Look At It This Way - March 14, 2014

SUMMED UP: This little lad is probably better at sums than I am, even with an abacus
SUMMED UP: This little lad is probably better at sums than I am, even with an abacus
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I once dated an accountant I met at a business networking event - a bit like speed dating at a swingers club but with business cards swopped instead of keys.

I realised his head for figures applied only to those on a spreadsheet. He might have taken more notice of me had I clad myself in the Financial Times.

More chance of playing FTSE than footsie. He excelled at Microsoft Excel. I’m a woman of my Microsoft Word.

But things looked up when he started chatting about Santander over tapas.

He told me he was a Cantabrigian so I chatted away about the Guggenheim at Bilbao until noticing he looked as bored as I had when he talked about compliance - in a non-Fifty Shades of Grey way.

He was talking about Santander the banking giant, not the city. A discreet Google in the loo revealed Cantabrigian meant graduate of Cambridge rather than resident of Cantabria.

It’s Anglo Saxon for Cambridge.

Not that my Anglo Saxon stretches that far.

In fact my ex would be astounded if he met me now. I find myself enthralled by the Budget, end of tax year, proposed changes in tax avoidance and more.

That’s partly down to the company I keep - or the company which helps keep me.

I’m doing the PR for a firm which helps legions of self employed freelancers and contractors with accounts, payroll, umbrella services and more.

It’s a steep learning curve. I thought contractors wore hard hats until I became one myself. And that umbrellas kept the rain off.

In fact, freelancing, in all its forms, is the fastest growing sector of the European labour market. In the UK there are 1.75m of them. Plus one. Me.

And I’m bad at maths - which is why I need those good accountants.

I’m not alone. There’s been an outcry over proposed national numeracy tests - a third of us struggle to work out correct change or do even the simplest sums.

I did the test online last night and flunked at six out of 10 and that was after taking it twice.

My grade was equivalent to that of a seven-year-old.

Now that’s what I call a mean value.

I blame the Times Tables. Never got the hang of them, bar the Ones. The Twos aren’t too bad but I never learned parrot fashion, more Dodo style.

A friend offered to “learn” me my Nines Times Table and when I snidely replied “You mean teach?” she snapped “Do you know what 8x9 equals? No? So don’t give me shade.”

I do know what 8x9 equals .. but only after timing 8x10 and then taking eight off.

So I “borrowed” a Times Table book from my friend’s little lad.

It has pull out tabs for answers, and colourful animals shaped like numbers.

My occasional Other Half (or Fifty Per Cent) asked why I had a Times Table at the bedside. I couldn’t come up with a witty reply involving long division so said I thought it was the Tides Table.

He asked why they hadn’t used eels in the shape of numbers. He’s always been testing.

I’ve also become better at subtracting because I need to offset all those business set up costs against my tax.

The self employed Morley does sums all the time.

If you buy the paper on the 48p subscription deal it works out at £2.88 a week. That’s the equivalent of two leading brand pancake shaker packs containing so little it would cost £9.62 for a KILO of wheat flour, sugar, palm fat, why powder, salt, dextrose and egg yolk powder.

Just add water and take it all with a pinch of salt.

At least the paper’s full, the pancake packs are 80 per cent empty or – wearing my PR hat – have 80 per cent shake space.

Forget the flippin’ pancakes.

Buy a paper.

Saving a little can mean a lot

My mum taught us to save.

She gave us pocket money and produced a penny tray from which we could buy sweets cheaper than at the shops but at a small profit because she bought in bulk.

We got pocket money index linked to birthdays until we reached an age when we did paper rounds or Saturday jobs or worked in one of the nowboarded up seafront hotels over the summer holidays.

A Post Office savings account was a must.

Today Blackpool Council wants to give 1,400 11-year-olds a £10 starter savings account with Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Credit Union.

By my reckoning that’s around £14,110 although the scheme will cost £30k a year presumably in running, administration and other costs.

That’s roughly the price of two cleaners, if a vacancy at my old primary school, is anything to go by.

Or one social worker.

And I don’t know how many free tram rides for out of town pensioners?

But that’s a cheap shot as these are not like for like equations.

I already save with the credit union.

Is it false economy not to encourage kids to do the same in a town which is a low pay blackspot, with zero hours contracts, high unemployment, massive debt?

Only public money will end the postcode lottery played out in Blackpool for children blighted by poor prospects in certain wards.