November 20

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Check Your Utility Bills, Chuck Out Some Toys And Drive More Cheaply

Extra Week  – November 20th, 2017

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

I know, I know – it’s only five weeks to Christmas and the last thing you need is extra thrifty things to do. You are right. If you need this week to focus on staying on top of your festive spending then go ahead and do that instead. Or, you know… if you need this week to pour some mulled wine, watch It’s A  Wonderful Life and remind yourself that Christmas isn’t all about rabid commercialism then, frankly, no jury is going to convict you of crimes against thrift.

But if you do have a spare couple of hours, this is the perfect time of year to have a stock-check of your kids’ toys/games/etc. That way you clear space for the new things they will shortly be getting and rekindle their enthusiasm for some old things they had forgotten about in the meantime.

If you don’t fancy that, how about taking time to tackle the cost of your utility bills or of running your car? Click here to read about how I went on a journey into thrifty motoring only to discover the answer was in my own glovebox all along.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on getting a real Christmas tree at a real bargain

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.

 

November 13

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make-Ahead Chocolate Truffles And Stocking Fillers For Any Budget

Week 3 – November 13th, 2017

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

This is more the time of year for eating preserves than making them. But you can get ahead of your Christmas prepartions by preserving the centres of some decadent DIY chocolate truffles to give away. Spend half an hour melting, mixing and moulding this week and in December all you have to do is pop them out of the freezer, coat them in melted chocolate and in a few minutes you will have a bag of delicious truffles.

No freezer? You can still use the recipe in December but you will need to gift them right away. Cream truffles don’t keep for more than a few days.

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about how to make stockings part of a Merry Thriftmas and last week I pointed you in the direction of my Stocking Planner. The Stocking Planner is designed to fit budgets of  all sizes. To see how it can help with even a tiny budget, take a look at How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For Around A Fiver. No, it’s not easy – but it can be done.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and thoughts on a pre-Christmas clear-out and cutting the cost of running a car.

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.

 

November 6

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Berries, Baking And Bulging Stockings

Week 2 – November 6th, 2017

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

Dreary November days are the perfect time for free family fun that doesn’t involve actually leaving the house. A kid-friendly home-baking session is an easy no-need-for-wellies family activity that also ticks Batch A Snack off this week’s list of Thrifty Habits. Try Chocolate Chip And Berry Cake, a recipe so easy even a small child can make it.

Once your kids have mastered the basic recipe, why not let them run amok in your cupboards and choose their own additions? As long as they stick to the same amount of flour, eggs, oil, sugar and yoghurt they can add anything else they like. They could add grated apple and cinnamon, or lemon zest or frozen berries or a mashed banana… They can even omit the sugar and add cheese, or olives, or sundried tomato pieces, or ham or….

Once you are all stuffed with cake, take time to think about stuffing stockings next month. (Yes, you only have a few weeks to go. No pressure.) How To Fill A Bulging Stocking Without Blowing Your Budget will help you to work out how to turn a small budget into big smiles on Christmas morning.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, and a simple way to make decadent chocolate truffles that will keep till Christmas.

 

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.

 

October 30

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Start On Your Stocking Fillers

Week 1 – October 30th, 2017

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

And, because Christmas is now less than two months away, what better thing to make than fillers for Christmas Stockings? Ah… Christmas Stockings. I love them so much I wrote a whole post about them – click here to read why I think they are an essential for every thrifty family. They are, after all, just the weekly habit of treating yourself taken to a slight extreme.

The cost can add up, though – alarmingly quickly. So why not make some of this year’s fillers yourself? Take a look at 5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers When You Have No DIY Skills to see how easy it is.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner, a snack recipe that is child’s play to make and some more advice to help you fill your kid’s stockings without emptying your bank account.

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.

