Friday, 27 August 2010

TV programme call-out

I've been contacted by a television company who are planning a programme about people with unhealthy relationships with money. In case anyone is interested in applying, here are the details.....

Do you know someone whose spending is way out of control?

Or are you living with someone whose penny-pinching is making life a misery?

Or perhaps you yourself just can’t get a grip on your finances ….

Well, a new series is being developed for Channel 4 that aims to sort out unhealthy relationships with money whatever the problem.

So, if you’re fed up with scrimpers, or frightened of dire debt,
and are over 18, this is the show to teach you about smart spending, healthy saving, how to manage your money and still have a life - despite the credit crunch!

To apply to take part, email and you’ll automatically receive an application form which you can return either by email or to

Take control of your money, don’t let it control you!

Remarkable will use any information provided by you for the purposes of selecting participants for the programme and will only share information with Channel 4 and any independent contractors involved in the programme.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Autumnal weather, and the urge to splurge

Autumn is in the - very chilly - air, and I'm feeling restless and spendthrift. The autumn Boden catalogue has come through the letterbox, and while I've not been tempted by a catalogue in a long while, suddenly I want something on every other page of this one.

This evening we went out for a mid-week supper, again for the first time in a while. It wasn't very satisfying; we visited an Italian chain we used to frequent quite regularly in the bad old days of being much more stressed and in need of treats than we generally are now. I felt slightly annoyed afterwards that we had spent money on a rather average meal, and that we could have made something nicer at home.

Apart from the weather, and darkening evenings, which do bother me, I'm not entirely sure why I feel inclined to spend money at the moment. Partly, I think it may be a back-to-school feeling; I have to keep reminding myself that I am not about to return to a corporate job I don't enjoy, but for which I feel I should have a new Autumn wardrobe as a small compensation. In fact, J. and I are about to have a week off, after which life should revert to its current varied pattern, just with worse weather. And for which the clothes I have will, for the moment at least, do perfectly well....

Sunday, 22 August 2010

My birthday treat

It was my birthday this month, and I decided to do something a bit different. For a while, and especially since my friend Polly's post about gardening, I have been wanting to start growing vegetables. However, the space in my garden where I would do so was cluttered with awkward to remove plants, like mint, which had overtaken most of the patch. J. and I between us felt overwhelmed by the task of dealing with it.

So, as my birthday treat, I invited my family to a 'gardening day'. Between us, we dug up all the mint. (I'm afraid that I lacked the bodily strength to do much of the actual digging, which was largely done by the male members of the party.) We also cleared some large shrubs, my father pruned many bushes and trees, and we stuffed bags full of the resulting rubbish.

In between our labours, as it was a gorgeous day, we dragged the dining table out into the garden - we have no substantial garden furniture - and had lunch there; my mother and sister had made goats cheese and tomato tart, roast chicken and salad, with meringues and chocolate ganache to follow. Heavenly. The table was decorated with a bunch of flowers J. picked from our garden, and some my parents had brought from theirs.

I had asked for no presents this year, partly as I was asking for help in the garden instead. I did get some lovely presents, though: some books, a pair of fuschia gloves and a purple 'moc croc' wallet that I had bought on holiday and given to J to wrap up, and managed to forget about quite successfully in the meantime, some perfume.

My favourite present, though, was one my father made for me. Following the gardening theme of the day, it was a set of seed markers, made of wood and painted in delicate greens, greys and blue. The paints were testers left over from when my parents painted their house. I cannot think when I was last given a home-made present, and I absolutely loved it.

By the end of the day, we had sowed rows of lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, and a pot full of rocket. The rocket and chard at least are looking promising at the time of writing, although the other seedlings seem to have suffered after a bout of torrential rain earlier in the week. I am definitely inspired to keep going, though.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Money versus time taken to earn it: I think I have finally 'got' it

It is a reasonably common piece of personal finance advice that it helps to think of money in terms of how long it would take you to earn the price of an item or experience that you are considering buying.

I've read this tip often, and made some use of it, but found it of limited use when I had a full-time job. It was an intellectual rather than emotional understanding. I had to go to work exactly as much anyway, regardless of how much I spent, I had some spare money, and buying the treat made me feel - albeit very temporarily - better about life and about my job.

Now, though, partly because I have just read 'Your Money or Your Life', which I will write about more later, and partly because I'm now dependent primarily on my husband's self-employed income, this suddenly makes a lot more sense. It has really come home to me that for each say £100 spent, this equates to a unit of his time that could either be saved, or used to buy time off for him at some later date.

If I spent say £10 a week on sweets, coffees and the like, which would not be at all difficult, it would take him more than a day a year of hard work to earn the money to pay for my treats. That really horrified me, as it feels like a terrible use of J's time and energy - I think I have now 'got' this concept. I'm not saying I'll never buy a coffee or packet of sweets again, but I hope I will only do so where I really want to, and as a treat, rather than as a habit.

Correction: it would actually take well over 2 days for J to earn the money for my treats, at this rate. (I knew this really, but somehow could not compute!)