My mobile rang yesterday and when I looked at the caller display, my heart sank.
It was Çagri.
Don’t get me wrong; he’s a lovely guy. He’s always pleasant and he’s certainly efficient in what he does. But, because he’s an insurance broker, I know when his name appears on my phone it’s going to cost me money.
It’s not Çagri’s fault that all the policies we have are due for renewal in January; it just seems to have happened that way. It’s also not his fault that lots of other bills always need paying at the same time as well.
But, just the same, when Çagri calls – although I always try to be as bright and cheerful as he is – inside, I can’t help getting that sinking feeling and an urge to hide my wallet.
When you first arrive in a new country, it doesn’t really occur that you’ll be opening bank accounts, setting up direct debits and buying new insurance policies all at roughly the same time. It’s just stuff that needs to be done.
So neither of us really gave any thought to the idea that, once we’d made a start, annual bills would fall at around the same time every year and – bracketed by the kids’ birthdays as well as Christmas – our bank account was always going to take a hammering in January.
Turkey’s economic situation hasn’t helped this year either. With inflation running at over 20% and the pound now worth almost 7tl rather than the 3.43tl it was when we arrived, insurance premiums have gone through the roof.
The result? We’ll probably be having fewer of life’s little luxuries and shopping at the markets where, thank God, fruit and veg and many of the basic requirements of life are still delightfully cheap.
But, if you’re planning on making 2019 the year you make a fresh start somewhere sunny (and possibly as far away from Brexit as possible) take my advice and try not to buy everything at once.
Take your time, plan a little and stagger any significant purchases. If not, to borrow a phrase from Blackadder, there will come a time of year when you find yourself feeling a little like a pelican; no matter which way you look, you’re still facing an enormous bill.