Santa Baby..

Following last year’s Christmas list, four(ish) out of five was not bad at all. It does not bother me that I did not receive all the things I wanted on Christmas day per se, as they became treats throughout the year. I received the white gold stud earrings from DH and we went to see Les Miserables for our wedding anniversary. The Mulberry MacBook Pro sleeve and the MacBook Air was dismissed for and even better upgrade and ol’ Lizzie has since become a good friend of mine.

I am not avaricious enough to write endless blog posts detailing each and every item I wish to buy, so similarly to last year, I have narrowed down to my top five most desired items. In no particular order..

1. Mulberry French Purse in Fudge Glossy Buffalo

I would love a matching purse to my Mulberry bag in the same glossy buffalo colour. I would prefer Holly but my current purse is busting with random loyal cards, debit cards, discount cards and whatnot, I fear having a zip purse just would not do. I guess I should think about removing that (probably expired) gym membership card.

2. Generally more clothes

I find it difficult parting with my cash selfishly and am always keen for the money to be spent on DS instead. I also detest paying more for something at retail price, when inevitably it will go on sale. I mean, there is no one item of clothing I am so desperate to have that I cannot wait, or just get over if it is no longer available. Buying into what is in season is just a con – the same item as the previous year with a different bar code. Knitted jumpers in season this year? No one has ever thought of that before.

3. iPhone 4S

I am very much an Apple geek, so it is pretty shocking I do not already own an iPhone. Unfortunately I have another year with the ol’ Android phone, so alas, this will definitely not be in my stocking.

4. prescription glasses

This is an odd one and not really an item ‘wish’ for, just I am too stingy bitter to purchase glasses myself. I have two pairs already I purchased in my first year of university; I did not want two, I bought the second pair upon losing the first, only to find them later in a drawer. What’s worse is that Specsavers managed to get the prescription in both pairs utterly wrong, thus causing me to have a complete lack of spacial awareness when driving, which I think is pretty crucial. I am so bitter about the whole thing, having spent a fair amount of dosh on both pairs. After many years, I am still having a not-so-silent protest about buying my third pair.

5. A Spa

I would have said tickets for the theatre or some kind of gig/concert, but given the fast pace of my life these days, it is not really viable. A holiday would be up there too, but with DS so young and the stress embodied even within the word holiday, I am not sure we could handle the actual thing. Thus I have opted for a spa break just for myself on my wish list. I am in dire need of some pampering and relaxation.


Strike a Bargain.

I think I become a little obsessive when it comes to getting the best deal. I refuse to pay more than I think an item is worth, considering how the majority of our hard-earned cash is spent feeding these capitalist pigs who make the world go round. It is sickening, yet I buy into it because I am materialistic and I do value inanimate objects. I also need to survive so thank God for EDF, Southern Water and Morrisons.

One to avoid - Although I like bargain hunting, I do not like second hand goods.

When seeking an item I wish to purchase, I almost make it a goal of mine to get the best price for it. For example, our Gaggia Baby coffee machine we recently bought (see previous post) sold at John Lewis for £209.95, offers the standard 2 year guarantee plus an extra year at the cost of £28. As you may know, ‘never knowingly undersold‘ is a policy John Lewis upholds; if you find the item cheaper in another high street store, they will match it. However, after much research I discovered a family business based in Dorset called the Hart of Stur who also sold the same item for £199.95, including £35 worth of Gaggia goods – Gaggia espresso cup and saucer, a milk jug,  a milk thermometer and Gaggia coffee. It was even better as Hart of Stur‘s coffee machine came in black, to match the rest of our kitchen appliances.

Another good find of mine, which you may or may not be interested in, is Sky Rewards. Every Monday they offer £3 adult tickets for any showing of any film at O2 Cineworld in Greenwich; for two adults, obviously adding up to £6, saved us £17 on the original price. I discovered this a few weeks ago and have been waiting patiently to order my tickets a week prior to the showing of Harry Potter in 3D. Being a bit of a Harry Potter geek, I have been eagerly anticipating this since Part 1 a year ago, which did not make it to 3D in time for the release date.

Being such a keen bargain hunter does not always have good outcomes. Last week whilst browsing through the rails at Primark, I found a dress in the sale for a mere £2. At the time, I remember laughing to myself that only in Gravesend would you have 6 and 8 the only sizes remaining in a sale; all the obese freeloaders must have bagged all the rest of the sizes (bearing in mind that Primark goes up to a size 22). As I thought it was such an impressive find, I did not hesitate in buying the dress. A few days later in the queue at Morrisons, I recognised a distinct pattern on the dress of a large woman in front of me. After a few seconds I looked down at myself, stared back at the woman, only to realise that we were wearing the same Primark dress. I was horrified to say the least. I am glad she did not notice me, as I am not sure who would have been more embarrassed.

WARNING: Consider all consequences that may arise as a result of a bargainous purchase.

Remedies do not cure the disease, they merely prolong it.

