September 17

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Free Food From The Urban Hedgerow

Week 3 – September 17th, 2018

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending. If you only preserve one thing this month, make it Mulled Apple Jelly – sweet, sharp and spicy, it is delicious with sweet and savoury food, making it the perfect all-rounder.

Product DetailsI bought this beautiful book (full price – my secret shame) when I was a student. It took me to a time when ladies kept house with an iron hand. A time when herbal remedies and secret recipes were passed from mother to daughter like family heirlooms. A time when still-rooms and store-cupboards secured survival and pleasure for whole households. A kind of Poldark of the kitchen.

An odd choice for a twentieth-century twenty-something, studying at a city-centre university, don’t you think? Nowadays we don’t need home remedies, hand-made preserves, or DIY cleaning products anymore – we have supermarkets not still-rooms for all that. And – romantic as the notion of gathering in and storing the harvest seemed as I read the book – it was hardly something a city girl like me had the option of doing. Cities don’t have hedgerows bursting with free fruit, do they? Cities have shops.

Sloe Gin And Beeswax” is still on my bookshelves, and I still dip into it for useful advice and sheer escapism from time to time. It is a lovely book and I would still recommend it if you can find a copy – it has been out of print for a while. But since I first read it I have discovered that cities do, in fact, grow free fruit. I have picked all sorts of fruits, completely free, without leaving the city – sometimes without even leaving my local area. For more information about how to plunder the city’s food supplies, read The Urban Forager.

 

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, and advice about finding ‘free’ food in your very own kitchen.

September 10

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Digging Some Spring Colour And Dogs In Duvets

Week 2 – September 10th, 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.

Yes, it is Autumn – a time for picking, not for planting. (On that note, free outings don’t come more wholesome than foraging in the fresh outdoors for free fruit – take along some Dogs In Duvets for lunch and it’s a picnic too.)

But it’s not too late to plant bulbs – in fact, this is the perfect time to do it. Right now all the usual bargain outlets (Aldi, Lidl, Home Bargains, etc) are stocked with cheap nets of daffodils, tulips, crocuses, etc. Granted, they don’t offer the wide variety you will get in a big nursery or DIY store. But, in my experience, they grow just as reliably as pricier offerings. Check out mail order suppliers too – they often have great bulk offers, handy if you have a lot of ground to cover.

An afternoon digging in the autumn sunshine now could see you enjoying bright colour in the dullest months of the year. And if you plant some indoors you could even have them flowering in time for Christmas for you to enjoy or give away. Pots of colour, for only a couple of pounds.

 

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, a recipe for Mulled Apple Jelly and some tips on urban foraging. In the meantime, enjoy digging and picking and eating delicious Dogs In Duvets.

July 9

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Pick Your Own Fruit Without Getting Stung

Week 2 – July 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.

Preserving something is not one of this week’s habits and yet… It is July – the month when nature bombards you with soft fruit, ripe and ready for eating and preserving. If I only recommended preserving things for one week of the month you might blink and miss it all. So let me just mention that this is the perfect week to take advantage of someone else growing something and try an almost free family activity – visiting a PYO fruit farm.

I have been picking farmed fruit since my own childhood and it tickles me now to watch my own children enjoying the same activity. It also tickles me to see them not staring at screens for a couple of hours. So does seeing them willingly eating several of their five-a-day in one go. And it tickles me to get cheap fruit for preserving. Although this amount of tickling on a tummy full of brightly-coloured fruit is probably asking for trouble.

So – fruit farms are a Thrifty Thing but it is possible to turn them into a waste of money. Read 5 Things I Learned The About Getting Your Money’s Worth At PYO Farms to find out how to make sure you don’t come away with a full tum but empty pockets.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, ideas for preserving blackcurrants and fingers stained pink from picking too many raspberries.

 

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.

 

May 14

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Outdoors And Grow Some Food

Week 2 – May 14th, 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.

When we moved into our current home we left behind two large gardens on which I had lavished new plants and a lot of love. Our new home had a garden three metres wide that featured concrete slabs broken up by pebbles mulching a single bed. It was not a promising start to a new eden. A sensible home-owner would have popped in some spring bulbs in pots and maybe a garden ornament and left it at that. I decided instead – because moving house with a change-resistant two year old wasn’t complicating my life enough – to dig the entire thing up and start over. And because that also wasn’t complicated enough, I decided to turn it into a forest garden. Yes, that is a thing. Follow the link to read the second installment of how I turned a concrete jungle into a tiny urban forest garden. If you are looking for a big Grow Something project this month, or a way to turn your existing garden into an ultra-low-maintenance, food-producing paradise, this could be just what you are looking for. If you are not… go to your nearest garden centre and buy some potted herbs. They are always useful and grow anywhere you can catch some sunshine.

