Alice-Azania Jarvis: Undone by a month of coffee and calamari

In The Red

And so, inevitably, it's come back to haunt me. I spoke too soon. Or rather, I wrote too soon. So much for having saved up a few quid. Despite all my best intentions – and boy were they good – the past week has seen my unusually stable bank balance return to its old, oscillation ways. Not even. That, at least, would imply that it occasionally rises. Far more accurate to state the truth: my bank balance has resumed its usual plunge, its usual descent into nothingness.

The worst of it is that I don't even know why. Or how. How have I gone from feeling smug about my savings to, well, the opposite: feeling the usual jaded resignation?

True, there have been a few unusual expenditures. A contribution towards a friend's Top Secret Surprise, the details of which I obviously can't disclose here. That lopped almost £100 off the books, and at very short notice too. And I was forced – honest, hands tied – into buying a new pair of black jeans, since I managed to score a giant gash down the sides of the ones I wear almost every day of the week. (On my boyfriend's suggestion, I tried simply to cover it up with black nail polish. The result covered less the rip in the jeans and more a good few inches of thigh.) But aside from these two instances, God only knows where my money went.

Perhaps to my head. Perhaps I was too smug, too triumphant. I've managed to save! I gloated. I'm having a Good Month! Ergo, instead of lentils and pasta from Tesco, I shall buy calamari from Marks & Spencer. Brie from Waitrose. Grilled salmon from Whole Foods. There was, without doubt, a fair bit of that.

The treating wasn't limited to food, either. After weeks of ordering only hot water in the canteen, I've found myself indulging in the old habit of getting expensive coffees – despite the herbal tea bags lingering at my desk. I've even, on more than one occasion, found myself straying into convenience stores and picking up the odd after-work treat. Vogue, Grazia, a bar of chocolate. None of which were part of the uber-frugal budget that got me – or, rather, my finances – in shape in the first place.

The result? The same bank balance I always have just before getting paid. And I don't like it one bit. Roll on mid-March.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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