Chapter 5: Staying Alive

Footnote: From Riches To Rags

Clothing one's family from a welfare budget, in an expensive region, is hard enough without having to battle against corporate merchandising. This de­liberate social manipulation by profiteering corporates multiplies the hard­ship of those whom market forces place in such circumstances.

Clothing that is specifically for school is by no means the whole of our sons' cloth­ing needs. Vests and underpants, jeans, wool sweater, pyjamas, anorak, casual tr­ous­ers, track suit and trainers also have to be bought.

However, we cannot clothe them in second hand things from charity shops in a social environment in which their peers are predominantly from yuppie homes. They would be quickly singled out as being different and odd. This would lead to social exclusion. This, in turn, would be emotionally damaging during their most formative years. The resulting psychological damage would be permanent.

This problem is exacerbated by capitalist merchandisers who prey ruthlessly upon a child's need to belong. All the kids at school wear T-shirts and sweaters with current TV characters and labels on them. Naturally, these carry a royalty overhead in their retail prices. Any who are not attired in the latest such fashion are not part of the group. They are rejected and excluded. They cannot take part in the child­hood re-enactments of their merchandised TV heroes. They are out of the convers­ations.

Despite this overwhelming commercial pressure, we managed to restrict the cost of the non-school clothes for our two sons to £202.94 over the year 1993-94. That is roughly £101.47 each. Nevertheless, to achieve this, our sons' non-school clothes, operational necessities and maintenance budgets all had to be shaved raw.

Nowadays, my wife and I never buy clothes until the ones we have are literally fall­ing apart. But they eventually do. Then we buy what is cheap and functional. For this we budgeted £150 between us for the year 1993-94. My wife and I have had two new sets of sheets for our bed in 27 years. We still use the eiderdown and blankets we had as wedding presents. We spent £43.96 in the year 1993-94 on re­placing bed linen. We therefore budget £50 a year for this.

Children's Non-school Clothing£202.94
Parents' clothing£150.00
Bed + other household linen£50.00
A summary of our family's clothing and linen costs for the year 1993 to 1994 is shown in this table. With clothing, we have now tightened our proverbial belt as far as we can possibly go.

Parent Page | © Jul 1994 Robert John Morton