23 Kirkgate living room, World of James Herriot
January has been a pretty good month so far in most respects.
We decided to go on a financial diet, really just to ease back from Christmas excesses. We end up with so many books and DVDs that it isn't a hardship to dial back on the activities and have a quiet month, plus the fact I'm such an anti-social so-and-so I could avoid people for weeks and not miss anyone. Well, apart from Martin obviously. We're eating mostly out of the freezer, although one supermarket had a half price offer on some of its meat and I stocked up a bit again for the coming months. The chickens are pumping out eggs, so we have a source of nutritious fresh food there and some for the freezer too.
My birthday has come and gone nice and quietly, which is how I like it. This year I asked mostly for amazon vouchers, although my parents also wrapped up a lovely Portmeiron vase as a surprise. Martin bought me (among other things) a couple of smallholding books, a brand new fair isle Fatface cardigan we found in a charity shop, and tickets to the opening of the JORVIK viking centre in York in April. He also took me on a day out to Thirsk to see the World of James Herriot, which included 23 Kirkgate - the period 1940s house and veterinary surgery that Jim Wight and Donald Sinclair (James Herriot and Siegfried Farnon) used to live in and run, which also includes a museum of old vet equipment, and some of the studio used to film the series All Creatures Great and Small.
We have already managed to save this month's money for our annual savings goal, paid the annual TV licence, and there's been no financial hangover from Christmas - everything has been paid - but I'm kicking myself as I have had to order heating oil at a time of year when it is most expensive. With MIL staying and guests over New Year we've really eaten into the oil supplies. My fault, as I hadn't counted on running the boiler all day every day for any length of time. I'm also not convinced that our boiler is performing efficiently, as it seems to fire up a lot, so a new one of those may have to be worked into the budget. As a temporary measure, I might look at testing/replacing the thermostat because a faulty one can often cause a boiler to fire up a lot. We're also experimenting with using waste wood to heat the kitchen wood burner and leaving the door open to heat up the lobby and gallery a bit more. The thermostat is in the lobby and it is a big old space to heat. I think we need to put a curtain up at the front door as well.
Finally, a proportion of last year's savings had to go to HMRC this month for tax on my freelance income , and that has been a bit of an effort to put aside since the summer because I made a mistake last year and had to start from zero. A good place to stash future tax payments is in a mortgage overpayment account, as it brings down the amount of money you pay in interest and you can get it back while simultaneously making it a bit harder to get hold of so no impromptu spending. That is, of course, unless you sell your property, pay off your mortgage and forget to get the overpayment money back first. I could have kicked myself when I realised what had happened. So that was a good few thousand pounds overpaid off the old mortgage by mistake, leaving me having to start from scratch and save out of future income.
[sigh] No matter how much you think you know, life always makes sure it knows more.