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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: I spend more than I used to, but who could blame me?

In The Red

Good news. I am no longer suffering from wealth tourism (a nasty affliction that, you will recall, I contracted in the extreme following The Independent's relocation to Kensington High Street; symptoms include spending lots and lots of money you don't have, conning yourself into believing that you can spend as freely as the army of glossy oligarchs that surround you, spending every lunch time picking up wholesome-looking items in free-range packaging from glossy, bankruptingly-expensive, shopping "emporia", and popping into Topshop on your way home).

It's just as well, really, since had the problem continued any longer, I may have been forced to pack in the whole creative career thing in favour of a far less exciting (but no doubt considerably better paid) future in banking – or, seeing as that doesn't seem to be going too well at the moment, pawnbroking, perhaps.

At any rate, that need not be a consideration any longer: this week, thank goodness, I have fallen into pseudo-oligarch's wife mode only once, and that was on a Friday, so we can, I think, put it down to a simple case of end-of-week euphoria.

The solution, I think, has been in not being too strict: allowing myself a degree of rationed treats on the understanding (yes, that would an "understanding" with myself) that I can indulge only after proving my willpower. So instead of going cold turkey, I've phased in the rehab.

It's not as complicated as it sounds. Basically, if I skip my sugar-free-vanilla-skinny-iced latte on the way in to work (something which, if I'm entirely honest, had always been more about convenience than pleasure anyway) then I can buy my lunch from outside the building. If, however, poor time-keeping renders my home-brewed efforts futile, then I'll have to make do with a sarnie or salad from the canteen.

I'm still spending more money than I used to in our old office, but then, really, can you blame me? A couple of weeks ago I left my desk and stepped out on to a dusty east London road, at least 10 minutes walk away from the closest lunch spot (which itself would be in the somewhat dubious setting of Canary Wharf's strip-lit shopping centre). Now I step out of the office and straight into M&S (almost). What can I say? It's a culture shock. But I'm getting over it.