December 11

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Festive Family Fun For Free

Week 2 – December 11th, 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.

‘Tis the season to be jolly and ’tis the week to try out a new, free activity. But for maximum impact this month – don’t! Don’t do something new – try a cheap activity you have done at this time of the year before.

Why? Because if you don’t do something all the time but you always do it at this time then it becomes a Tradition. And Traditions are the lifeblood of Christmas.

When grown adults grow misty-eyed about Christmasses past it is almost always the things their family did every year that they recall – not the gifts they received. That’s very important if you are doing Christmas on a tight budget, because gifts cost but traditions don’t have to.

So do something festive and free this week. Gather cones and twigs and greenery to deck your halls. Or make DIY airdrying clay ornaments with cookie cutters. Or watch a festive film together. Or decorate the tree; or put out the lights and light the place with candles for one night; or make sweets; or…

Your family, your traditions – just make sure they are ones you will always be able to afford. That way, if Santa ever has to tighten his belt, you will still be able to do all the things that make Christmas Christmassy for you and yours. And when your little ones are all growed up, they will be able to recreate the Christmas they loved as children without spending a fortune. Click here for simple advice about keeping the cost of an outing down.

If you are making sweets, by the way, or if you have a stash of truffles in your freezer waiting to be coated in chocolate, now is the time to order in some packaging for them. Click here for more information.

 

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and some last-minute advice. Have fun!

 

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.

 

December 4

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Snowy Road And Other Sweet Stuff

Week 1 – December 4th, 2017

It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Put Cash In Marked Purses and Make Something

Make something? Is she mad? I can’t find time to eat or sleep at the moment…

How about a really easy make then? This is the perfect time to throw together a jar or two of Snowy Road Mix. If you have zero baking skills you can still assemble ingredients in a jar and if you have zero crafting skills you can still print out the label and cut it out.

Snowy Road makes a perfect hostess gift for a hostess with little helpers. It’s also a handy thing to have in the cupboard if you have to come up with a donation for the Cake And Candy stall at the Christmas Fayre. Pack it up with a cute mini-apron and some bake-ware and it is an easy kid’s gift. Click here for easy instructions and a downloadable label.

On the subject of sweet treats – if you are looking for budget stocking-fillers, click here to find out how to turn a single pic-n-mix into a whole bunch of sweet stocking fillers.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner and advice about thrifty festive outings.

 

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.

November 27

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Bag A (Nearly) Free Christmas Tree

Week 4 – November 27th, 2017

It’s the fourth week of the month: if you can make the time, Write a Budget and Share Something.

Do you love the nose-tickling smell of a real Christmas tree but hate the eye-watering cost? What if you could buy a nice, bushy tree for only a fiver?

Each year, Ikea more or less provides just that. The catch is that your tree will cost you £25 up front. For that you get a nice, traditional nordic spruce – and a £20 Ikea voucher to spend in the new year. There is a time-limit on when you can spend your voucher – not until the January sale is over – but if you will be spending money in Ikea in the next couple of months anyway, this is a steal.

Trees are in-store now. I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, instructions for Snowy Road kits and some sweet stocking-filler inspiration.

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!

November 20

Thrifty Things To Do This Week: Check Your Utility Bills, Chuck Out Some Toys And Drive More Cheaply

Extra Week  – November 20th, 2017

It’s the fourth week of a five week month – if you have the time, Take Stock and Tackle One Big Spend

I know, I know – it’s only five weeks to Christmas and the last thing you need is extra thrifty things to do. You are right. If you need this week to focus on staying on top of your festive spending then go ahead and do that instead. Or, you know… if you need this week to pour some mulled wine, watch It’s A  Wonderful Life and remind yourself that Christmas isn’t all about rabid commercialism then, frankly, no jury is going to convict you of crimes against thrift.

But if you do have a spare couple of hours, this is the perfect time of year to have a stock-check of your kids’ toys/games/etc. That way you clear space for the new things they will shortly be getting and rekindle their enthusiasm for some old things they had forgotten about in the meantime.

If you don’t fancy that, how about taking time to tackle the cost of your utility bills or of running your car? Click here to read about how I went on a journey into thrifty motoring only to discover the answer was in my own glovebox all along.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and advice on getting a real Christmas tree at a real 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.

