April 9

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

Week 2 – April 9th, 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.

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 27

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

Week 4 – March 26th, 2018

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!

February 26

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Getting Back On Top

Week 4 – February 26th, 2018

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 2018 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 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!

January 29

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

Week 4 – January 29th, 2018

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 8

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Spend Less Without Trying

Week 1 – January 8th, 2018

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 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!

April 24

How To Budget, Part 1

How To Budget – Laying Your Foundations

Budgeting is about making sure your money covers the things you really want it to cover, juggling various needs to make sure the things that really matter to you don’t get left out in the cold. So before you even begin to crunch the numbers, it is vital that you clarify what you really value. One reason budgets so often fall by the wayside is that they aren’t a true reflection of what we really want and need. We only really get behind something if it really matters to us. Imagine, for example, that you are budgeting for huge mortgage payments towards a beautiful home when what you really value is time with friends and family. Over time you find that coffees, meals out, weekends away, gifts, phone bills, and a whole heap of other “keeping in touch” costs eat into the money you budgeted for your mortgage.

Does that mean you are bad at sticking to a budget? Or does it mean that your budget did not reflect your real values? Remember that one of the Principles Of Thrifty Living is to Work With The Real Not The Ideal… A budget that reflects your true values is going to be a lot easier to stick with in the long run so it pays to start off by looking – realistically – at what your values are.

 

Getting Real Value For Money – Finding Out What Matters Most To You

Take time to sit with a pen and paper and list the things that matter most to you. Remember that values are ideas not items or spending areas. So don’t just list what you want/need to spend money on – for example, ‘rent’. Instead list what matters to you in life – for example, ‘freedom’, ‘family’, ‘flexibility’, ‘security’…  Any of these values might be met by paying rent but paying rent is not, in itself, of value to you. Ask yourself whether the thing you are about to write down serves a purpose or is an end in itself. For example, you might realise that ‘career success’ is not intrinsically valuable to you, but helps you get ‘social status’. In that case, ‘social status’ is what you really value – so that’s what you write down.

You can get more advice about discovering what you really value at www.mindtools.com and download a free Core Values Workbook at www.dawnbarclay.com. You may find that some of the things you are struggling to afford aren’t worth the money you spend on them. Once you know what you really value, keep thinking about whether you are really getting value – your value – for money as you draw up next month’s budget.

February 14

Being Thrifty When You Can’t Be Bothered

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New Page
This is the week to Preserve Something. Nature is not exactly bountiful in February so how about a big jar of Disgracefully Drunken Prunes? The ingredients are cheap, the effort minimal, and – if you leave them alone for months – the results are delicious. It’s also the week to dig out all your receipts and bank statements and find out how in control of your spending you are this month…

Staying Thrifty In February

How are your plans for a thrifty 2017 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. (Is it?) 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 fun. Or 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 is crucial. Keep your new thrifty habits up through February and by March they will be well on their way to becoming second nature. If you do fall off the wagon, just hop straight back on. And remember to give yourself little treats to keep your morale up. Good Luck!

 

July 18

One Week Of Thrifty Habits – Monday 18th July To Sunday 21st July

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Thrifty

Tartan Thrifty is all about getting into the habit of spending less without living less well. Some habits need to be carried out every day, some every week. Some only need to be carried out once a month – and, surprise, surprise, they are the hardest ones to keep up. To help with that you can find a wall-planner to help you keep on top of this week’s Thrifty Habits – the dailies, the weeklies and the ones that only come round once a month – here. Use it to plan when exactly you are going to carry out the Weekly and Monthly Habits.

Thrifty Things To Do This Week

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageIt’s almost the end of the month – which makes this time to Share Something and to Make A Budget for next month before you start spending next month’s money.

Take Control - Thrifty Principle No. 1Some people are naturals at making a budget (although not always at sticking to it…) Some of us need a little more support. If you find the whole idea of making up a budget completely baffling, then take a look at Creative Savings’ Beginners Guide To Budgeting. There you will find not just one helpful post on budgeting but a whole series. And an FAQ. Give it a look and see if it helps you to get next month’s spending on track now.

June 7

Thrifty Habits – Store Your Receipts & Review Your Spending

Why You Need To Do This

Work With The Real Not The IdealTake Control - Thrifty Principle No. 1These dull – but vital – Thrifty Habits are rooted in two of my Principles Of Thrifty Living – Take Control and Deal With The Real Not The Ideal. They give you data you can mine about your current spending habits and that data helps you take practical steps to control your spending. Without the hard evidence receipts give of your real spending habits, there is a danger that many of your attempts to be thrifty will be based on what you think you spend, not what you actually spend.

As a bonus, being able to provide hard evidence that your spending is going down each month gives you a huge morale boost. So keeping all your receipts and then reviewing them every month is a vital part of getting yourself into thriftier habits.

How To Use Your Receipts To Cut Your Spending

1backtoschoolteacher-graphicsfairy008bwStart by grouping your spends into broad categories – for example Food, Fun, Travel, etc. These are the areas you think you are spending on but your receipts might tell a different story, so leave space to add extra categories if you need them. Now make a note for each category of how much you think you spent on it this month. Don’t cheat by peeking at your receipts! This is going to help you spot the areas where your spending is least under your conscious control.

Pick one category – Travel, say – and go through each receipt looking for spending on just that category. Tally this up so you can see how much you spent this month on that category. Tick off each expenditure as you log it so you don’t accidentally double-count it. By the end of this process you should have a clear idea how much you are spending on each area.
Now compare these with your estimates. Were you spot on? A little out on a few? Wildly inaccurate? And how does each spend compare to what you could afford to spend on that area? Were there categories you didn’t even know you had spent on?

worried gift-giverThe gulf between your actual spending and what you thought you had spent tells you how much – or little – control you have over your spending in that area. You need to think about practical steps to help you notice how much you are spending on these areas when you are spending – shopping with only cash, for example.

If there is a gulf between what you are spending and what you can afford then you need to budget more tightly – and stick to it.

That all sounds very simple but the reality is that spending is more to do with human behaviour than with numbers on a spreadsheet – and behaviour is hard to change. That’s why this is a monthly Thrifty Habit not just a one-off. It takes time to start to get a picture of where your money is leaking away, even longer to figure out why you are letting it. But it is worth the effort.

What Do You Do With The Information From Your Receipts?

Take Control

Now that you have a clear and accurate picture of your recent spending history it’s time to decide what your spending future is going to look like. Go through your categories again and set yourself a spending maximum for each – make sure that all your max spends don’t add up to more than your monthly budget can bear. Make a note of the difference between your new spending target and last month’s spend for each category – this will tell you how much (if anything) you need to shave off your spending on that category.

 

Work With The Real Not The Ideal

retro lady fro www.thegraphicsfairy.comIs your revised budget a fantasy or will you really change your spending habits next month? If I have learned one lesson in all my attempts to live thriftily, it’s that good intentions often disappear if we don’t have a real plan for putting them into action. So, now you have a realistic picture of your spending habits, make sure that your plans to change them are equally realistic.

Look back over last month’s receipts and make concrete plans to change certain things. For example, if you want to spend less on Travel are you going to walk/cycle more? If you want to spend less on Food are you going to buy all own-brand next time? If you want to spend less on Clothes are you going to spend your lunch breaks reading a book rather than wandering round the shops?

Now, I am not going to pretend to you that this Thrifty Habit is fun – it’s really not – but I can tell you with total conviction that you cannot get your spending under control until you know how, where, when and why you are spending your money. And reviewing your spending each month is a vital step in that direction.