June 17

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Glam Jam And Elegant Gooseberry Cheese

Week 3 – June 18th, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

One word: berries. Gooseberries are in season right now and strawberries will be joining them any day now. Preserves are a cheap and easy way to throw some sunshine into your cupboards for future rainy days and they require very limited culinary skills. Gooseberries and strawberries make particularly delicious preserves. If you have never tried to make preserves before, this is an ideal time of the year to try it.

Start with the gooseberries already in season. Gooseberries are great in chutney and, if you only have a small amount, that’s perfect for a cheeky Gooseberry and Elderflower Vodka from BBC Good Food’s website. If you have a heftier haul of the berries though (about 1.5 kilos) why not try my Gooseberry Cheese recipe? It is super-simple to make and produces a sophisticated treat to style up your cheeseboard. It is also pretty good just dropped in thin slices onto a scone loaded with clotted cream.

Now is also the time to watch out for pick-your-own farms advertising strawberries (unless you are growing your own). A freshly picked strawberry, still warm from the sun, is about as close to perfect food as you can get, in my opinion but, if you do want to preserve some of their sweet summery deliciousness for darker, drearier months of the year, add a little sparkle and use my Strawberry Glam recipe to create a little jar of jammy joy.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, a recipe for emergency pudding and the carefree abandon of a woman who is now on her holidays.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

June 11

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Grow Your Own Fairy Strawberries And Get Yourself Outing-Ready

Week 2 – June 11th, 2018

It’s the second week of the month: if you can make the time, Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity and Grow Something.

 

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy free food from your garden because nature seems determined to grow it for you. If you want to find out how to fill any gaps in your garden with plants that will provide you with free food AND reduce the amount of weeding you have to do, read the final instalment of my journey from concrete jungle to tiny forest garden.

Summer is also the perfect time for free fun because if (?) the rain stays off, you can go outside. Somewhere – anywhere – you don’t often go, with a picnic, is a fun family outing. Which is why I am loving this post from Cass at Diary Of A Frugal Family. Cass explains how she keeps a bag in her car all summer filled with the kit she needs to turn any spontaneous detour into a fun outing for the family. I love the idea that a tiny amount of planning at the start of the summer means you are ready for fun whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Five Must-Haves For Thrifty Summer Outings

I am going to do the same – and to keep it thrifty I am going to add the following items to our bag.

  1. A newspaper, a lighter and a bag of marshmallows so we can gather wood, light a fire and toast marshmallows whenever we find ourselves in the woods or on a beach.
  2. A penknife so the kids can learn how to sharpen a stick for their marshmallows and so I can rediscover the pleasure of whittling while I watch the fire die down.
  3. Packaged snacks, because multipack crisps, are much cheaper than trips to a cafe when little tummies start rumbling. Yes, homemade is cheaper still, but it doesn’t sit happily in the boot of the car waiting till you need it.
  4. Cans and cartons of juice – again, less cheap than taking water but much cheaper than a cafe and always fresh.
  5. bathinglady004Baby wipes and a kitchen roll, because wipes are endlessly useful and kitchen roll can mop up more serious spills, wipe runny noses and double up as an emergency plate.

Those are my five must-haves for thrifty summer outings – what are yours?

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and two easy and essential summer preserves.

 

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

June 7

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Lemon And Poppy Seed Muffins And New Uses For Old Jeans

Week 1 – June 4th, 2018

It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Put Cash In Marked Purses and Make Something

A beach-ready tote made from the legs of old jeans from Christie Chase Blogs

I blame my mother. When I was 7 she turned a pair of my outgrown jeans into a cute little duffel bag for me. I was hugely impressed by this transformation – how could my trousers also be a bag? When Tiny Tartan outgrew his first pair of jeans, some forgotten bit of my memory kicked in and I decided to turn them into a tiny toddler tote and some matching bean bags. He carried the tote, filled with little toys, crayons and colouring books everywhere we went for three years and was always able to entertain himself with the contents.

This got me thinking. I would have paid several pounds for a little backpack in a shop for Tiny Tartan but jeans you are about to bin are FREE! Up-cycling his jeans was not just a satisfying way to hold onto a particularly cute garment, it was a way to save money. What’s not to love about that? Several years down the line I now have a whole box full of baby and toddler jeans that were too cute not to keep. Which is, basically an excuse to spend hours on Pinterest deciding what to make with them. If you want some up-cycling inspiration for your own jeans-stack, have a look at my Make Something board on Pinterest. Or take a look at So Sew Easy’s collection of 101 (count ’em) inspiring ideas for up-cycled denim – everything from cute purses to re-upholstering a sofa. All with fabric you were going to throw away.

When you have finished turning a pair of adult jeans into a cute apron (ok – it’s not compulsory) get in the kitchen and make a batch of Lemon And Poppy Seed Muffins. No weighing, no beating, just fragrant and freezable little snacks for the kids. Or you. You could pop some in a lunch bag made of recycled jeans…

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some suggestions for making the most of the sunshine without ripping through your summer budget.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

May 28

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Budget For The Real World

Week 4 – May 28th, 2018

It’s the fourth week of the month: if you can make the time, Write a Budget and Share Something.

