Alice-Azania Jarvis: After four years I leave you, still in the red but a little more savvy

In The Red

And so, here it is. My final In The Red. Thank you so much for the kind messages wishing me luck in the new job – not to mention the new flat that I may or may not be moving into in 2012. And cheers, too, to Andrew Gorman who offered a (thankfully lone) voice of dissent when he wrote to tell me that he'd always found my columns "repetitive and dull" (I plead guilty) and looked forward to their being replaced by something "a little more cerebral" (I sincerely hope not).

At any rate, last week I promised to share a few things I'd learnt over the course of this column's four-year existence. Tempting as it is to keep things concise with a straightforward "zilch", that would be disingenuous. Because while I may not be applying for Mervyn King's job just yet, I have picked up the odd trick. Not much, but here we go:

Christmas may celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it has spawned many an unholy tradition.

Why not start with something seasonal? And on this, Gorman couldn't be more correct. I am repetitive. And dull. I've been banging on about this for years but things never change. Shops persist in their vexing habit of celebrating Christmas in September. It's a cynical and misguided attempt to get us spending. See also, Valentines in January. Or at any time of year. You know who you are. Desist. Please.

DIY is over-rated.

As are flatpacks, incidentally. I won't even sew – my dry-cleaner does it for £2. Bargain!

Summer trumps winter, even if I prefer the cold.

Energy bills, the need for shelter, more food and more layers. Much as I love a cold snap, there's no doubting its cost. Time to move to Oz?

Festivals, holidays and weddings can be done on the cheap. Train travel can't.

£60 to Poole? Yes, really. It's unpleasant. It's even more unpleasant when, en route to Brighton, the toilet bowl is so overflowing that you end up taking an unwelcome shower. Thanks for that, Virgin Trains.

You can sell anything. I can sell anything except my flat.

Property is a cut-throat business, or so I learnt when I was unceremoniously let down by a buyer a month ago. On the plus side, I've sold all sorts of unwanted knick knacks at jumble sales across London. And chocolate brownies. I'm practically Lord Sugar.

People – particularly Independent readers – are generous.

You helped me raise more than £3,500 for Save the Rhino! And you've put up with me! For four years! You deserve a medal.

And that's it. There's nothing more to say. So, from me, it's ta-ra. And thanks!

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