December 28

How Tartan Thrifty Began

Learning To Live On Less

retro-mom-worry-images-Graphics-Fairy004I was talking to an old friend about money, in particular how to spend less of it when your income drops.  Her household income is normally precisely double mine but she had been off work for several months, her sick pay had dropped to half her usual salary and she was looking at the real possibility of it dropping to zero in the next couple of months.  (It didn’t:  she made a full recovery.)   I, on the other hand, had been unemployed for over a year with no immediate prospect of that changing.  In certain respects, there was a huge difference between our situations because she had started out with a higher income and would probably have one again. In one very important respect, though, there was no difference between us at all.  We both found ourselves with a lower income than we were used to.  We both knew that we had to make changes to our spending habits. Change is hard, no matter what you are earning.

Changing your spending habits is hard, no matter what you are earning

13 years ago Tartandad left his job to do voluntary work for one year and we lived on my salary.  Why, we asked ourselves, have we not put more into savings over the years when we can live reasonably well on one salary?  When we have two salaries again, we vowed, we will live on one and save all of the other.  A year later, he found a new job and we had two salaries again.

worried gift-giverGuess what?  We spent both salaries.  Every month.  For years!  Four years to be precise, right up until we had our first Tartan Baby, and had to learn all over again how to live on less.  I am not embarrassed telling you this, because experience has shown me that most people do the same:  most people habitually spend as much as they can.  It’s only when the money runs out towards the end of the month that we start to wonder where it all went.

Changing Your Spending Habits

Habits make life easy:  they let us do repeatedly and without effort things that would otherwise require attention and energy.

So, for my friend and I, the figures may have been different, but the problem was the same.  If you spend more than you mean to (and most of us do) and you want to stop, then you have to change your spending habits. Habits make life easy:  they let us do repeatedly and without effort things that would otherwise require attention and energy.  If they are bad habits, unfortunately, they let us do repeatedly and without noticing it things that cost us.  Maintaining any habit requires a lot less effort than changing it.  Habit-change requires time and attention and our brains resist wasting either.

retro lady fro www.thegraphicsfairy.comHaving less money does not always come with having more time. So changing our spending habits has to be easy to do without a huge amount of effort. I have been turning this question over in my mind ever since my friend first raised it two years ago:  is it possible to change our spending habits for the better and for good but for the minimum of effort?

Tartan Thrifty is my attempt to find an answer.

Tartan Thrifty’s Thrifty Habits

1backtoschoolteacher-graphicsfairy008bwI spent a lot of time pondering.  I looked back at my more thrifty life stages and tried to pinpoint what had helped me stay in the black then. I spent even more time researching. I trawled the internet for thrifty tips and frugal ideas, noting what strategies seemed to be working for other people. I spent months analysing. I wrote lists, sketched mind-maps, drew complicated diagrams. I developed a set of guiding Thrifty Principles. Gradually, I drew up a list of all the habits I figured would help Team Tartan to reduce its running costs. In January of 2014 I launched Tartan Thrifty to keep me on track and prompt me to keep thinking about how to bed in my new habits. And I finally got on with introducing my new, thrifty habits.

Thrifty Habits PlannerHas it been easy? Uh… no. I raced to introduce new habits and overwhelmed myself. Some habits made big savings and some – not always the ones I expected – made disappointingly little difference. I found some habits a joy to adopt and others sheer drudgery. I struggled to keep track of which habits to fit in when – hence the Thrifty Habits Planner that now lives on my kitchen wall. But I had gone public and couldn’t face the embarrassment of just giving up. So I kept at it.

Money-savingHas it worked? YES! I have stopped feeling anxious about the end of the month within a week of pay day. Our spending has gone down, our savings have begun to go up, we are not permanently in debt and (most importantly) we have enough money to enjoy life rather than simply to survive.

Could the Tartan Thrifty Habits work for you? There’s only really one way to find out…

Getting Into Thrifty Habits

Click here to find out more about the Thrifty Habits and how they can help you. If you want to jump straight to some articles on how to put the Thrifty Habits into action, use The Thrifty Habits in the sidebar to look up posts about individual habits. If you are already completely up on the Thrifty Habits and just want a reminder of which ones to do this week, click here for this week’s free Thrifty Habits Planner. Good luck!

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