Last month I invited you to get your own values clear in your head before you start planning how to spend your money. This month it’s time to get your own spending limits clear in your head before you start spending. Why does that matter? Let me tell you a story.

It’s a story about me – an accidental (that part is another story) stay-at-home mum who had lots of time with her kids but very little money in her purse. In spite of my limited spending power I went ahead and spent. And then, to my great surprise, discovered half-way through the month that we had zilch left. I spent only on things we valued, things that were important to me and my family – there was nothing wrong with what I was spending money on. I bought in sales, shopped around for bargains, bought materials to make things myself… there was nothing wrong with where I spent my money. But there was a gap between what I wanted to spend our money on and the amount of money we actually had to spend. And our financial security was dropping down into that reality gap and disappearing every month.

Budgeting saved me and it can save you too but only if you get in there and do it at the start of every month. And only if you work with the real not the ideal – planning to spend what you have and not what you wish you had.

So this month I invite you to think about how to draw up a budget that fits your values but also fits your reality. In How To Budget, Part 2  you can learn how to spend in the real world not just in your ideal world. Good luck!

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, some creative inspiration for free DIY projects and a recipe for Lemon And Poppy Seed Muffins.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

May 21

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Preserve Some Elderflowers And Make The Perfect Tomato Sauce

Week 3 – May 21st, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

Elderflowers are everywhere. Tree-sized weeds, squeezing themselves into parks, canal banks, wasteground, and anywhere else they can find a tiny space to send down roots – have you spotted any of their dinner-plate-sized frothy white heads getting ready to open? You probably have without even registering it, because they are so common. And right now they are getting ready to produce thousands of entirely free flowers somewhere near you – it would be a shame not to use some. All that’s required from your purse is the cost of a bag of sugar. Read Elderflower Preserves – Food For Free to find out how to use them to create jars of genteel jelly and bottles of boisterous bubbly.

While you are in the kitchen, why not batch-cook enough delicious Bacon And Tomato Sauce for a month without doing more than 5 minutes actual cooking? Follow the link for the recipe (does it count as a recipe when it barely involves any cooking?) and a bunch of ideas for using the sauce.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and more advice on budgeting.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

May 14

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Outdoors And Grow Some Food

Week 2 – May 14th, 2018

It’s the second week of the month: if you can make the time, Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity and Grow Something.

When we moved into our current home we left behind two large gardens on which I had lavished new plants and a lot of love. Our new home had a garden three metres wide that featured concrete slabs broken up by pebbles mulching a single bed. It was not a promising start to a new eden. A sensible home-owner would have popped in some spring bulbs in pots and maybe a garden ornament and left it at that. I decided instead – because moving house with a change-resistant two year old wasn’t complicating my life enough – to dig the entire thing up and start over. And because that also wasn’t complicated enough, I decided to turn it into a forest garden. Yes, that is a thing. Follow the link to read the second installment of how I turned a concrete jungle into a tiny urban forest garden. If you are looking for a big Grow Something project this month, or a way to turn your existing garden into an ultra-low-maintenance, food-producing paradise, this could be just what you are looking for. If you are not… go to your nearest garden centre and buy some potted herbs. They are always useful and grow anywhere you can catch some sunshine.

If you want to get out in the sunshine (or, you know, just out) this week, take a look at Hands On As We Grow’s post on DIY land art. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s creative and it’s outdoors – what’s not to love? And if the sun is not smiling on you this week… take the kids to the movies. It’s educational (it teaches them how to behave in public places), guarantees you over an hour of sitting in the dark not answering questions or adjudicating sibling fights, and, if you do it right, does not need to cost much. Click here to read How To Go To The Cinema For Almost Nothing.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and ideas for making the most of gooseberries and (free!) elderflowers.

 

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

May 6

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Gooey Deliciousness And Easy DIY

Week 1 – May 7th, 2018

 It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Put Cash In Marked Purses and Make Something

Are you, like me, a person who likes a little creative project but has only a little creative talent to throw at it? Or do find yourself driven to DIY by financial need rather than by creative inspiration? Well, breathe easy – there is a website almost custom-made for us. It’s called The Graphics Fairy and you can read all about why it’s the perfect site here.

 

If you have a few minutes to spare, mix up a batch of My Big Fat Chocolate, Ginger And Prune Cookies. They take almost no time to make, freeze beautifully and defrost by morning break-time tucked in a school bag. They also taste delicious. And they contain prunes, which pretty much makes them health food, right?

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some suggestions for watching movies on the cheap.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

April 30

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Budget Wisely And Banish Bad Smells From Your Washing Machine

Week 5 – April 30th, 2018

It’s the last week of the month: if you can make the time, Write a Budget and Share Something.

There are many ways to budget – as many as there are people, I suppose – and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Most months, I use a basic spreadsheet. This has the advantage of being quick and accurate and easy to use. Some months, though, my budget is hastily scribbled on a piece of paper and added up in my head. This has the advantage of being free and not depending on my having technology to hand. Occasionally, my budget is done in my head, hastily, on the hoof, right before I pay for something. Because I realise at that moment that I have not yet got round to doing it. That has no advantages at all.

