September 23

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

Week 4 – September 23th, 2019

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!

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 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.

May 27

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

Week 4 – May 27th, 2019

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.

April 29

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

Week 5 – April 29th, 2019

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 22

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

Week 4 – April 22nd, 2019

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 15

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

Week 3 – April 15th, 2019

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.

April 8

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Big Savings From A Tiny Garden

Week 2 – April 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.

It is Spring! Officially!! No matter what the view out your window might be telling you today… I used to find this a pretty blah month before I got into gardening. Now I notice all the tiny little signs of life around me with keen interest because they are the start of the countdown to gardening season. But they are also the sign that our lives are poised to expand back into the outdoors, after months cooped up inside. I need no encouragement to get outside but the Tartan Kids are a little harder to persuade. When Tartan Boy himself was very wee he needed no further persuasion than a scavenger hunt. He would do anything for a clipboard and a pencil. Tiny Tartan is a tougher nut to crack – he still gets the clipboard and pencil but he also gets a Smartie for each item on the list that he finds. Tartan Boy also gets one, which motivates him to help his little brother find some of the trickier items. Even in the great outdoors there is a place for bribery and corruption… You can find lots of different printable scavenger hunts for Springtime and beyond on the Tartan Thrifty Do Something board on Pinterest.

It’s time to start thinking about your garden if you have one, or your balcony, or even your windowsill. There is no space so tiny that you can’t grow something in it. A few years ago I set out to turn my very small concrete jungle into a tiny forest garden, so pretty you could eat it.  I spent several months building up layers, starting with trees and other tall structures to add height. The idea is to grow a garden that looks good enough to spend time in but that also saves you money by providing some food. In a patch our size it was never going to make us self-sufficient, but it could give us a lot of fresh herbs, and some fruit and  vegetables.

Since then, it has been flattened several times by winter storms, trashed by several months of building work inside the flat, then neglected while I devoted the next year to redecorating the flat. Even the worms in the worm bin turned up their tails and died during a temporary spell in a patch of sunlight. But the bones of it are still there – the trees took root, my perennials are pushing up through the soil as I speak and my herbs are thriving even though they do need a good trim. I am looking forward this summer to getting it back on track. What are your plans for your patch – however small – this year?

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and a suggestion about how to use the shopping you have already done to save you money.

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.

March 25

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Set Spending Goals That Make You Happy

Week 4 – March 25th, 2019

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

I write a budget every month, and think of it as an arithmetic task. Something to keep my head busy but not my heart. If you are building a thriftier lifestyle, budgeting has got to be your foundation. But I have gradually come to understand that you do have to listen to your heart as well as your head when you plan how to spend your money.

The point of being thrifty is not just to make numbers add up. Ultimately it is about making your life better, about making you and yours happy. Avoiding debt, making sure you can afford to eat, building up savings just in case… These are all ways to make your life less miserable, more happy.

Trying to make yourself happier is always a good aim but is it one you think about when you are drawing up a budget? Personally, I think in terms of what I have to spend. I think about the boring stuff – utility bills, mortgage, car repairs… I treat them like they are foisted on me, not things I have actually chosen. But they are things we chose. And we chose them for a reason, even if it is lost in the mists of time. We chose them because we thought they would make us happier. When you draw up this month’s budget, try to think about how much happiness each item on it will bring you – and decide if that is good value or not, to you.

Read How To Buy Happiness to get you in the mood, or listen to Michael Norton’s TED talk on the same subject. I will be back next week with a recipe for Humiliating Scones. How can you resist?

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!