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!

March 18

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Your Own Rhubarb Gin

Week 3 – March 18th, 2019

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

In fact, this is as good a time as any to remind yourself why you are reviewing your spending at all – and why storing all your receipts is a vital part of that process. Click here for more information. It is impossible to be truly in control of your own money if you don’t actually know where it is going so I consider these to be two of the most vital thrifty habits. At one point we even had a counter-top device for storing ours, split into categories. To be fair, this was not so much because we needed to be that thorough, as because we had found an old theatre ticket dispenser and needed an excuse to use it. The old ticket holders were just the right size for receipts and it looked lovely sitting in our kitchen. These days I keep them rammed into an old pencil case in a kitchen cupboard. And – quite honestly – some months I don’t even do that. I have been at this for so long that I can get through a month or two without watching it too tightly. If something changes in our circumstances though (moving house, changing job, major illness, going on holiday…) I get right back on it, because those are the times when our regular spending habits drift. When I find that our spending is unaccountably high one month I go right back to storing every receipt and reviewing our spending to pinpoint where our money is leaking from. If you are just setting out on your journey towards being thoroughly thrifty, don’t skip these ones!

This is also a good time to make rhubarb preserves, as pink stems unfurl vivid green leaves in forgotten corners of garden up and down the land. I have an enduring passion for rhubarb. In my childhood it was quite normal in springtime for children to be handed a cup of sugar and a stick of rhubarb as a sweet treat. We would dip the sharp rhubarb sticks in the sugar and then bite off the frosted stem tip – a divine mixture of sour and sweet that was wonderful on the taste-buds but terrible for teeth. It has been almost forty years since I last tried this, and my mouth is still watering just thinking about it. If you want a slightly more sophisticated (and long-lasting) way to enjoy sugary rhubarb, try turning it into jam with the River Cottage rhubarb jam recipe or make your own rhubarb gin with The Craft Gin Club’s recipe. It is incredibly easy to make and requires no cooking or specialist equipment. If you want something more savoury, try Delicious Magazine’s idiot-proof rhubarb chutney recipe.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on how to buy happiness.

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.

February 25

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Getting Back On Top

Week 4 – February 25th, 2019

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

How are your plans for a thrifty new year working out? I find January is usually an excellent month to start some new thrifty resolutions – any thriftiness at all seems like a stellar effort compared to the excesses of the previous month. Plus, sales shopping gives a certain thrifty veneer to spending more money, because it’s not really spending if it’s a bargain, is it. (Hmm…) And, given the state of most people’s bank balances in January, it’s not so much a lifestyle choice as a dire necessity. So a frugal new year seems entirely do-able in January.

February though… The shine has come off your new thriftiness – it is no longer an interesting challenge. And, with a new month’s pay in hand, it seems less urgent. You start to forget your new thrifty habits. But habits – thrifty ones included – thrive on repetition. The more often you repeat them, the more likely you are to keep on repeating them.

So, no pressure, but if you started out on a new journey to take control of your finances last month, this month was crucial. If you kept your new thrifty habits up through February then they will be well on their way to becoming second nature. If you did fall off the wagon though, dust yourself down and just hop straight back on this week by budgeting for next month. And remember to give yourself little treats to keep your morale up. Good Luck!

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!

February 3

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Budgeting Without The (Costume) Drama

Week 4 – January 28th, 2019

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

Congratulations – you have made it to the end of January. Did you make it on-budget? Or were you still in holiday-mode at the start of the month… and scrabbling to get back in control for the rest of the month? If you did, then you (and I) are not alone.

A monthly – or even weekly – budget is vital to staying on top of your finances. Planning what to spend and what to save is a serious business – but we shouldn’t take it too seriously. You don’t need the perfect system, or the most complex spreadsheet. You can start without the right app or the right qualifications or the right attitude. The important thing is just to start. Click here to find out What Downton Abbey Taught Me about budgeting without faffing.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and some heart-warming advice on how to make the most of dreary February evenings.

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!

