Only two things are certain in this world: Death and Taxes.

Surprising solidity for something so soft.

So, my tax bill has arrived, and it seems high. I’d love to pay it outright but the cost of literally everything seems to be going up in real time. A can of beans in Morrisons that started out at 36p, can have reached as much as 38p by the time you get to the checkout. I have to remind myself that tax is an investment, not a chore. Annoyingly, it’s also cheaper when dealt with earlier.

It isn’t always worth buying the basics speculatively, though, my Mum was surprised and frankly skeptical when I told her that stamps now go out of date. They never used to. The second birthday card came through with insufficient postage and, whilst at first I thought it could slip by unnoticed, it became apparent that the inadequate stamps were part of a big sheet that mum was working her way through piece by piece each birthday.

Again, I would have said nothing. But my son was watching the postage fees rising and deducting them from the tenner that his Nan had sent. Postage is another thing that’s rising fast. Two rises this year already and was it two last year as well? The first card arrived in time for his birthday last year – mum had carefully planned the posting so that her card would have arrived in time, even in the event of war (which as it turns out was fortuitous). However, it arrives in the form of a substitute card that carries a fee. This year’s card needed an extra £2.50, which reduces the effectiveness of the poor lads birthday tenner. 

If I hadn’t said anything, that sheet of stamps would have eroded his birthday money until adulthood. And why must they now expire? Are they made of cheap materials these days? Who knows? You used to be able to buy a fiver’s worth of First Class just before April 1st, and spend the next few weeks cackling in delight at each letter’s penny saving. “Boom” I’d shout with a fist bump, “another one sent at last years prices”. You’ve got get your kicks where you can.

But they closed that little loophole. Stamps now go out of date. Luckily Mum’s calendar rolled round to the next person’s birthday and they corroborated my story.

Soap and toilet roll can, if you have the space, be worth a small fortune after just a few months of stockpiling. Petrol though, tempting as it might be, is difficult to store and should be avoided. Because petrol, unlike in the recent past, now contains ethanol. Ethanol absorbs atmospheric moisture, so stored petrol can literally gather water at the bottom of the tank. Which is causing storage problems even outside of satirical blog posts.

The BBC are quite possibly already running programs about how consumers can maximise their bean-pound, and how to spot badly stored petrol. And, although interrupted at least twice per video, I already know I’ll ignore the guy on YouTube. We would all love to invest in crypto with those returns, Gary, but is that car even yours?

Adding sheepskin is optional.

I’m left wondering if I even have the financial skills needed to navigate this new world. When others invested in Bitcoin, I built Sheepcoin. It’s not worth anywhere near as much money, but I can point at it and lay down on it. And it’s real.

Unlike some other things in life, it feels like a real investment too.

Full disclosure: Dartmoor Sheepskins Ltd pays all taxes on time and with a smile (Chris pays his late and only after much grumbling, but y’know we’re all getting there…).

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