A Cider Press And Other August 2017 Expenditures

Howdy! If you feel like I was a bit absent during the month of August, well, you are correct: I was! Babywoods and I were gone for a whopping three weeks in August (and Mr. Frugalwoods for one), which as it turns out, is an incredibly long time to be away from one’s home(stead). But this travel was all for good reason, I assure you.

San Diego Anniversary Extravaganza

My parents celebrated their 50th (yes, 50th!!!) wedding anniversary this summer and in recognition of this momentous milestone, my sister, brother, and I–along with our respective spouses and kids–descended upon my parents’ San Diego-area home. We enjoyed a rollicking three-day celebration consisting of eight adults, four children, and three dogs. There was food, there were drinks, there was a cake, there were champagne toasts, we presented my parents with engraved wine glasses noting the date and their names (in case they forget who they are), and we hired a photographer to document the occasion.

View of the sunset from my parents’ back deck

Despite all of our familial revelry, it was a fairly frugal occasion. My parents raised my siblings and me with an emphasis on thriftiness and so it was only natural for us to mark this event in frugal style. We split the costs for the gathering between my brother, sister, and I and my parents insisted (despite persistent resistance from us) on chipping in for food.

It’s also true that I adhere to a system of values-based, priority-driven spending and so I don’t stress out over the cost of airfare and other sundry bits that travel, and this celebration, entailed. Quality time with my family is a top priority and so spending money on it is a no-brainer. The point of my extreme frugality isn’t to save every last dime, it’s to spend my resources judiciously and only on what matters most to me.

To keep things low stress and low cost, we ordered take-out for our dinners together, which had several benefits: it was cheaper than eating in a restaurant, it was easier than wrangling four children (primarily mine) in a restaurant, it’s a lot easier to have a nice conversation at home versus in a noisy restaurant, and best of all, we had take-out leftovers for our lunches the next day! Take-out turned out to be an excellent solution that was cheaper than catering, cheaper and easier than going to a restaurant, and ensured that no one was trapped in the kitchen cooking for 12 people all day long.

And Then On To Portland!

Palm trees in my parents’ yard

As if my trip to San Diego wasn’t enough excitement for my normally homebody self, I jetted up to Portland, Oregon for the Lola Retreat and left Babywoods in the care of her grandparents. Can I just say that after flying cross-country alone with a toddler, it’s really lovely to fly somewhere solo… I didn’t have to check a bag, no one spit up on me, I was able to enjoy my in-flight beverage without it spilling down my front, and–wait for it–I read a book and worked on my laptop. Sheer bliss, I tell you.

I had the honor of speaking on a panel at the Lola Retreat, which is a conference for women, by women, and with the goal of empowering women to take charge of their finances. And it was amazing. I had the privilege of meeting, and spending time with, a bunch of Frugalwoods readers who came to the conference. Hearing their stories, plans, and goals for everything from paying off debt to achieving financial independence was inspiring and a motivator for me to keep doing what I do.

I’m passionate about personal finance education and most especially about enfranchising women to manage their money themselves. It was thrilling to be part of such a dedicated, engaged community of women all focused on furthering this mission of financial literacy and I can’t wait for the next conference!

Mr. Frugalwoods returned to Vermont after a week in San Diego as both Frugal Hound (who stayed at our kind neighbors’ house while he was away) and the homestead required his assistance. August is growing season and our garden was on fire this month, which I’ll detail in my upcoming installment of This Month On The Homestead!

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Mr. Frugalwoods and I purchase everything we possibly can with credit cards for several reasons:

  1. It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where that random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. This prompts me to spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense in detail at the end of each month.
  2. We get rewards. Who doesn’t like rewards? Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, Mr. FW and I get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying things we were going to buy anyway.
  3. We build our credit. Since Mr. FW and I don’t carry any debt other than our mortgages, having several credit cards open for many years (which are fully paid off every month) has greatly helped our credit scores.

