Given the size of the phone bill lingering on the horizon I feel obliged to spent October living like a monk. First, I feel guilty – very guilty – at frittering away money on something as unnecessary – not to say unwanted – as overseas internet access (for those of you who didn't read last week's column, I managed to rack up the most enormous phone bill on a work trip to Asia; as it turned out I had neglected to turn my data roaming off). Also, I am saving. Not "saving" in the abstract, responsible way (never!). Saving in the concrete sense; saving for a specific outcome. Namely: a holiday. Soon, I am going to Berlin.
Aside from the obvious decadence of taking a holiday midway through autumn (when I should really be saving for heating bills and – much as I hate to admit it – Christmas presents), a week in Berlin presents an economic challenge for several other reasons. First of all, it's a city – and a major, fashionable, European one at that. As regular readers will be aware, I only ever holiday in rural locations because that way everything is cheaper. Restaurants, bars, groceries. Everything. Second, I know that I'm going to want to spend. Berlin isn't just any old city, it's a particularly bank balance unfriendly one. Already, I have a list of must-visit cafés and bars so long that there is no chance of even getting halfway through it. Already, I'm trying to rationalise getting taxis – not buses or trains – home from evenings out. Already, I have a map of the city's best vintage shops committed to memory. I've booked self-catering accommodation so that I can cook for myself if need be – but already I've got two restaurants allocated for each night I'm there (including one – horror of horrors – that has the full-on three euro sign next to its name in my Lonely Planet).
The prospect of all this spending is waking me up in the middle of the night. Despite the relatively humble accommodation that I have booked, I awake panicking that I have accidentally checked into a posh hotel and become stranded. Suddenly, my life spans out ahead of me: unable to pay, I am forced to take up residence in my 5-star room, washing dishes in lieu of rent (on reflection this sounds more favourable than the almost inevitable reality: jail).
And so it is that I have been bringing packed lunches to work, refusing to go out and putting every desired purchase on hold. Berlin, you had better be worth it.