The not-so-festive spreadsheet

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spreadsheet . Recently I have been trying to make the case for employing a quantity surveyor if you are planning a major building operation.

London - The Candy spreadsheet of doom has made an unwelcome reappearance. I knew it would after I’d watched the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement (not to be confused with the BBC’s Autumn Watch, which is much more uplifting but also involves squirrelling things away).

“Here we go,” I thought. “Now George has put the kibosh on Christmas, my husband will be printing out his gloomy Incoming Versus Outgoing chart faster than you can say: ‘Mince pie for breakfast? Don’t mind if I do’.

For just as I know Mr C will start muttering “just put another jumper on” when temperatures drop, I can also predict he’ll produce this numerical nightmare for us to consult as we go about our festive business.

Bulk-buying is the money-saving diktat of the moment. I’m all for this if he’s talking puppies, gin or chocolate hobnobs, but he’s talking necessities.

This does, of course, make sense for a family of six. However, we live in a small house. Our kitchen currently looks like a scene from a documentary about an obsessive compulsive family that hasn’t thrown anything away since the industrial revolution. There are stacks of “400 for the price of 10” loo rolls piled up everywhere, and I’ve had to put all the tins of spaghetti hoops in the back of the car to make space for the dog to sit down.

It doesn’t help that each time this complicated spreadsheet is explained to me, I’m catapulted back to my school days when I spent most maths lessons outside the classroom, having been banished for talking.

So, inevitably, I find these grown-up financial shenanigans tortuous and sit quietly in the manner of one half of Dumb and Dumber, as my seven-year-old says.

I had to wait for Mr Candy to go off and reuse a tea bag before asking my nine-year-old to talk me through the difference between gross and net again. Angela Merkel I am not.

Like many working couples, my husband and I have very different attitudes to spending. He’s the man with a detailed graph of spend, I am the woman who still writes her cashpoint number on a post-it and sticks it on the card. While I started earning my own money at 14 and have been happily spending it minutes after it’s landed in my bank account ever since, Mr Candy has a measured, long-term approach.

But in times like these, when the news is repeatedly grim, we should rely on the partner with the solid solutions rather than the one who says: “Let’s buy 20 lottery tickets and check out online bingo.”

Therefore, I happily take on-board almost all of the fiscal instructions resulting from the spreadsheet of doom. And obviously Mr Candy makes a good point - times are tough and everyone apart from Santa is tightening their belt. Plus, I’ve learnt that trying to create a diversion by shouting:”Oh my God, is that Angelina Jolie wearing her bikini in the neighbour’s garden again?” doesn’t work. Any more.

The children have contributed to the “don’t buy it unless we really need it” debate, too. I found the eldest selling the middle two her Moshi Monster trump cards at 15p a go. When I questioned these transactions, she replied that she was working on a new debit/credit system of domestic banking.”You won’t understand, it’s maths,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Do we have to keep baby Mabel?” is the five-year-old’s emotional response to Mr Candy’s pleas for a stricter cash flow.”She will be eating real food soon and that is more expensive than milk.”

(His sibling rivalry is growing more transparent. But, I wonder, is there any betrayal more devastating than when you replace your youngest with another?)

He adds, sensibly, that we must turn lights off in rooms where”the invisible people are”. This, he concludes, would save a “small medium” amount of money - a quantity we also used in reference to the scaled-down Christmas tree. This was bought after a tour of London, looking for the most cost-efficient one we could find. Hours of my life I will never get back.

“It’s all about deals and discounts,” Mr Candy adds - his final word on the subject.

Well, I did manage to bag one parental bargain that day. “What do I get for bringing you a bag of chocolate buttons after school?” I asked the five-year-old. “Mummy, you can have 1,000 kisses,” he said. “That’s ten more than yesterday.”

That, my friend, is the best deal of the week. - Daily Mail

* Lorriane Candy is Editor in Chief of Elle

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