If you want to get out in the sunshine (or, you know, just out) this week, take a look at Hands On As We Grow’s post on DIY land art. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s creative and it’s outdoors – what’s not to love? And if the sun is not smiling on you this week… take the kids to the movies. It’s educational (it teaches them how to behave in public places), guarantees you over an hour of sitting in the dark not answering questions or adjudicating sibling fights, and, if you do it right, does not need to cost much. Click here to read How To Go To The Cinema For Almost Nothing.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and ideas for making the most of gooseberries and (free!) elderflowers.

 

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 12

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Get Your Money’s Worth From Your Council Tax

Week 2 – March 12th, 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.

When I first began Tartan Thrifty I wanted to give myself a system that made sure I used all the strategies that had helped me save money in the past, all the time. I spent ages listing everything we had ever found useful, and deciding what made the cut, what didn’t, and how often each strategy needed to be used. And that’s how the Thrifty Habits were born. This week’s habit – Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity – was not on the list. Largely because most of my thriftier lifestyle choices had been embraced before I was a parent and understood the vital necessity of having an arsenal of affordable activities up your sleeve if you are to avoid being shanghaied into spending your entire month’s food budget on one outing to a soft-play centre just because the kids were clamouring and you didn’t have a better idea.

I wanted to develop some better ideas.

The only problem was… the month I first introduced this habit to our routine, we had zero fun money. Whatever we did had to be completely free. And that’s when it dawned on me that, maybe, we were already paying for something the kids could do through our Council Tax. I like getting the benefit of what we have already paid for only a tiny bit less than I enjoy getting something for free, so I looked it up. You can find out how much of an eye-opener this was in Getting Thrifty With The Council Tax. Since then we have enjoyed hundreds of days out that we were paying for anyway.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and some ideas for preserving rhubarb. I have never preserved rhubarb: if I have rhubarb, I want it in a crumble and I want it now. So I am hoping next week’s post will finally  make me develop some self control…

 

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.

 

January 15

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Gimme Some Hygge

  • Week 2 – January 15th, 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.

‘Tis the season to be snuggly. The weather is not inviting,  so why not make like the Danes with their hygge and get cosy indoors?

Hygge involves actively creating a comforting environ-ment in which to sit out winter. Just turning up the central heating doesn’t cut it. You need snuggly throws, wholesome food, good company… and warm, twinkly lighting. A log fire is, of course, the gold standard, but keeping out your festive fairy lights would help too. And there are always scented candles – twinkly lights and comforting aromas in one swoop. You could descend on Ikea for cheap tealights. Or, you could get your cosy on  by creating your own. That way you get to be on-trend and on-budget. Have a go at my Teeny Tiny Teacup Candles or Luxury Scented Candles.

Wax melts at a fairly low temperature, making this a child-friendly activity. Make candles with the kids and that’s you nailed hygge and a new, cheap family activity without actually leaving the house.

(If you want to read a less cosy take on hygge, read The Hygge Conspiracy by Charlotte Higgins.)

It is way too early in the year to do any gardening but the perfect time to start planning how to save money by growing your own when spring comes around. Click here to find out how to save money – and avoid wasting it – in the garden this year.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on how to make preserving work for your purse.

 

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.

 

October 9

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Do Something Wild

Week 2 – October 9th, 2017

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

The foraging season is almost over so if you are stuck for a free family activity to try this week, take the kids outdoors to pick brambles. (That’s blackberries if you live outside of Scotland.) I have very fond memories of doing this with my grandpa in my childhood. You can read everything he taught me about brambling with kids in Grandpa’s Guide To Bringing Home The Brambles.

As well as gathering brambles you could take time to pick up beech nuts, pine cones, conkers, twigs,etc. Once home pile them into jam jars, vases, bowl – whatever you have to hand. More seasonal than flowers and completely free. If you want the conkers to keep their shine try buffing them with vegetable oil on a square of kitchen roll.

