August 19

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Kids’s Shoes For Less

Week 4 – August 29th, 2019

It’s the fourth week of a five week month – if you have the time, Take Stock and Tackle One Big Spend

It’s that special time of year when I need to start the annual battle to kit out the kids’ feet without kissing goodbye to a small fortune. Joy. This has been a Big Spend for us for long enough, though, that I have developed some ways of tackling it. You can read everything I have learned about Cutting The Cost Of Kids’ Shoes – written a few years back – and then you can pause and smile wryly at my naive assumption that this was all there is to keeping shoe-shopping to a sensible budget…

I thought I had it sussed. The kids were kitted out in new shoes that protected their little feet as well as my small budget. Then Tartan Boy hit adolescence and the goal posts moved overnight.

Suddenly it wasn’t enough that the shoe was the right size – it had to be the right brand too. A branded shoe is never a budget shoe – they start out at a ridiculously inflated price and no 50% off sticker can bring it down to the same level as a discounted shoe that started out at a lower price. So branded shoes were a step too far for me. But non-branded shoes were a leap over the cliff-edge of cool for Tartan Boy. Problem.

You can read how I (almost) solved it in What To Do When Your Kids Want Branded Shoes And You Want To Stay On Budget. Although, to be honest, it’s less a problem you can solve, more a curve you can try to stay ahead of. So if you have any other secrets of sane shoe shopping, I would love to hear them. Please share them in the Comments below.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on how to avoid being a pay day millionaire.

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.

August 12

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Preserve A Plum

Week 3 – August 12th, 2019

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

Are you partial to a plum? It’s not a fruit I have ever heard anyone go into raptures about although it is one that grows well in the UK. I am fairly neutral – I will eat one if it’s there but I won’t hunt one down if it’s not. But I will go to some effort to pick them in quantity because they make all sorts of delicious and cheap preserves. Delicious, cheap and easy.

Plums, damsons and their wild cousin the sloe all contain exactly the right balance of acidity and pectin (a fruit protein) to make it easy to get a set. And the same acidity means that they make sweet preserves that have an interesting flavour rather than a blanketing sugariness. They can stand up well to stronger savoury flavours too, going well with strong cheese and red meat. Plums and damsons should be ripe about now, sloes a little later in the autumn, and if you have a tree you can plunder, or a source of very cheap fruit to buy in quantity, take a look at Plum Preserves – 5 Delicious Things To Do With Free Fruit.

However you preserve your plums, be sure to use The Jam Labelizer to pimp your plum preserves with a free label design. All you have to do is download your label, save it at whatever size your jars need and print a whole sheet of them. Remember only to use the designs that are flagged up as free to print yourself. If that is too much work, try The Graphics Fairy’s Free Printable Jam Labels.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on shopping sanely for kids’ shoes.

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.

August 5

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Easy Savings And Lazy Bread

Week 2 – August 5th, 2019

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

Several years I go I decided to save money by simply staying out of shops. It was a plan with a solid philosophy – every time I set foot in a supermarket I spent money, so, if I went into the supermarket less, I would spend less.

Did it work for me? Surprisingly, yes, it pretty much did. I have had to tweak it a bit over the years. I gave up on the one big monthly shop because we don’t have enough storage space, for example, although it did drastically reduce shop visits. But several years on, keeping us out of the shops has certainly helped keep us in the black. Would it work for you? Read the post and see what you think.

One of the keys to success for us was being able to make our own bread if we ran out. The easiest way to do that is with a cheap, easily available bread machine. But almost as easy is the no-knead method. No machine required and less than ten minutes hands-on time involved in total.  Read how to make Delicious, Thrifty, Artisan Bread and decide for yourself.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice about what to make with a glut of cheap plums.

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.

