Going through papers, I found an envelope from my electricity company. Whoops. I pay by direct debit, because Russell and I shared bills between us – he paid for some things, I paid for others. In general, I paid annual things like council tax and insurance, he paid for regular utilities, whoever got there first paid the credit card bill – we were relaxed about it. We never thought of money as belonging to one or other of us and we never criticised each other for being extravagant, because we had much the same attitude to money – don’t spend what you don’t have, in short. Anyway, now I have to remember everything myself, I pay more bills by direct debit because I’m worried I might miss something.
This wasn’t a bill, however, it was telling me how much electricity I’d used over the past year and how it compared to the year before. It was a lot less last year. Less than two thirds. I’m not at all sure why, because I certainly kept myself warm in the winter. I tended to light fires rather than switch heating on, mind you, and warmed the bits of the house that I wanted to.
I can’t pretend I have drawn up a budget, though. I tend to be fairly frugal and then be pleasantly surprised by how much less it costs to live than I expected – which is just as well, because it’s expensive, being a widow. There’s no such thing as a widow’s pension nowadays and they’ve raised the pension age so I won’t get mine for well over two more years. On the other hand, i only have one person’s tax free allowance. So, although my income is thousands of pounds less, I’ll pay more tax. Probably.
Years ago, I did work out a household budget. That is, I did it in my head and, to my impressed surprise, it balance nicely, with incomings matching outgoings – until I realised that, though i’d allowed for buying books, I hadn’t bargained on any of us needing clothes. It was fine, though. I clothed the children, relied on my mother’s and sister’s cast-offs (it was before the era of charity shops, though I’ve never found anything to wear in a charity shop anyway) and Russell wore suits for work, in those days, and dressed like a tramp at weekends.
Once he gave up the day job, he just dressed as a tramp all the time.