 

November 13

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make-Ahead Chocolate Truffles And Stocking Fillers For Any Budget

Week 3 – November 13th, 2017

It’s the third week of the month: if you can make the time, Preserve Something and Review Your Spending

This is more the time of year for eating preserves than making them. But you can get ahead of your Christmas prepartions by preserving the centres of some decadent DIY chocolate truffles to give away. Spend half an hour melting, mixing and moulding this week and in December all you have to do is pop them out of the freezer, coat them in melted chocolate and in a few minutes you will have a bag of delicious truffles.

No freezer? You can still use the recipe in December but you will need to gift them right away. Cream truffles don’t keep for more than a few days.

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about how to make stockings part of a Merry Thriftmas and last week I pointed you in the direction of my Stocking Planner. The Stocking Planner is designed to fit budgets of  all sizes. To see how it can help with even a tiny budget, take a look at How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For Around A Fiver. No, it’s not easy – but it can be done.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner and thoughts on a pre-Christmas clear-out and cutting the cost of running a car.

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.

 

November 6

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Berries, Baking And Bulging Stockings

Week 2 – November 6th, 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.

Dreary November days are the perfect time for free family fun that doesn’t involve actually leaving the house. A kid-friendly home-baking session is an easy no-need-for-wellies family activity that also ticks Batch A Snack off this week’s list of Thrifty Habits. Try Chocolate Chip And Berry Cake, a recipe so easy even a small child can make it.

Once your kids have mastered the basic recipe, why not let them run amok in your cupboards and choose their own additions? As long as they stick to the same amount of flour, eggs, oil, sugar and yoghurt they can add anything else they like. They could add grated apple and cinnamon, or lemon zest or frozen berries or a mashed banana… They can even omit the sugar and add cheese, or olives, or sundried tomato pieces, or ham or….

Once you are all stuffed with cake, take time to think about stuffing stockings next month. (Yes, you only have a few weeks to go. No pressure.) How To Fill A Bulging Stocking Without Blowing Your Budget will help you to work out how to turn a small budget into big smiles on Christmas morning.

I will be back next week with a fresh Thrifty Habits Planner, and a simple way to make decadent chocolate truffles that will keep till Christmas.

 

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 30

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Start On Your Stocking Fillers

Week 1 – October 30th, 2017

It’s the first week of the month: if you can make the time, Put Cash In Marked Purses and Make Something

And, because Christmas is now less than two months away, what better thing to make than fillers for Christmas Stockings? Ah… Christmas Stockings. I love them so much I wrote a whole post about them – click here to read why I think they are an essential for every thrifty family. They are, after all, just the weekly habit of treating yourself taken to a slight extreme.

The cost can add up, though – alarmingly quickly. So why not make some of this year’s fillers yourself? Take a look at 5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers When You Have No DIY Skills to see how easy it is.

I will be back next week with a fresh thrifty habits planner, a snack recipe that is child’s play to make and some more advice to help you fill your kid’s stockings without emptying your bank account.

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.

June 29

Thrifty Things To Do This Summer

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 Summer

Thrifty Habits Planner April Week 1 - New PageThe Tartan Family are off on holiday for two weeks and I am taking the chance to have a wee holiday from Tartan Thrifty for the whole summer. Our builders moved out just before last Christmas, I went back to work just after Christmas, after 7 years of stay-at-home-parenting. Which means I now have a six-month backlog of DIY tasks to finish off the building project. Much as I would prefer to spend my summer tapping on my keyboard, I will be spending it sanding, painting, digging and tiling. Which isn’t such a bad swap, really.

I will be back in the autumn though, and I will still be updating the Thrifty Habits Planner each week. In the meantime, here are some ideas for a thrifty summer. Enjoy – the links and your summer! See you in August.

If You Only Do One Thrifty Thing This Summer…

Jam jars at the ready – this is THE time of the year to preserve something. A cupboard full of frugal jams means that snacks through the rest of the year can be as simple as toast or a pancake or a scone with jam. You can pimp it with clotted cream for the grown-ups, or you can leave the kids and their friends to help themselves to a round of toast with melted butter and sticky jam. Either way, it will be cheaper than buying pre-packaged sweet snacks.

