BLOG: Austerity – a fishy business


Paula John on how not to economise with the domestic budget

“Did you know that we’ve been spending more than we earn every month for a while?” my husband asked recently.

Hmm, it had come to my attention, yes. Like many professionals (doctors, clergy etc), I regularly fail to practice what I preach and while doling out money-saving advice on a regular basis as a personal finance journalist, I find it all too easy to stick my own purchases on plastic and ignore my bank statements. I’m sure you’re shocked.

Christmas is a personal finance black hole for many, and with two children born in December, the end of the year is a supermassive (technical term, honest) black hole for us.

“We need to rein in our spending,” announced He Who Is Occasionally Listened To.

I reasoned that not buying a toy mountain and not inviting dozens of people for boozy festive dinners would alone no doubt have a positive effect on the family budget, but grudgingly agreed to look at cutting corners on the weekly grocery bill.

A few evenings later, the doorbell rang as I was carting the two-year old up to bed. HWIOLT answered and disappeared into the dark , following a man in a white hat. To my relief, he returned soon after. To my bewilderment, he carried a large white cardboard box and a smug grin.

“Fish fingers!” he announced? “How many?” I gulped. “Forty – giant ones!” he whooped.

I didn’t like to remind HWIOLT that our freezer is already full to groaning with Jamie Oliver fishfingers which for some reason were half price at Waitrose for most of 2012.

“How much?” was naturally my next question. “Guess!” he responded, triumph in his voice. As Jamie’s small ones were were 99p for 10 and HWIOLT had obviously struck the bargain of the year with these whoppers, I tentatively proffered a guess: “Fiver?”.

The triumphant grin crumpled into pained confusion. “Forty...quid..?” he squeaked.

HWIOLT tried to recover the situation by claiming that each piscine digit would be ‘a meal in itself’, but given that the children wouldn't eat them, it was something of a moot point.


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