 

If you’re interested in opening a credit card, I highly recommend using this site to search for a card that’ll best fit your needs. And if you’re interested in travel rewards cards specifically, check out this list curated by my friend Brad from Travel Miles 101. I respect Brad’s work in the travel rewards space and I trust his advice on which cards will reap the best benefits.

Huge caveat to credit card usage: you MUST pay your credit card bills in full every single month, with no exceptions. If you’re concerned about your ability to do this, or think that using credit cards might prompt you to spend more money, then credit cards are not for you–stick with using a debit card and/or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend!

Personal Capital: 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.

The view from my parents’ house

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

 

Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Look no further than Our Low Cost, No Fuss, DIY Money Management System. 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 2016).

 

Babywoods on a California mission to swim

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? Up for some hardcore frugal adventuring? Sign-up to take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which is the method Mr. FW and I employ to sculpt our frugal lifestyle. Over 19,700 people have already taken the Challenge and saved thousands of dollars. You can sign-up at any time and you’ll start with Day 1 so you won’t miss a frugal thing. P.S. It’s free! And if you’re interested in the other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.

A Note On Rural Life

 

Since we live on 66 acres in rural Vermont, our utilities are slightly different from traditional urban and suburban dwellings. We don’t pay for water, sewer, trash, or heating/cooling because we have a well, a septic system, our town doesn’t provide trash pick-up, we heat our home with wood we harvest ourselves from our land, and we don’t have air conditioning. For more on our rural lifestyle, check out my series This Month On The Homestead.

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!

Plus, as I explained here, we pay bills in full the month we receive them–that’s why you won’t see monthly payments for things like car insurance or property taxes.

If you’re curious about how we handle charitable contributions, check out How We Make Meaningful And Tax Efficient Charitable Donations.

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

Item Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Vermont mortgage $1,392.86
Cider press and apple grinder $691.93 More info on this to be included in my upcoming installment of This Month On The Homestead, but suffice it to say, we’re going to be pressing our apples soon!
Hotel in Portland, Oregon $611.10 My hotel room for the Lola Retreat conference.
Groceries $257.43
Hydraulic filters and oil for our tractor $131.46
Anniversary celebration for Mrs. FW’s parents $82.00
Internet $74.00
Gasoline for the cars $66.62
Parking at the airport for a week $60.00 The cost to park our car at the Manchester, NH airport for a week. SO much cheaper than the Boston area!
Utilities: Electric $56.45
Restaurants $47.70 Dining out while on our three-week vacation
Annual membership to Vermont Woodlands Association $40.00 Our membership in an advocacy and education organization for people who own forest acerage in Vermont.
Canning jars $37.64 For preserving the bounty of our garden. Details to come in This Month On The Homestead!
Cider yeast and other supplies for cider making $35.09 To accompany the aforementioned cider press!
Prescription medication $21.31
Cell phone through BOOM mobile $19.99
Household supplies $15.19 All non-food household supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, shampoo, and dental floss.
Public transit in Portland, Oregon $5.00 I took the delightful light rail system from the airport to my hotel and back. A steal at $2.50 per ride! I love public transit so very much.
TOTAL SPENT: $3,645.77  
MINUS MORTGAGE: $2,252.91

How was your August?

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59 Responses

  1. The anniversary celebration and time together as a family sounds incredible! This past spring, we travel to the East Coast to spend time with my husbands family. This included his parents, the 5 siblings, 3 spouses and 9 kids. When someone suggested heading to an expensive restaurant for dinner, those of us with kids asked if we could plan the dinner instead, saving everyone the hassle and stress of corralling 9 kiddos (all under age 7… 5 of them under age 3!). We pitched in, BBQed on a beautiful afternoon, and had a much more enjoyable meal together.

    And $60 for 1 week of parking?!? That’s amazing! For years, LAX was our airport hub. You were lucky to find offsite parking for $100-$110!

