I submitted my tax return the other day. Yes yes, you can stop clapping. And at some point I will stop bragging and boasting and feeling ridiculously proud of myself.
I think it’s because I honestly didn’t think I’d get it in on time, and assumed that I’d be among the miserable people who ignore it right up to the last minute and beyond – and now here I am, suddenly one of those smug bastards who got it in before the deadline. In the space of a few hours I metamorphosed from an incorrigible waster into an efficient, proactive adult. I’m not sure I like it.
But even though I now feel like a massive black cloud has lifted, and I can see the world in colour again, doing my tax return was still a rather depressing experience. For one thing I had to go through my bank statements and work out exactly how much I earned last year. Not much, in case you were wondering. And then I had to add up all the money I’d spent on new tyres and inner tubes and brake pads and bar tape and chains and pedals and cranks and forks and wheels and …well, you get the picture. And then there was the small matter of those £200+ Sidis. And the four-figure sum I spent on the Salsa. And when I subtracted this (my expenses) from what I’d earned, the final figure (my profits) was really embarrassingly, pathetically, frighteningly little. And I still had to pay tax on it.
One thing I noticed though, looking through my bank statements, is that they look a bit like this:
This demonstrates two facts: 1.) I am not a fan of Tesco; 2.) Almost all of my non-bike expenditure is on food.
But of course. My job means I have to eat twice, possibly three times as much as an average person. (If you don’t believe me, I’ll photograph everything I eat for a day and post it here. I might do this anyway.) Which, I suppose, means that I must spend twice as much as them too. I did once start saving up all my food receipts, out of curiosity, but when it came to the crunch, I was too scared to add them all up.
So surely food (i.e. fuel) should could as a business expense? According to this chap, “Canadian law allows couriers to deduct … up to $10 per day in food expenses”. I don’t know what the state of play is here in the UK, and I’m not currently inclined to start digging through the HMRC website to find out. Maybe I will in time for next year.
But how would I calculate my food expenses, if I did?
Perhaps work out how much more I spend on food than the average person? But then, if the ‘average’ person buys her lunch in Pret every day, and gets her groceries in Waitrose, she probably spends more than me anyway.
So perhaps it would be better to work out how many more calories I eat than the average person? Say the average woman is meant to consume c. 2000 calories per day. And say I consume c. 5000. That means I should be able to claim 60% of my Sainsbury’s bill as work expenses. But what if I’m eating more than I actually need to? Heaven forbid I should write off my ‘recreational’ eating as a business expense!
So, as my friend Jen suggested, by far the most sensible solution would be to calculate how many more calories I burn than the average person. She’s even offered to lend me a heart rate monitor. And then I just have to work out how much money I spend on food per calorie consumed. This could get very complicated. I probably won’t bother.
But one useful and enlightening thing that did come out of our conversation, is that I’ve started even more consciously to consider food in terms of calories per penny. For example, if I find myself hungry on Curzon Street, I could go to Lola’s, and buy of these, which contains about 300 calories, and will set me back £2.50.
Or I could go to Tesco and get a packet of these, which costs 40p, and contains 2000 calories.
I think this will be my new nutrition strategy.