I do hate having to be sensible

Saturday February 18, 2006

We’ve arrived at the weekend without any formal movement on the house sale so we can now relax, put our feet up and enjoy a couple of days without worrying about missing phone calls. Next week might be different.

“It’s cold out there this morning,” I said as I came in from putting out the trash.

“Thought so. There’s ice on the pond. Do we need to go out today?”

“Nope. Not unless you want to.”

“Think I’ll give it a miss. Still not feeling top dollar.”

“Right you are, then. Let’s stay home in the warm. I have several things I need to do.”

“Lucky old you.”

“You can give me a hand with this filing if you like.”

“Nah. I’ll take a raincheck on that if it’s all the same to you.”

Can’t say I blame him. Household accounting and filing is probably not the most boring and dispiriting thing in the world but I’m hard pressed to think of anything more so.

Having learned that domestic gas and electricity rates are to be increased by 22% next month I’m needing to do a rapid recalculation of our household budget. Twenty-two percent is a wickedly severe increase, bringing the average UK domestic heating and lighting bill up to just over one thousand pounds a year for the first time.

I doubt it’ll be the last such increase, either. We live in energy-hungry times.

We are lucky enough to have a bit of slack in the budget and by shifting things around a little, the increase can be met without hardship. There will be some worried folks out there, though, especially pensioners on fixed incomes, and I feel for them. Heavens, a few more years of increases like this and I’ll be worried myself. Time to dig a little deeper in the coin purse each time I pass the collection box for Help the Aged when I’m out shopping.

On the positive side, this is a development that helps to bring our thinking on the nature of our next house more into focus.

While a little old house in the country has a lot going for it they are fiendishly expensive to heat when compared to a well-constructed and properly insulated modern house in a more suburban setting. It’s also likely that any old house in the country we are likely to find, and to be able to afford to buy, is going to need a lot of work.

Graham’s job takes all of his time in the summer months and, while he has free time in the winter, I suspect that’ll not last. So, for practical reasons alone, a house in the ‘burbs has more and more appeal. We can make any old house warm and snug given time and funding but it’d be a race against the encroaching cold next winter to get it done in the October/November slot which is likely to be the first period in which he’ll have free time to tackle house maintenance. And, unless house maintenance is carried out assiduously, a beat-up old pile is liable to shrink our house equity fund rather than help it grow.

I think it may be in our best interest to follow our heads rather than our hearts on both budget and house selection. This time round, anyway. There’s no telling what the future may bring.

Lawks but I do hate having to be sensible.


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