For more ideas to help you go wild outside, take a look at The Wild City Book, packed with ideas to turn time outdoors into an adventure, or a science experiment, or an art workshop…

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner,

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.

 

October 9

Grandpa’s Guide To Bringing Home The Brambles

When I was a child we spent a week each autumn in a caravan in the countryside. No electricity! no central heating!! No tv!!! No wifi!!!  Evenings spent playing board games; the soft hiss of gas lamps being lit as evening fell; beds still water-bottle-warm in the mornings as ice-crystals formed on the inside of the windows…

In spite of conditions that make Tartan Boy look at me with a mixture of horror, pity and incomprehension they were happy holidays. As kids, we looked forward to doing things that were different from our usual lives but still reassuringly familiar, because we did them each year. One of our favourites, enjoyed most days, was brambling with Grandpa. Grandpa is long-gone, sadly, but his approach to taking children fruit-picking stays with me. Here are the three wisest tips I learned from him.

  1. Kids need a reason – chat on the way about what you are going to do with your brambles when you get home. Make bramble jelly? Bake a bramble pie? Knock together a bramble and apple crumble? If that’s too far away to motivate them then offer a small reward for filling their containers. Most kids will do anything for a fun-size mars bar.
  2. Children need a quick win – don’t take big tubs for them to fill slowly. Grandpa used to collect empty food cans, drill two holes near the top and thread string through to make a long handle. Looped over a child’s head the cans hung at chest height, leaving our little hands free to pick fruit and pop it in the cans.The cans filled quickly, we felt proud of the speed with which we had reached the top and that spurred us on to fill another. Grandpa meanwhile tipped each full can into a big tupperware box. If drilling holes in cans sounds like too much work for a short brambling expedition, try dishing out small tupperware boxes for your kids to bring back to the mother ship.
  3. Children get bored quite quickly – don’t chivvy them to keep picking once they get restless. Move on – there will probably be a new patch of brambles not far away and they can attack that one with renewed enthusiasm. Or let them climb some trees, or play hide and seek, or sit down and have a snack… If none of that works, it’s time to call it a day and go home to eat your brambles.
May 9

Five Principles Of Thrifty Living #4 Be Joyful And Generous Not Miserly And Miserable

Why Do You Want To Be Thrifty?

 

retro lady fro www.thegraphicsfairy.comAre you reducing spending so you can avoid debt – and avoiding debt because debt makes you miserable? Maybe you want to cut spending on some areas so that you can keep your money for the things that make you smile. Or do you just want to kick that anxious feeling that gnaws at you for the last two weeks of every month? Whatever your reasons – it’s a safe bet you are hoping that a thriftier life will be a happier one.

Saving our finances should never cost us our souls

But what if the process of reducing your spending makes you miserable? What if it turns out that you hate permanent self-denial, feel bad about exploiting other people/other creatures/the planet for a bargain and hate the drudgery of constantly cutting costs? What if, in pursuit of living cheaply you become…  cheap?

What if the whole process turns out to be soul-destroying? Saving our finances should never cost us our souls.

Saving Money Without Selling Your Soul

Four of the five Principles Of Thrifty Living are about spending less. This one is different. It’s about exercising some choice over how you save money so you avoid the trap of putting your finances ahead of your wellbeing and your values.

Choose Joy Over Misery

RetroNewYearsGraphicsFairyFrugality has enormous potential to make us miserable – not least because focussing most of your time and attention on money is never terribly healthy. And cost-cutting that also cuts all the pleasure out of life is a waste of effort – we humans rapidly lose interest in doing things that make us miserable and stop doing them. (That’s why gym memberships when you hate going to the gym are always a doomed purchase.) If you want to make thrifty living an effortless habit you also have to find ways of making it a joy – or you will effortlessly fall into the habit of not bothering.

Click here for this week's free Thrifty Habits Planner
Click here for this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner

So find ways of saving money that also enrich your life. Grow some of your own food and enjoy a connection with the natural world. Make something you would otherwise buy and enjoy the glow of getting creative. Try a new free or cheap activity every so often and savour the variety in your life. Team up with other thrifters – in real life or online – and enjoy the company as well as the advice you get. Take time to applaud your own thriftiness – everything you do to cut your costs shows that you are resourceful, smart and determined so big yourself up for it.  Hold onto your values and do thrifty in a way that still lets you do you.