I strongly recommend that you don’t repeat my crimes against personal finance. Make time to budget – by whatever method works for you – before it’s too late to seize control of next month’s spending. Read How To Budget, Part 1 if you want advice on how to get started.

On a completely different note – how about the easiest bit of spring cleaning you will ever do? For a couple of years, the Tartan Family regularly threw out clothing, towels, even bedding that was in perfectly good condition. Why? Because they stank. In spite of repeated washing, they had an unpleasant mouldy odour. They started out fragrant (if a little grubby), went through the machine, hung up to dry… and then were haunted by a whiff of such fustiness we couldn’t stand them. Out they went. I am not, as you may have guessed, a person who relishes throwing things out and spending money on replacements. I am happy to report, though, that I did eventually figure out what was wrong and our washing is now whiff-free. If you want to hear how spending a few seconds – yes, seconds – spring-cleaning can banish bad smells from your laundry, read Spring Clean Your Washing Machine.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a recipe for goey, chewy, chocolate cookies. Freezable snacks for pennies in only a few minutes.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, instructions to make deliciously fragrant luxury candles and a recipe for Apple And Custard Cake. See you then!

April 23

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get School Uniforms On A Budget

Week 4 – April 23rd, 2018

It’s the fourth week of a five week month, which means you can squeeze in a couple of less frequent habits – if you have the time, Take Stock and Tackle One Big Spend

How is the weather with you today? Cold and wet with no hint of summer over the horizon? Bright and breezy and settling in for a beautiful Spring? Four seasons in one day?

Whatever the weather this week, warmer days are ahead. (Warmer is a relative term: I am not predicting a heatwave.) Which means it’s time to check whether you have summer school uniform in the right sizes all ready to burst out on the first balmy day. And if you are going to do that quick check, you might as well run a full School Uniform Audit. Once you have made time to Take Stock of the uniform you do have in, why not go a step further and Tackle One Big Spend by planning how to fill the gaps in your school kit thriftily rather than panic-buying at full prices on the last day of the summer holidays?

 

It is possible to get school uniforms on the cheap without compromising on quality – check out outlet stores for quality brands; keep an eye open for sale rails; check out uniform stalls at school fayres for second hand items in good condition. White shirts are fine second hand, so long as they have not been washed so often they have developed that grey tone. Polo shirts depend on their original quality – some keep their colour and shape well, others become pale and saggy after a few months of washing. For items that don’t have to show the school crest, supermarkets are a cheap source but be warned: if you have more than one child at the same school and hope to hand down uniform, cheaper brands don’t last so well. Weigh up whether it will be cheaper in the long run to spend more on items that can be worn by two or more children. I find that second hand trousers are rarely worth the price but school shorts, skirts and dresses are worth buying – no knees to wear through. Second hand jackets vary – always check zips, cuffs and fabric for wear and tear.

Over the last few years I have saved us hundreds of pounds by buying the Tartan kids’ mandatory school blazers second hand. You can read about how to bag a bargain blazer here. Even if you buy all your uniform brand new, it is still cheaper to do that when you have time to shop around for the best prices. Don’t forget to think about stationery, lunch boxes, etc. too.

Get a plan in place now and you will be ready to take advantage of school uniform stalls at summer fayres, online offers and the racks of new uniform arriving in supermarkets in late June.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a look at how to budget and banish bad laundry smells.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.

 

April 16

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Work Your Receipts To Max Your Cash

Week 3 – April 16th, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

Reviewing your spending – taking time to go over your receipts or bank statements and work out where your money is going – saves you money by helping you stay in control of your own spending. But… could it help you save money in other ways too?

I have been reading 6 Simple Ways  To Save Money By Tracking Your Receipts on Wise Bread. It has given me some ideas for how to make more of this thrifty monthly habit. I love the idea of using my receipts to actually make money once I have used them to help me save money and spend less. Take a look and see which ideas you could try.

Think this all sounds like too much hassle? Set yourself a time limit – fifteen minutes, say. Nothing seems like too much effort when you only have to spend quarter of an hour on it. Or do it in the advert breaks while you watch TV. Tiny effort, big results.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on how to kit kids out for school on a budget.

Free, Downloadable Thrifty Habits Planner To Keep You On Track

Click here to download your copy of this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner.

So, you want to get into the habit of spending less without putting in more effort? You need something to remind you what to do and when, so you don’t have to keep thinking about it. The Thrifty Habits Planner is a simple tool to help you do just that. Use it to pencil in which thrifty things you plan to do this week and to pin yourself down to when you plan to do them. If you take control this way at the start of the week, you are far more likely to have stuck to your plan by the end of the week. Sticking your plan up somewhere you will see it every day helps you to stay on track too.

Take time at the end of the week to give yourself a little treat as a reward for your thrifty efforts. Little splurges will actually help you to stay thrifty – read this to find out how.