April 16

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

Week 3 – April 16th, 2018

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 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 20

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

Week 3 – March 19th, 2018

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.

 

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!

 

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.