Rosie Millard: Thrifty Living

Five days to clear a cheque? Paypal does it in a nanosecond

It is astonishing, is it not, that one can buy something as modest and uncommercial as a second-hand Brownie uniform on eBay, and have the financial requirements done via PayPal within minutes of receiving said humble item. PayPal – because it has been set up for use by people who are keen to get money transactions completed quickly and safely – is super-efficient, an invention of the 21st century that operates exactly as it should.

Unlike our banking system. And the Royal Mail. Together. I am currently in a position of extreme financial discomfort – yes, more than usual – thanks to some payments by cheque that have decided to take the Ewan McGregor/Charley Boorman route from the post box in Islington to my bank in Piccadilly Circus. Yes, it would have been faster to send them via Cape Town. Thanks to industrial action at the Post Office, it has taken 14 days for one cheque to arrive at the bank. A second envelope, with about four separate cheques, has still to appear.

The bank, of course, is charging me hand over fist for being overdrawn. When I ring up to complain, my bank manager says helpful things like: "Have you considered stopping the cheques?"

"Are you mad?" I feel like yelling in her shell-like. "Stop the cheques and get replacements?" (Which can, of course, only be written out on a special Cheque Drawing Day, and then posted off on a special Cheque Posting Day, which is of course a day after Cheque Drawing Day, and which I then must send off again to the bank?)

Am I the only person in this country who goes slightly loopy with frustration at the time it takes to replenish one's bank account with cash? When second-hand Brownie uniforms can be paid for in nanoseconds? "Don't worry Rosie," soothes my bank manager. "One of our clients posted a cheque about 20 days ago to us for £25,000. It still hasn't arrived." And of course, when it does, it will take another five working days to "clear" – if he hasn't died from a cardiac seizure brought on by the slowness of our banking system.

There are some Victorian inventions – like snuff, or whiskers, or putting covers around the feet of pianos – which have been dropped by modern society because they are just too silly. There are others, however, like "five working days to clear a cheque", that will never be dropped because it makes the banks too much profit. Meanwhile, I am clocking up £25 a day in bank charges.

Never mind. Breathe deeply. Look at the beautiful autumn trees. Move on. My mindset has, I find, been subtly changed. This is not because I am turning into Bill Oddie, but because I have taken Richard Templar's Rules of Wealth, a financial book already mentioned in this column, to heart. My financial position is not going to collapse because I have had a few bank charges.

I now allow myself to buy a protein drink after visiting the gym. I no longer beat myself up for using a gym. I wander around the house muttering things like "Think of Gaining Prosperity as Stalking a Reluctant Tiger," or "Act Rich," or "The Rich usually have Several Money Making Schemes Going For Them", and other Templaresque bons mots.

So, I have started acting rich and thinking about creating another source of income. "Maybe we could have a jumble sale, Mummy," suggests a Junior Millard, whom I suspect will reach millionaire status long before I do. "We could sell all my old trousers." He is verily the child of Templar, as he believes his property has value and is willing to market it. I took him along to a story I was doing in the West End and while I was interviewing the actress concerned, he was busy negotiating swapping my Nokia for the make-up lady's Orange. "He'll go far," the make-up lady said.

Back home, there's a nice invitation. It is for the private view of The Art of Hedge, an exhibition in Dover Street all about the art of banking by my old friend (and former Independent Artist in Residence) Adam Dant. The hosts of the soirée include William Cash, editor of Spear's Wealth Management Survey. Brilliant! I'll turn up dressed in something amazing, act rich, impress Cash with my Wealth Management and hopefully bag another source of income from him. Will my plan be foiled by his reading this column, however? Will it hell. Just look at the title.

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