Chimney Sweep And Other August 2016 Expenditures

August was a fairly reasonable month with a few aberrational annual expenses that bumped our spending up above my ideal $1,000 (non-mortgage) level. As we settle into rural life and the tumult of moving across state lines (with a baby and a dog… ) recedes, our expenses drop a bit closer to our pre-move level with each passing month.

A Medley Of Money

Our woodstove: now featuring a swept chimney

Our woodstove: now featuring a swept chimney

In advance of the wintry chill, and in light of our plan to heat via our super efficient woodstove, I found a chimney sweep and had them come do their sweeping thing. This turns out to be one of those things that isn’t necessarily a DIY activity. It entails lengthy ladders, specialized sweeping equipment, crawling around on the roof, and, of course, in-depth knowledge of chimneys. Mr. FW and I have exactly zero of those things. Sometimes, it just makes sense to hire an expert. Our chimney sweep also inspected all three of our flues, so we’re now prepared to warm ourselves when the inevitable cold strikes.

Frugal Hound made her annual trek to the vet in August–her first here in Vermont. She checks out as a hale and hearty hound at seven (!!!!) years old, for which we’re most grateful. It was also Babywoods’ first trip to the vet and she made her presence known by: 1) biting the desk calendar; 2) grabbing the computer monitor; and 3) chewing on a tongue depressor. I was so proud.

August is Mr. FW’s birthday month and, as is Frugalwoods tradition, the birthday person gets to plan a day entirely of their choosing. Unsurprisingly, the birthday person elected to visit The Alchemist brewery in Stowe, VT, where the famed hop-laden IPA Heady Topper originates. Since we made this sojourn on a weekday, we didn’t have to wait in line for long before… we purchased our very own case of beer.

At The Alchemist brewery

At The Alchemist brewery

Mr. FW and I enjoyed ourselves as the brewery served free tasters and since they have ceiling fans, Babywoods was equally delighted. Those things are amazing to watch if you are nine months old. We then drove over to Montpelier, VT for a scrumptious birthday lunch. Babywoods presided over the affair from her high chair and, with near-constant dosing of broccoli and cheerios, allowed us to enjoy a fabulous little birthday date.

Grocery costs continue to fluctuate wildly, but I remain unconcerned. I think the issue is trifold at this point: 1) Babywoods is eating food, so we’re buying more of it; 2) I’m still trying to figure out the thriftiest shopping options; 3) We’ve had the pleasure of hosting a ton of guests this summer (4 different groups of out-of-town visitors in August alone!). Hence, I tend to think it’ll even out eventually.

We are quite pleased with our decision to buy a Prius before moving out here to the homestead. We don’t drive everyday, but when we do drive, it’s often long distances. Hence, the fact that we only spent $56.20 on gas this month–and went on several long-distance day trips–is an epic boon for both wallet and environment. Go Snowdrop go!

Hooray for the Prius! And FH too

Hooray for the Prius! And FH too

In other possession news, our printer experienced a catastrophic injury at some juncture during our move and, as a result, no longer prints. We survived sans printer all summer and only had to race over to a friends’ house to print once (prior to our massive DMV trip).

But, the time has come for us to once again have the ability to print. As adults in this world, having a functional printer is a good thing. Mr. FW set up a price alert on Amazon so we could purchase a printer when it dipped down into sale region. We had to wait several months for such a sale, but, totally worth it for the savings.

Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide the below analysis for you fine people.

Tracking expenses is, in my opinion, the best way to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it. Sounds harsh, but without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a frugal must, folks. No excuses.

Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, give Personal Capital a try.

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report

Hark! An apple.

Hark! An apple.

The below is an itemization of every single dollar we spent over the course of the month. I do this because it’s the most transparent articulation of how we allocate our resources and managed to quit our city life and decamp to the country.

Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than Why We Don’t Micromanage Our Money. We also own a rental property in MA, which I discuss here. Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence and move to a homestead in the woods (which happened in May!!).

For us, embracing frugality is a joyful, longterm choice. We prefer a simple life to one filled with consumerism and we spend only on the things that matter most to us. Our approach isn’t one of miserly deprivation; to the contrary, we live a luxuriously frugal existence.

