I'm not one to be parsimonious. I like to spend money! But for a long time I've been quietly taking a cool look at what is coming in and what I let go out. I've actually been making choices, and I've prioritised. Maybe some of my priorities wouldn't be yours. But at least I've weighed up costs and benefits. And I've gradually reduced my impulse expenditure.
You may not think so! My posts are full of things like caravan trips (imagine the fuel consumed!), buying pictures, going to the opera, new walking boots, and so on. As if I've still got pots of cash and don't care how I splash it around.
But it isn't quite like this. Running two houses on one pension, combined with all the heavy costs of transition, made me face the facts. The financial hit was enormous. The outflow of money relentless. It all nearly drained me of funds.
Now that the Cottage has been sold, I can preserve what's left and modestly add to it. But it will take discipline. Well, I've made my plans, set some things in motion, and made several resolutions. The Coalition Government is not the only body capable of strong-minded measures.
So for now no more big trips, no more big purchases, and I won't be signing up for monthly membership of anything.
No weekend breaks at hotels. No days out in London, not that I go there much now.
Caravan trips only to spots within a hundred miles or so. And Christmas at home, not away.
I won't be buying those Dubarry boots.
I won't be replacing my camera - not unless I can cover the cost with sales on eBay, or with some other windfall. (There might actually be quite a bit I could sell on eBay)
Probably a little less eating out, and no home entertaining to speak of. (Not that I ever did much of it)
I'm not broke. I still have enough left to feel unperturbed if I were suddenly forced to buy, say, a new gas cooker, or two more new tyres for Fiona, things like that. But over the next few months, in fact until after the next pension increase in April, I'm going to be looking at my spending more closely than for many years.
Life will become rather more home-based than it has been, and that's just as well. I need to be at home to tackle garden work that I've long neglected. It really won't take very long to get it well in hand. Almost like getting the harvest in late. And once done, when all is neat and tidy, and put in order, I'll have paid the house back somewhat for looking after me since my parents died. I don't know how I would have managed without this comfortable and peaceful place to use as my safe retreat. It was my sunny recovery capsule when I was post-op. I do owe it so much. Now it will get some TLC, though alas, no makeover.
I still want to get away again in mid-October, but not far, probably no further than my usual spot near Salisbury. Lots of local walking in the chilly autumn breeze. Solitary tramps along shorelines. If I'm lucky, sunshine and swirling autumn leaves. Or a bleaker scene, as in this poem:
Think of me, facing the pale winter sky,
At the edge of the wood as the leaves blow by.
And think of the crow up above in the trees,
Whose breakfast and supper are nothing but breeze.
And look at the mouse who is not yet in bed,
Driven by hunger to forage instead.
The frost is an adder that gnaws at the land;
And the pale winter sky with the leaves blowing by
Is as empty and bitter as poor Nature's hand.
But remember the curtains that keep out the night,
And remember the sunshine, so brilliant, so bright;
And the crystals of ice, their symmetrical art,
And the roaring log fire that cheers the heart.
I wrote that in September 1995, and it appeared in a post I did on 14 November 2009.
I feel that this period of reining back, of being more thoughtful, not just over expenditure but about all matters, could be a good time. It's time to face the cold wind, and appreciate the warmth of a snug home.
And I would like to gaze into a fire and dream.