If there's one thing that having kids has taught me, it's the difference between happiness and pleasure.
Being woken up at 5.30 am by a half crazed three year old, bashing you on the head with handmade birthday card, the one he simply can't wait another second to show you, is happiness.
Gently stroking the hair of a one year little girl, to get her back to sleep at 2am is happiness.
So is swimming so hard the pain in your arms makes you want to cry.
Even rehearsing for a pitch at 2am is happiness.
Because the things that make you happy (as umpteen pyschology experiments show us) are rarely the easy things. And it's certainly not buying stuff for yourself.
Giving makes us happier than recieving, be that buying for people or doing for people. Experiences always win over goods,especially doing things with others, because the memories they provoke last much longer than stuff we buy - and our basic trait of seeking out novelty makes us bored with new stuff really fast.
We also need to feel valued and to flourish, like you've accomplished something, or feeling like you're making a difference and it's doing something for a higher purpose than yourself.
In addition, we're saving up for a extension on the house, not just a shared task which is already good, but something which will create more space for the kids playing upstairs and more family staying more often. So saving more money, not my greatest skill, would be good.
So for an entire year,I'm not going to buy anything for myself I don't need.
I have more than enough clothes (and don't care about fashion), enough CD's and DVD's to last a lifetime,I have a pile of books that will last a year and I don't give two hoots about gadgets.
This doesn't preclude subscribing to Spotify, going to the cinema, holidays or downloading a film of course, and food and drink. All are rich source of experience for me.
But I'm going to buy something, I already know that getting stuff for Mrs Northern or the kids just makes me feel better, but even then, not as happy as doing things with them.
Of course, if my bike packs in, our TV needs replacing or my winter coat falls apart, then NEEDING is different to WANT.
So I'm going to find out how much happier experiences not stuff, plus giving rather than recieving, makes me over a year.
Naturally, I'm aware this is not original, but I'm not doing this to be get a book deal or anything. I'm doing this because I'm curious, I want to teach myself to be better with money and I already know what makes me happy, so I want to try and do more of it.
Let's see what happens.