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!

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.

 

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.
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.