Overalls And Other April 2019 Expenditures

I do not like wearing shorts. Even in the smolder of summer, I detest short pants. Do you know what I do like to wear when it’s hot? Dresses. I like to wear loose, breezy, dresses. Dresses with pockets are a particular favorite. Cotton is also good. I do not like sleeveless, or backless, or tank-topped dresses.

I will wear anything! I’m a baby! I’m probably going to eat this rock!

I like short-sleeved dresses so that I can wear a normal, comfortable bra and so that I don’t have to douse my entire upper torso with sunscreen. The problem with dresses is that I have two small children. With two small children, I am forever bending over to pick one of them up, crawling under tables at the library to retrieve tossed cheerios, crouching to put on tiny shoes, and sitting on the ground so that they can climb into my lap.

You may be surprised to hear that, unlike my three-year-old, I prefer not to flash my undies around. In light of this preference, I wore shorts all of last summer. And the summer before. And the summer before that. I hate-wore those shorts. They were bunchy and hot. They were ugly and uncomfortable. My legs itched.

I’m too old and too tired to wear itchy, bunchy, hot things and so I turned to my source for divine inspiration–my mom’s group–and asked what I should do. They responded in unison: “BUY SKIMMIES!”

Since I don’t shop for clothes and don’t like to shop for clothes and don’t even like to THINK about shopping for clothes, I had no clue what Skimmies were and no idea that some genius at Jockey solved my shorts-hate/flashing-hate issue with what are essentially nylon bike shorts. But they are so much more comfortable, loose, and breathable than actual bike shorts.

My woes are over. I wear these $20 shorts under dresses purchased for $0.25 cents at a rummage sale, and so yes, I see the irony (affiliate link). However, I care so little about that irony that I bought a second pair. Skimmies are not shapewear, which was my fear. I’m too old, too tired, and have too many children to wear something that’s going to slim and trim me–marketing speak for “squeeze your hips in a spandex vise that inverts your stomach fat, creating: 1) areas for sweat to pool; 2) extreme discomfort; 3) itching; 4) inability to breathe deeply.” Fabulous. The Skimmies are more like leggings–they’re snug against my skin, but not constricting (affiliate link).

I can report I’ve worn my Skimmies with dresses on more than one occasion, thus far, and been flash and discomfort-free. Sorry (not sorry) that I don’t have any photos of me wearing the Skimmies. Laugh all you want at my $20 under-shorts, but I love them. I might even buy a third pair.

Other Stuff We Bought

Kidwoods: lover of mud season

We did buy things other than my under-shorts this month, but really, those were all I wanted to talk about. OK fine, I’ll talk about the other stuff. But not with as much enthusiasm.

Overalls!

My man also got some new clothes in the form of work overalls. Attempt to contain your jealousy over our fashionable-ness. Mr. FW is also too old, too tired, and has too many children to wear uncomfortable clothing. He wore bib snowpants all winter for outdoor work and liked the flex and utility of wearing overalls. Now that our snow has melted, he finds himself unable to reasonably wear snowpants and so, he got this pair of canvas-like summertime work overalls (affiliate link).

He reports these are excellent for outdoor labor because they have tons of pockets for tools-n-such, they don’t slide around like pants do (especially when bending over in the garden or to buck logs with a chainsaw), they don’t require a belt (which makes it easier to put chainsaw chaps on top of them), and his shirt never rides up (ideal to prevent bug and ticks bites). 10 out of 10, would recommend.

He’s considering buying a second pair because my once-a-week laundry regime is not quite cutting it for how filthy these things get. We’re talking filth-y.

Seed Starting Heat Mats

Relevant to our melted snow, we got a few more seed starting heat mats (affiliate link). These are essentially heating pads for infant vegetable plants. We put these underneath our vegetable seed starts (which we start indoors) to keep them toasty, which encourages germination and growth.

