And we’re off…

Amanda & Christmas Plant 16.11.13. 1

Two days in to my Christmas Countdown and things are going reasonably to plan, though I still haven’t managed to hang up my bargain eBay string of mini stockings advent calendar above the mantelpiece. My friend Ivana and I spent 20 fruitless minutes trying to do it yesterday. Despite a hammer, an entire box of drawing pins and six picture hooks, all we managed to do was fix one end that promptly fell into Doughnut’s water bowl, dunking three mini stockings stuffed with December 1st, 2nd and 3rd’s candy canes.

I seem to have spent the entire weekend either clearing up or nagging Jack and Katy to clear up. And I know which is more exhausting. By the end of the weekend I’d made three trips to the dump and two to the PDSA shop, handing over – among other things – Doughnut’s old plastic bed because he’s not quite limber enough to curl up like a prawn any more and prefers lying flat out.

Walking into a pet charity shop with a dog’s bed was bound to attract sympathetic looks, so I felt I ought to pre-empt any misplaced sympathy with a longwinded explanation that it was all right – he wasn’t dead, he’d just outgrown it.

Feeling lighter already I drove on to the dump listening to Clare Balding’s Desert Island Discs and realising that, music-wise, we must have been separated at birth. She chose Alison Moyet, the Theme from Black Beauty and Neil Diamond’s What a Beautiful Noise – which she said she picked because her mum loved it. That’s what we all say. My sister, Upstairs Clare and I all hid behind that excuse when we took Mum to the O2 to see Neil Diamond four years ago.

Obviously after all that de-cluttering I had to do a spot of shopping, but I didn’t go mad, which is just as well because I woke up to the news that we seem to have turned into a country of financial ostriches, all sticking our heads in the sand and refusing to save for the future.

A study by left-leaning think tank Demos ( reports that four out of five of middle-earning families, ie those with an income of between  £31,000 and £42,300, are either saving nothing or by their own admission “not enough” for their or their children’s future. Ms Wood said, “Britain’s middle earners might think they’re getting by, but many aren’t saving enough or putting enough into their pension, instead crossing their fingers and hoping something will turn up.”

Like Mr Micawber, the financially-challenged eternal optimist in David Copperfield we are all convinced that “something will turn up”. But unless we get our act together something will turn up all right, but it’s likely to be the bailiffs – I just hope they wait until I’ve got the stockings up and the wreath on the door before they do for the full Dickensian effect.

Amanda’s Christmas spending so far:

I’ll be keeping tabs on my spending and letting you know my Christmas stars – a savvy spend – and my Christmas puddings – a whopping waste


– Red string of mini-stockings Advent calendar from eBay: £10.99 – cute, practical and re-usable

– Oxfam advent calendars x 3 for Ella at uni and niece and nephew in Canada:  £11.97 – frugal yet thoughtful

– 6 red and white Cyclamens for teachers: £15 – budget conscious, thoughtful and smugly early


– Two boxes of candy canes and two bags each of chocolate Santas and reindeer: £6 – forgot my bargain calendars would need filling!

– Postage and envelopes for same: £12.35 – doh! Didn’t think that through

– 4 strings of £1.99 battery-operated fairy lights £7:96 – spending almost eight quid on yet more fairy lights? That need batteries? Lots of them? Idiot!

How does Amanda’s spending compare to yours?

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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