    August proved to be a more frugal month. I’m crediting the Uber Frugal Month challenge… I realized after July’s challenge that I am more mindful of the our spending, from the unnecessary $50 expenses to the spur of the moment $5 ones. This awareness has helped us to say “no” more often and find alternates to the typical spending traps. Thank you again for the great challenge!

  2. Wow! 50 years is so incredible!! That’s so awesome that y’all were able to be part of the special occasion. Guess that’s one of those moments that you are reminded of how thankful you are for FI 🙂 I can’t imagine traveling for 3 weeks but it sounds like you had an awesome time.

    I find it interesting that you buy everything on credit cards. We have been discussing this idea, as we love to travel but don’t love to pay for it. So we are looking at it as an alternative to get those rewards and points. We have a credit card currently that we make sure to pay on time each month, so it wouldn’t be a huge change.

    With 2 birthdays this month, my only over budget category is food. That’s the one area we struggle in because we love to host and I am crazy about making sure there is enough food to go around. Other than that, we had an awesome month and saved almost half our income (which is mostly a big deal because we are a single income family).

    Question: I know you recommend Personal Capital. While I do use that, I’ve used Mint for a long time and I prefer it for most things. Have you ever used Mint? And if so, why do you prefer Personal Capital to Mint?

    Glad you had such a great month! And I bet Mr. Frugalwood’s was excited to see his girls! 🙂

  3. My wife and I had an excellent August. We got our expenses back in line after it went up to pay for a couple of non-recurring expenses. Finally getting our will done, paying our property taxes (we’re debt free including our mortgage), which for the record is the best feeling in the world. I know people will say that you should take the deductions on your taxes but I have to tell you that it’s the best feeling in the world not having to make a mortgage payment 🙂

  4. Ros says:

    Oh, wow, is that the cost of a new cider press? We’ve been using one my husband’s grandfather had in his basement… he took a manual cider press and hooked it onto an old motor with a rubber strap, and the entire contraption is a bit wonky, but for once a year cider making parties it works fine. Thanks for laying out costs so I don’t start wanting to replace the wonky one!

    This month’s big expenses, for us, involved the sum total of our yearly entertainment costs (ok, plus like 20$/month on books, because a home library is nice when you’re 20km from the nearest library). I’ve been enjoying pottery a lot, and its a hobby that (while I’m taking classes) isn’t cheap, but I’m almost at the point where I don’t need classes… and then as long as I can build a kiln on the back of the property? I’m set.

    And my husband has decided to take up the banjo. The perils of musician husbands is extra gear. The bliss of SENSIBLE musician husbands is relatively limited gear (no 16 guitars…), constant music, and children who grow up loving music and learning multiple instruments. Over the past 10 years, we’re averaging under 100$/year on music gear and maintenance, and we’ll above that in random gig income. It works!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nicely done! Yeah, cider presses are expensive, which is why we’ve waited so long to get one! We searched for a used press for over a year with no luck and, our apples are almost ripe, so we finally broke down and bought one 🙂

    • Louise says:

      Very cool that your husband’s grandfather rigged that up!

      Did you that all the trees Johnny Appleseed planted were for cider? Since the only way to be sure to get a tree with edible and tasty fruit is grafting an apple tree branch another tree, the seeds he threw around would likely have produced a lot of non-tasty apple trees. However, the apples from those can be used to make fermented apple cider, and that’s just what the settlers did!

      A little less wholesome of a story that way, but funny!

  5. Mrs. Kiwi says:

    August is definitely a busy month to leave the homestead, but those are great reasons too! I’m excited to hear about the cider press! Our one producing tree grows enough apples for applesauce, but we have two more young trees and are planning on grafting more trees in the coming years!

    August for us also involved travel, to visit friends in Colorado, and it was well worth the cost! I love living frugally, so I can easily afford to spend money on the things that matter to me most!