Interested in how we keep costs so low? Check out How We Save 65% Annually. If you’re up for some hardcore frugal adventuring, take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, and, see how we did one year later in How A Year Of Extreme Frugality Changed Us.

But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z????

Wondering about common expenses that you don’t see listed below? Our August 2015 expense report has the answers you seek!

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in August:

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
VT mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $551.33 Ugh, not thrilled with this amount. Clearly we are still working out our VT grocery strategy. The amount fluctuates wildly from month to month, so I’ll try and figure out a stasis this fall.
Chimney sweep and flue Inspection $185.00 An important maintenance activity for any wood-burning household.
Annual vet exam, medication, and teeth-cleaning food supplement $158.73 Frugal Hound had her first Vermont vet visit and we’re pleased to report she’s hale and hearty at 7 years old.
Household supplies $98.02 All non-food household and farm supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, dog food, and dental floss!
Mr. FW’s birthday beer $80.70  The rather pricey, but definitely worthwhile, gift of a massive flat of beer from The Alchemist brewery.
Food dehydrator (and extra trays) $77.08 More on this in my upcoming “This Month On The Homestead” post… we purchased this dehydrator along with some extra trays in order to dehydrate our incoming apple crop! Yes I tried to: 1) find it used; 2) borrow from a friend, and 3) buy local. All three attempts failed so I bought it on Amazon.
Internet $74.00  We love our Fiber internet here in the woods! Worth every penny.
Printer $64.99 This is the printer we purchased on sale.
Gasoline $56.20 Thank goodness for Snowdrop the Prius! I shudder to think what our gas line item would tally in her absence.
Mr. FW’s birthday lunch $48.11  A fabulous and festive birthday celebration.
Electric bill $44.80
Prescription medication $10.85
TOTAL SPENT: $2,842.67  
LESS MORTGAGE: $1,449.81

How was your August?

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69 Responses

  1. julie says:

    Hi, I ventured into VT over the past weekend (went to Mt Ascutney in Windsor) and thought of you! Have you guys been there yet? You drive most of the way up, so we found the hike easy. My dog and her short legs loved it, and we saw lots of people wearing their babies. My in laws have a summer place in NH. I saw a price chopper and BJs when we were back in NH for ice cream. My father in law has been shopping at Hannaford, which he prefers over Pricechopper. I know you guys like to shop for exactly what you plan to eat for that week, but I’ve been curious if this will change in the winter with the possibility of being snowed in! It might be worth it to look at sales circulars (you can do it on the stores’ websites) and creating your meals from what is on sale for the week. Also makes it easier to stock up on essentials. Are there options for CSAs where you are? We’ve been trying to support our farmers, especially with the drought. Glad to see FH healthy!

  2. Sara says:

    Dried apples are the best! Sprinkle with a little cinnamon (and sugar!) for a tasty treat!

  3. Nice work! I’m excited to hear about the food dehydrator. I’ve been eyeing those for years and would love to start preserving some tasty produce while it’s in season. It may be a project for next year, though! Maybe I can start with some berries in the spring?

  4. Brigit says:

    $1,449.81 is still pretty amazing, especially in the summer. I know you have a post about frugally hosting friends, but I was wondering how you approach weddings, birthdays, and other events where giving a gift or money is expected. Such events seem to be never ending in the summer (especially weddings). I’m able to keep our spending low–$350 groceries; I’ve been on a 10 months shopping ban–but I feel like I spend more money on others than on ourselves each month. How do you navigate this issue? Thanks!

    • Naomi says:

      I just want to follow this, because it’s an issue for me as well. My close friends and immediate family are happy with used or homemade presents. But my husband’s co-worker whose having a baby or my.boss.. who got me an “end of the school year” present that I feel the need to reciprocate? We end up buying something new (and sometimes generous) for those sorts of things. . . Strange and contradictory that we end up spending more on people we don’t know that well than on people who are near and dear…

    • Stacy G. says:

      I am not Mrs. Frugalwoods, but I thought I would chime in on this. It is my belief that recipients of gifts do not look as closely at the amount that we spend as we think they do. I like to spend time on how the gift is presented by wrapping it carefully and adding personal touches such as a real flower tucked in the ribbon or a little doodle on the inside of the card rather than spending more on a gift. I salvage supplies from thrift shops or packaging from gifts we have received. We have stopped giving or reciprocating with gifts for almost everything except birthdays and Christmas/Hannukah, but we do send thank you notes or we share an experience together. Cultivating relationships is more meaningful than any gift. In circumstances where I am required to spend money, I set a budget based on how well I know the recipient and how meaningful the occasion is. I feel no obligation to spend money on near-strangers unless it is tied to my husband’s work somehow. Registries are great, but if there is nothing on there within your budget, there is no obligation to stick to their registry.

