Alice-Azania Jarvis: I'm tickled pink to be in the black – more or less

In The Red

Something odd has happened. It's the start of a new month, which for plenty of people means one thing: a fresh pay cheque. For me, not so much. I get paid mid-month, so – if anything- this is more often the time that I start to feel the pinch. It's now that I realise I need to swap fillets of cod for tins of tuna. It's now that I remember to bring my own tea bags into work. It's now that I begin cancelling lunch dates on the basis of insufficient funds.

And yet, this time around, things are a little different. Checking my bank balance on 1 March, my heart didn't plunge quite so far as is customary. My stomach didn't somersault quite so violently as is the norm. Somehow, miraculously, I seem to have saved a few bob.

OK, so there have been a few mitigating factors. February was a short month. A very short month; just 28 days. A few direct debits recently came to a close – a cancelled Spotify subscription, a reduced Lovefilm account. My heating and electricity are no longer quite as necessary as they once were. Instead of leaving the radiator on all night, I put it on for a brief hour at a time, if at all. But still I'm feeling smug. About a month and a half ago I started a major economy drive. Rather like the Coalition, I was ruthless and random in my targets: cheese, wine, fruit, coffee, friends. All came under attack. I've developed a new-found love for selling old books. Amazon has become my new favourite haunt. True, I don't own anything that fetches more than £5 a go, but, as David Reid will tell you, every little helps.

The February-March combo was due to be a particularly pricey one for me. It still is. Not only is it my birthday in March (the 26th, in case you're wondering, which is in precisely three weeks' time), but a string of other appointments have appeared, each one threatening its own unique brand of insolvency. Last week, I had a long-planned posh lunch. Next week, I'm going abroad for work (no airfares to stump up but, inevitably, all those extras that crop up when travelling). In between, there's been at least one hefty train fare and all the usual utilities. And yet, I'm doing better than I was in January.

I'm not sure this has ever happened before. My economising has worked. It's a novel feeling. And I'm not sure it can last.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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