  6. I was so happy to see your new post. Happy 50th anniversary to your parents. That’s really admirable!

    I’m glad you had a good family with your family and at the retreat. I have heard a lot about the Lola Retreat and hope that I can go one day. It’s good to hear such positive feedback from you.

    P.S. Your photos look stunning!

  7. Belle says:

    August was a better month for us. Our side hustle income is finally picking up. We had an end of summer BBQ that was a nice treat. Gearing up for the last quarter of the year. Congrats to your parents!

  8. Sarah says:

    You guys are making your own cider?!?! That’s awesome!!! I can’t wait to read more about that 🙂

    Huge congrats to your parents!!! 50 years is a huge milestone 🙂 We celebrated my grandparents 50-year anniversary about, gosh, 15 years ago maybe?? So, they’ve now been married quite a long time and I totally look up to them! Good, long marriages are (sadly) hard to find these days.

    Glad you had a wonderful time in San Diego!! Love reading your expense reports!! 🙂

    -Sarah

  9. I also have a pleasant memory of going to my parents 50th wedding anniversary gathering. My siblings and our respective families all stayed in the same hotel and had a private party. My parents paid for everything including our hotel accommodations. Both my parents are gone now so I really appreciate the memory.

    “The point of my extreme frugality isn’t to save every last dime, it’s to spend my resources judiciously and only on what matters most to me.”

    Amen to that! I call this being Freaky Frugal instead of being Stupid Frugal. 🙂 After we FIREd, it took me a year or two to finally appreciate your point. The things that make us great at saving money and FIREing can sometimes get in the way of living a good and meaningful life. Thanks for reminding me!

  10. Not yet definitively frugal Mrs. says:

    I enjoy your financial reports. I am a city almost 60 years old ‘girl’ and I started your frugal challenge mid August this year. I had never saved consciously ( except a bit for my son) before since I have a job that is quite secure and my security allowance during my retirement seems to be sufficient to stay in the same appartement that I rent without limitation of time. I started your challenge since I want to know if I am able to save cash for my needs and wants from now on. Presently I have everything I need and almost no wants. In contrast to you I do not like travel – I watch beautiful views of the world on Internet. However I have lot of admiration for your style of life. Nevertheless, I would not change my place with you, as I am very happy where I am 😎. I wish you and other frugal people a lucky and happy continuation. All the best to you and your family and please continue writing as I enjoy your writing and you know that I am not alone.

  11. Katie says:

    Congratulations to your parents! The celebration sounded wonderful. And the Lola conference sounds amazing, what an important mission! Welcome home!

  12. Sounds like a really fun month! We also use Personal Capital and love the budgeting, investment and retirement planner tools. I suppose the retirement planned isn’t as useful to you though 🙂 Right now it’s predicting that we have an 80% chance of successfully retiring at 42.

    Frugal travel is one of our favorite splurges. We’re headed to Iceland in a few weeks and can’t wait!

    Jealous of the cider press! How fun.

  13. It’s a little crazy for me to see tracker expenses on your monthly financial reports. In recent years I’ve thought about whether I’d enjoy a hobby farm, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying my little urban homestead that includes mostly fruit, vegetable, and native gardens as well as my honeybees. Hopefully we will add chickens in the future.

    This summer I’ve really gotten into lacto-fermenting. It’s such a great way to preserve produce, especially when you have things like zucchini, beans, and summer squash growing like weeds! It’s also been a great way to make it easier to eat fresh produce and the fermenting process takes place at room temperature, so no overheating over a boiling hot water canner or pressure cooker. And although it can initially be intimidating to start fermenting, as long as everything smells okay, then it is safe to eat (and trust me, your senses will let you know if something isn’t right!).

    • Valerie says:

      So glad you brought up lacto-Fermenting! It’s a wonderfully healthy way of preserving all kinds of foods. It preserves the enzymes and probiotics so necessary for robust health. All you need is water, salt and a countertop and maybe a second fridge!

