When I was thinking of selling my first flat, my friend Esther told me it would be expensive. “Decide how much you think it’s going to cost, double that, and it’ll cost more,” she explained. When my girlfriend and I were about to have our first baby, Esther said, “The same applies. Except triple it.” And then she bought round two bin-liners of second-hand baby clothes. Most of them had been given to her when she’s had her babies, and we should hand them on to someone else – that was how it worked. We opened the first bin-liner. Inside, were 38 tiny poppered vests. What would we need with 38? We soon found out.
I have to admit that I have been lucky. I have friends like Esther, and I have a partner who doesn’t have a shopping habit. In fact, my partner’s not very materialistic at all. She would like to live in a large house with a garden, as opposed to the small flat I was thinking of selling all those years ago, but then so would I.
Admittedly we have only the one income, so I have to pay her credit card bill each month, and we tend to delay opening the envelope until at least the second glass of wine. And I try not to study it too closely, so for all I know she could spending all that money on drugs and high living, assuming that drug dealers take MasterCard, which if they don’t now, they soon will. But a lot of her spending is unavoidable. The car fell to bits the other week: farewell £1,800. We suffer together, sometimes reaching for the corkscrew at exactly the same moment.
- Have a baby on a budget
- 10 of the best budget baby buys
- Buying secondhand for your pregnancy, baby and toddler
Only new will do
I have male friends, however, who really suffer. Those poppered vests we are all handing on to each other? Someone buys them new. I know one woman – nothing second-hand will ever come near her children. She has every imaginable piece of equipment, and several that can’t be imagined. Her husband is old before his time. She seems to be living some sort of fantasy, and he seems to be paying for it. You only have to say the words “Mini Boden” to him and his teeth start to grind.
Men, though, have their own weaknesses. A few years ago, when I was writing my fatherhood book and staring out of the window in my usual way, I spotted a man outside pushing a pushchair. He was the happiest man in the world. Ah, a proud dad, I thought – how admirable. But hold on a moment. The child was bawling its head off, and his father couldn’t give a monkey’s. It wasn’t his child he was proud of – it was the pushchair. It was one of the first three-wheelers, a hot-rod of pushchairs, a precursor to what are now called ATPs (all-terrain pushchairs). This man had the wheels, and nothing else mattered. I wouldn’t like to have been the person paying his credit card bills.