The Semi-Detached Parent: Family Finances

05/08/2011 16:04 | Updated 22 May 2015

This week's learning curve has been family finances. I feel a bit hopeless that at nearly 38 I have never had to sort out stuff like utility bills, or organising house contents insurance before. I had no clue how much to insure things for, how to not get ripped off, where to get the best deals...

Thankfully, various money saving sites saved the day, and I'm confident that I've at least got a good deal on my insurance and my broadband. Water, gas and electricity still to go. Gulp.

It did make me wonder though, how on earth I would have waded through all of this pre-web, in the days before Googling 'how much should I insure my possessions for'?

I honestly would not have had a clue.

The other thing that has been a complete eye-opener is the realisation that time really is money.

On Sunday I set about mowing and weeding my back garden. I am rubbish at gardening, and what would have taken any competent person a couple of hours, took me most of the day, and resulted in a frog almost having a leg taken off by the mower, and me severing my thumb.

What I should have been doing that afternoon was writing up a feature ready for dispatch to my editor the following morning and taking my son and dog out to play in the sunshine.

Instead, grumpy, worn out and unable type properly because of a bandaged thumb, I did nothing but shout at everyone, threaten to sell up and move to a garden-free flat, and generally whinge about not being able to cope.

And then I gave myself a metaphorical slap, pulled myself together and did some hook-and-peck keyboarding (I never realiSed just how much I used my thumb before...) and found the number for a gardening service.

From next week I'll be paying someone to come in and look after it for me. Which might seem indulgent and an unnecessary expense on a single income, but to be honest, I would rather spend the weekends I do have with my son walking by the river, having picnics in the park or stomping through the woods with the dog than doing battle with the lawnmower.

Kind of a speculating to accumulate type thing. Or simply buying back some time. Which, when it's quality time with my little boy, it worth any amount.

Do you buy in help to free up family time? Cleaners? Gardeners? Dog-walkers? What are your family finance top tips?

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