  14. Chris says:

    Congratulations to your parents! My two siblings and I had a big 50th anniversary party last year for our parents. Just curious! Since your blog is your job, do you keep expenses separate? I notice you have your airfare on here. If not, would this be something you would consider in the future?

  15. Jill says:

    I know it is a small accomplishment, but I am thrilled that I was able to save $315 in August in my savings account. I cut out my recreational trips to thrift stores for ” treasures” (aka clutter). I also took inventory of my food pantry and planned dinner around food already paid for. I shopped almost exclusively at the produce market for inexpensive food in season (25 pounds of peaches for $17.50) Now for September!

  16. Oooh, I’m so excited to hear more about your cider press! I hear that cider is a labor of love; is it true that it takes a year for it to ferment to drinkability? This month on our homestead I started making my own wine! I bought fruit that was on sale at the store and brewed it myself. It’s now fermenting until the middle of September, when I can bottle it. It cost me a total of $10 to make and I’ll get 5 – 7 bottles of wine from it. Not shabby, eh? 🙂

  17. CloserToFree says:

    Love following these expense reports, thank you for sharing! My only surprise was that the Lola retreat didn’t pay for your hotel. How many nights were you in Portland? Sounds like a great event! I can’t wait for the next update on life on the homestead, looking forward to hearing about how the garden’s been doing.

  18. Will the cider press be operational when I visit!?!? 🙂 How cool! Can’t wait to see you guys this month!

  19. Ilene says:

    The picture of Babywoods on a mission to swim was priceless! My grandmother wore a hat just like that to church! Your daughter always looks so well dressed…proof positive that the children of the frugal need not look shabby. Well done!

  20. Ms. Raggedly says:

    Happy anniversary to your parents! 50 years is such a great milestone 🙂 sounds like it was a wonderfully worthwhile vacation with some quality family time.

    I’m looking forward to your ciderpress tales – I recently had accesss to four producing apple trees ( they were small apples! ) and we ended up taking away six shopping bags worth of apples as well as a 5 gallon tub of them! And there were still more! I feel like at a certain point you have to get inventive with how you use things – we ended up peeling and cutting and freezing a ton of ziplock bags worth.

    Thanks for the post!

  21. Kellyn says:

    Your first round of jars will come with one-time lids, but for next season you should look into getting these:

    http://www.reusablecanninglids.com

    They’re reusable!

    Also – look into apple cider jam 🙂 I used to work for a school garden non profit in Cambridge and the cider pressing we did in November was a beloved tradition. I made mulled cider jam with the leftovers once and it was delicious.

  22. Katie says:

    Yay!!! I can’t wait to hear about the new cider press. Congratulations on your parents’ anniversary. Sounds like you guys had a great month. 🙂

  23. That is a great milestone, 50th wedding anniversary!! Congrats to your parents. My parents celebrated their 40th last year.
    Must have been a good break to go on a flight without the worries of BabyWoods. We haven’t gone on a flight with our 1 year old yet but he does like to point at planes so hopefully it’s a sign that we will like being on one.
    Can’t wait to hear about your cider press stories.

  24. Carolyn says:

    Making cider is in our plans as well. Hubby bought a TSM press for $203 dollars, but needs to get the fruit grinder to prep the apples to press. We did a batch with our bumper crop of blueberries, after they were frozen first so the berry skins had ruptured first to press more juice. Hubby ferments in glass carboys then stores in stainless soda kegs under CO2 pressure. We are keeping bees for the garden pollination and to get honey. Next year is mead from our own honey.

  25. Ms. Montana says:

    We have two good sized apple trees and my dad has a press. Pressing apples is a fun family get together! (Although the wasps love to join!) Plus it’s a case where “many hands make light work” for sure! Maybe invite some neighbors and friends to join the fun? The pulp left over makes great pig/chicken/duck food. When we had ducks, crushed apples were their favorite treat!