      There are stages in life where friends get married, have babies, get promotions, etc…That stage will pass. In the meantime. Own your decision to give low-cost or no gifts. Be confident in your choice. Love your friends and your people. They will feel that, and it will be enough.

      • S.G. says:

        I agree and would like to elaborate: Most people already have everything they really want. People always want more but adults usually have the means and willingness to purchase anything for themselves that they really want that is also within your budget to give (and their kids have all the toys that are within your budget as well). Therefore the trick is to put in the time to be thoughtful. This is actually much more difficult than simply buying something off a registry. I can’t tell you how many scented candles I have gotten and given to friends because scented candles make me ill. But I will try to keep even the worst hand made Xmas tree ornaments because I have a thing for them.

        Handmade is great. Even purchased inexpensive items can work. I think the trick is:

        a) You have to try to understand the person’s tastes or needs. My sister lives in Las Vegas and she would prefer hand made allergen free cookies to a $100 designer scarf because among herself and her kids there are all sorts of allergies, but no one needs a scarf in Vegas.

        b) If you give a hand made item you have to have some kind of skill at the craft. Hand made is awesome. A lot of people pay a lot of money for hand made items. If you package it well you can pretend you got it on etsy instead of making it yourself. But if it’s not something someone would pay for, don’t pretend it’s worthy of being a gift.

        c) Understand your audience. Some people will appreciate that you put your own time into a gift. Others won’t. Once again, pretend you found it at an upscale shop instead of making it with your own hands if your audience is one of the latter.

        d) Have the right motivations. Don’t just make it “hand made”. Make it “hand made with love”. If you’re just churning out clothespin reindeer like an assembly line so you have something to hand your in-laws then you’re doing it wrong. “hand made with love” is frugal. Make sure you’re not just being cheap.

  5. NNN says:

    Oh the food dehydrator will be so worth it! Once you really get your garden going, it will be indispensable for preserving all that excess. We just finished drying a big batch of tomatoes and chili peppers. You can also dry things like onions, carrots, celery, etc, and then when you make soup in the winter, just throw them in.

  6. Nora says:

    Can’t wait for our first Alchemist trip. My brother just went to Russian River and bought one of the more expensive cases of beer I’ve ever had. It was going to be his second free bag on the airline but they made him take it apart and wrap them each in wine wrappers for another $60 on top of it. The only plus is they are reusable for our next trip.

    We sweep our own chimney as we live in a ranch. I don’t like having our bedrooms on the first floor but the low roof makes it so much easier to DIY things like repairs and Christmas lights. We had to pay for it all in our last house as it was two stories and on a hill which made my husband shudder.

  7. SJ says:

    Our August was a bit of a financial mess. We went to visit family we hadn’t seen for 3 years (we drove… but we don’t own a Prius!). My husband also needed several new clothing items for his new job in (hot and muggy) China. We also accrued fees and costs associated to kids starting back to school. Good news: we saw the first part of the sign-on bonus.. so yay! I’m looking forward to a very financially stable September!

  8. Just make sure you rotate the trays often. With dehydrators that have the fan in the bottom, things at the top don’t dry out as quickly. I wanted to get a dehydrator with a fan in the back, which allows for more even drying.

    Sidenote: I went to visit some friends in Maine over Labor Day. The Northeast is absolutely gorgeous! I loved getting to see “mountains” as the Midwest is tragically flat.

  9. Ms. Montana says:

    I’m excited for our expenses to return to “normal” as well. After a summer of fun, a 6 week road trip, and company, I’m ready for the routine of fall. We are almost finishing up our first year of tracking ever single expense and have been geeking out over the spread sheets and charts. All of that info is going to be super helpful in deciding what we should do in a few months when our year long sabbatical is over. Enjoy the fall there. I bet it will be beautiful!