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a visit to a pick-your-own fruit farm for cheap and fresh soft fruit. It ticks two thrifty boxes in one go – a free outdoor activity for the whole family and a cheap source of treats to see you through the winter. That and it’s a guaranteed way to get everyone to eat at least one of their five-a-day, for one day at least.

If you have a glut of home-grown soft fruit – or a generous friend with one – then your jam will be even cheaper. Just remember The Thrifty Preserving Rules to make sure your cheap treats stay that way.

What To Preserve This Summer

Gooseberries have been in full swing for a few weeks now but it’s not too late make some elegant Gooseberry Cheese. You could also try some Gooseberry Jam. It combines sharp flavour with deep sweetness and – for me – is second in the world of jammy things only to lemon curd. Use The Jam Labelizer to glam your jam with a designer label.

Strawberries are just coming into season, making this the perfect time to knock up a few jars of Strawberry Glam – a sweet, sparkly treat for the winter months. Then there are raspberries – perfect for jam but even better for Larder Love’s Raspberry And Chocolate Jam.

A little later in the summer you can pick blackcurrants and make a jam that tastes like Ribena and is delicious with scones and cream. But then, what isn’t?

If you really get into making preserves, you are going to need a reliable recipe book that will tell you immediately what to do with your freshly picked fruit. You can’t go wrong with Pam Corbin’s River Cottage Preserves. A wide variety of recipes, accurate and easy-to-follow instructions and a really useful introduction that tells you when all the fruits you might care to preserve are likely to be ripe – I wouldn’t be without it.

Whatever you preserve – hide it away for a bit. The flavour is better after a couple of months. Happy preserving!

 

 

June 21

What To Do When The Kids Want Branded Shoes And You Want To Stay On Budget

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 the third week of the month – time to Review Your Spending and to Preserve Something. Gooseberries should be about ready now, so why not try some (very easy) Gooseberry Cheese?

I am gearing up to do Shoe Battle with Tartan Boy again. Inconveniently, his feet keep growing and every time they do, we have a fight over whether or not shoes that are not the “right” brand will do. What can you do, when your kid wants branded shoes and you want to stay on budget?

What To Do When The Kids Want Branded Shoes And You Want To Stay On Budget

Tartan Boy and I are both – in different ways – fussy about shoes. I think it’s important that shoes look good AND feel good and don’t like paying for shoes that don’t tick both boxes. But my definition of good is based on how they look and feel to me. If the nice, comfortable shoe is also an Asda bargain I will have no qualms about buying it.

Tartan Boy also wants his shoes to look and feel good. He believes he looks good (and he feels good about this) when he is wearing one of the brands he and his peers have deemed acceptable. His definition of good is based on what he believes other people will think of his shoes. I have not read the minutes of the Teen Footwear Advisory Committee, or whichever secret adolescent agency it is makes these decisions, so I can’t see why Nikes are better than New Balance.

So we will set off to buy him new shoes. I will have every intention of insisting that we stick to a sensible budget for shoes that will be outgrown before they are worn out. He will have every intention of getting a cool brand. And we will reach a stalemate. Because he is not paying, and I am not getting it.

I Don’t Get The Whole Branded Shoes Thing

Nike astro-boots are a perfect example. They are made of sweat-inducing plastic, provide no support in the sole and yet cost as much as a quality school shoe because only Nike will do. (Allegedly.) I think a regular trainer supports his feet far better for sport and would not dream of running around in a shoe with so little cushioning myself. But a little bit of him dies inside when he has to play in anything other than ‘proper football shoes’.

And in spite of all my thrifty principles… I do understand. In a previous century, I too was a teenager and bound by the Geneva Convention On Cool Shoes to wear only what “people” thought were cool at the time. But I also get that this is a mug’s game – and that I am setting him up for a lifetime of slavishly buying brands just because”‘people” say they are better. Then again, I also think wearing the right gear boosts his confidence in himself as a ‘real’ footballer and improves his enjoyment of his sport. So where can we compromise?

My Three Secrets Of Sane Shoe Shopping

Over the past year we have – finally – come to an understanding on shoe shopping.