  26. JD says:

    It sounds like August was a busy, but wonderful month. I remember my parents’ 50th anniversary; they insisted on paying for their own celebration and even provided a “wedding cake”, since they had eloped when they got married. We had to travel to get there, but since we stayed with my parents, too, at their insistence, our expenses were minimal.
    I knew a man with a cider press, which he used to make fresh cider. He would take it to the annual historical festival in my hometown, which was in the fall, and would press cider and sell cups and jugs of it. It was so delicious. Farmers’ often had jugs of fresh cider for sale at their roadside stands on their farms, along with baskets of tree-ripened apples. Mmmmm, what memories that brings back.
    Our own August turned out to be a lot more expensive than we planned, with car, appliance and mower troubles, plus some unexpected medical expenses. I’m hoping September sees us getting back on track!

  27. JD says:

    Meant to add, have you ever made boiled cider? King Arthur Baking sells it, but it’s expensive. It’s simply boiled down cider, and makes a tasty sweet addition to baking. I also have a recipe to make pie using boiled cider as the main filling ingredient.

  28. Oldster says:

    Very much looking forward to your This Month on the Homestead. It sounds like it will be exciting. I have fond memories of my parents 50th. We did a Hawaii theme because mom always wanted to go (but never got there – sounds like a lesson to be learned). We do miss them terribly (they’ve been gone awhile, I am, after all, an Oldster;-). Family memories are the best. I’m glad you make time to create them.

  29. Mao says:

    That Cider press must be exciting! Congrats to your parents of 50th anniversary! That’s impressive.

  30. Torrie says:

    Oh man! Homemade cider is the BEST—there’s an orchard in the next town over that sells theirs, and it’s seriously the most amazing stuff ever, so hopefully your first try with your harvest is a success! Can’t wait to read all about it.

  31. Erin says:

    Wow, congratulations to your parents! 50 years is amazing, and I’m glad your family all had a great time celebrating. Also the Lola retreat looked awesome, so all in all an exciting month of travels for you!

    Ooh, a cider press is definitely exciting. I’m someone who drinks cider more often than beer so I’ll be following your cider-making adventures with interest!

  32. Erin Kirkendoll says:

    I love the light rail in Portland so much- it pretty much stops directly in tbe terminal! The money you spent for the anniversary celebration is impressive! Such a great idea to hire a photographer so that everyone can put down their cameras/phones and just enjoy!

  33. I would love to hear more about your common expenses with your siblings for your parents’ 50th! Were there difficulties in managing the common money?

    We have organized a vacation with a group of friends for several years running, and we generally split expenses by number of people in the categories of lodging, food, and alcohol, but I do find that people tend to spend much more freely when expenses are shared…

    And, will those additonal expenses show up next month? Or give us the secret of how the week of expenses was a total of $82!?!?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Nope, no arguments–we discussed what we’d be buying ahead of time, then tallied it up and divided by three. Easy as that! We’re all pretty frugal, so it wasn’t an issue. And that’s the total amount! We stayed at my parents’ house, so no lodging expenses, and the photographer is a friend of my sister’s, so she gave us a great rate. Same goes for the engraved glasses–made by a friend of the family. The cake was from a bakery and not too pricey and then my parents insisted on paying for a bunch of the food. So that’s it!

  34. Melanie says:

    Looking forward to reading about your cider adventures in the near future!

  35. Louisa says:

    What a great event for your family!
    We have lovingly joked with friends about how our parents insist on paying for all of us in restaurants, however old or financially comfortable we “kids” are.
    Odd frugal note: The College Chapel near me bought communion wine in heavy glass jugs slightly larger than a gallon. A friend used the empties for wine making. You might find such a source, if they could be sterilized and work for cider. Maybe banquet halls buy wine by the jug for filling carafes.

  36. Cubert says:

    Very nice! I’m curious how your frugal parents wound up in San Diego ($$$$) of all places? Looks lovely though.

