September 16

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Free Food From The Urban Hedgerow

Week 3 – September 16th, 2019

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending. If you only preserve one thing this month, make it Mulled Apple Jelly – sweet, sharp and spicy, it is delicious with sweet and savoury food, making it the perfect all-rounder.

Product DetailsI bought this beautiful book (full price – my secret shame) when I was a student. It took me to a time when ladies kept house with an iron hand. A time when herbal remedies and secret recipes were passed from mother to daughter like family heirlooms. A time when still-rooms and store-cupboards secured survival and pleasure for whole households. A kind of Poldark of the kitchen.

An odd choice for a twentieth-century twenty-something, studying at a city-centre university, don’t you think? Nowadays we don’t need home remedies, hand-made preserves, or DIY cleaning products anymore – we have supermarkets not still-rooms for all that. And – romantic as the notion of gathering in and storing the harvest seemed as I read the book – it was hardly something a city girl like me had the option of doing. Cities don’t have hedgerows bursting with free fruit, do they? Cities have shops.

Sloe Gin And Beeswax” is still on my bookshelves, and I still dip into it for useful advice and sheer escapism from time to time. It is a lovely book and I would still recommend it if you can find a copy – it has been out of print for a while. But since I first read it I have discovered that cities do, in fact, grow free fruit. I have picked all sorts of fruits, completely free, without leaving the city – sometimes without even leaving my local area. For more information about how to plunder the city’s food supplies, read The Urban Forager.

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, and advice about finding ‘free’ food in your very own kitchen.

September 9

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Digging Some Spring Colour And Dogs In Duvets

Week 2 – September 9th, 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.

Yes, it is Autumn – a time for picking, not for planting. (On that note, free outings don’t come more wholesome than foraging in the fresh outdoors for free fruit – take along some Dogs In Duvets for lunch and it’s a picnic too.)

But it’s not too late to plant bulbs – in fact, this is the perfect time to do it. Right now all the usual bargain outlets (Aldi, Lidl, Home Bargains, etc) are stocked with cheap nets of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, etc. Granted, they don’t offer the wide variety you will get in a big nursery or DIY store. But, in my experience, they grow just as reliably as pricier offerings. Check out mail order suppliers too – they often have great bulk offers, handy if you have a lot of ground to cover.

An afternoon digging in the autumn sunshine now could see you enjoying bright colour in the dullest months of the year. And if you plant some indoors you could even have them flowering in time for Christmas for you to enjoy or give away. Pots of colour, for only a couple of pounds.

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, a recipe for Mulled Apple Jelly and some tips on urban foraging. In the meantime, enjoy digging and picking and eating delicious Dogs In Duvets.

September 2

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Candles And Cake

Week 1 – September 2nd, 2019

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.

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.