  1. I stick to my guns about quality – if the shoe is badly constructed and is not going to protect his feet I don’t care what label is on it. He has, over the years, accepted defeat on this.
  2. I, likewise, have accepted defeat in his love of brands but I have not accepted that this should be at my expense. I set a realistic budget and if his choice of shoe is more than this he makes up the difference from his own money. I am counting on this eventually making him wonder if he couldn’t be getting something better for that money than a production-line logo on his shoes. In the meantime, he feels like he has some control over what he wears and I am relieved of the burden of putting my (non-branded) foot down.
  3. I have taught him to check budget outlets for big brands at bargain prices. It’s amazing how much less a shoe in last season’s colours costs than the same shoe in this season’s  new hues.

I have failed completely to teach him that slavish brand-buying is a mug’s game but I am delighted to say he has learned how to get what he wants without paying more than he has to. He is becoming pretty skilled at finding the design he wants at the price he can afford. I am happy that he is wearing a supportive shoe on my budget. He is happy that he has shoes he considers cool – even if he had to chip in to the cost, or put in time shopping around for a bargain.

But, still, every time he tells me his shoes are getting too small I gear myself up for a fight… Old habits, like old shoes, die hard.

May 29

How To Budget, Part 2

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 the final week of the month – time to Make A Budget for next month and to Share Something. Last month I wrote about how to clarify your values before you even start deciding how to spend your money. This month it’s time to look at how to go about drawing up your budget.

Last year I had a moment of clarity while watching Downton Abbey… I realised that you don’t need fancy tech to help you manage your budget: you need honesty. Honesty and simple arithmetic are the keys that let you lock down your budget.

The arithmetic part is easiest – add up what you need to spend, subtract it from what you have to spend and, if there is anything left over, spend it on what you want to buy. Simple. The honesty part is trickier – we all struggle to work with the real sometimes. But it is important to train yourself to be honest because, if you don’t, your finances will spiral out of control, leaving you wondering where you went wrong.

 

How To Write An Honest Budget

  1. Work out exactly how much you have to spend this month – don’t settle for a ballpark figure or an optomistic guess!
  2. Make two lists: a list of all the things you want to spend money on and a list of all the things you need to spend money on. Be honest about how necessary each item on this list is. Does it fit with your values? Does it have to be paid this month or can it wait? Will there be dire consequences (like having no food, or your electricity being cut off, or your credit rating plummeting) if you don’t pay it? Push yourself to be honest about the difference between needing and wanting to spend money. When you are done, look again at your values and check there is nothing that matters to you missing from either of your lists.
  3. Now try to get as accurate a figure as you can of how much each item on each list will cost you. Add up the Needs. Subtract the total cost of your Needs from the amount you have to spend this month. If you have enough to pay for your Needs – breathe a sigh of relief. If you have more than enough to cover your Needs – do a little dance to celebrate because that means you can also spend on some of the things on your Want list. Don’t have enough to cover your Needs? Well…

What To Do When The Numbers Don’t Add Up

First of all, congratulate yourself – you have found out now, before you spent anything, rather than at the end of the month when you have already overspent. You are ahead of the game. Don’t waste that by burying your head in the sand and telling yourself it will all work out somehow. Go back to your Needs list and start shopping around to see if you can get anything on that list for less. For example, could you get a cheaper tariff from your energy supplier? Could you reduce your supermarket spend by shopping in a cheaper supermarket or buying only own-brand? Could you take the kids on free outings this month instead of spending on softplay/cinema trips/etc.? Will second hand or borrowed do for some items on your list?

If that’s not enough to bring your Needs in line with your income, prioritise your list – what items are most urgent? Shift anything that does not have to be paid this month to the top of your Wants list.

If that still doesn’t bring your Needs in line with your income, consider adjusting your income – can you sell anything on Ebay or at a car boot sale to raise a little extra money? Have you got savings you can dip into this month? Does anyone owe you money?

What To Do When Drawing Up A Budget Seems Too Miserable An Experience

I have been there, and I know the stomach-churning feeling of seeing how little of your Needs will be covered by your income. But I also know that facing up to that, honestly, is the first step towards changing it. Do your budget in short, 15 minute bursts if that is all you can bear. Stick on music, do it in the advert breaks of your favourite show, promise yourself a (cheap!) treat at the end of it. Do whatever it takes to get it done – but do get it done.