It's usually around this time of year that I start wondering whether the kids' ski suits will fit them for another season. But that's one thing less to worry about now the credit has crunched, for 'tis the season to tighten our belts.
Those breathable polyester thermals will gather dust for a good while yet unless a) we win the lottery or b) it becomes trendy to go to school/work looking like Michelin men.
Judging by your recent emails, you're all feeling the pinch. Jeff Powell wrote challenging me to find a ski package for his family of three for under a grand. I'm admitting defeat, Jeff, unless you'll consider taking your own tent. But you might be interested in a survey published last week by the good people at the Post Office (news.royalmailgroup. com): a rundown of the best-value ski resorts in Europe, Canada and the United States.
Top of its list is Poiana Brasov in Romania, which replaces Bulgaria as the cheapest destination. Everything from ski hire to chips is now cheaper in Romania than anywhere else. A week's lift pass costs just £82, but this little place has yet to hit the snow radar for most British skiers, so the sweeping pistes and gorgeous scenery can be enjoyed in relative peace (and the kids will love the floodlit nursery slopes, ice rink and horse-drawn carriage rides).
Inghams (020-8780 4433; www.inghams.co.uk) is charging under £400 per person for flights, transfers and half-board at the three-star Hotel Sport in January. Neilson (0870 333 3356; www.neilson.co.uk) has similarly priced deals for all-inclusive stays at the Hotel Poiana. And if all else fails, directline-skiing.co.uk (020-8239 8200) has a selection of offerings to peruse.
OK, you're still spending well over a grand, but deals like these are a fraction of the price of the Alps.