I have worked out that I could buy a pair of half-decent shoes each month with the amount I spend in coffee shops.
That was a bit of a kick in the teeth. Or punch in the wallet more like.
Before I knew it, I was going for a coffee at least every other day, and the cost was racking up.
Before I had my daughter I didn’t really drink that much coffee. I liked the idea of it.
Of sitting in Parisian-styled cafes, reading On the Road, and sipping a double espresso. In reality, I was probably more of a ‘go for a pint with a copy of Take a Break’ kind of girl. But now, with an average of 5 hours’ sleep, it has become a bit of a lifeline.
It’s no surprise that when arranging to meet other parents, it’s almost always in a coffee shop.
And, when you have kids, you quickly become an expert at spotting the cafes with doors wide enough for prams, high chairs and change facilities.
Now I don’t want to sound uber-tight, but at anything up to three pounds fifty a drink, something that started out as a quick caffeine pitstop in town can quickly become one of your most expensive weekly outgoings. It’s just so easy to get into a coffee shop habit.
I’d meet a friend for a coffee after taking my daughter, Nancy, swimming once a week. Or duck in for a drink when in town as I could give Nancy her lunch or change her nappy.
There are several places near where I live which are really child-friendly, which I’d often pop into on autopilot to refuel.
Before I knew it, I was going for a coffee at least every other day, and the cost was racking up. It was only when I emptied my purse out; I discovered I had over forty quid’s worth of receipts for cafes. And they only dated back about three weeks. Ouch.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to get a bit better at budgeting, but it seemed I’d conveniently left mainlining caffeine off the list of stuff I spend money on.
I don’t want to point the finger because I’m not frog-marched into cafes with a gun to my head, but once in there, it’s easy to just haemorrhage money.
Only the other morning, as I ordered a skinny latte at the cafe at the train station, the barista asked if I’d like regular size – which to me would imply the smallest. But it’s not. That would be the small. Obviously. So, at an additional 50p I had actually ordered a medium. Or regular.
Before long, you can be offering to buy a friend a coffee, and having to scrabble around in the bottom of your bag for loose change as a fiver no longer covers it.
Thing is, it’s not just the coffee that’s the appeal because realistically I could buy a Thermos flask and carry it round like the late Arthur Fowler from Eastenders.
It’s the convenience. Once you find your child-friendly haunts you stick to them. But I can’t afford to pay a hidden tax on going into town. So I went back the drawing board.
I started meeting friends in places that didn’t involve parting with three quid the moment you go through the door.
I went to the library, the park, had a friend round to my house, and in return, we’re going to hers next week. And tomorrow, we’ve arranged to meet a friend for a coffee.
And it feels like a treat.
Carry on this way and we’ll all be getting new shoes…