    And I remember that post when you traveled the first time with your newborn. Rest assured, it gets soooo much easier after potty training. Worth the trade off giving up the 2 and under “travel free” deal.

  37. Happy end of August, beginning of September! It sounds like you had some fantastic adventures this month. I like what you said about values-driven, priority based spending. I’m fine with shelling out big (well, big-ish) bucks if it’s something we really want or need, that we’ve planned for, and that we will truly enjoy. Our August was, well, pretty much right on the money! Ha. Nothing exciting happened, but we stuck to the budget, reduced our debt, and stashed more cash into savings.

  38. Sounds like you had a wonderful August. I think that in future years all of you will consider the family photos high value, money well-spent.
    I am looking forward to hearing more about the cider and canning adventures!

  39. Mr. Tako says:

    It looks like *another* frugal month for the FrugalWoods family. It looks like you guys had tons of fun (must have been hard to have fun in San Diego and Portland), yet you still kept things frugal. Go figure!

    Looking forward to detail on the cider press and canning jars! Frugal onward!

  40. That’s so impressive that you spent under $50 eating out on your three week vacation! Your parents’ house in California is just beautiful. What a nice place to visit! And 50 years of marriage is such a legacy. The cider press sounds like a really cool purchase. I’ve never seen one, despite living in NH for seven years. We don’t need one yet, given our apple tree produced just one apple! 🙂

  41. Soggysuzzi says:

    Hi! I swore I wouldn’t bother you with another post so soon, but I couldn’t resist. Your left over apple mess will probably end up in your compost since you don’t yet have any ducks. May I suggest that you consider dumping a smidgen of it on the ground somewhere where it won’t be too offensive. It may smell since you won’t be adding dry matter to it as you undoubtedly do with your compost. In the spring it will be covered with a half a zillion little baby apple trees. Dig up a few of the best and replant them somewhere where they are somewhat protected and keep them watered. After a year you will probably have to dig them up and transplant them again to avoid the roots getting tangled. There will also probably be some die off, so plant enough. Let them get big enough so they look like they may amount to something and them plant them in your apple orchard or wherever you want. Keep them trimmed, and when big enough get a branch from an apple tree that has a variety you like, for instance a later, long keeping variety, and graft it onto your baby. By this time the industrious Mr. F will taken a class or learned to graft from someone and you are on your way. Free apple trees with as many different kinds of apples as you want.

    By the way on my post about snails, etc. I forgot to tell you why you use agricultural lime. It’s a pH thing (acid vs. alkaline) balance. the snails slither over it and the lime sticks to the slime and dehydrates the little suckers so they go to snail heaven.

    I just accidently landed on your blog before I really understood what a blog was (I was on HGTV – don’t ask how I ended up here–I haven’t a clue). I absolutely love it and wish I had know all the stuff you blog about years ago. As you may guess I’m a computer zero on these new (to me) programs and am trying to figure it out as I go along. Your baby is a dream and I love what we call around here “40 mile an hour couch potatoes”.

    I’m so intrigued with your blog that I’m using my “I’m through for today” time going back to the beginning and reading everything including all the comments. I have notebook that I’m putting all the ideas I want to pursue when I finish my move (whenever that turns out to be – long boring story).

    Some nut trees can take up to 10 years to produce nuts, so if interested you may want to move them to a higher place on your “to do” list if you want any.

    I recently read that you got a ton of tomatoes (all of 6) last year. You probably planted long season tomatoes. In a short summer (like ours also) you need to plant a variety from the early smaller ones and the mid-season and late (big ones) kind. A good resource to learn about which varieties do best in your climate and the time it takes from transplant to picking. A good list is on Eliot Coleman’s blog, Four Season Farm.com. You won’t get the benefit of his tremendous knowledge (he was a teacher before he because a truck farmer) unless you get his books one of which was co-authored by his wife Barbara. I have all four of those in print and I love them. Since I’m not a farmer I won’t use a lot of it, but his research is fabulous and these are among the best gardening books ever written in my opinion.

