Confessions of a piggybank thief
According to new research commissioned by MoneySupermarket, nearly a third (30%) of parents have raided their own kids' piggybanks.
And as a mother of three sons aged, three, five and seven, I hold my hands up to being among them.
Before you become too horrified, allow me to explain myself. The main problem is that I never seem to have any loose change.
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My payment method of choice is debit card and when I do venture to the cashpoint, the cash seems to disappear in super-fast time. (I suspect just as I raid the kids' money boxes, the hubby raids my purse - though this is as yet an unsubstantiated accusation!)
You can sort the smallest of supermarket transactions by card, while online purchases are also a doddle (much to my husband's dismay!). But some people and services simply don't take plastic - and this is the time when I am caught out most frequently.
Take the man who cleans the wheelie bin for example. I know he calls every fortnight on a Monday at around midday expecting £1.80. But my heart sinks every time I see his van parked outside the house and hear the bin being dragged across the gravel - he's caught me out again!
On the occasions when I've asked him to call back in the evening he's looked less than impressed so sometimes the only course of action is to raid one of the three piggybanks. With my two older boys at school and the youngest normally having his afternoon nap, there are no witnesses to this shameful crime!
Then there are the times I need to nip to Sainsbury's for that elusive grocery item or to park for an hour while I shop around town, a privilege that costs me either 50p or £1.
You can't feed notes into the parking meters so it's back to the money boxes to avoid a trip to the cashpoint and a stop-off at a local shop to buy an unnecessary item just to get change.
And then there's the £1 for my Wednesday 'swimming night' cup of tea. Again, if I have no change I have to resort to the kids' funds.
Kids are nobody's fool
However, the last time I borrowed from the piggybanks it hit home that maybe I need to get more responsible and organised when it comes to day-to-day expenses.
I was a pound short for panto tickets I'd ordered (having used it for a cuppa the previous evening at swimming) and was determined to settle my debt. So I approached my eldest child, seven-year-old Archie, cap-in-hand. This is the conversation that ensued:
Me: "Archie, you know that pound the tooth fairy left you?"
Archie: "Yes mummy."
Me: "Do you think I could borrow it? I'm a pound short for our panto tickets." (A tactical move - I thought the panto reference would help seal the deal as one ticket is for him.)
Archie: "Yes, OK."
On returning with the pound he looks at me earnestly.
Archie: "That's £3 you owe me now."
Me: "Is it?"
Archie: "Yes, you've borrowed all my tooth fairy money."
So there you have it. When you borrow from your children, never assume they are unwise to your crimes. Window cleaners, impromptu takeaways, taxis into town for a night out - all these things seem to catch us out and get us raiding our kids' piggybanks or birthday money drawers.
With the money boxes now empty and son number three getting wiser by the day, it may be time to settle my debts and stop relying on the 'bank of offspring' before he realises that £10 birthday money is still missing from April...