Little savings throughout the year can take off the pressure
- Credit: PA
The New Year has just begun to get back to normal and normal for me used to be bills plopping through the letterbox, and having to scratch round for money to pay them all, but thanks to a New Year's resolution I made years ago I do have the money. The snag is – it's all in 50p pieces.
Every January I start putting any 50ps I'm given in change into a moneybox. I open my box after Christmas for a very welcome financial boost that has been virtually painless to acquire.
This year I had £110.50p, other years I've had more than £200. A nice tidy sum to start the year with.
I bag the coins up into £10 lots, and every time I go shopping locally I put one of the bags into my coat pocket and pay cash.
Oh how the shops love me painstakingly counting them all out with a big queue behind me, everyone else wanting to pay with a credit card.
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But the last laugh will be with me in February, when they all get a frightening credit card statement; I on the other hand will have no such nasty surprise.
Next year there will be even more money in my moneybox, because I will keep a tighter grip on what I spend, by consciously using cash for all purchases under £10.
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This will have two benefits. Firstly I will not have that nasty sick feeling when my credit card statement arrives, and secondly by paying cash I will naturally get more change, therefore more 50 pence pieces to squirrel away.
This year I will stop trying to keep track of my finances in Excel.
I'm not an accountant or bookkeeper, and I'm ready to admit defeat.
It's not the Excel spreadsheet so much as the constant updating of Windows 10 by Microsoft, which means that what should be a quick boot up to in put some figures turns into a frustrating wait while it 'configures' – whatever that means.
As a present to myself I went to my favourite stationer and bought a double entry bookkeeping ledger. It's instantly available whenever I want to fill it in, and it doesn't accidentally wipe or delete anything I've written in there.
Thinking this over motivated me to think of other small changes that will lead to an easier life in 2017. The following is a list of small lifestyle changes I will make:
1. Instead of a second coffee in the morning I will have a herbal tea. It might take a bit of getting used to, but hopefully my irritable bladder won't be quite so irritable.
2. I will visit my local library at least fortnightly, and get the librarian to choose a book for me. I've done this already and got To Kill A Mockingbird. Not something I would have chosen for myself but I loved it.
3. I will make more use of my kitchen timer, and set it to go off 15 minutes before a television programme is due to start, or 15 minutes before I have to leave the house to catch a bus.
4. I will check my diary before I get into bed and again in the morning. There have been too many times this year when I've relied on my memory, and either arrived late, or much too early. I actually arrived a whole month early for one event.
5. I will do five minutes of hoola-hooping as soon as I am washed and dressed in the morning instead of waiting till later, which then never happens. If I do it first thing, it's done, and my waist will stay defined, clearly separated from my derriere.
6. I will record any television programme that ends after 10.30pm, and go to bed instead of staying up to watch them.
That's enough adjustment. This time next year I'll let you know how I got on.