"Fast away the Old Year passes," and in fact I am fasting, for yesterday I got on the bathroom scales and said, "Right-o! Only liquids until supper both today and tomorrow."
My top New Year's Resolution is to pay as much attention to my physical fitness in 2022 as I spent on the household accounts in 2021. Of course, I will continue to pay attention to the household accounts, too, for fun and profit. (That's my second New Year's Resolution.)
This month we ran over budget because of spontaneous choices and a relaxed "Ah, what the heck, it's Christmas" attitude. Also, my new glasses cost £38 more than I thought they would, and I spoke to my therapist for twice as long as I scheduled. Yes, Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass sometimes consult psychotherapists. These days, who can wonder?
As usual, our greatest expense was food and drink, so let us have a look.
December 2021: Groceries: £319.10; RBCT (Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Takeaway): £214.80. Total: £533.90.
To my surprise, this was not as pricey a month as November, despite the extra grocery costs that pre-ground poppyseeds, dried Polish forest mushrooms, and marsala entail.
November 2021: Groceries: £300.75; RBCT: £279.95. Total: £580.70.
But, of course, our food costs were heavier than in October and September.
October 2021: Groceries: £327; RBCT £100.00. Total: £427.00
Sept'ber 2021: Groceries: £296; RBCT £156.89. Total: £452.89
Personal finance is a balancing act between meanness and profligacy, and I am determined not to be mean, especially at Christmastime, so when we did spend, I did my best to enjoy it. I also strove not to be the only one making the spending decisions, for I don't want to be a control freak, either. Thus, I am happy to see that the RBCT bill features Benedict Ambrose meeting for festive lunches or drinks with his pals.
RBCT Bills: B.A. brought home pastries; B.A. had festive pub lunch with pals; Sunday lunch for 3 at pizzeria; B.A. had festive pub drinks with pals; Polish/English language exchange coffees in cafe; Christmas Market sausage-in-buns; pre-concert supper in Italian restaurant; lunch for 3 in Dundee.
Lovely memories were made, and so I think that was £214.80 mostly well spent. (I can make pastries myself, and B.A. said the beer at the festive pub lunch was vile.)
TOTAL GROCERY & RBCT BILLS FOR 2021
As it is the last day of the year, I have just had all the fun of totalling up exactly how much we spent and saved in 2021. The only categories I looked at in detail were Clothing, Groceries and Eating Out. I am embarrassed by how stingy we were about Clothing (except for my Made in England boots), so I'll leave that out. Instead here are the final tallies for Groceries (which includes loo roll, toothpaste, etc.) and Eating Out:
2021 Groceries: £4019.33
2021 RBCT: £1719.84
TOTAL FOOD (and toiletries, cleaning products, etc.): £5,739.17
This is to say, £478.26 a month. When I put it like that, it doesn't sound so bad. Moreover, there is no "good" and "bad" about the numbers: they are just facts. Knowing what the numbers are, however, is always good. Knowing the numbers means you are rooted in reality. And what really counts is earning more than you spend, and saving/investing the remainder for emergencies and your old age.
I highly recommend to all my readers to resolve to write down everything you earn and everything you spend every month of 2022. The way to stick to it is to reward yourself and not to beat yourself up.
Really, don't judge yourself (or your spouse, either, if you have one) as you keep your record of financial reality. Definitely don't judge yourself (or your spouse) the first month you do it. Don't even try to save more than you usually do. Just write down everything you spent that day at the end of the day, by category, and total it all up at the end of the month. Write it down. Total up everything you earned that month, and write that down, too. Then subtract the former from the latter to see if you saved anything. If you did, give yourself a tiny but satisfying reward. I give myself stickers that say "WOW!" and "GOOD WORK!" and stick them to my budget planner.
And with that I put aside my accounts for 2021, and wish you all a Happy--and prosperous--New Year!