Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Preserving my bank balance is about to get much more difficult'
In The Red
Saturday 23 May 2009
Saving money is about to get a whole lot harder. Why? Because this Monday marks my first day at The Independent's new, Kensington office. Actually, I can't wait. Canary Wharf had its charms (some, anyway) but it's not a patch on the buzzy confines of Kensington High Street, what with all its Topshops and Zaras and Whole Foods (more on which anon).
Where Canary Wharf had All Bar One, Boots, and a rather useful M&S, Kensington has the cream of the high street, from boutiques to bistros to bars, all laid out on one brief stretch of tarmac. It's going to be a million times more convenient – the commute is longer, but I'll finally be able to pick up groceries on the way home – and a million times less helpful when it comes to preserving my bank balance.
For one thing, living in east London and working in west London means I have the whole of central London to traverse on my way to and from work – in effect, I'll be heading past every drinking/eating/ working spot that my friends could possibly be inhabiting. So instead of heading home like a good penny-pincher – or going directly to some freebie-filled press launch – I will, I fear, become increasingly more likely to give in to temptation, and head out for a night with my friends.
And then, of course, there's the added temptation of lunch-time to consider. Those Indy staffers who've already ventured over have returned with tales of wondrous lunch-spots and expensive salad bars. King among these appears to be Whole Foods, the glossy, new(ish) purveyors of organic groceries. I have, once, ventured into the Kensington emporium, only to scurry out clutching a single bag of desiccated coconut after catching sight of a few price tags, but something tells me my resolve may not last. Whole Foods is exactly the sort of place that I find difficult to resist: sufficiently gleaming to make me feel treated, pseudo-ethical enough ("organic", "natural", "probiotic" and "fair trade") to make me feel virtuous, and so expensive I'll leave feeling as though I've been mugged.
The only thing to do, I think, is to try as hard as I can to stick to a strict pack-lunch-and-canteen diet, see how my bank balance (and will-power) has fared after a week, and then review the situation. Just to prepare, this weekend I plan to avoid venturing out of the flat at all, except only for (free) supplies of fresh air, exercise, and – hopefully – sunshine.
As for how my week's spending strategy fares, well, I'll report back in seven days. But I should probably say this: I can't promise anything.
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