Friday 1 July 2022

Home Economics: June Report

The last day of the month is my favourite day of the month, for then I get to tally up everything we earned, spent, and saved. I'm not sure why I find this so satisfying, but it is. Try it yourselves! If at first it doesn't feel fun, keep at it for a year. The important things are not to cheat (that is, to not write down a purchase--the horror!) and not to feel sad if you spent more on a category than you thought you would spend. You probably needed that skirt, and sometimes a woman just needs a pistachio mazarin in Stockbridge, even if it does cost £3.60. 

Righto! So let us examine the McLean food spending and enjoy it while we can, for I will soon be studying in Poland, eating all my pre-paid food in the student canteen. This will naturally have an effect on our grocery and restaurant bills---or not, depending on what Benedict Ambrose gets up to in my absence. But one thing the Sacred Budget Book makes clear: I spend more money than B.A. does.

Anyway, the point is that there is unlikely to be either a July Report or an August Report because both are going to be rather complicated. Also, I'm taking a vow not to speak or write in English when I'm in Poland, except for the 10 minutes hour I speak to B.A. every day. 

B.A. How's Parseltongue going?

Mrs McL: Bzz bzz sh ch bzz. How's work?

B.A. Busy. I'm tired. How's the weather?

Mrs McL: Hot. How's your weather?

B.A. Not. Did you read the latest on Twitter about Fr. Martin?

Mrs McL: NOOOOOOOO! I don't WANT to know!

B.A. Sorrysorrysorry. Changing subject! Changing subject!

Meanwhile, I do not as yet know how fast I will be able to get caffeine into my bloodstream in Poland, and so I am slowing training myself not to drink coffee for a full hour after I wake up in the morning. I recall as a child just leaping up and getting on with the day, presumably just like our cave dwelling ancestors, only cleaner. I could do somersaults then, too, which boggles the mind.

At this point I am clearly stalling so as not to admit that we went overboard on groceries. We were pleasantly conscientious about eating out, though.  


June 2022: Groceries: £393.09; RBCT (Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Takeaway): £61.80. Total £454.81.

But that food total is not terrible for us, especially when we contemplate the pricey month of May:

May 2022: Groceries: £300.42; RBCT £303.26. Total: £603.68.

April is a better point of comparison:

April 2022: Groceries: £372.23; RBCT: £74.10. Total: £446.33.

But to keep ourselves honest, let us look at last June:

June 2021: Groceries: £389.75; RBCT: £67.60. Total: £457.35.  

That's not much of a difference, so I am pleased. Apparently we are not being socked by inflation as yet.  


Here is where our June 2022 RCBT money went, so that we can all enjoy it vicariously or in memory:

1. 2 Saturday ice-cream cones from our fabled neighbourhood ice-cream parlour.

2. 2 more Saturday ice-cream cones from our fabled neighbourhood ice-cream parlour.

3. Benedict Ambrose's beer outside the Royal High as he contemplated the marvellous view of the Old Town with the Pentlands in the background. The price of the view was clearly included in the price of the beer, but it was a once-in-a-blue-moon experience. What the heck: we have been known to buy the outrageously overpriced German sausages at the Christmas Market.   

4. Two Saturday panko-crumbed lemon sole suppers from our fabled neighbourhood high-end chippie.

5. Sunday cappuccino and cake with somebody and somebody's American girlfriend we had just found out about.  

6. Coffee and croissant bought at fabled local bakery and consumed on the beach by me. A day so unusually gorgeous, I called my mother over social media camera to show her.

7. The aforementioned pistachio mazarin in Stockbridge.


I have been putting together a capsule wardrobe for my Poland trip from charity shop and eBay finds. Everything is cotton or linen because Poland is very hot in summer. I have been staying out of charity shops while surfing eBay rather a lot, but during a very useful hour after Mass on the Feast of SS. Peter and Paul (a Holy Day of Obligation in Scotland), I discovered that even the best charity shops were cheaper than eBay for what I wanted. The drawback is, of course, they might not have everything I want, or what I want when I want it.

Another advantage to charity shop shopping over eBay shopping is that the volunteers are not as interested in your tastes as eBay is. And I'm curious about why eBay has suddenly found me things that are cheaper than the exact same thing I so recently bought from it. I understand why eBay is sending me email about these things--clearly if I like navy blue linen, I might want more navy blue linen--but I don't understand why I did not see them before. Did it, um, hide them?

Meanwhile, I have been reading Johann Hari's Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention which, although partisan, asks some very good questions and provides some very good answers about all the time everyone is wasting online and what this waste is doing to us. (By partisan, I mean that Hari is sad that Facebook may have led to the election of Jair Bolsonaro but so far has not mentioned the tsunami of girls seeking medical intervention to resemble boys.) Despite Hari's politics, I recommend this book. I am heartily glad, too, that I track absolutely everything I buy and mull over every online purchase. 

Possibly I should start tracking every website I frequently check, too. RightMove--Britain's sweetheart-- probably knows more about me than I would like.  For some reason, I don't mind the universe knowing I spent £3.60 on a pastry, but the idea that someone is profiting off my property hopes and daydreams drives me wild.

Regarding distraction, I recognised that there was something wrong with my brain after being on the internet as long ago as 2005 or 2006. I got my first personal internet access (that is, not my dad's and not my college's) in September 2005, and I swiftly became addicted to checking my email. This addiction (which I no longer have) made me realise that I must never go near a slot-machine. I began reading about the phenomenon as soon as (irony) people were writing about it on the internet. 

The great thing about blogging is that, although you are on the internet, you are not checking stuff on the internet. It is possible to achieve flow--that wonderful state you get into while reading a good book or writing something funny or doing whatever it is you like to do best. Surfing the internet, let alone obsessively checking social media, interrupts that. 

And now I wish to go back to reading Hari, for it is Canada Day and I have the day off. Have a lovely weekend everyone! May you be rich in attention and in savings.  

P.S. I don't usually erase messages, but the reader who feels strongly about the use of Pfizer, etc., products in COVID-19 prevention asked me to take down her comments appended to the blogpost below. 

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