January 7

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Spend Less Without Trying

Week 1 – January 7th, 2019

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

A Happy – and thrifty – New Year to you! Made any resolutions? Was spending less one of them? It’s a safe bet you and I are not alone in that. Most people start January with an uncomfortable amount of debt, or at least a niggling sense that their pre-Christmas spending got a little out of control.

worried gift-giverWhich is why right now is the perfect time to rethink your spending for next year – now when it is still 52 weeks away. Now when the memory of what went well this time is still fresh in your mind. Now, when the reality of your January bank balance is begging you to. Twenty minutes planning now could save you hundreds of pounds, and take most of the stress out of gift-shopping this year.

Click here to find out how to reduce your gift buying budget for next Christmas – in fact for the whole year – in five easy steps.

And if all that seems too much like hard work for now, why not spend this week giving yourself one gentle nudge each day towards spending less all year. Click here to find out how to Nudge Yourself Towards Spending Less In Only One Week.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and a look at whether or not you can save money by growing food – even in January.

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 24th, 2018

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 29

How To Stop Being A Payday Millionaire

What is a Payday Millionaire?

A millionaire doesn’t worry about whether or not she can afford to eat in that restaurant. She’s hungry, she likes this place so in she goes. When she sees a dress she likes she does not turn over the price tag and wince. She probably doesn’t turn over the price tag at all. She just buys three – one to keep at home and one to keep at each of her holiday houses.

A payday millionaire also spends without thinking about it – but only when she has just got paid. After a few days of joyful splurging, she reigns it in sharply and lives like a pauper for the rest of the month. Mainly because a few days as a pretend millionaire have left her with barely enough to get by…

Does this sound like you? It certainly sounds like me.

Why Does Payday Bring Out Our Inner Kardashians?

I can’t tell you why your spending goes stratospheric when you get paid but I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about why mine does. I think it comes down to five things.

  1. I want to play. I have been very grown-up and sensible and responsible with money for several weeks but now my inner child would like to come out to play. She wants to just run about without fear of consequences. She lives in the moment and at this precise moment she has plenty money!
  2. I want to reward myself. I have kept our finances afloat for another month and now I want some recognition for that. I deserve some recognition for that. So, emboldened by the reassuring number of pounds in my paycheck, off I go to treat myself.
  3. I want to relax. I feel like I have been in a permanent state of financial emergency for weeks and now that it’s over I just want to completely relax my guard and not have to think – carefully – about every spending decision. Actually, I don’t want to have to think at all about any spending decisions  – so I just don’t.
  4. I want to feel secure. More than anything, I want to feel like I have enough – more than enough, in fact. I want to feel like I am definitely not just one bad spending decision away from financial disaster. I want to feel that I can spend carelessly without any harm. I want to feel that it is safe, at last, for me to take my eye of our bottom line. And, for a few days, relaxing my guard does make me feel that way. It’s a good feeling. And then it’s not.
  5. I want to make things happen right now. The last few weeks I have been stopping things from happening. Expensive things. It feels pretty negative after a while. Now I want to inject fresh life into my wardrobe, or set up a little holiday or get Tiny Tartan a new bike, or organise a girls’ night out… I want to make things happen. I want to be the driving force. I don’t want to be the brakes. And spending on things I have held back from makes me feel like I am in the driving seat. Somewhere inside I know I am about to turn off the money again – but that makes the need to use money to make changes all the more urgent.

 

How do you fix it? I don’t know yet, but I suspect that recognising the need my payday splurges serve is the key. Because it is all about emotional need. Things we actually need in the real world (new tyres, a new work outfit, etc) go in the monthly budget. No, the splurging is about meeting my own internal needs. They are valid needs but splurging is not a sustainable way of dealing with them.  So my challenge for the next few months is to try to find other, non-spendy ways to meet those same needs.

At this point, I would love to give you a list of ways to stop being a payday millionaire. Hell, I’d love to give me that list. What I have at the moment is some vague ideas, slowly forming in my head, that I will refine and try out over the next few months. And then I will get back to you and tell you what worked for me – maybe it will work for you t00. What about you? If you have any ideas, please add them as a comment.

 

August 20

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

Week 4 – August 20th, 2018

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 6

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

Week 2 – August 6th, 2018

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

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 30

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Thrifty And Happy

Week 1 – July 30th, 2017

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.