As the rising cost of living continues to dominate much of the news headlines, for those of a certain age (myself included) it feels sadly familiar. However, for those encountering it for the first time it must feel particularly daunting.
I remember being in labour with my second daughter in 1986, and had been oblivious to the radio playing quietly in the background, when the news headlines announced that interest rates had risen to 15%. Having moved to a bigger house the year before, this was not welcome news!
But, like everyone else at the time, we learned to budget and try as far as possible to avoid unnecessary expense. Easier said than done with two small children, but on reflection I think there was less expectation and pressure back then.
The really big-ticket items like cars and holidays represented major budgeting decisions, and of course there was no social media ticking away in the background, putting you under pressure and and making you feel inadequate.
Interestingly, a quick Google search reveals that in 1986 inflation was 3.4%, compared to today’s current rate of 9%. But high and fluctuating interest rates had a significant impact on mortgage repayments and resulted in unplanned increases in household bills.
In 1975 Inflation was at 25%, and I remember the cost of white goods representing a substantial chunk of your salary, and a fervent hope that they would be reliable!
There were, however, local shops and tradesmen who would repair electrical items, and this would always be your first option rather than buying a replacement. It’s good to learn that a revival of such services is gathering momentum.
A recent BBC article highlighted a new reuse and repair business in Govanhill which opened recently by Remade Network, a grassroots social enterprise which wants the public to rethink their relationship with their possessions.
They hope to establish a model across Glasgow, rather than just one shop, thereby creating a whole series of projects where people can easily recycle, reuse and repair things in their communities, to make it easier and more affordable.
As prices continue to rise, those who have the choice will no doubt make decisions around their discretionary spend. But for many the choice will be limited, and initiatives such as Remade will prove invaluable.
We had a kettle; we let it leak: Our not repairing made it worse. We haven't had any tea for a week... The bottom is out of the Universe.
- Rudyard Kipling
Discretionary spend for me this week included a visit to a local indoor softplay centre with Fraser, who was here for a short visit. Softplays were badly hit by the pandemic, and it took quite a while for them to begin to reclaim lost ground.
We visited on a Friday morning, and it was fairly quiet, with a mix of toddlers, accompanied by parents/carers and grandparents. Breakfasts, teas, coffees and lunches were being served, so the centre was doing a good trade.
Chatting to one of the staff, she told me they had five birthday parties booked in for the afternoon, so that was great to hear! Great for business, and great for us picking a quiet time!
Thinking back to my daughters’ childhood, the trend for parties outside the home did not really start until primary school, but options like softplay were not available. Today birthday parties seem to start from age one upwards. An example of social media peer pressure? Or just taking advantage of introducing little ones to socialising and fun from the beginning?
If big ticket items start to become unaffordable we may well see a growth in softplay and adventure play centres.
“Play builds the kind of free-and-easy, try-it-out, do-it-yourself character that our future needs.”
- James L. Hymes Jr.
Later in the day we took Fraser to Barshaw Park in Paisley, which we used to visit when the girls were young. With free entry, it’s been renovated and upgraded, and boasts a model yacht pond (operated by the Paisley Model Yacht Club since 1895) as well as a model railway, built in 1973 and operated by the Paisley Society of Model Engineers.
Sadly rain stopped play on our visit, but normally the train runs every Saturday and the occasional Sunday for the princely sum of £1. Now that’s certainly worth a discretionary spend!
"One of the strange things about human beings is that they value only that which has a price."
- Napoleon Hill
Take care, lead well