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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Britain's snowfall has been surprisingly harsh on my wallet'

In The Red

So far this week, I’ve paid for five taxi rides, three train tickets, two takeaway croissants, a pair of wellington boots, a pair of socks, an umbrella, and countless other bits and bobs that have virtually no future use. The umbrella, admittedly, would have some potential – were it not for the fact that I already own five.

Why the unexpected extravagance? Because of the weather. This, I promise, is not some excuse I’ve cooked up to feed to the bank manager (cf. Lauder’s leading lipstick indicator). No, Britain’s heaviest |snowfall in two decades has been surprisingly harsh on my wallet.

It started on Monday. Not realising that London |buses were cancelled, I allowed my usual half-hour to get to work. Of course, as soon as I stepped outside, I realised that I had little hope in hell of getting in on time. I tried the Tube, only be told that the station |wasn’t open. My boyfriend decided to flag down a |taxi, which, after 20 minutes of frantic waving at already-full cabs, we did. Then we hit the |delightful Limehouse tunnel to discover that not only was it closed, but it was also surrounded by |several square miles of gridlocked traffic.

So we got out and walked; funnily |enough, patent leather shoe-boots don’t |make for ideal hiking apparel (hence the wellies, bought from |an opportunistic |roadside hawker).

Our trudge was an appetite-inducing (the croissants) hour and a half through ankle-high virgin snow. In some ways, it was quite fun: picturesque, refreshing, athletically challenging. Mostly, though, it was bloody awful: cold, wet, and fuelled by the fear that only a 5pm deadline can inspire.

And of course, the novelty wore off with the week. Each day, my morning commute became more and more elaborate as I grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of normal service.

More frustrating still was the dent in my bank |balance. When something unexpected happens – a surprise guest, for instance, or a bout of flu, or, indeed, a snowstorm – it’s all too easy to see it as a free pass to splashing out. Were it not for London’s arctic blitz, the first week of February would have been a breeze. I had no plans to go out, no birthdays to celebrate, not even an outstanding bill to pay. Instead, it’s been a |bloodbath. To say that this week’s budget went awry would be an understatement: it’s gone completely through the roof.

Quite what I’m going to do about this unexpected erring from the path of virtue, I’ve yet to decide. I only know that for the rest of the month, I’m broke.