New Year budgets
January can be a rotten month emotionally and financially – Christmas is over, but the bills seem to come flying in with every post and you can’t even ignore them because you’ve got to get your tax return in by the end of the month.
My New Year’s resolution is to make a budget and stick to it. Ok so it’s the same as it is every year, but this year I’m determined to see it through.
I am a natural ostrich and would far rather stick my head in the pile of brown envelopes than open them and deal with them but recently I’ve realised that – a bit like taking exercise – dreading and avoiding them is actually far more exhausting and angst-ridden than actually tackling them.
Joining the car club the other day – silly as it sounds – really did get me moving. It was something I had been dithering about for years and always avoided because it just seemed so complicated, and, to be brutally honest, I was scared of tackling the technology, the paperwork and the mechanics of getting behind the wheel of a strange car. But once I’d taken the first step – through necessity as much as anything – the rest was relatively easy.
And after delivering Ella safely back to uni I drove home with such a sense of accomplishment that I felt I could tackle anything. So – next stop budget! But I’m not going to try to do it alone – that would be reckless and end in tears. No, this time I’ve found the financial equivalent of a SatNav to guide me through it. The Government’s financial advice website The Money Advice Service (the one which has the “Ask MA” TV ad that usually follows those creepy WONGA grannies) has an – apparently – foolproof budget planner that even I can use and stick to (moneyserviceadvice.org.uk).
Not only does it not leave anything out, it also adds plenty of things that you can cheerfully ignore, which I found hugely and childishly satisfying, like “car tax” and “school fees”.
I started filling it in this morning, when I should have been putting off something even more pressing, and found it strangely compelling and satisfying – a bit like completing one of those magazine personality quizzes when you were a teenager, but slightly more productive.
I haven’t finished yet (it goes on for pages and pages) but I’ll let you know how I get on and what the verdict is.
Mostly As: start packing you’re off to Monaco.
Mostly Bs: Keep up the good work and use the money you’ve saved to buy an economical Slow Cooker.
Mostly Cs: Dear oh dear – cut up your credit cards, off to debtor’s prison with you and don’t forget to post the keys through the letterbox on your way out.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn