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.

May 1

Thrifty Things To Do This Week – Make Something New With Old Jeans

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 first week of a new month – time to Put Cash In Purses before you start spending, and to Make Something. This month I am planning to make something new with old jeans. Why? Firstly because it will justify the big stack of little pairs of denim trousers I have failed to throw out over 13 years of motherhood. Somehow I managed to discard most of my babies’ clothing, but the jeans… ah, the jeans were too cute not to keep.

A beach-ready tote made from the legs of old jeans from Christie Chase Blogs

I blame my mother. When I was 7 she turned a pair of my outgrown jeans into a cute little duffel bag for me. I was hugely impressed by this transformation and used it with pride for several years. When Tiny Tartan outgrew his first pair of jeans, some forgotten bit of my brain kicked in and decided to turn them into a tiny toddler tote and some matching bean bags. He carried the tote, filled with little toys, crayons and colouring books everywhere we went for three years and was always able to entertain himself with the contents.

Another bit of my brain kicked in too – the thrifty bit. I would have paid for a little backpack in a shop for Tiny Tartan but jeans you are about to bin are FREE! Up-cycling his jeans was not just a satisfying way to hold onto a particularly cute garment, it was a way to save money. What’s not to love about that? And so here I am, 5 years and many saved jeans later and I finally have time to do something with them. Which is, basically an excuse to spend hours on Pinterest. If there’s one thing I love more than actually getting on with making something, it’s trawling through pictures of things I might make. If you want some up-cycling inspiration for your own jeans-stack, have a look at my Make Something board on Pinterest. Enjoy!

 

April 3

Feed Your Family For Free In Ikea This Easter

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 first week of a new month which makes it the best time to put all the cash you are going to spend this month into individual, clearly marked purses/wallets before you start spending it. It’s also the perfect time to Make Something. What I am making, mainly, is a mess. We had builders in for major moving around of walls last winter and we are still finishing the place off. This weekend’s project was fitting out our newly built-in wardrobe. At the moment, this means having all the boxes that were ine the wardrobe, out of the wardrobe and all over everything. In spite of the mess, after months of dressing out of an assortment of boxes and a rickety rail, I am very very excited. As I type this, Tartan Dad is in Ikea buying more Algot brackets.

Speaking of Ikea…

Free Food In Ikea

Ikea are running their “All The Furniture You Can Eat” deal over the next couple of weeks in selected stores. You don’t actually have to eat any furniture (phew!). But if you and yours eat heartily in the restaurant, on a weekday, after 4:30pm and then buy furnishings in store, flashing your Family Card as you do and handing over your restaurant receipt, Ikea will deduct your entire cafe bill from the price of your furnishings. Yes, you read that right. Mountains of meatballs for free.

Obviously, this is only worth doing if you have already budgeted to spend money on furnishings. Furnishings, by the way, does not apply solely to actual furniture. And if your food bill comes to more than your furnishings bill it’s not such a bargain – so do your homework first and work out how much you are going to spend. It’s also worth checking your items are in-stock when you arrive so you don’t get a nasty surprise after eating.

If you were planning to buy some cushions anyway, and it’s pouring, and you want to get the kids out the house, take them to your nearest Ikea Restaurant, let them have a bit of fun in the play area there, then go do your shopping and get the cost of their dinner deducted. They get meatballs, you get a night off from cooking – everybody goes home happy.

Check that your local store is participating –  click here for terms and conditions and a list of stores that are not participating. And note that this offer is only available to Ikea Family Card holders. The card is free. You can sign up in-store or online, and it’s well worth having – free coffees, cheap meal deals all year, money off everything from cushions to candelabras, and the free-gift-receipt-swipe, which is coming back at the end of the month.

I would be failing in my thrifty mission if I didn’t remind you – sternly – that this is only a good deal if you actually need to spend more than the cost of a meal on furnishings. And if you I didn’t urge you to take a list to avoid getting sucked into extra purchases (been there, many times…) The deal is on until April 14th. Happy eating!

UPDATE – I have now tried this for myself and it worked! Four of us had a filling meal each and got £25 off our purchases. Which went down very nicely, thank-you.

March 22

How To Get A £100 School Blazer For Only £10

How Much Is Too Much For A School Blazer?

How much do you spend on school uniform? When the Tartan Kids both started at a new school last year I was taken aback to find that their blazers alone were going to cost from £65 to £100 each. Too much for a thrifty mama – even if both boys would get the use of some of them eventually.

 

So we explored second hand blazers and found that it was entirely possible to get a £100 blazer for under £10. I have been picking them up in different sizes whenever I see them and now have ten (and counting) good-as-new blazers ready for wear as the boys grow. The best part? Each blazer cost me no more than a tenner. Interested? Here’s how you do it.

Ten Pound Blazer, Five Easy Steps

  1. Pick your second hand outlet. There are many online sources but I have found it much cheaper to use local jumble sales and school fayres/uniform sales. These need to sell everything in a matter of hours so prices are low, making it easy to pick up blazers for under a fiver. The downside? They usually look pretty tatty – which is why the next step is important.
  2. It’s easy to pick up blazers for under a fiver

    Check each blazer over to decide if it’s worth buying. Are stains on the surface or soaked in? Soaked-in stains are unlikely to shift but surface ones can be easily removed by dry cleaning. Are the button holes unravelling;  cuffs fraying;  collars and elbows wearing thin? If the answer to any of these is yes, put the blazer down and move onto the next one.  Are the pockets coming adrift? If you are confident of your hand-sewing, (and can find the time) you may be able to mend these – if not, put that blazer down.
  3. Take your blazers to the dry cleaner. If you wait until you have several, you may get a cheaper deal.
  4. Brand new buttons create a good-as-new blazer from a second-hand bargain

    Replace the buttons – this is the only laborious part of the process, but it is essential because dry cleaning makes buttons look worn. Brand new buttons create a good-as-new blazer from a second-hand bargain. It’s worth bulk-buying replacement buttons – I got mine from Amazon – so you always have enough to make a freshly purchased blazer look good as new. Measure the diameter of the existing buttons to work out which size of button to order.
  5. Remove or cover up any name tags so that the blazer doesn’t return to it’s previous owner by mistake. Add your own. If you are planning to hand blazers down to younger children, get name tapes made up by your surname – that way the tag will be right for whichever one of your children is currently wearing the blazer.

If you have a good memory, you are done. Store your blazers until they are needed. If (like me) you have a memory like a sieve, keep a list somewhere of the sizes you have and the sizes you need. That way you will always know, when you spot a second-hand blazer, whether it’s a bargain you need or an expense you don’t.

 

 

March 13

Artisanal Preserves At Aldi Prices

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

It’s the third week of the month – time to Review Your Spending and to Preserve Something.  Have you ever made jam, or jelly? Chucked together a chutney? Slung sloes and sugar into gin? Or can you see no reason to bother? Traditionally, preserving was about making a seasonal glut last through leaner times without a fridge or freezer. Today, preserving is still about taking advantage of things when they are freely available – or even available free. What could be more thrifty than that?

strawberry glam jarsIn my case, I got into the habit of preserving as an attempt to supply Tartan Towers with frugal treats – artisanal preserves at Aldi prices. Something nice for (almost) nothing. I figured that, if life gives you lemons, you might as well make lemon curd. And, in a year of trying to preserve some cheap fruit and veg each month I learned that, as long as I followed The Thrifty Preserving Rules, I could have jam tomorrow for pennies today.

 
Want to try it for yourself? This is the perfect time to start thinking about it. Granted, there is not much freely available at the very end of winter/start of spring, but that makes this the perfect time to get all your supplies ready for a year of frugal preserving. That way, when you get cheap strawberries at a pick-your-own farm you can turn them into Strawberry Glam right away.

 
I have been known in the past to throw fruit out, mouldy and un-preserved, because I never did source enough jam jars. Don’t be like me: be organised instead, and start stock-piling jars now for re-use. A good wash in hot soapy water disinfects them thoroughly enough but it’s best to use fresh lids. These are usually a standard size and easy to buy. Alternatively, use wax disks and cellophane tops fastened with a rubber band. These form an airtight seal which stops your preserves going off and are much cheaper than buying new lids. Once you open them, though, you can’t reseal the jar.

