Trifty Living: The cheque's in the post, the nice lady says. Yeah, right
Saturday 19 April 2008
Oh god, my bank manager calls me with news of impending Armageddon on my bank account. Money I've been pounding the doormat in expectation of has mysteriously been held up on the magical "cheque run" from one of my many employers. It's two months late! I'm fed up with sending polite invoices and email reminders. I decide to call them in a thinly disguised fury. Got to be careful, though, shouting at employers, particularly as this lot pay lavishly.
Someone very nice comes on the line. Oh, your cheque, she says vaguely. It's in the system. No, she doesn't know what happened. But it's all coming right, now, with the next cheque run. Would I mind waiting another two weeks? Can I wait?! Of course I can't! We're not talking a £75 tiddler; this cheque is for £2,000, and that would staunch the holes in my weakened financial edifice rather perfectly. "Send it over now, in used notes!" I feel like yelling at the nice lady.
Of course, remembering that you don't shout at your paymasters, I do no such thing. "Oh, that's fine," I murmur, putting the phone down with a sense of despair.
Then, to add to the muddle, my French bank manager calls to say exactly the same thing about impending Armageddon etc etc happening to me on the other side of the Channel. I know, it's luxurious having an account in France but believe me, when it goes wrong, the French are merciless. They start taking away your furniture and blackening your global credit rating after merely a couple of weeks in the red.
My brain slowly gathers speed as I range through my options. It dawns on me that I could burgle my weekly savings account, which is currently gathering momentum in order to withstand the forthcoming avalanche of my July tax bill. My savings account! Raid it! I quickly log on and transfer handfuls of cash. Only because it is an online account, the transfer operates about as quickly as the thigh of a tortoise. Four working days to transfer money online! Pathetic.
Even worse, I discover I can't transfer anything online to the European mainland, even if I have all the correct IBAN numbers, indeed, not even if I have BIC codes coming out of my arse. Yes, I am using a term from Middle English because, financially speaking, we're in the Middle Ages.
So I have to arrange an online, very slow, transfer to my London bank, and then an equally slow transfer to my French bank. Which cannot be done online, over the phone, or indeed by any method, bar the ancient channel of ye olde fax machine. Naturally I don't have a fax. I feel like screaming. Down the road I trot, to the chemist that owns the only publicly operational fax south of the Watford Gap. Have we been down this route before? Why yes. It's pathetic.
Not only that, but come July when I will have a bill of non-dom proportions, I won't have anything to pay it with, because I've raided my savings account. So I'll have to raid my current account to pay my tax bill, for tax on earnings already spent, and then we will be back to square one with my account. Never mind. As Scarlett O'Hara will soon be saying in the West End, tomorrow is another day, and the July tax day is several tomorrows away.
"Robbing Peter to pay Paul," says Mr Millard sadly, wagging his head in mock despair as he sees me in a flurry of online, fax, phone calls and bilingual conversations based, broadly speaking, on Longmans Audio-Visual French, stage Un. He is very irritating at the moment. I suspect this is because he was beaten not only by Ben Fogle, Gordon Ramsay and several bananas in the London Marathon, but also by moi. Even so.
"Now that the credit crunch is officially here," he calmly continues when I return from the chemist, "we have to start officially downsizing." What more can we do? Our family expenses have already dwindled like a set of Russian dolls. I pick up the paper. It advises everyone to start looking for cheaper options in life; from nanny to au pair, from taxi to bus, from Pizza Express to sandwiches, from theatre to television. So, no Scarlett O'Hara in the West End, not with tickets at £60 each. I'll have to make do with renting the original on VHS and toasting Vivien Leigh with Babycham as she cuts up the velvet curtains for her dress. Actually, what a great idea.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
Simon Read: There may be trouble ahead for cohabiting couples who don’t make a will
Mark Dampier: Strong returns can be found if you go the opposite way to the crowds
Money Insider: Would £150 make you switch banks?
Bargain Hunter: Find the deals that have real value beneath the Black Friday hype
Gold-plated pensions – the key to retirement freedom?
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
iJobs Money & Business
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
Day In a Page
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens