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.

 

July 27

How To Budget, Part 3

Making A Budget And Sticking To It

So, you have worked out what your personal values are, the things it is important for you to spend money on. And you have worked at writing an honest budget, one that prioritises the things you value, covers the things you urgently have to pay for, and doesn’t go over what you actually have to spend. What next?

Your budget is just words and numbers on a screen/page/scrap of paper. It becomes real when you actually live it. Sounds obvious, right? But I know for a fact that I am not the only person to sail through the month with a budget somewhere that bears no relationship whatsoever to what I am actually spending. So once you know what you  are planning to spend you need strategies for making sure you stick to that.

Why Don’t I Have Enough Willpower To Stick To A Budget?

Willpower is not an effective strategy because you can only use it when you are paying attention to your spending –  sometimes you will be using your brain for other stuff while you spend. Plus, using willpower takes mental energy and that fluctuates wildly from day to day and even from hour to hour. So some of your spending will happen, inevitably, when your willpower is low. And willpower is needed for other things too – if you use it all up on your spending you are going to have less of it for other important areas of your life. No, you need something other than willpower to make sure you really live your budget. Here are the strategies that work for me – try them and see which work for you too.

Eight Easy Strategies To Help You Stick To Your Budget

  1. Write it down and put it somewhere you will see it every day. Whether it’s a sheet of paper stuck above your kitchen sink, or an app on your phone, make sure it is right in front of you at least once a day every day or you will lose track of it.  Do not just have a budget in your head. Your head is very good at conveniently mislaying your budget when it wants to go shopping.
  2. Link checking your budget to something else you do every day to trigger you to check it. Tuck it behind your bathroom mirror and check it whenever you brush your teeth. Or put it beside the cooker and check it over while you are stirring your evening meal. Or go over it when you are stuck in traffic on your daily commute… Tick off everything you spent money on that day and add the amount you spent.
  3. Keep it real. Budgets are an idea – they are not real money. Try to deal with real money as much as you can. Don’t use plastic unless you are very good at checking your balance daily. Lift hard cash and spend your budget that way. We are generally more realistic about how much we can spend when it is actual physical money.
  4. Tweak your budget as you go along. Your budget is just a prediction and sometimes your prediction of how much something will cost will turn out to be inaccurate. That’s OK as long as you make up the shortfall somewhere else in your budget. Make sure you adjust an area of your budget that can take it. If you have a bill to pay, you can’t spend less on that, but you could cut what you planned to spend on treats, for example.
  5. Never let other people run your budget. If your budget for outings is low don’t let a friend talk you into a pricey night out. If your food budget is running low don’t let your kids badger you into buying expensive treat food. Just keep coming back to what you planned to do with your money and stick to your guns.
  6. Hide your surplus. If you are hoping to have a surplus – even just a few pounds – by the end of the month, hide it away at the start of the month. Put it in a separate account or in a separate purse. You are less likely to spend it that way. If your budget doesn’t work out and you have to spend that money then you can easily get it. But you won’t just spend it without even noticing.
  7. Set aside spending money. By all means have money just for dipping into if you can afford it. But keep the money you can afford to spend without thinking about it in a totally separate place from the money you have budgeted for other things. If you don’t, you will start to treat all your money as pocket money and suddenly it will all have vanished. Trust me on this one – I have been there.
  8. Put money straight into separate savings accounts on pay-day. We have different accounts for long-term savings, short term things like holidays or Christmas, and an emergency fund. Sometimes the amount we are able to put into each is microscopic but putting money into these accounts right away makes sure that these few pounds were still there at the end of the month. I use standing orders to do this so I don’t even have to use a tiny amount of willpower to make myself do it.
May 28

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

Week 4 – May 28th, 2018

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 30

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

Week 5 – April 30th, 2018

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 23

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

Week 4 – April 23rd, 2018

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 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.