  10. Karina says:

    August was tough for us–taxes due ($2650) and oil purchased ($1800). With another tax bill due in October, the hits will keep coming! I continue to be amazed at your transition to Vermont living. Keep up the good work!

  11. Marion says:

    Your chimney sweep and flue inspection cost was very reasonable. And, ultimately the frugal choice for certain. Do you also have fire extinguishers on hand?

  12. Gini says:

    Thank you for your ongoing information and inspiration! Looking at your monthly expenses made me wonder if you might address the topic of charitable contributions while living a frugal lifestyle?

  13. Not a bad month considering the number of one-time purchases or rare expense items in the month. Nice job buying the printer on the cheap! Also sounds like a very nice way to spend a birthday, Mr. FW. And looks like you brought back a fair amount of beer to enjoy, good for you.

    Thanks for the update.

  14. You’ll love the dehydrator. We have a similar version and it makes the house warm, cozy, and delicious-smelling all winter.

  15. Jeff from Jersey says:

    Congrats on your recent move and glad to hear you have enjoyed your summer and the VT homestead. Belated BD wishes to Mr. FW – and sweet choice of making the trip to the new Alchemist Brewery in Stowe. Hoping to make a trip there this fall.

    Your grocery/dining concern made me relook what happened to our expenses when our only child was born in early 2013. We keep track of our categorical spending fairly meticulously, so here is what we can share based on our experiences. We live in NJ (so it is a relatively high cost of living area), but from a baseline perspective, we saw the annual household groceries/dining expenses increase by 18% since our son was born versus the years when it was just my wife and I. Now we are not as disciplined as your family, however we do eat a great deal of leftovers and (at most) eat out/get takeout 2-3 times per month at modestly priced restaurants.

    So just wanted to provide a reference point for you to perhaps use for your budgeting or expectations – hope it helps. Enjoy the dried apples, we love them.

  16. Kathryn K. says:

    For the first time, it probably wasn’t a bad idea to have someone else clean your chimney but we (as well as my in-laws who also heat primarily with wood) clean our own. The trick is that you go up from inside the house rather than down from the inside.

    And still looking forward to your post on homestead start-up costs.

  17. Sorry if you have covered it, but now that you are self employed, do you have a cell phone bill?

  18. Josh says:

    Whenever I hear chimney sweep I think of the movie Mary Poppins!

    We moved into our house in August so we had some additional expenses related to that. I think you guys will like the food dehydator. We use a commerical model that is excellent at dehydrating nuts & also making “kale chips.” They sound disgusting at first but are really addicting when you add some oil & spice.

  19. TomTrottier says:

    Ah, printers. I bought my all-in-one at 75% off. They loss-lead in order to sell more ink/toner.
    Laser is the way to go if you print a lot, or print shipping labels that might get rained on.
    Lots of ink in ink-jet printers is wasted every time you turn it on – so better to leave it on unless you find the nozzles clog.
    And… better to have backup ink/toner to avoid that emergency when you really really really really really really need it.

  20. TomTrottier says:

    What can go up a chimney down but not down a chimney up?
    An Umbrella!

  21. Lindsey says:

    August was a good month for us all things considered. We were able to stay on budget for our vacations, however our eating out was a little high this month.

  22. Lorraine Hardaway says:

    I am always mesmerized by your adventures and writing! You are inspiring so many on so many levels! Can’t wait to see the Frugal Woods family here in Orlando soon!
    Love you!
    -Aunt Lorraine

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you Aunt Lorraine! We can’t wait to see you 🙂

      • Christine K says:

        If you are coming to Orlando in Sept., it’s “bring a friend for free” month at SeaWorld for passholders (1 free friend for each passholder). Just have said passholder ride in your car and viola…free parking too. You can bring in food/drink in a backpack, or at least we always do. Everyone and their brother has passes to SeaWorld here since they are 1) cheap to begin with and 2) BOGO the day after Thanksgiving lol.

  23. EA Mann says:

    HEADY!!! I had some at a bar on a trip to Montpelier recently, but couldn’t find a store selling it. It deserves all the hype. And that flat you bought Mr FW could probably cover a month’s expenses if you, you know, wanted to start running beer illegally over state lines….

