Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Back from my break – to the same old bills that I'd left behind'

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The Independent Online

So I'm back from my staycation, desperately trying to pick up the pieces of my trashed attempts at budgeting. As I mentioned last week, holidaying in the UK turned out to be considerably pricier than I expected: the cups of coffee, the dining out, the gallery visits, it all added up with such rapidity as to render any attempts at moderation futile. By day three, I'd realised that any attempts to count my pennies were futile. By day four, this admission had become a free pass to spend whatever I wanted.

Things got worse on the way home. My boyfriend went to the cash point to withdraw money – only to realise that, not only was his account empty, but he had reached the limits of his overdraft. For a moment we briefly panicked that he'd had his identity stolen and had his bank account emptied.

After all, I'd done the recycling the day before we left and while, naturally, I'd never be so stupid as to put my own statements out for a public airing, I'm considerably less vigilant when it comes to his financial security. Alas, the truth, established through a series of frantic phone calls to the bank's credit card fraud office, was far worse: he hadn't been robbed; he'd just spent all his money. Which means that my own dire financial position has been further compounded by a £200 emergency loan to him, to be repaid immediately on payday.

At least, I suppose, I'm getting that money back. Pity the same can't be said of my other outgoings. Waiting from me, on my return from Cornwall, was the annual service charge bill from my building's management agency – the very same agency that have so far failed to replace the wall they tore down in my bathroom to repair a communal leak. The figure was so horrendous that I'm loath to repeat it in print. Still, suffice to say, it was considerably more than I had in my current account.

In fact, it was considerably more than I've spent on anything – with the possible exception of my flat's actual deeds. According to my home-owning friends, these things are quite normal; indeed my charge isn't even that high in comparison with that of others. Still, it came as a shock.

And then, of course, there have been all the other little charges to be paid on returning to London: the new monthly travel card, the fresh top-up on my work canteen card, the obligatory trip to Sainsbury's to replace all the perishables which had gone off while I was away. And now I'm left, hanging on until payday, with virtually nothing to get me through the week. On second thoughts, perhaps that holiday wasn't such a bright idea after all.

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