One Measurable Goal I've Made For 2020

I think - I think - I've been careful with the Christmas spending this year, but it's hard to say.

I bought the first stocking filler in January and the first actual present in August, so the cost has been spread across the year; we stuck to the four five gifts apiece rule and none of those cost more than a tenner (thank you, sales); the kids' stockings can't have cost more than... I don't know. I honestly don't know. There are so many one and two and three pound items in each of them and I've had some mulled wine and I can't do the maths.

And then there was the littlest's birthday in November (presents + party favours for seven kids who were too busy vomiting to come to a party + unnecessary new dress) and Steve's birthday in December (slightly more expensive presents + lunch out + alcohol for the evening) and a handful of other birthdays scattered around (token gifts + postage).

The eldest had a growth spurt, too, so she needed the bare minimum amount of new clothes on short notice. And, while I was placing an order for those, I figured I may as well add in few basics for myself - there were so many holes in so many of the sleeves I already owned.

And, all of that added together, means I'm not entirely certain what we've spent on Christmas this year. Or, indeed, on anything else.

This bothers me.

I'm good with money. My mum's good with money. My sister's good with money. My four year old is good with money (she gets £1 per week pocket money and she saves hard for her sparkly blue Frozen merch). We are a family of people who are on top of our budgets.

I have a spreadsheet on which I track both our essential costs (food and toiletries) and our "not going totally stir crazy stuck at home" costs (bus fares and toddler groups and the occasional snack on the go). The spreadsheet also has a column for "extras" and some of Christmas has been itemised there.

Some of it has not.

I've become quite good at making exceptions - this purchase doesn't count because it's a gift; this purchase doesn't count because the kids have to have shoes; this purchase doesn't count because I remembered to pay for it out of my personal account rather than the joint account we're supposed to reserve for essentials. Those things don't need to be tracked.

Except that they do. We are not flush. We are a family of four (six, if you count the cats. Which you should. Because one of them eats special pricey food to help him pee) on a single and not-very-substantial income. We do not have the money to not count my new winter coat.

So, as much as I usually tut and tsk at new year's resolutions, my plan for 2020 is to get on top of this.

I have a new spreadsheet - any excuse - upon which to track all those extra expenses. But not just the expenses - the money available with which to pay for them. The money which is left over in our joint account at the end of the month; the money I make flogging bundles of old toddler clothes on eBay and great big toys on Facebook Marketplace; whatever I've managed to gather in my Topcashback account by the end of each year; anything else which comes my way (I might yet win the lottery I never play).

It's a proper income versus expenditure exercise.

And it will make me feel smug and satisfied. As long as neither of my children grows again.

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