Whichever you choose, the time to buy them is now. That way, you won’t have to dash out to the nearest (and inevitably most expensive) supplier mid-jam-session next July.The Thrifty Preserving Rules

March 6

Free Family Fun

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

It’s the second week of the month – time to Grow Something and to Try A New Free Activity. Exploring new free activities lets you increase the number of options you have for days when the kids (or you) need entertaining but you have nothing left in the kitty to cover it. It’s also just fun to try something new every so often. So, since the (alleged) arrival of spring is upon us, how about the grandmammy of all free activities – a walk outdoors?

 

Now, I am always swept away by a tidal wave of indifference from my kids when I suggest a walk. But we have found that the simple offer of a clipboard and a printed checklist of things to watch out for motivates them. Or at least distracts them from moaning…

Buggy And Buddy have made it very simple by picking out 30 free printable scavenger hunts for you to download and take along but a quick search for “printable scavenger hunt” on Pinterest  will give you plenty of other options. You can have a lot of fun making your own too – or letting the kids make up one for the grown-ups.

On a practical note, a clipboard for each child stops fights breaking out over who holds the sheet and a cheap propelling pencil means no sharpening and nobody coming home with an inky moustache. Clipboards can be as simple as the back of a cereal box taped to your printed scavenger hunt – making this a truly free activity. Happy hunting!

 

February 20

Simply, Slurpily Thrifty

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 PageThis week’s monthly habits are to Budget and to Share Something. If you are new to budgetting and wondering how difficult it will be take a look at What Downton Abbey Taught Me About Thrifty Habits.

Make Soup

I like a thrifty habit that requires minimum effort but delivers real savings. Here’s one so simple you might never even have thought of it: make soup. Soup fills you up very cheaply – which means you can reduce the size (and cost) of your main meal simply by serving soup as a starter, or reduce the size of your lunchtime sandwich by serving a flask of soup on the side. Our grannies knew this – how did we forget?

Making soup doesn’t even have to take time or effort. Tip some frozen veg into a slow-cooker in the morning, add water and a stock cube, switch it on and then forget all about it. By dinner time you have a steaming pot of delicious vegetable soup. It cuts the cost of your main meal – in fact, add bread and cheese and it is your main meal – and it provides an extra one of your five-a-day. What’s not to like?

It doesn’t even have to be a daily thing – just making one pot of soup each week will lower your grocery bills. If you make a big enough pot you can eat it over several days – perhaps as a good, thick main meal on the first day, thinned down on the second day as a starter, and then with a sandwich for lunch the third day. Or with cornbread. Or a cheese scone. Or…
And the best part? It’s a great introduction to cooking your own food if that’s new to you. Soup is all about texture and flavour. Learning which textures work together, and which flavours bring out the best in each other is the essence of all cooking. And cooking your own meals will save you and yours big bucks.

Want some inspiration to get started? You can read about my struggle to get into this Thrifty Habit and the simple recipes that helped me in Very Lazy Soup and Thrifty, Lazy, Tasty Soup. Happy cooking!

 

 

January 16

Getting Back To Thrifty Basics

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 has been an unusual autumn/winter for us. We embarked on a building project to transform Tartan Towers from a two bed, one bathroom flat to a three bed, two bathroom one (at the expense of lots of cupboard space). The build was due to last a few weeks but ran to five months, during which we lived on site. All our daily routines were disrupted; all my thrifty habits were demolished as thoroughly as our internal walls.

 

So now the builders have gone and I am rebuilding the little web of everyday thrifty habits that supported our attempts to live within our means. It has shown me two things. Number One – these little habits save us a fortune and we still really need them. Number Two – trying to get into a whole bunch of thrifty habits again all at the same time is Too Hard. We need to focus on our thrifty basics before we add everything back in or we will collapse in the attempt.