October 21

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Christmas On A Budget Without Getting A Budget Christmas

Week 4 – October 23rd, 2017

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

When you are putting together your budget for the coming month, take some time to put together a budget for Christmas. Granted, Christmas is stressful enough without the additional burden of trying to stick to your thrifty principles  and the very real danger of driving your sleigh straight into a whole heap of debt. But it is the very last time to lose sight of your budget. You are about to be blindsided by urgent and ever-expanding to-d0 lists, distracted by sparkly shop displays, and lulled into a false sense of security by the festive spirit… Just when your purse strings most need you to get a grip.

You need determination. You need self-control. Baby, you need a Plan. Careful planning now will save you from pricey panic-buying in December. Plus, it might leave you free to actually enjoy the run-up to Christmas. If you want to deliver a magical Christmas on a real-life budget now is the time to decide what that budget is going to be.

DIY gifts are one way of keeping on-budget at Christmas but be aware that not everyone will thank you for a home-made gift, no matter how thoughtful or skillfully made. To work out who you should – and should not – consider making gifts for, take a look at Who Is Going To Thank You For A Home-Made Gift?

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and some advice about thrifty stocking fillers and why you really need them no matter how tight your budget is.

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.

 

October 15

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Whisky Marmalade and Money For Nothing

Week 3 – October 16th, 2017

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

It is the week to Preserve Something. Nature is shutting up shop for winter but Mamade prepared fruit knows no seasonal limits and makes tasty marmalade with none of the faff. (Actually, I am not opposed to the faff because it makes the place smell amazing for hours. but, honestly, I think the end product is just as good with a tin of Mamade.) If you pot up a few jars of marmalade now they should have matured nicely by Christmas, ready for gifting or for guzzling on Christmas morning. You know, to offset the chocolate.

You can up the gourmet factor considerably if you buy a cheap bottle of whisky and add a splash to your marmalade just before you pot it. And if you need further inspiration for using the rest of your whisky (beyond the obvious…) then take a look at How To Turn A Ten Pound Bottle Of Aldi Whisky Into A Hamperful Of Tasty Treats.

Since it is also the week to Review Your Spending, take a look at Money For Nothing to see if you could get more for your money with loyalty cards.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a plan for a frugal but fabulous festive period.

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.

 

October 9

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Do Something Wild

Week 2 – October 9th, 2017

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

The foraging season is almost over so if you are stuck for a free family activity to try this week, take the kids outdoors to pick brambles. (That’s blackberries if you live outside of Scotland.) I have very fond memories of doing this with my grandpa in my childhood. You can read everything he taught me about brambling with kids in Grandpa’s Guide To Bringing Home The Brambles.

As well as gathering brambles you could take time to pick up beech nuts, pine cones, conkers, twigs,etc. Once home pile them into jam jars, vases, bowl – whatever you have to hand. More seasonal than flowers and completely free. If you want the conkers to keep their shine try buffing them with vegetable oil on a square of kitchen roll.

For more ideas to help you go wild outside, take a look at The Wild City Book, packed with ideas to turn time outdoors into an adventure, or a science experiment, or an art workshop…

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner,

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.

 

October 9

Grandpa’s Guide To Bringing Home The Brambles

When I was a child we spent a week each autumn in a caravan in the countryside. No electricity! no central heating!! No tv!!! No wifi!!!  Evenings spent playing board games; the soft hiss of gas lamps being lit as evening fell; beds still water-bottle-warm in the mornings as ice-crystals formed on the inside of the windows…

In spite of conditions that make Tartan Boy look at me with a mixture of horror, pity and incomprehension they were happy holidays. As kids, we looked forward to doing things that were different from our usual lives but still reassuringly familiar, because we did them each year. One of our favourites, enjoyed most days, was brambling with Grandpa. Grandpa is long-gone, sadly, but his approach to taking children fruit-picking stays with me. Here are the three wisest tips I learned from him.

