The First of 2009

It was a pleasant surprise when I awoke refreshed this morning. There were no little people hammering in my head, and I was only a little bit dehydrated. It turned out that I chose the correct sparkling wine for my solo drinking binge, with only 7% of alcohol; less than the regular wine I usually drink.  I was so pleased with my good form this morning that I took  a “morning after” picture to prove my (sober) habits to the world.

The morning after the night before

The morning after the night before

My first priority this morning was to get my online banking out of the way, and start on my New Year Resolution of better financial planning.   I paid the rent then made an estimate of my income and budget for the rest of the month.  The catalyst for these plans is a post I recently read on Dumb Little Man suggesting to keep a spending log to find out exactly where money goes. One of the best pieces of advice in the above blog post is taking out a certain amount of cash for the week and budgeting for purchases from it.  It is a good strategy to avoid the temptation of whipping out the plastic to make impulse buys, because the money booked out of the credit card does not seem real. I thought the ideas were very good and will provide me with a grip on my finances, because I am getting increasingly panicky at the rate our money is spent. Later this evening I started a spreadsheet with my expense categories, and my intention is to fill it out on a daily basis.

Financially I have nothing to worry about. I am firmly in the black. I always pay off my credit card in full, and so far my income covered all my purchases including furniture and laptop. I am debt-free. However,  I can still benefit from some careful spending, especially with the global economic downturn. South Africa runs a little behind global financial trends, so we haven’t seen the full impact of the crisis yet, but the inflation is rampant, we can truly feel it.

Our newspapers are full of optimism. The inflation has slowed down, they claim, and the petrol price is going down. Fine and good I say, but I haven’t seen the price of my bread loaf getting any cheaper, or my taxi fare to work getting reduced.   I do not have a car,  and I do not pay mortgage, so lower petrol prices and interest rates do not put more money in my pocket. Rather the contrary since I get some income from bank interest.  Of course I am not alone,  most ordinary people are feeling the pinch with higher prices of consumer goods, so the bottom line is that it is good to budget, and this is what I will try to do.

That said, I do still have one or two larger ticket items I want to buy so it will be a battle between my buying impulse and my common sense.

Quote of the day: “Common sense is a misnomer given how few people have any”  humorist Colin McEnroe.

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