 

So, if you too have got out of the habit of saving money without thinking about it, or if you are new to the idea of getting into thrifty habits to help you save money without really trying – make life easy on yourself. Start by just picking a couple of habits that you can easily include in your normal routine and focus on them. Give yourself an easy win to boost your morale. And only add new ones every few weeks to give your first couple time to bed in. If you are starting from scratch, Nudge Yourself Towards Spending Less, and then focus on the habits that help you to Take Control. Just not all at once.

drunken prune liqueur in glass bottleIf you are sufficiently on top or your daily and weekly habits that you can rise to tackling a couple of monthly habits too then remember to Review Your Spending and Preserve Something. Or at least start kitting yourself out for a year of making your own deli-worthy preserves. Personally, I will be focussing on preserving my sanity as we unpack our old life and put it away in our new home.

 

November 28

Stocking Fillers And Why Every Thrifty Family Needs Them

Christmas Stockings – A Thrifty Essential

christmas-santa-graphicsfairy010I still remember the outrage with which I greeted my mum’s suggestion that, since none of her “children” were even in their teens any more, we could, maybe, just not bother with stockings this year. I was horrified – didn’t she realise that the little bits and pieces in our stockings each year were part of the very fabric of Christmas? Hmmm?

the little bits and pieces in our stockings each year were part of the very fabric of Christmas

I was reminded of this ten years later when Tartan Dad had a year out of work and we were approaching a very budget Christmas. We did our sums and worked out that we had enough left to either buy each other a gift or a stocking – but not both. It turned out my thirty-something self was no keener to do without stocking fillers than my twenty-going-on-five self. So we ditched the “tree presents” instead – and had a lovely Christmas morning without them, opening our stockings.

santaThat year, more than ever, we needed the abundance of little fripperies that fill a stocking. We needed them because we were carefully, painstakingly sticking to our budget to avoid going into debt – we had enough of everything we needed but we did not enjoy an abundance of anything. Just for one day, we got to be greedy.

santa's faceWe needed those little stocking-fillers because, while our budget allowed us to save up for the big, important things we needed, it did not allow us to just buy little things that took our fancy as we walked round a shop. But our stockings were full of those – all the little things we had routinely denied ourselves every other day of that year.

santa chucklingAnd we needed those fripperies because, in a year of living sensibly, they were a little ray of silly, luxurious fun. Living on a budget is a serious business but sometimes we need to cut loose a little or we will lose the will to keep going.

Thrifty Christmas Stockings

 

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

No surprise then that I am still a huge fan of Christmas stockings. Stocking fillers are the over-the-top big sister of the Thrifty Habits Planner’s weekly treats. Small, frequent treats help you to stay thrifty the rest of the week and a whole stockingful of little treats can help to keep you on the thrifty wagon all year.

ChristmasRetroShop-GraphicsFairy1I am not a huge fan, though, of the way the cost of filling them can spiral out control faster than Prancer, Dancer and Dasher taking Santa on an emergency trip to Toys-R-Us. Some people spend more on Christmas stockings than I spend on the kids’ main presents. And when I say ‘some people’ I mean even otherwise thoroughly thrifty people. OK, I mean me. Readers I am Tartan Mum and I am an uncontrolled stocking-stuffer.

Christmas Stocking Planner 5Or I was, until three years ago when I finally found a way to take control of our Christmas Stockings. I came up with a Stocking Planner that allows me to structure how much I spend on each stocking and how many items I put in each one. It helps me to avoid over-buying for some family members and underbuying for others. It also helps me to avoid spending three times as much as I meant to. If you feel you could do with a little structure for you festive spending, you can read about How To Fill A Bulging Stocking Without Blowing Your Budget This Christmas here. Good luck!

 

HandNoticeVintage-GraphicsFairyChristmas-Fairy-Image-GraphicsFairy-597x1024More Christmas Posts

How To Fill A Christmas Stocking For (Around) A Fiver

5 Ways To Make DIY Stocking Fillers – When You Have No DIY Skills

1 Cheap Pic-n-Mix, 10 Thrifty Stocking-Fillers

November 28

How To Fill A Bulging Stocking Without Blowing Your Budget This Christmas

Thrifty Christmas Stockings

Christmas Stocking Planner 5Three years ago I finally found a way to take control of our Christmas Stockings. I used to just buy until I had what felt like enough stocking-fillers at what seemed like a vaguely filler-y price. Then I would get a shock on Christmas Eve when it turned out to be way too much to fit in our stockings. And an even worse surprise when I finally added up the total cost. I needed to set limits that gave us bulging stockings without stretching our budget to bursting point.  The Tartan Thrifty Christmas Stocking Planner was born.