Vicious-Looking Spear-Like Weeder

There’s a garden under there…

Further relevant to the advent of spring, Mr. FW found this weeder, which is designed to root out weeds with deep taproots (affiliate link). Just such a weed–Common Mallow–took up residence in our blueberry patch and we were having trouble digging it out.

This weeder (which resembles a miniature, spiked pitchfork) is, in Mr. FW’s words, “freaking awesome” at pulling out the Common Mallow.

C02 Refill

It was time for a reload of our 20lb C02 tank, which powers our hacked Sodastream system, which delivers sparkling water (aka seltzer) on tap. I have several write-ups on our system, in case you’re a fellow sparkling water devotee. Here’s the math on how much money this saves us, based on our consumption rate of 42oz of CO2 a month (3 traditional Sodastream cartridges worth):

  • Traditional Sodastream cartridge: $44.94/month
  • Frugal newbie system with homebrew store-sourced C02 tank: $9.24/month
  • Frugal boss system with welding store-sourced C02  tank: $4.62/month

Additionally, for those of you embarking on this project, I have a new link for the adaptor kit and hose (that’s an affiliate link).

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Actual photo I took in our actual woods in the actual month of April

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. By the way, it’s a dirty, dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years, however, does help your score.

For more on our credit card strategy, check out The Frugalwoods Guide to a Simple, Yet Rewarding, Credit Card Experience.

If you want to get a simple cash back credit card, then from my research, I think the Fidelity Rewards Visa (which is the card that I have) and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are both excellent options. Both of these cards have no annual fee and offer good cash back percentages on your purchases.

Kidwoods and Mr. FW taking a rest break in the woodshed

The best way to find a credit card that’ll work for you is to search for them yourself. Fortunately, there’s a website, CardRatings.com, with a search function for this purpose that nicely aggregates information about tons of different credit cards.

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! (note: these credit card links are affiliate links)

Cash Back Earned This Month: $29.24

We earn 2% cash back on every purchase made with our Fidelity Rewards Visa and this month, we spent $1,462.05 on that card, which netted us $29.24. Not a lot of money, perhaps, but it’s money we earned for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway! This is why I love credit card rewards–they’re the simplest way to earn something for nothing. I will note that if we instead had the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, we would’ve earned 3% cash back, which would be $43.86!

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Littlewoods, quite pleased with her Easter basket of empty plastic eggs

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 manner, you might consider trying Personal Capital (note: these Personal Capital links are affiliate links).

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 Cambridge, MA, which I discuss here. Why do we allocate our money like we do? 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).

Kidwoods: equally pleased with her Easter basket of empty plastic eggs, but attempting here to ferret them away upstairs out of reach of her sister…

For us, embracing prudent financial management and 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 in which we maximize efficiency.

Why do I share our expenses? To help give you a sense of how we use our money in a goal-oriented manner. Your spending will differ from ours and there’s no “one right way” to spend and no “perfect” budget (perfection does not exist!). We’re not the most frugal people on earth (far from it) and we’re not spendthrifts either.

We fall somewhere in between and I hope that by being transparent about our spending, you might gain some insights into your own spending and be inspired to take proactive control of your money.

If you’re wondering where to start with managing your money, or if you’d like to save more money every month, you might consider taking my free, 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge. You can sign-up at any time and you’ll start with Day One of the Challenge.

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 and expenses 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 take it to a transfer station once a week in bags that we purchase from our town), we heat our home with wood we harvest ourselves from our land, and we don’t have central air conditioning (we use window units during the hottest parts of the summer). We also have solar panels, which account for our low electricity bill.

For more on our rural lifestyle, check out my series This Month On The Homestead as well as City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown.

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

Wondering about other common expenses that you don’t see listed below?

If you’re wondering about anything else, feel free to ask me in the comments section!

