theo.

During the pandemic Ned was able to work from home for 10 weeks before returning to the office.

He says he has always had an interest in personal finance and does his best to achieve a balance between spending money wisely and saving. At the start of the year he chose to build up an emergency fund and says he is so glad he did. Each month he pays his savings account first, leaving just enough money for bills and essentials. This way he is able to save as much as possible and says it's a great feeling seeing his savings grow.

Over to Ned...

This week is slightly different as I have a week off work - so my spending will be different to normal. It is also the week where most of our bills come out. Cara and I put £650 each into our joint account where all our bills are paid from. Our mortgage for our three bedroom link-detached house is £670, council tax is £134, £50 direct debit for electricity, £34 for water and £11 for health insurance for the three of us. This comes to £900 but covers everything bar food and phone/internet. Sometimes it can be daunting seeing so much money leave all in one day but I like it coming out at the start of the month, so I know what we have left.

Today was the day that we decided Theo's hair had got long enough so needed a cut. We do try and take him to the hairdressers but after last time (total nightmare) we decided to do it at home. His reward was a toy from the toy shop, £14.99 and a couple of hours at soft play, £4.95. Cara and I had a hot chocolate each which came to £5. I also picked up a prescription which cost me £9.15 and will last a month. Total spend for the day was £900 on bills and £34.09 for bribes, drinks and medication.

Total spend: £934.09

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Theo was at nursery today so Cara and I had a rare day to ourselves. We decided to go to Norwich for afternoon tea to celebrate our birthdays and wedding anniversary which wasn't possible during lockdown. This came to £45 but after using a discount card we got 10% off so it came down to £40.50.

We then found a few things for Theo's birthday and Christmas presents. Even though this seems like a long time away (November and December) we like to spread the cost over as many months as possible. After multiple visits to toy shops the total damage was £17.95. Cara and Theo do lots of crafts at home too so we bought a few bits for Halloween and Christmas which came to £11. We then bought new wallpaper for Theo's bedroom which came to £25, and a couple of candles which were £2. Car parking was £6.

I would have loved to have spent money on clothes today but I'm really trying hard to not spend any money where it's not totally necessary. I have plenty of clothes at home so I remind myself that saving is my top priority right now.

Total spend: £102.45

Image source, Ned Vincent

It seems more like a holiday for Theo as today we are off to his favourite place, a dinosaur park which has a great soft play area. We previously bought an annual pass for the three of us which gives us access 10 times a year for £60 each and so brings the cost down to £6 each per visit. This would have normally been £15 each in the summer and £10 each in the winter so we feel it is completely worth it. This will keep Theo happy for a good three hours or so and is great to get us all outside and walking in the fresh air.

We would normally take our own lunch but seeing as we are on holiday we decided to buy a very overpriced sandwich, crisps and drink for both Cara and I which came to £12.90. We did however bring Theo's lunch with us so that helps. Overall a day of very little spending.

Total spend: £12.90

Image source, Ned Vincent

Thursday was a day in bed for me as I seemed to have caught a stomach bug. No spending for me. Cara decided to do the weekly food shop. We do our main shop in Aldi and then go to Tesco for anything we couldn't get. We used to always do our whole shop in Tesco but found that Aldi was just as good and is cheaper for the basics. Our Aldi shop came to £41.51 and the Tesco shop came to £45.43 (£86.94 in total). Seems we got it the wrong way round this week as the Tesco shop came to more than the Aldi shop. Most likely as Cara decided to get some "special" food for our week off. As a side note, this shop also includes everything else you'd expect to get from the supermarket like toiletries etc.

This shop will last us all week and we try to stick to £80 a week (£320 a month) where possible. Sometimes this figure will include non food items, for example clothes for Theo or presents for birthdays etc. We have always thought our food bill is high but when trying to eat healthier, food is more expensive, which seems counter productive! A price we are willing to pay. We also use our club card in Tesco which gives us a little back. Every little helps as they say.

Total spend: £86.94

Still feeling pretty awful today but decide I need some fresh air to try and make me feel better. We head off to the coast for a walk along the sea front and some time in the arcades. Cara and Theo have fish and chips which comes to £8. After, we go to the arcade and turn a £10 note into more 2p coins than Theo knows what to do with. Worth every penny though as he has a great time and even wins a prize. You can't put a price on your child's happiness.

We then go to the play area which is a great way to keep Theo entertained for half an hour and doesn't cost a thing. We try to take him to parks as often as possible as he has just as much fun as say, soft play, but it is free - win win.

Car parking comes to £3.

Total spend: £21

Image source, Ned Vincent

Urgh, this stomach bug doesn't seem to want to go away. A shame as this morning we had planned to go out for breakfast but food still makes me feel ill so that will have to wait for another weekend.

As something to do we jump in the car and head off to Spalding outlet village. I need to fill my car up with fuel and this comes to £58.70. I can't really complain as my car does about 50-55 mpg and this tank should last at least two weeks. I will always budget £120 a month for fuel but the odd month it works out I only need to fill up once. At the fuel station we grab some food for lunch and this totals £8.60. Again, something we wouldn't normally do but as we are off work, convenience is allowed.

We end up not buying anything at the shopping village which seems to make the whole trip a little pointless but it was more as something to do and get us out of the house. Again, I could have spent lots of money on clothes but I'm strict with myself and walk away. Go me.

Car parking is only £1. Super cheap.

Total spend: £68.30

Today we go swimming! We don't go to our local leisure centre but instead opt for a small local pool at a Caravan Club. This is £12 for an hour and we have the whole pool to ourselves. It actually works out cheaper than going to a leisure centre and supports local businesses which we try and do where possible.

It's our last night before we are back to work tomorrow so again we opt for an easy meal in the evening. I pop to Tesco to pick up a meal deal which comes to £10. Lasagne, chunky chips and chocolate orange mousse. The bottle of white wine which also comes as part of the deal can stay in the fridge for another night. Still not quite ready for alcohol yet.

Total spend: £22

Total spent this week: £1,247.68

How does Ned feel about his week?

As I said before, this week has been a little different due to a week off work and also bills week but I'm still happy with how we have spent our money.

Most of this spending is split between myself and Cara so only really half of it leaves my personal account. I've only actually spent £67.85 this week in total after bills (£9.15 for prescription and £58.70 for fuel) so can't really complain.

As always I've thought about each potential purchase and made myself walk away with the priority being my savings. Once I reach three months of money saved up, I plan to start saving for my next car which I hope to not have to buy for at least another 18 months, two years. I'd also like to have some spare money to take the family away on a little break to try and get away from all the Covid news which fills our lives these days.

You'll agree that a lot, if not most, of our spending is on our son, Theo. I suppose I don't mind this at all as this is the reason I go to work each day, to be able to provide for my family and also treat Theo when possible.

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