  1. Kids need a reason – chat on the way about what you are going to do with your brambles when you get home. Make bramble jelly? Bake a bramble pie? Knock together a bramble and apple crumble? If that’s too far away to motivate them then offer a small reward for filling their containers. Most kids will do anything for a fun-size mars bar.
  2. Children need a quick win – don’t take big tubs for them to fill slowly. Grandpa used to collect empty food cans, drill two holes near the top and thread string through to make a long handle. Looped over a child’s head the cans hung at chest height, leaving our little hands free to pick fruit and pop it in the cans.The cans filled quickly, we felt proud of the speed with which we had reached the top and that spurred us on to fill another. Grandpa meanwhile tipped each full can into a big tupperware box. If drilling holes in cans sounds like too much work for a short brambling expedition, try dishing out small tupperware boxes for your kids to bring back to the mother ship.
  3. Children get bored quite quickly – don’t chivvy them to keep picking once they get restless. Move on – there will probably be a new patch of brambles not far away and they can attack that one with renewed enthusiasm. Or let them climb some trees, or play hide and seek, or sit down and have a snack… If none of that works, it’s time to call it a day and go home to eat your brambles.
September 30

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Candles And Cake

Week 1 – September 4th, 2017

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

I love September And October. They are new pencils and new plans. Crisp mornings foraging for free fruit and fragrant afternoons turning them into jams and jellies. Cosy nights indoors, with the slight threat of winter but none of the wet or the chill.

To be honest, I like November too – bonfires and fireworks and making plans for Christmas. And I am fond of December with it’s twinkles and parcels and sociable feasting…

(In the spirit of total honesty I have to point out that the above is a very edited picture of my autumns and early winters. It’s not nearly as calm, ordered, or reflective as that in Tartan Towers. Still, a woman can dream…)

What I love about this time of year is the anticipation of cosy times ahead. So, with that in mind, my Make Something  project this week is going to be Luxury Scented Candles. Something to give away but also something to enjoy at home.

I first made candles when I was about 7 – which tells you how easy they are to make – and can still remember the fascination I felt watching hard wax transform to liquid and back again. So you could treat this as a fun family activity AND a cheap way to treat yourself to a fragrant and twinkly home.

If you want inspiration to batch-cook a freezer-friendly snack try Apple And Custard Cakes. These are so easy a child could make them – no scales or beaters required. I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and some suggestions for enjoying time outdoors before winter sets in.

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.

September 24

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Save Money In The Kitchen

Week 4 – September 25th, 2017

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

This is the week of the month when I am most likely to eat into my overdraft or crack out my credit card – pay day is only a few days away but we need to eat NOW. But I have found, over and over again (I would be embarrassed to give you the exact number of times…) that a quick but thorough sort through our cupboards, freezer and fridge usually shows that we hardly need to buy any food at all. What we actually need is to eat what is already there.

So, armed with a notebook and pen I make a list of what I can find and then draw up a meal plan that uses those ingredients and keeps food shopping that week to a minimum.

Finding a menu that embraces the fag end of an old brie, some vacuum packed beetroot we bought by mistake and a tin of anchovies is not easy… (Bright Pink Risotto, in case you are wondering, The anchovies went into a pasta sauce.)

It is worth it though, because it gives you all your meals for the final week of the month without having to spend more than you have. And if it is worth it for the last week of the month, then, actually, it’s a good idea for every week.

Thing is, without the immediate choice of overdrawn or underfed, I don’t actually bother to check what is in the cupboards. So the compromise I have settled on is to keep a running tally of what’s in my cupboards. Once in a blue moon I run a stock-check of our food supplies and use it to set up a simple stock list on the door of the freezer. That way I can see at a glance what food we don’t have to buy.

Recently I bought some very cheap mini dry-wipe boards with magnets on the back from Home Bargains that are perfect for the job. The magnets mean they are always handy on the door of the fridge. Better still, the pen is also magnetised and has a little sponge eraser in the cap so that I can always lay hands on it easily. I use the other one to keep a running shopping list – anyone who uses up something adds that to the list and when Tartan Dad or Tartan Boy or I run to the shops there is a ready-made shopping list to take along. At only 89p to stop me buying food we don’t need, I think they are a thrifty bargain.

 

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!