The Stocking Planner – Christmas Under Control

A simple system for setting a budget, keeping to it, and building a well-balanced stocking

The Stocking Planner is a way to plan and keep track of our stocking-fillers so that I buy lots of very cheap fillers interspersed with a few more pricey items rather than lots of pricey items interspersed with the odd cheap one. It has stopped me buying too many gifts at too high a price, as well as making sure there is some variety in the value of the fillers in our stockings.

Christmas-Fairy-Image-GraphicsFairy-597x1024It has also helped me figure out what the appropriate budget for our family’s stockings is – because that’s different for each family. There is no government-approved minimum stocking spend – just what fits your lifestyle and finances. Think a little structure could help you stay on budget this year? Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Set A Top Spending Limit For Stocking Fillers

You need to decide what is the highest price you are willing to pay for a stocking filler. So – imagine you are shopping. Your kid* suddenly spots – and demands – a £50 doll’s house.  You have not budgetted for a doll’s house and £50 is a lot of money so you probably say no without a moment’s thought.

What if it was a £40 toy? Still no without needing to think about it?

What about £20? £10? A £5 plush toy? What if it was a £3 comic your kid was pleading for? A £1 sticker pack? A 50p novelty chocolate?

retro lady fro www.thegraphicsfairy.comSomewhere on that sliding scale there was  a point where you would stop saying no without thinking and would start to think – however fleetingly – about whether you could just buy it. So what was your threshold? What was the last point on that sliding scale where you wouldn’t have to think about whether that was too expensive or not?

That threshold price – that’s the price for the top level of your Christmas Stocking Planner. You are going to buy one item at that price for each stocking. Any gift that costs more than that gets parcelled up and put under the tree. Anything that costs less is a stocking-filler.

What if you are filling stockings for adults, not kids? Imagine you are shopping and you spot something that [insert name] would just love. At what price would you buy it without hesitation? And at what price would you pause to think about it? That’s your threshold price – the top price you will spend on stocking fillers for adults.

Step 2: Set the rest of the prices for your stocking-fillers

Each level should be cheaper than the one above it. So if your top price is £20, for example, that will mean that your next level is, say, £15. If your top level is £10 your next might be £7. If your top level is £5, your next might be £3, the one after that £2 and so on down to 50p. That gives you five little 50p gifts, four gifts at £1 each, three at £2, two at £3 and one at £5. That’s a total of 15 gifts for £23.50 per stocking. Click here to download a copy of the £5 planner.Christmas Stocking Planner 5

If you opt for my planner with a top price of £3, and a bottom price of 20p, your stockings are going to cost you £13 each. Click here to download a copy of the £3 planner.Christmas Stocking Planner 3star

If the most you can spend per item is £1, then your stockings are going to come to just £5.30 each.  Click here to download a copy of the £1 plannerChristmas Stocking Planner 1star

If none of these plans suits your price range you can download a blank planner here to price up as you see fit.

All of my planners have space for 15 gifts. That number suits the Tartan Family, but if you and yours like a fatter stocking, adapt it by adding an extra row (or more!) at the bottom. Because the lower rows are the cheapest you will up the quantity without hiking the price greatly.

Step 3: Take A Reality Check

worried gift-giverYou need to check what the total cost of your stocking plan is and multiply that by the number of stockings you will fill. Now take a good, hard look at that figure – can you afford that this year? If the answer is yes then skip to Step 4. If the answer is no you need to decide carefully how much you can afford to spend on each stocking and reduce your top price and all the prices below it.  Your stockings will have just as many items in them; only the prices will be different.

Step 4:  Get Ready To Shop

Once you have picked the planner that suits your unique circumstances print one out for each person. Whenever you buy a stocking-filler, note it in the box for its price-point. That way you will be able to see at a glance whose stocking is full and whose still needs stuffing. And you won’t accidentally buy everything at your top price. (Been there a few times!)

Christmas Stocking Planner £5 part filled

That’s it. A simple system for setting a budget, keeping to it, and building a well-balanced stocking. I hope it works as well for you as it has for me!

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