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, I think you’re probably right ;). Yeah, I don’t think they distribute it anywhere–pretty sure you have to just buy it at the brewery, and some VT restaurants.

  24. vicky says:

    only $158 for a vet visit? I’ll tell my friend to take his dog to Vermont from now on (not to far from Central Massachusetts. He paid over $400 for the last annual checkup for his adopted 10 year old black lab (that included lab tests for lymes and a wash and manicure.)

  25. Christine K says:

    My folks are in NH and they shop mainly at Hannafords now I think. Do you have one of those locally?

    We love our food dehydrator, but I have ditched the extra trays and just use the original 4 now. For some reason, it took forever with the extra trays in there and stuff was drying unevenly.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We do have a Hannaford’s and their prices are OK, but not as low as my beloved Market Basket (my discount grocery store in MA). Yeah, we’re finding we have to rotate the trays so that they’ll dry evenly

      • Christine K says:

        Yeah, Market Basket is cheap for sure, as is Aldi. Honestly we used to bring our food up from MA when we had our cottage in NH growing up. It seemed like food prices were just high in the more rural areas unfortunately. There has to be a way though…I’m sure you guys will find it 🙂

        Once I went back to just using the 4 trays the dehydrator dried evenly w/o rotating them. I totally gave up on the extra trays…it just wasn’t efficient for me anyways.

  26. Tara says:

    Did you all get a Brother laser printer? Those are my favorite since the toner can be obtained for cheap (generic toner works well) and they are workhorses.

    We have to do our annual inspection/cleaning of our gas furnace and we leave that to a professional. The price is low but ensures we don’t inadvertently mess something up on our hydronic heating system.

    I love Toyota hybrids. I drive an efficient Hyundai Accent but had a rental Prius on a past vacation and loved how little gas it used!

  27. Amber says:

    Do you guys have Aldi stores in your neck of the woods? We love them for their cheap organic (?!) foodstuffs and the random, seasonal finds such as a food dehydrator. We got ours there a few years ago for $20 and it has worked great making “sun-dried” tomatoes, kale chips and beef jerky!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Sadly no Aldi’s and no Market Basket (my cheap MA store) up here, which is part of my grocery problem right now 😉

  28. I’m surprised that Mr. Frugalwoods didn’t try to DIY the chimney sweeping. That seems like something he would do.

    Oh well, it doesn’t seem like the expense mattered that much – your August spending was still quite frugal! That electric bill especially! Wow…under $50!

    This month our grocery spending came in under $400! But we had some special one-time expenses too.

    Congrats on a great August!

  29. S.G. says:

    Good idea getting the flue inspected the first time, but sweeping is seriously easy, especially for most wood stoves. It’s literally a pipe you have to brush with a properly sized brush and a sectioned handle…that’s it. If you have a shop vac it’s dirty, but easy. Pop off the screen and start brushing until it won’t go down anymore.

    It’s intimidating but a very simple system once you get over your fear. And if you’re afraid of the roof pitch invest [once] in some safety equipment. We purchased our brush years ago. We had to take some cutters to it because it was a little over sized, but it was a lot cheaper than $185. I can’t imagine a safety harness would be terribly expensive and you should have the capability to get up and inspect your own roof periodically anyway. May as well do it while you’re up there sweeping the flue.

    • Stacy G. says:

      I agree! After our first inspection and sweeping, we hired a pro every other year and did it ourselves on the alternate years. Eventually, we moved to doing it ourselves entirely. Fireplace maintenance is not an area to cut corners, but it is totally a DIY job once you figure out what is involved.

  30. Danell says:

    August was an expensive month for me, too. I had to pay my son’s tuition bill for college! This actually didn’t even hurt, since the money was saved in his 529 Savings Plan. However, the car my daughter will drive to school this year needed some freon and a new battery. Plus it was time to renew my Sam’s membership, which was $100. I hate paying that much for the plus membership, but I get my prescription for free all year then, so I come out ahead.

  31. Sandra & the 2 Spaniels says:

    Your postings continue to amaze and inspire me to greater savings!
    My grocery bill fluctuates, as I buy in bulk from Costco, and then only need fresh milk, carrots, etc. for awhile. Is a freezer on your list of (maybe) extravagant expenses? I swear by my 13 cubic foot freezer.
    That vet bill was very good-higher in California for sure.