    Have a fabulous, fun and happy day.

  42. Soggysuzzi says:

    Oops. I must have accidently erased the reason for Eliot’s Four Season Farm’s blog. It’s for a list of seed catalogs. Sorry.

  43. You make me want to live in a homestead so badly! For now I’ve got my balcony garden and praying my lettuce seedlings don’t die on me!

  44. Chris says:

    How do you all keep your electric so low? Any tips as my electric bill is 490 each month and getting out of hand. It is a 2 story house with a basement. Tried raising my thermostat by 4 degrees and it lowered it $1 exactly.
    Any tips would be greatly appreciated thank you!

  45. Ann Lee S says:

    I’m asking if you have a “bug out bag”, a pre-planned disaster kit …. or maybe you don’t find it necessary on 66 acres? perhaps everyone would be “bugging out” toward your place!! ann lee

  46. Brian Jones says:

    I wanted to add a brief inquiry about savings that is off topic (sort of): Would anyone, including Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods, recommend having their savings account be in low-fee index funds? My wife and I just finished reading Jim Collins book, and it seems as if this would be a good idea instead of having your savings account have money in it that is not doing anything at all. We have about $14,000 left to pay off in our student loans and then we are debt free. Just wanted to get any insights on this. We already have our Roth IRA and Contributory low-fee index funds set up with Charles Schwab (this is what my wife’s hospital has set up for her retirement already, so we just put our assets in Schwab). Thanks again for any wisdom offered here.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good question! I highly recommend having a liquid emergency fund, which is to say, 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in a checking or savings account–not in index funds. The reason for this is that you need easily accessible cash in the event of an emergency (a health crisis, a car breakdown, an unexpected family emergency, etc). While you can liquidate your index funds, that money is not immediately available and it does not constitute an emergency fund. Any money beyond your emergency fund can then be invested in the market. I hope this helps :)!! Also, I’m not familiar with Charles Schwab, so make sure to check out what fees they charge for your low-fee index funds. The two brokerages I recommend are Fidelity and Vanguard and you’ll want to make sure that Schwab’s fees are the same as what Fidelity and Vanguard offer as those are the lowest fees I’ve found. High fees will absolutely cripple your net worth over the long term. If Schwab’s fees are higher, then I highly recommend moving your index funds over to either Vanguard or Fidelity.

      • I definitely +1 the advice given here!

        It’s just good practice to have at least some cash liquid and stowed away. You never know what kind of things can pop up, as well as the next market pullback.
        I’ll just add, if traditional savings accounts are too low, you might want to look into some short term CD’s or money markets.

        Best of luck! 🙂

  47. SMM says:

    Tracking expenses is important because for many it can be a rude wake up call. But that call is needed to take action and learn that so many little expenses can add up really quickly. Small adjustments can make a big difference. I hope you enjoy your press machine 🙂

  48. Karen says:

    Love Manchester Airport! I have family in Mass and I did a dance of joy when Manchester opened and I no longer had to fly in to Logan. The ticket costs a bit more for me but it is worth every penny for the sanity I save not driving through Boston. Spending money on what really matters… avoiding Boston traffic.

  49. Trudie says:

    I noticed you are with Boom Mobile. How has the service worked out for you, particularly when you travel? We need to make a switch next year and I’m trying to find a lower cost option.

  50. Just curious how you separate out expenses such as groceries/household items. You’ve probably been asked this before. For me, I need to go to each receipt and pull out items that are food, items that are household supplies etc. and that is a pain. Do you have a specific method? Or should I just suck it up and spend some time with my receipts. 🙂 Thanks!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We do two transactions at the store–one for groceries and one for household items. Since they have self check-out lanes, it’s not a problem to do and it’s the easiest way I’ve found to keep organized.

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