Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Birthdays are meant to be for splurging'

In The Red

Another year, eh? From this day forth, I can no longer describe myself as "early twenties". Whether that gives you any enlightenment as to the year of my birth remains to be seen. To be honest, I'd rather it didn't.

But begrudging as I might be about my advancing years, there is something to celebrate. Today, my birthday, is the one day a year that I (almost) entirely abandon counting. Counting of all sorts: coins, calories, slices of cake. It is the one day a year on which I can pretend to be rich – or something approximating that. In cafes and restaurants, I'll order what I want, not what I should have. If I fancy that extra cupcake or cab ride, I'll indulge. If another glass of wine is calling my name, consider it ordered.

Of course, this can be dangerous. Over the years I've learned the perils of embracing faux wealth only too well. The memory of one year's birthday brunch still makes me wince. £110 for two people! Blame the assorted vessels of alcohol that accompanied our medium eggs Benedict. And then there was the time I chose to hold my party in a bar on the other side of town – a decision swiftly followed by that to hail a taxi. There and back.

But I've learned my lessons. The trick is to limit your ambitions. A taxi across town may not be ok, but for a ten-minute journey? Why not? A bottle of bubbly at a restaurant over breakfast might be taking it a bit too far – but at home, before going out? Fine. They're still extravagances – still things I wouldn't usually do – but they're not ones which will break the bank.

And so it is that this year I have a few rules: 1. Keep it local. Breakfast, dinner, drinks: I plan to go out for all three. But only to places within a five-mile radius. 2. Avoid temptation. Go to a place where you can afford the most expensive thing on the menu. And 3. Just because it's my birthday, it doesn't mean I have to spend. There's nothing worse (or more expensive) than shopping for the sake of it.

Hopefully, returned to normal life, I will feel refreshed. Having behaved fecklessly for a day, I'll be ready to return to more budget-friendly habits. Exercised in moderation, behaving like a rich person is like going on holiday: it gives you a taste of life on the other side. And when's a better time to do it that your birthday?

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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