Friday, 23 January 2009


I took my new toy with me when I went to Site this week, so that I could surf the internet in the evenings. It is small enough that it fits into a large handbag. I did a bit of surfing, but mainly I downloaded some programs I'd missed on the BBC and watched those. I'm a big fan of the BBC, so I was very happy when the leader in my breakfast copy of The Times was a message to the TV regulator telling him to back off and leave the BBC (and its funding) alone.

Thank you Mr Editor; for once we are in total agreement.


When I was driving back today, it struck me that I never explained why I'm feeling so broke this month. I didn't really have an explanation ("Gone mad on wool" isn't strictly true - the Sanity Fund covers that). This afternoon, the penny dropped. I've fallen foul of No Pay Day. For seven years, December's salary was paid on the 31st December, but I changed jobs two years ago. And this company does its December payroll on the last Friday before Christmas; this time that was nearly two weeks before the end of the month.


In one respect, driving home was a bit of a white knuckle ride. The Toy is just a handful of miles off passing another milestone: 180,000 miles in just over 8 years. A milestone I'd like to record. I didn't take a camera with me when I went to Site. My nearly-seven-years-old mobile phone doesn't have one built in, either. Fortunately, I got home with 179,980 miles on the clock. We'll hit the milestone tomorrow.


I've mentioned before about the British media's latest obsession, the new frugality. Last night, I caught the last 10 minutes of a Dispatches program, The True Cost of Cheap Food. They had several axes to grind, but the bit that I picked up on was that they'd challenged two families in Leeds to change their shopping habits. Both were classic nuclear families: two parents, two school-aged children. One family had to buy only supermarket budget lines; the other family had to only shop at small, local stores: the green grocer, the butcher, the delicatessen, the street market.

The results were interesting: both families saved significant amounts of money. The Budget Lines family cut their spending to approximately £250; the Small Shops people cut theirs to £350-ish. God knows what they were living on before - they both regularly spent over £500 a month on groceries. How??? That's practically a mortgage payment!


Speaking of mortgage payments..... Thanks to the latest Bank of England base-rate cut to 1.5%, the tracker mortgage I have on the flat has fallen by two-thirds in less than a year.

Thanks, Gordon.

- Pam


amy said...

So I Googled British pound to dollar to see what 500 would be, and came up with $688 USD. Is that right? We definitely spend less than that monthly on food, especially if you count strictly food, since we buy non-food items at the market too. But is that really a mortgage payment amount, too? Because that would be an uncommonly small mortgage payment here. Just curious!

PipneyJane said...

In spending power, it's probably closer to $800. (Exchange rates are funny things - they don't account for the relative changes in cost of living. Our cost of living is higher than in the US, whilst salaries are lower.)

In 2006, the average British mortgage payment was £127/week or £550 a month. In 2007, that rose to £139.60 a week or £605 a month (Source: The people in the program spent nearly that much on groceries alone.

- Pam