So it has come to this.

I am sitting at the kitchen table counting pennies. And tuppences and five pences. Piling them up into tottering towers. Then bagging them, ready to be carried, a chinking dead weight, to the bank to be exchanged for riches. Or £17 in sterling, to be accurate.

At the moment £17 represents riches. It is nearly half a tank of petrol, a couple of nights' food, one and three-quarters trips to the cinema (or one and a half if I go to see The Wolf Of Wall Street) .

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Not that I can justify going to the cinema. There is no food in the cupboard and the kids are moaning about pocket money and the lack thereof. Oh, yes, and I have got my tax return to do, just to rub it all in (1).

January is the skintest month (2), breeding electricity bills out of the dead hand (of my preferred utility provider). It's the usual story. Too much spent over Christmas. Not enough to spend now in these last few days before payday.

I am always amazed by those people who queue up in the wee small hours of Boxing Day to be first into the sales. How do they have any money left? Do they forego bottles of Shloer and cartons of Pringles on Christmas Day to save up for that cut-price microwave from Debenhams?

Maybe it's just me. I am, let's face it, the George Osborne of personal finance. Utterly useless with money. I say I am cutting down and somehow end up spending more. (Though not quite on the same level as George, who borrowed £15.4 billion last month. Wonder what the Wonga interest rates would be for that?)

At this time of year I am getting constant mini statements from the cash machine just to make sure I have not forgotten something in my half-hourly financial calculations of my current balance. The last one reminded me I had spent £2.29 in my local Tesco Express. What was that for? Six litres of milk and a Twix maybe. That puts paid to my plan to buy myself a Twix later as a treat.

There is something else I have just remembered. This cash flow situation could be worse. It is J's birthday this week.

Fortunately, for once, I have been vaguely organised and bought it in advance. But that is only because I bought her a Christmas present and then saw something I thought was better and bought that as well (3).

Which, come to think of it, may be why I am lifting the cushions on the sofa to see if I can find another three pennies and the odd five pence so I can stretch my chump change to £20. Then I could go to the movies twice.


[1] I know I could fill it in earlier but why do today what you can put off until January 31?

[2] TS Eliot wouldn't mind, would he?

[3] I still haven't bought a card though. Would it still qualify as cute if I got the kids to make one?

Twitter: @teddyjamieson