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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Deciding on my New Year's resolution is easy: spend less'

In The Red

This year, deciding on my New Year's resolutions is easy. Too easy. In fact, there are so many things I could be doing better that I'm at risk of losing track. Put simply, my resolutions comprise two strands: eat less, and spend less. But mainly spend less.

They're the same two promises I've been making for the last, oooh, decade? Ever since I could no longer scrape by on pocket money and puppy fat. Take them at face value and they seem simple enough – but believe me, they're far more complicated than they sound.

In fact, despite the years of practice I've had in making them, I'm surprisingly under-rehearsed when it comes to keeping them. The longest I've ever lasted has been until March. Then I hit my birthday and all sense of restraint goes right out the window, replaced instead by chocolate cake, gin, and poor mathematics – a combination that lasts me quite comfortably until the next year, when I start all over again.

The problem, I think, is each resolution's breadth. They each entail so many steps – spending less in particular – that, although I'm only trying to achieve two end goals, I'm actually making 28 smaller commitments. Which, when it comes to it, is rather a lot.

So this year, I'm breaking things down. This month I'll be concentrating on coffee. Not giving it up – my love of caffeine is far too strong for that – just paying less for it. I need to stop buying that takeaway coffee, and start carrying a thermos. In fact, I need to buy a thermos. A cheap one. Or maybe two, so that I can bring soup to work – in which case I'll need to start making soup. And so it goes on...

So far, things have gone OK. I had a decidedly credit crunch-friendly New Year's Eve, empty-stomached and guzzling cheap liquor with my flatmate in the comfort of our own home. We had planned to go out – to a Kentish house party – but the sub-zero temperatures and transport costs conspired against us. Instead we stayed in to watch Jools Holland perform the countdown, wallowing in our own virtuousness, admiring the Christmas tree and spending a grand total of £10 (plus heating bill) between us. We even got a bird's eye view of the fireworks – one of the few virtues of living in a tower-block.

As for how the rest of the year pans out, we'll have to wait and see. Something tells me that 2009's efforts might be more successful that usual– if only because I have little choice. My bank statements have arrived bearing the scars of December's shopping. And believe me, they're not pretty.