Pocket Money: Plan ahead for a cheap holiday, I thought. Oh dear...

there's a problem inherent in putting down a deposit for something. When the time comes later to pay the balance, it's hard to remember how much the first chunk was. Well, it might not be hard for you, but it is for a multi-tasking (oh, all right then, pea-brained) person like me.

Last autumn, when we'd haemorrhaged money on a spectacular holiday to South Africa, my bright idea was to plan ahead and save money. In 2008, I thought, we'll stay in the UK and find a charming little cottage somewhere for not much money. I found the ideal place, by the seaside in Wales, with lots of space for the children to run around in, and lots of sofas for me to lie around on. I paid my deposit and filed the plan in my brain under "sorted".

The months rolled by, and Wales is on the horizon. This week, both children finished school and brought home the fraying and ripped remnants of their uniforms and PE kits. Is it wiser to visit the grimly organised "back to school" departments in shops now and use up holiday spending money, or risk waiting until the end of August when we'll probably be even more broke, and the shops won't have anything left in the right size? Decisions, decisions...

Meanwhile, a polite little email arrives from the holiday company. Could, ahem, I pay the outstanding balance, due a month ago? I hadn't factored that into my summer spending. Somehow I thought the cottage itself was paid for. Sigh.

So, instead of my usual pre-holiday round of new purchases – jelly shoes, snorkels, colouring books, sunhats, boogie boards (and that's before I've started shopping for the children) – I am playing Mrs Scrimp. So what if last year's fishing net is a bit battered? Nothing a bit of gaffer tape won't fix. And nobody actually got round to playing Rummikub last summer. But they will this time.

So, broke, disorganised and not at full strength health-wise. This can mean only two things: my husband will do the packing, and my parents will join us on holiday. Eek and double eek.

For a control freak like me (in all areas other than financial, yes), this is not an altogether comfortable prospect. I might arrive to find that I'll be swimming in my underwear (which is lucky because I'll have 30 pairs of pants packed). The children will wear the same clothes every day, and all of those will be slightly too small, as my other half's idea is to take only stuff you don't want to bring back.

This worked well in India, when everyone carried their own luggage on their back, and it was a delight that the bags got lighter with every passing day. In Wales, via car, with a distinctly "changeable" weather forecast, I want to have everything from wellies to bikini, all the right size and in good nick.

It may or may not be a good thing that I've discovered that my online clothes porn, the Toast catalogue, has an outlet shop in Wales, only an hour from my cottage. I will be able to buy, should things get desperate.

This is of enormous comfort to me. I can leave the cooking safely in my mother's hands; child-wrangling is down to the father and grandpa; mess-making and shrieking in the sea is in the children's hands, and I can do what I do best: shopping.

Not unrelated to this hotchpotch of spending and saving is the continued spectre of economising. The original plan was to buy a huge amount of food from the health food shop and farmers' market near home and take it with us (I don't like to be too far from food at any moment). But that would prove prohibitively expensive, and I don't think any child wants to travel for five hours with an organic chicken on their lap.

Instead, I've done some laptop research – on one of those bed trays with a hard top and a cushion underneath. Oh, the shame. Tesco deliver to the postcode we're staying in, so a giant amount of food will arrive just after we do. It feels like putting a deposit down on eating well. And that's just fine by me.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before