One of the reasons that I’ve not been blogging as much as I would have liked to these last few weeks is that I’ve been trying to get my head around our finances. It’s not been a particularly easy task, but it’s been very rewarding.
Like many people, I imagine, for many years I’ve had a rather unhealthy approach to managing my finances. It’s involved largely of two key components:
Saying things like “We’ll be fine …!”
Because I’m a computery kind of a guy, I’ve been using Microsoft Money 2004 to manage the data about all of our accounts, transactions, withdrawals and deposits. It’s been laborious and time-consuming but well worth it. Our accounts in Microsoft Money go back to 1998, when I was a lowly theology student in Edinburgh.
I love how Microsoft Money allows me to run reports on existing transactions, set up ‘what if…’ scenarios and set budgets. It keeps me right. It’s just such a shame that
I’ve discovered all sorts of things like the house insurance we were paying for 3 years on a flat we no longer lived in! And the breakdown cover on the washing machine that went to the tip 6 months ago. Ahem!
I was amazed too at how many transactions I remembered making, even going back 5 or 6 years.
Here are a few totals that took me a little by surprise. This is table of the accumulated totals spent between 1998-2010 at the following stores:
This morning at breakfast I realised that it’s exactly one week to Jane’s birthday; six months to Reuben and Joshua’s birthday; and six months minus one week to my birthday.
So I couldn’t let today go by without wishing Reuben and Joshua a very happy 1½th birthday! That’s right they are 18 months old today. I can hardly believe it: we’ve survived them and they’ve survived us.
A year and a half
The last year and a half has been such an emotional and physical roller coaster; an incredible learning curve for us all. Not just in terms of the practicalities of how to look after two babies (now toddlers) but also learning about ourselves under pressure, and Jane and I learning more about each other.
It’s not been easy. At times it’s been really, really difficult. But it has been an amazing journey, an amazing adventure. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. In the past I’ve worked in homeless hostels, in a prison and as a hospital chaplain. Those jobs now look easy in comparison!
And we have the loveliest, sweetest boys who wave “bu-bye!” to their feet when they are zipped into their sleeping bags at night, or who tilt their heads to the side when coming in for a cuddle before racing off after the cat (pronounced ‘soos’) or to carry a mop around the house. (Cuddles from Reuben and Joshua I’ve realised are amongst the two greatest things on the planet.)
Jane had them weighed and measured last week. Joshua’s doing really well with a pretty bang-on average weight and height for his age. Reuben, however, is currently at the 95th percentile for weight and off the chart for height. It turns out he’s the average height of a 2½ year old!
I have no idea where he gets it from? It’s certainly not from his 6’4″ father or 6’0″ mother! 😉
So, Reuben and Joshua just know that Daddy loves you and is more proud of you than anything else I’ve ever experienced. I love you.
Someone at church yesterday morning asked for my opinion on the General Election. “I’m not referring to it as a General Election,” I said. “I’m calling it a Non-specific Election!”
I remember the enormous excitement of Labour coming to power in 1997, having brought the Conservative Party’s 18 years of government to an end. I was living in London at the time, and I remember walking to work the following morning, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it felt like a brave new world. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
Last Friday, on the morning after this most recent election, I also felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Except this time someone had removed the labels from all of the presents and nobody knew what they were getting!
It’s an exciting time in British politics. I’m not surprised that parliament in hung, although to be honest following the recent MPs’ expenses scandal I’m a little surprised that it didn’t end up as a hanged parliament!
That no party has an overall majority seems to me to be in keeping with a fragility in our confidence in politicians at the moment. What was it, 65% of the British population turned out to vote? Presumably the other 35% were still queuing in the rain at 22:00 when the polls closed. Or perhaps they’d just given up hope in politics altogether.
But to my mind what doesn’t seem fair is that while Labour received 29% of the vote and won 258 seats, the Liberal Democrats received 23% of the vote and won only 57 seats. It would appear that that extra 6% of the vote somehow translates to 201 seats. How does that work, then? Maybe we do need political reform after all.