I overspent this month. There was the unexpected expense of the mower (£269). Then I compounded the financial damage by purchasing two tops, a long cardigan, patterned pants in some silky material, a pendant and a scarf, for a total of £250-odd. They were all from out-of-town boutiques that sell goods you can't commonly buy on the High Street. The tops, cardigan and pants were from a Danish maker. My friends approved heartily.
But suddenly I felt squeezed in the money department. And I felt unhappy that the end-of-2017 savings target I'd set for myself would be missed.
I'm not a feckless and improvident person, and although there is always slippage in any plan one might make, this was - at least in respect of the £250 spent on clothes - an avoidable self-inflicted financial wound. I could have waited, gone elsewhere, and spent less. I'd had a genuine need for more smart clothes, with specific social events in mind. The items were lovely and went together in various combinations - and would combine with things I already had - so really I'd acquired several new outfits in one go. But I was, all the same, now a bit short of cash.
I looked for ways to restore the feeling that I was in control, and would yet meet my savings target. There was a way. I had booked nine nights at a Club site in the New Forest in early November. This could be sacrificed. I'd intended to do all kinds of things in that week and a half, but all of it could be postponed to 2018. Or indefinitely. I went online and did the deed before I could change my mind. It didn't save me even £150, but it helped.
Still, I'd looked forward to that week and a half. I'd imagined how it would be, walking around the Forest, enjoying the wild ponies and all those autumn colours; revisiting Shaftesbury, Swanage, Bournemouth, Mudeford and Lymington; possibly lashing out to see the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu; and most certainly treating myself to a day on the Isle of Wight, preferably taking Fiona, but if need be doing it on foot, and catching one or two local buses. I was wistful for these things. But I couldn't afford it all. Something had to give.
I slept on it.
It's funny how sleeping on something modifies and clarifies your point of view. I awoke feeling that I'd done something rather daft. What was important? Did it really matter if reaching a savings target was postponed by a month? What was I saving for? To build up a cash fund for future expenditure. There would undoubtedly be plenty of unexpected costs - something would go wrong with house, car or caravan - and I'd need to keep putting money away to cope with all that as it arose. But nothing specific was in sight except a new phone in 2021 and a new laptop in 2022. In the grand scheme of things, I shouldn't get upset about savings slippage.
I went back online and rebooked the New Forest holiday. I compromised a bit, booking seven nights rather than nine. Seven nights were enough. It saved me about £33 on the site fee, and maybe £10 for the fuel I might have used during the two days now lopped off the original booking. Not a lot then. But it was a nod towards thriftiness. And I could look forward again to the things I knew I'd enjoy. I was of course taking a risk that it would be seven cold and rainy nights, with the Forest completely sodden underfoot. But indifferent weather would be no problem at all - one can be photographically creative with Autumn mists, and damp vegetation, and empty, eerie beaches.
Retired people (at least the ones with some spare cash, and sufficient free time) live for their holidays, and I'm no exception. Unlike younger people, you are highly conscious that your active years are passing rapidly, and must be used wisely. So, having made certain that one's house is suitable for less mobile living, the next priority is getting in all the travel experiences one hankered after in younger years when it just wasn't possible. That means getting away on holiday as often as one can afford. It really is 'now or never'. Serious illness and disability loom, and once they strike, the game is over. So it's important to go on holiday, and see the world - or at any rate see the best one's own country has to offer - while doing so is physically possible.
I don't see why any older person has to justify this, nor apologise for holidaying well while they can. The whistle gets blown on it all soon enough.
I'd been silly to be parsimonious about nine nights in the very next county. I won't make the same mistake again.
The first occasion to wear some of those new Danish clothing items will be tomorrow evening at the golf club. After that, the Appledore Book Festival Friends' Lunch with crime author Ian Rankin in mid-September. More on that in another post.