  32. stacy says:

    Some of my husband’s family is from Stowe, VT and we LOVE to visit there in summer! A long drive from MD though…

    We received our dehydrator one year for Christmas from family and bought a second one at a yard sale for a mere $5!!! We mostly dehydrate deer meat for deer jerky (as snacks and gifts), but I’d like to try other things such as fruit, peppers and herbs.

    Maybe you’ve covered this in another post, but has Mr. FW thought about hunting at all in your wonderful woods? I don’t eat meat, but my husband and step-sons hunt and provide enough meat for our family for the entire year. We usually have our basement freezer full. I DO cook it for them though…nothing goes to waste!

  33. Norm says:

    HA! I just bought that same printer! Our last one broke in the winter and I have been renewing an Amazon price alert for that Brother one every month since then. Great minds think alike. Nice to be able to print again. 🙂

  34. snowcanyon says:

    I’d love to hear more about the high grocery expenses. It seems like you could stock up on your staples monthly or even quarterly on a jaunt to a larger town. Rice, oats, beans, canned tomatoes etc last forever and even spices will last a year if stored properly. Is it cheese? Meat? Fruit? Would love to learn more about rural grocery expenses and strategies.

  35. That chimney sweep and flue inspection are SO important! Doesn’t surprise me that you are focused on safety though 🙂 We know folks who wanted to save a few dollars and ended up with a chimney fire. No one was hurt but there was a lot of smoke damage! I saw over on Jim Collins’ site that they visited you too! Sounded like they had a great time and loved your homestead!

  36. Harriet says:

    Oh, I hope you enjoy your dehydrator as much as I do mine!! So far this year, I have done a bushel of tomatoes, 50 lbs of potatoes, a bushel of zucchini, a bushel of apples, green peppers, hot peppers, corn, mixed veggies, green beans and cherries!!! And I am still planning to do pumpkin. Yes, I think I am becoming a closet dehydrator. Ha!!

  37. My August spending was pretty fantastic. For three people (well, me all the time, and two kids 50% of the time), under $1800 INCLUDING housing! Which is good because my income was barely over $2K. But hey, the discrepancy was in the right direction, right?

    There is a pretty hilarious set piece in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Busman’s Honeymoon involving a local vicar cleaning a blocked chimney with a shotgun, which your chimney cleaning made me think of. While economical, the shot gun method turned out to have downsides, as you can imagine.

  38. Marissa says:

    Wonderful job on saving money as always! ^ o^

    Last month, I did a No-Spend month and saved quite a bit. I was very proud of my efforts though! ^ o^ I’m back to my “old habits” now though, but every time money leaves my wallet, or worse yet, my bank account, I always cringe because I like having money more than spending it, lol. xD;;; Is it the same for you guys?

    But in October, I plan on doing another No-Spend month. I think every month I take money out for a haircut is when I will do them. As you guys well know, haircuts are expensive. Dx Since I have short hair though, I do not have to get a haircut as often though unless to maintain it. Skipping months works for me though. <3

    I also started walking around my home to save money on a gym. Since I do the treadmill in the gym anyway, I might as well walk around outside, am I right? xD So far, it has been wonderful. <3 I do't know how much weight I will loose doing this since diet and exercise work together, but it feels so good to be active. <3

    Have a wonderful September! x3

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Great job on your No Spend Month! Such a good way to jumpstart/recharge frugality. And I love the exercising outside plan!

      • Marissa says:

        Thank you, Mrs. Frugalwoods! That means a lot coming from you! C: Yup, I need to spend money again soon, but it pains me to do so. Dx Since I want to make a recipe this month that requires British food from Britain, I had to spend about $24 on two food items from oversees, so I am HOPING this recipe will be worth it. I am making the traditional English dish, beans on toast. x3

        And I have wonderful news to report, so I hope I do not jinx myself! Dx But after doing walking for my exercise, I have lost 2 pounds so far! Loving it so much. <3 Hopefully, I can keep up with this momentum. <3

        Have a wonderful weekend! C:

  39. jestjack says:

    Couple of things….I for one am pretty amazed at the great prices and performance of todays printers. I just bought a HP printer for under $65 that’s faster, more efficient, has more features and has clearer text than my old one. And as for your report, I don’t see a line for health insurance premiums and cell phones. Great job on the electric bill….$45…Just doesn’t happen in this “neck of the woods”…