July 29

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Thrifty And Happy

Week 1 – July 29th, 2019

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

Be Joyful And Generous

Now and again, it’s good to remind yourself why you are doing this thrifty stuff. The obvious answer is… to save money. The answer lying behind that is that you want to save money because that will make you happy – which is why one of my Principles Of Thrifty Living is Be Joyful And Generous Not Miserly And Miserable.

If I had to sum up the Tartan Thrifty mission in two words, they would be “happiness” and “habits”. “Happiness” because that is what I believe is the real aim of thrifty living. “Habits” because that’s what I think is the best route to long-term cost-cutting.  Mindless thrifty habits help us to effortlessly save money. Saving money helps us to feel more secure in our finances. And feeling secure in our finances makes us feel happy.

So you can imagine how delighted I was to come across The Habits Of Supremely Happy People on The Huffington Post – two of my favourite ideas in one place! Take a look at it and see if you can add some extra sunshine to your summer.

It is easy – when you are making a serious effort to be thriftier – to get fixated on cutting costs. But cutting costs is a means to an end. And that end is being happier. So why not take some time this month to think about what makes you happiest, and what would make you more happy. Then look at your spending and cost-cutting plans. Are you putting your money and effort into the things that will most make you happy? Or do you need to adjust your plans to make yourself thriftier so that they also make you happier?

Maybe you already know exactly what makes you happiest, but if you do need some inspiration try Happiness For Dummies. The author (a psychiatrist who has walked the walk as well as talking the talk and now mainly works with people in chronic pain, helping them to find deep happiness despite their circumstances) outlines in straightforward terms the key areas of your life that will make you happy. Making sure that certain elements of human existence are there in your own day-to-day habits turns out to be the key to deep and lasting contentment. (Habits again!) And – happily – spending big bucks is not one of them.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and a remarkably simple way of cutting your costs.

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.

July 15

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Blackcurrant Preserves And How To Handle A Glut Of Raspberries

Week 3 – July 15th, 2019

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

I posted last week about getting best value from pick-your-own fruit farms. I am quite canny these days about only visiting farms where the fruit is genuinely cheaper than a supermarket but I still risk stumbling in pursuit of thrifty fruit every time I visit a PYO farm. Why? Because, dear reader, I am greedy. I see fat red strawberries or deep pink raspberries and, like edible pokemon, I gotta catch ’em all. Only at the exit till do I realise I may have picked more than we can either preserve or eat. If, like me, you come home from the fruit farm with too many berries, read What To Do When You Pick Too Many Raspberries for inspiration. And develop some self-control. You can come back and teach me how when you do…

This is also the season for blackcurrants. If you have a source of these little black flavour bombs, take a look at How To Turn A Basket Of Blackcurrants Into A Cupboard Full Of Frugally Fabulous Preserves for some inspiration.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and more advice on how to budget successfully.

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.

July 10

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Pick Your Own Fruit Without Getting Stung

Week 2 – July 8th, 2019

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

Preserving something is not one of this week’s habits and yet… It is July – the month when nature bombards you with soft fruit, ripe and ready for eating and preserving. If I only recommended preserving things for one week of the month you might blink and miss it all. So let me just mention that this is the perfect week to take advantage of someone else growing something and try an almost free family activity – visiting a PYO fruit farm.

I have been picking farmed fruit since my own childhood and it tickles me now to watch my own children enjoying the same activity. It also tickles me to see them not staring at screens for a couple of hours. So does seeing them willingly eating several of their five-a-day in one go. And it tickles me to get cheap fruit for preserving. Although this amount of tickling on a tummy full of brightly-coloured fruit is probably asking for trouble.

So – fruit farms are a Thrifty Thing but it is possible to turn them into a waste of money. Read 5 Things I Learned The About Getting Your Money’s Worth At PYO Farms to find out how to make sure you don’t come away with a full tum but empty pockets.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, ideas for preserving blackcurrants and fingers stained pink from picking too many raspberries.

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.