This 11 minute video is a good illustration of why I have a strong aversion to charity. It is not because I am heartless, nor is it because of greed, but for the knowledge that I would only be buying into an ideology that does not exist. As Slavoj Žižek highlights, ‘Charity degrades and demoralises’; it is not the solution to poverty.

I despise the propaganda exhaled from posters and promotional material, used to lure vacuous passerbys with a picture of an African child or a timid dog, whose lives would be saved with your pound. I do not appreciate being stopped numerous times on the High Street, approached in pubs or asked to sponsor someone to walk a few miles, then made to feel bad about it when I decline.

What I find quite humorous is when someone boasts about the charity they donate to monthly, as if they should be awarded a badge of honour. What made them single out that one charity above the rest? It appears this one charity is more worthy of your money than any other, maybe you think saving blind children is more important than finding a cure for cancer. Or maybe you just like donkeys.

Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

– Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto.

May Bank Holiday, also known as International Worker's Day.

As DH’s final year of his degree is nearing to an end, I have an overwhelming sense of relief, anxiety and fear all bundled into one. Obviously there is relief that we will reach a new era in our lives, but this also conjures up anxiety and fear for what will come next. I am always one for planning (writing lists being one of my favourite past times), but at this moment in time, no matter how much research and effort I put into foreseeing the future, running through all the possible life options and weighing up their pros and cons, I am still none the wiser.

I feel like something should happen to launch us into a new and exciting part of our lives. I am not complacent with being average and succumbing to the dullness of bills, mortgages, working 9-5 and bumbling through life. I am twenty-two this year and have already achieved so much, but this is only the beginning. I want the same things everyone else wants; to travel the world, to be well read and an endless supply of money to lavish my son with gifts. These things are not unattainable, but require strategic planning. Coming from working class families, it just means we will have to work harder for what we want. I fully intend on ticking everything off on my ever-growing list; life, as I see it, is one big catalogue of experiences.

Charity starts at home.

I am sure you are all very aware Red Nose Day is approaching in the coming weeks, with various advertisements on the TV, posters plastered everywhere and shop keepers cunningly placing red noses and badges, along with all his other impulse buys, strategically in front of the till. Obviously I understand the concept of giving to a good cause; it is not only rewarding for the receiver, but you get to feel good about yourself. It is not a selfish act as such, but it is not a selfless one either.

Annually raising large sums of money for Comic Relief takes away from all the other charities who equally deserve your money. There are other culprits too; Children in Need, Cancer Research, Oxfam, the list goes on. These charities are constantly fundraising with large events, marathons, occupying our televisions and our shops. Instead of having well-known charities like Children and Need and Comic Relief televised every year, there should be a conscious effort to get the public involved in charities that are unheard of.

Obviously the nursery has jumped on the bandwagon; children and babies will be expected to wear red or something Gruffalo themed on the day, for a small donation. DS has quite a few red tops and a Gruffalo rucksack he usually takes to nursery anyway. I am sorry DS, but on this day, you must pay.

Who benefits?

So the Tories strike again; universal Child Benefit is to be abolished. I do not earn enough to be effected, but regardless, I disapprove.

Today’s ‘Sunday Morning Live‘ posed an interesting question; 90% of viewers who voted, answered no to “should we pay for people to have kids?” Perhaps if the question were to be phrased “should parents receive money for their children’s basic amenities?” the results would have been different. The money received from Child Benefit is hardly enough to pay for a child beyond survival, so I do not understand the idea of people making money out of this particular benefit.

I would be less bothered about this issue if the government invested more money into getting people into work, rather than making cuts, forcing them into deprivation. What needs to happen is an evaluation of the benefit system in its entirety, not just segmented cuts which lead to more people losing out than necessary.

One particular area that should be focused on is the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. On the Directgov website you can find out who qualifies for this:

You’re a lone parent

If you’re a single parent you must work 16 hours or more a week to claim help with childcare costs.

You’re part of a couple

Generally you and your partner must both work 16 hours or more a week to claim help. Only one of you has to work 16 hours or more if one of you is:

  • ill or disabled and claiming disability benefits
  • in hospital
  • in prison – serving a custodial sentence or remanded in custody awaiting trial or sentence

The average working hours of a full-time employee (9-5 Monday to Friday) is around 37 hours, but as part of a couple, this person does not receive help for childcare. It seems that even when one works more than the requirement for two adults put together, the system does not acknowledge this.

My research came about when DS started nursery to enable me to work and DH to attend his lectures. The system does not acknowledge that DH being a student is also a full-time job, as well as looking after DS. The cost of childcare is ridiculous and luckily DS only needs to be there for two half days a week. But there are less fortunate families, at approximately £20 a half day and £30 a full day, how does one expect a low income family to afford childcare and go to work five days a week? A family with less aspirations in a similar situation as us may choose the easier option to work part-time at 16 hours a week, instead of full-time, because the benefit system is willing to accommodate this. Maybe if they offered less financial incentives to not work and aided those who chose to earn their own money, we would have a more self-sufficient society.

Making cuts in the benefit system only works when there are alternative implements to encourage people to work, otherwise it is just another means of taxing the poor.