The key to managing personal finances: cheese

Trying to work out why my personal expenses always seem to be higher than everybody else’s. I mean, £269 during March sounds perfectly reasonable as a restaurant budget – until you realise it’s for Thai restaurants only.

Last night it hit me: it’s all to do with cheese.

When at the supermarket, at least twice a week, I always come home with three or four interesting cheeses. Blue-veined Stiltons, hearty Cheddars, smooth Brie, cheeses with bits of fruit in them, foil-wrapped cakes of goat. Peccorino’s a current favourite.

And yet: I don’t eat much cheese. I don’t think I’ve finished a single one of these dairy tidbits since 1999 (when I lived in Paris, with a shop selling 320 cheeses on the next street. It even had its own cow parked in the courtyard.)

In other words, I’m buying cheese because the glorious variety of it all (OK, OK, I actually enjoy food shopping) is seducing my wallet. And this ‘cheese weakness’ is undoubtedly not limited to cheese: I’m sure it manifests in other areas of life. Such as my 8 black T shirts in slightly different weaves, or the rainbow of Ralph shirts in my wardrobe, or the 22 assorted spice grinders in my kitchen. Or the way I think about dessert on the way home and never seem able to edit my ice cream choices below 3 different pots at the local shop.

I’ve thought for a while that it was just my natural state: whatever I earn I’ll spend precisely what’s left after bills are paid, no matter if the work calendar’s barren or I’m into the 1% club (as has happened a bit recently.) But no: this money matter has nothing to do with money. It’s all about cheese.

So – I now know who my enemy is. I’m utterly seduced by the illusion of choice in today’s retail sphere. Which makes solving that problem – and driving my credit card bills down – a piece of cake.

(Or perhaps several pieces of cake. Chocolate gateau, strawberry cheesecake, orange and lemon pie…hmmm.)

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