Ollie is defeated by a talking bear

Christmas shopping looms large on Ollie Banks’ horizon, but at least Lizzie’s pregnancy means he doesn’t have to spend interminable hours in shopping malls – and she’s working to a budget, thanks to Solo Expenses, so he’s a winner all round. Or so she tells him…

“Pass me your credit card, Ollie,” said Lizzie, peering at the screen on her iPad whilst holding out her hand.

She’d chosen her moment carefully; Saturday afternoon, whilst sports-mad Ollie was glued to another screen watching the football results. The tableau didn’t change; the outstretched hand and the simultaneous focus on iPad and television, until the announcer’s voice reached Scottish League 2. That was when Ollie realised that what was happening at the other end of the sofa was more important that Annan Athletic’s 1-0 defeat of East Fife. He sensed he was about to be on the wrong end of a 1-0 defeat himself.
Ollie-is-defeated-by-a-talking-bearHe tried his opening gambit: “What for?” Lizzie looked up. “Christmas shopping.” She smiled, but Ollie wasn’t to be diverted. “I’d guessed that. Let me put it another way: What are you buying?”
Lizzie put her fingers to her lips and shushed him, nodding towards four-year-old Alice, who was teaching two teddy bears to read in a makeshift hearthrug classroom. “Stuff,” was all she’d say, but turned the iPad towards him. He saw a picture of a teddy bear, and the checkout total of £39.99. Without making a sound he raised his eyebrows in disbelief and mouthed: “Forty quid? Forty? For a teddy bear? We already have enough teddy bears to start a shop!”
“Ah, but this is different. It talks. It talks and it’s educational, because we can teach it to say things about…” She nodded at Alice, who was oblivious to the fact she was the subject of their conversation. “Anyway, it’s cute.”

Third party endorsement of Solo Expenses
Ollie had regained the power of speech. “Education’s our job, not a machine’s,” he protested. Lizzie put the iPad to one side. “Look, it will just be reinforcement of what we say; call it third party endorsement, and you know how important that is. Look at the things you say to people for Sunita, your Solo Expenses lady, and how much you sing her praises to everyone, given half a chance. It’s just the same, but on a more… well, junior level.”

Sensing she was still in charge, Lizzie pressed on. “Anyway, I’ve set a budget for Christmas this year. I’ve downloaded Solo Expenses for myself, and set up the whole thing. You don’t have a monopoly on it after all. Look.” She reached for her phone and with a couple of taps had opened the app and turned the screen to show him.

“It’s all there; all itemised, and I’m not going to go over the limit. What’s more, I’m doing as much as I can online so you don’t have to come to shopping malls with me. Aren’t you pleased?”

The satisfaction of saving
Actually, he was. Not only about being excused shopping trips, which was significant enough in itself, but also that she’d taken the initiative about Solo Expenses. He’d shown her time and again how managing their finances more closely had saved them money without them having noticed it. The savings they’d made had gone a long way to funding the cost of their Florida holiday earlier in the year, and would come in especially handy when the baby was born. There would be plenty of demand placed on their finances then.

There could be only one answer.  “I am pleased,” he said. “Do you think your Christmas budget has saved us enough money to afford a takeaway tonight?”

Lizzie raised just one eyebrow. “Not so fast, Banks, hand over the credit card. This bear won’t buy itself,” she said.

Picture: Georgii Dolgykh via Dreamstime.com