"I've completely run out of money these school holidays."

There’s another week left of school holidays and I’ve run out of money to spend on my children. This is going to be the longest week of my entire life, of all our lives.

A tad dramatic? I don’t think so.

I have three children – Philip, 12, Giovanni, 8 and Caterina, 7 and like all kids they are intent on squeezing out every last drop of freedom and fun left these school holidays before getting stuck into the school year. But whatever they think of has to be completely, totally free.

And what is truly free these days?

Even a trip to the beach involves a tank of petrol and drinks and snacks. You can’t pack drinks and snacks to go to the beach because they boil in the sun.

Heard of Stingy January? We discuss the money-saving month on this week’s MMOL.

There are only so many times you can take the dog to the local dog park for a run around and then you have to remember to take the long way home to avoid driving past any shops the kids might spot and want to stop at for drinks and snacks.

I know, I know. It’s GOOD for kids to spend time being bored and doing nothing. It inspires their creativity. Children’s lives are too structured.

Give them as much unstructured time as possible. IT’S GOOD FOR THEM!

Except they have already had a lot of unstructured time these school holidays, plenty of boredom and ample opportunity to be creative. My daughter made a cubby house out of cardboard boxes left over from Christmas, my son poured bubble solution into his water pistol and my other son started drawing again.

But they – and I – are over it. What we want now as the start of the school year looms is some good times, incredible memories and amazing experiences.

While not spending a single cent. So, basically, this is how we’ve been spending our time:


DIY slip ‘n slide using garbage bags and dishwashing liquid.

Build-your-own loungeroom cubby house using sheets, chairs and hair ties.

Wash your dog. Wash other people’s dogs.

Play in a sprinkler.

Figure out who has gone away on holidays and jump in their pool.

Garage sale selling unwanted items (and you can spend some of that money).

Teach your kids something like cooking or building something.

How did our financial situation get so tight at this time of the year? Well, there was Christmas, my husband changing jobs and taking a pay cut, the fact two of my three children are changing schools so need all new uniforms and the usual back-to-school expenses such as equipment and stationary.


Not to mention the fact that both of our cars are due for rego renewal in the next two weeks and I am trying to save for my son’s birthday in six weeks.

And when you have three children everything you do seems to cost $100. The movies, bowling, the trampoline part, anything a child might want to do.

$100 every time and seeing as I don’t even have $10 to spend on them until after school goes back, I have a funny feeling the rest of the school holidays are going to suck.

Want more money saving tips and general life advice? Listen to the entire episode of this week’s MMOL podcast.

The upside – yes, there is one but it’s a pretty lame one – is that maybe if the rest of their school holidays aren’t fun, they’ll actually look forward to school going back instead of moaning and groaning about it. They’ll be so bored and devoid of stimulation they’ll embrace that first day back with the excitement of castaways being rescued from a deserted island after two years of talking to a soccer ball.

School. Yay! Get me out of this money-less prison.

I’m torn between wanting the next week to go really quickly so this torture is over and wanting them to go slowly. Because when the kids go back to school, I am going to miss them so much. Every time I think about school going back I kiss them and hug them and they try and shake me off so they can get back to whatever it is they are doing.

My own childhood was pretty frugal but we lived on five acres and were used to not going out very much. It was our normal but these days things are different. To go from taking the kids out to do lots of exciting things to not being able to do anything is a bit of a shock to the system, to all of our systems.

I know it will be worth it – once all of the school uniforms are purchased and the stationary paid for as well as Philip’s iPad for high school, shiny new shoes and two registered cars – I’ll feel the satisfaction of someone whose bills are paid.

My children will have everything they need for the year ahead and the last week of these school holidays will quickly (hopefully) become a distant memory.