With the cost of living weighing heavily on our minds, columnist Grace Victory explores the pressures on parents, and her personal tips for budgeting when you have a growing brood
I think it’s fair to say that most of us are feeling financially insecure at the moment. Whether you are literally just getting through each month, a student nurse trying to make ends meet, or a mother trying to go back to work but nursery fees are stopping you, the rising cost of living is affecting us all.
I grew up poor. I grew up knowing about payday loans and child benefits, and I understood from a very early age that if I wanted something from life I needed to go out into the world and grab it, because nothing was going to be handed to me.
We lived in a flat on a council estate, then a council house, and at 18, after finishing college, I chose to get a job instead of furthering my education. I knew I needed money, and that I would need to contribute to my family home in some way, so I said no to university or a professional musical theatre school (which was very much a dream of mine). And while I don’t regret my decision at all, I do often wonder if I would’ve made that choice if me and my family had financial freedom.
I don’t ever remember going without, but I do remember my mum budgeting, saving from January to afford the next Christmas, and her never ever buying anything for herself. I believe my mum sacrificed a lot in order for me and my sister to be clothed and fed, and I will forever be grateful for that. I know all types of family dynamics struggle, but single mothers do not have it easy in any capacity, so I respect those going at it alone.
I started making money from social media in 2015 and, since then, every year that goes by I make more and more in profit. It’s no secret that influencers, content creators, and YouTubers, get paid a substantial amount from ads, paid partnerships, or affiliate links – I am no different. But I often struggle with knowing where I am in my identity, because I grew up with very little, and now I have so much.
And it’s not just about having the money to buy things, it’s about the opportunities, convenience, and mental relief that comes when your bank account is abundant. It’s the lack of worry or anxiety that I’m grateful for, because at the start of my career I struggled to pay my rent, and the stress levels I felt were enough to make me vomit. I’d see people online flying business class to Bali while I was sinking further into debt.
I’m very proud to say that I have £0 in debt now, which is bloody amazing, and I’ve made a life for myself and my children that looks different to the life I had as a kid. But I’m also becoming increasingly aware of our ever-changing world and the fact that money just doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to – or as far as it bloody should.
I’m acutely aware that I’m talking from a place of privilege here. I am financially stable, I make regular good money, and while I do set myself a budget each month, I know that some months I can be lenient and treat myself or my family to things we’d like. But even I am a little anxious about the energy bills going up and up, the food shop seemingly becoming £20 higher each week, and the price of petrol, too – I could go on! Every part of everyday life is just so expensive, and if I’m feeling that ever-growing burden, I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety that less financially privileged people are experiencing – including people close to me, like my mum.
I don’t live a particularly glamorous life, but rarely worrying about money is categorically one of my biggest blessings, but that is slowly changing, and I’m having to adapt and change certain aspects of the way we live as a family, to factor in the current state of the UK.
I’m tightening my budget even more, and making sure I know exactly where every pound is going.
I’m doing our weekly food shop at wherever has the best offers on or discounts (this week it was Ocado because they had £15 off, plus their usual savings).
I’m cancelling subscriptions and apps I no longer use, and I’m unsubscribing from emails so that I don’t get tempted to spend unnecessarily.
I’m bulk buying things like nappies, wipes, and toilet roll as it’s cheaper that way.
I’m generally just not spending money on clothes (unless it’s maternity leggings, as my bump is bigger, LOL).
I’m opting for free, discounted, or cheap family days out.
I’m checking my bank account every other day, just to make sure I know where I am with my spending habits.
These are just a few things I’m doing to help take the pressure off, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have more money coming in than going out, you’re going to struggle. I feel angry and frustrated that so many people are going to be put in awful situations (especially during the winter), and all because of greedy white men in suits, and a government that is absolutely dire – and that’s me being nice.
I’m also donating plus size clothing and baby stuff to charity, toys to local playgroups, and giving food to food banks.
Love Grace x