  40. It looks like y’all are doing awesome! Our grocery bill for just two people is still about $550 each month, so we still definitely have some work to do! I do think there are plenty of things that do need to be outsourced, even for frugal people! So it’s safer and more sanity-saving just to hire a chimneysweep. 🙂

  41. Hannah says:

    VT looks like it’s going really well! I have a question about your Personal Capital, as I’ve set up an account because of your posts. How do you manage your day to day expenses-your debit/savings or credit? It seems like it’s more useful for investments, and I guess I am not looking in the right places. You seem expert on this, so I thought I’d toss this one your way.

  42. Heather says:

    Have you considered making Frugal Hound’s food yourself? This is what many people in other cultures/countries do. It allows you to know exactly what is in the food (what exactly is meat by-product), use items you already have/eat yourself and cut costs. There are online recipes which include basics like chicken and rice, and then more ‘complex’ ones that include whatever veggies might be going south in one’s crisper. As long as you avoid foods on the list of dangerous foods for dogs (ie. Grapes, chocolate, walnuts, etc.), you can feed your dog nutritious, inexpensive and delicious food.

  43. iFreebies says:

    I must say your posts are so inspiring. Your monthly total even with mortgage is so low. Simply amazing. As someone who lives quite rural as well I can tell you a chimney sweep is a wise investment (unless your roof isn’t too steep). We have done it ourselves at past houses but given our insanely steep pitched roof and my ever increasing fear of heights we hire a chimney sweep. Well worth the money and they can tell you so much about your new house until you get used to it. You will love heating with wood. Nothing else like it.

  44. K says:

    Wow, I’ve been reading your posts for a few months and can’t believe how little you spend on food. Even though it is more this month, food prices must be much lower in the States than in Canada. I can’t imagine how two people could get their monthly food costs around 300 here unless they just ate rice and pasta. We don’t eat much processed foods, but veggies and fruits are not cheap.

    • K says:

      As someone (who also goes by K) who has lived in both the US and Canada, I can confirm that groceries are definitely more expensive in Canada.

      • K says:

        Oh thank goodness! That makes me feel much better 🙂 I guess our free (mm, our taxes pay for it) healthcare may soothe my shock at low US grocery prices.

  45. Thedollysmama says:

    Do you shop at a farmer’s market at all? I’ve found that to be an excellent way to stretch our food budget. I used to get a huge CSA box delivered weekly, it was only $10 a week, but found the randomness of it made planning very difficult.
    I appreciate receiving your newsletters, cheerfully done and with delightful photographs. They make budgeting and planning inspirational and an everyday sort of normal. Thanks for that!

  46. Angela says:

    Love your blog! Very Insightful and also entertaining. I have two teenagers…would love your insight about what the frugalwoods would tell their 16 year old selves about being frugal. There’s a whole generation that could use your insight!

  47. Nice tracking strategy Frugalwoods. Personal Capital is one great tool to track expenses and a good way to start budgeting with. I use Personal Capital, and I liked it so much because it gives me immediate results I need using graphs, so basically I have the graphical results, which are pretty amazing.

  48. That electric bill amazes me! I don’t think we’ve ever had one under $100. Ever. Besides that though, it sounds like you guys are having a great time. I’m so happy all of your dreams are right on course. 🙂

  49. I also like using Personal Capital to keep track of my expenses. Keeping grocery bills lower than I would like has been a challenge for me as well. It seems that I’m an eating machine who knows he shouldn’t eat that much but eats that much anyway. Will be looking to change this in the future!

  50. ITTOG says:

    Holy cow, only $44.80 for electricity. I paid about $500 for the same month. I am jealous.

  51. LT says:

    Amazon price alerts? How do you set these up and do you know if might only be available on as opposed to the rest of the world such as the UK where I live?

  52. Your grocery expenditures for the month seem great to me, especially if you’re hosting guests. Hospitality gets expensive! But I also think it’s worth every penny.

    Sort of like the professional chimney sweep, honestly. There’s a time and place to let go of the money.

  53. Jane Sarazin says:

    Surprised at how low your electric bill is, the average bill in Vermont is about $90.

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