Choose Generosity Over Miserliness

The thrift that does not make a man charitable sours into avarice. [M.W. Harrison]

When you don’t have much there are two ways you can go. You can take the miser’s route – focus on what you don’t have and hold tightly onto what you do. Or you can take the generous way – focus on what you do have and use it to make yourself and others feel good. Being a miser may result in more money but it won’t make you rich where it really counts.

Tartan Thrifty Be Joyful And GenerousSo share what you can with other people, and take heart from the research suggesting that people who share their money feel happier than people who don’t. Don’t exploit other people to get the lowest price. Don’t exploit yourself either – by overloading yourself with budget-busting tasks or by endless self-denial. Be kind to yourself – buy yourself a little treat now and again. Don’t just set yourself savings goals – set yourself spending goals to focus on what your money is going to do for you. Find a balance between being careful with your money and being Scrooge.

Getting that balance right is the key to developing thrifty habits for the long-haul that truly make your life better.

Getting Into The Habit Of Being Joyfully And Generously Thrifty

These weekly, monthly and annual habits are the ones to get into if you want to embrace joyful generosity and avoid miserly misery.

Each week

  • how to buy happinessBuy yourself a little treat to keep your morale up

Each month

  • Share Something so your own thrifty journey does not stop you from connecting with other people on theirs
  • Grow Something  so you get food in a way that lowers your costs while raising your pleasure
  • Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity so that avoiding more expensive outings does not become boring

Each year

  • Set Savings Goals to remind yourself why you are trying to cut back your spending
  • Set Spending Goals so you are clear what your money will be doing for you over the next twelve months
April 11

Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity

 Frugal And Fun Or Miserable And Mean?

RetroNewYearsGraphicsFairyIt’s the week to Grow Something and to Try A New Free Or Cheap Activity. (If you have never grown anything before you can sprinkle some cress seeds on a wet tissue and tick both boxes, I guess.) Thrift can be fun – it requires you to be resourceful and creative and that makes you feel good about yourself. But thrifty living can also come to feel relentless, dull and restrictive. It’s the difference between a hobby and a job, between something you dip into when the fancy takes you and something you have to do, however you feel about it today.

Thrift can make you miserable and mean – so it’s important to take steps to make sure it doesn’t. This is why one of my guiding principles is to Be Joyful And Generous, Not Miserly And Miserable. For me, it’s not enough simply to stay out of the red – I want our thrifty lives to be happy ones. Not least because, if thrifty living makes you unhappy, you will start to live less thriftily.

 

Do Something!

how to buy happinessOne way of avoiding financial misery is to find stuff you can get cheaply or even for free. These bargains are the mainstay of many a thrifty home. But when I was researching how to spend our money to max our Happy, one of the things I learned is that doing things makes us happier than having things. In other words, we would boost our happiness more by finding stuff we can do cheaply or even for free.

Which is why one of my Thrifty Habits is to try a new free or cheap activity together each month. Now, I am not suggesting that you limit yourselves to just one outing a month to save money here – quite the opposite. What I am urging you to do is make a point of mixing things up a little by trying something different each month. I am inviting you to find as many different ways as you can to have fun for free – or as near to free as you can. That way you will never be cooped up at home on a rainy Saturday with restless kids, wishing you could afford to go out and do something. Instead you will have a whole list of tried and tested, on-budget options to choose from.

 

Experiments In Frugal Fun

It took me a while to get on board with this habit – when I spend money I want something tangible in return that I can keep. Throwing it away on activities that finished in a matter of hours seemed the opposite of thrifty. But I took a long shot on this one and have been truly surprised by the result. Thanks to this Thrifty Habit the Tartan Family have tried lots of outings without much outlay. Some of them have become regular activities on which we now spend money. Some have remained free or cheap activities that we can fall back on when we are bored and broke. Some were a fun one-off that was not for us – but we still enjoyed trying something new. And these experiences have remained with us as happy memories. All these experiments in frugal fun have kept up our morale in money-less months. Variety and activity do make for happy thrifters, it turns out.

Retro-Camping-Image-GraphicsFairy-320x320Our experiences have convinced me of the importance of this habit but in case you are unconvinced, here is an actual expert explanation of The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things. If you do decide to try out a new free or cheap activity, why not come back and add a comment about it – I would love to be inspired by your thrifty outings.