July 10

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Beremeal Bread In Under An Hour Or A Matter Of Minutes

  1. Week 1 – July 1st, 2019

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

Bread is my nemesis. Milk and eggs I get delivered. Fruit and veg I keep in the freezer as a back-up to keep us going when the fresh stuff runs out. But I find it almost impossible to predict how much bread we will get through each week (thanks in part to Tartan Boy’s adolescent snacking needs) and even less possible to keep it fresh for seven days.

I don’t want to pop to the shops a couple of times a week to get more bread because, inevitably, I leave with more than the loaf I came for, and spend way more than I intended to. My freezer is too small (and too full of fruit and veg and batch-cooked meals and snacks) to keep a loaf on standby. I manage by stocking up on bread products that last a bit longer – wraps, bagels, bags of croissants – and using these later in the week. If I am organised, we can set the breadmaker to solve the problem for us while we sleep. But sometimes (OK – quite often) we need an extra loaf to keep us going and we need it now.

And that’s where my Beremeal Bread recipe comes in. I can mix this up in minutes and bake it in about half an hour. To the best of my knowledge it doesn’t keep for more than a day (I don’t actually know how long it lasts because we always eat the lot when it is fresh) but when it is this easy to make, it doesn’t need to.

You don’t have to have beremeal to bake it: you can substitute that for regular wholemeal flour to make soda bread. Or with maize meal to make it into delicious, golden cornbread.

Best of all – we recently discovered – you don’t even have to turn on the oven. Using a microwave you can go from storecupboard ingredients to warm loaf in only 15 minutes. Put all the ingredients in a plastic or silicone loaf tin (or cake tin, or muffin tin without the paper cases, or a smallish mixing bowl…) Mix them together and then pop it in the microwave for ten minutes to bake a perfectly edible loaf. It won’t come out with a coloured crust but it will come out with a delicious, moist crumb. We call it Cinderella bread. Like her carriage and gown (but not, mysteriously, her shoes) this bread will not last beyond midnight. The warm, soft bread will shrink and harden over a period of hours because it has been microwaved. All the more reason to eat it at once.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and advice on picking soft fruit without getting stung. Happy baking!

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 24

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Treat Yourself To A Fragrant Summer And A Nostalgic Winter

Week 4 – June 24th, 2019

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

Are you heading off on holiday soon  – or better yet, there already? Take a minute to think about one of our weekly Thrifty Habits – Buy A Little Treat. Here is my tip for using a cheap treat to bring back that holiday feeling in the dead days of winter.

Smell is a powerful trigger of memories – we’ve all experienced that. Maybe you caught a whiff of perfume that took you straight back to sitting on your mother’s knee, or that special cocktail of linoleum polish and antiseptic floor cleaner that took you instantly back to your earliest schooldays. So why not use smell to anchor you to your holiday? Here’s how.

Buy a perfumed treat to take on holiday – it doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be something you will use every day and it needs to be something you don’t use until you are on holiday. So it could be a bar of soap that you use every time you go to the bathroom, or a new laundry detergent that fragrances your holiday clothes. It could be a scented sachet that you keep tucked in your pillowcase, or the shower gel you use every morning. The choice is yours.

Sleeping-Lady-Retro-Image-GraphicsFairy-320x320Now fast-forward to February. It has been raining for a century, and the sun sets each day before you have fully come to terms with the day’s start. That’s the time to buy yourself the same scented treat and use it. Now you wake to another grey morning and your shower smells of brighter days remembered. Or you go to bed at the end of a wet day and your bed smells of sunshine, You get the idea. It’s a cheap, simple but very effective way of buying a few extra moments of happiness from your holidays. Try it!

I will be back next week with one of Tartan Thrifty’s all time most popular recipes and an emergency version of it as a back-up plan. Apologies for failing to bring you the recipe for Emergency Pudding I promised this week. There are times when life gets in the way of blogging… this week was one of them. I promise to post about pudding soon!

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 17

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

Week 3 – June 17th, 2019

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 10

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

Week 2 – June 10th, 2019

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.