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

Item Amount Notes
Vermont Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries, household supplies, wine, beer, caramel vodka $877.47 Ugh. Forgot to separate out the groceries from the alcohol and the household supplies (toilet paper, laundry detergent, vitamins, etc) and so it’s all lumped together. Read here for how the caramel vodka was used.
Preschool $534.56 Kidwoods goes to preschool four mornings a week, which we and she love! More on our preschool decision here.
Truck Registration (for 2 years) $140.00 Two years’ worth of registration for our truck
Garden and farm supplies $120.45
Gasoline for cars $92.34
Date night!!!!!! $74.29 Mr. FW and I go out to dinner once a month without our kids!!! Our fabulous adopted grandma neighbor comes over to watch the kids. We put the girls to bed before we leave, just to make it all the easier on everyone involved.
Internet $74.00
Ladies Night!!!!!! $49.24 I go out to dinner once a month with a group of ladies. We go without our kids, without our partners, and it is wonderful. More on why this is important to me here.
Diesel for tractor $47.17
Seed Starting Heat Mats $38.97 We purchased these seed starting heat mats for our vegetables (affiliate link).
Overalls for Mr. FW $34.29 Summer work overalls for Mr. FW (affiliate link).
C02 for Seltzer $34.25 20lb tank of food-grade C02 for our hacked Sodastream system
Prescription medications $26.84
Skimmies for Mrs. FW $20.00 The magic Skimmies (affiliate link).
Cell phone through BOOM Mobile $19.99 BOOM is an MVNO cell provider, which is why it’s so cheap. If you’re not using an MVNO (such as BOOM, Ting, Mint, Republic Wireless), do some research as it’s likely you’ll be able to decrease your cell phone bill by A LOT.
Weeder $18.90 “Freaking awesome” weeder for rooting out the Common Mallow invading our blueberry patch (affiliate link).
Utilities: Electricity $18.48 We have solar (which I detail here) and this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Yellow Curry Paste $11.93 Yellow Curry Paste. Oddly enough, our local market sells both green curry paste and red curry paste, but not yellow. We’ve tried all three and prefer the yellow curry paste. And so, we buy it online… This quantity makes two weeks worth of dinners for us (affiliate link).
Total: $3,626.03
Minus Mortgage: $2,233.17

How was your April?

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48 Responses

  1. Instead of making heating mats for our seedlings we made a mini-greenhouse that attaches to one of our at-ground windows. We open up the window at night to make sure it doesn’t get too cold.

    That’s been our go-to strategy for seedlings and it was pretty easy to create.

    Your fight to combat lifestyle inflation is impressive and certainly paying off!

  2. Just want to add that I am all with you on dresses (wearing another one to work today). I’m more than two years into a clothes buying ban but have received two pairs of hand me down flats this year and it’s meant I can wear allll the dresses and it’s the best 🙂

  3. Caroline Bowman says:

    I have been a lover of cycle-short style undies for under dresses since my actual wedding day. I know. Beyond romantic and sexy. I live in South Africa. It gets hot. Bizarrely, I don’t actually have fat legs or chubby thighs. Not to say I’m thin as a rake, but for whatever reason, I get sweaty inner thighs and the chafe is agony. Nowhere else chafes, even, um, more obviously-sweaty and friction-prone areas, just there. Red blisters. Yum. Anyway. For years I rarely wore summer dresses for this precise reason, until my wedding day, a nice hot late summer day when it occurred to me that…

    So I bought a pair of very, very unlovely, thin, slippery-lycra mid-thigh shorts in nude / tan. They do give a nice smooth line to be fair, but are not shape wear in the slightest, as in, not intended to suck in, just skim over. Since then, I have been a devotee. Welcome to the club!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yay! BEYOND sexy. I agree.

    • Claire says:

      Same here.. can’t walk in a dress or skirt in summer for more than 5 min before the chafe begins. Great tip with the nude color, that sounds a lot more “invisible” than black. They go on my shopping list!!

    • Stephanie says:

      I’m also not heavy, don’t have particularly big thighs, BUT OMG the chafing and rubbing! I would get scabs! I’ve found anti-perspirant works well. Must try the shorts!

  4. Cindy in South says:

    How was my April…it involved three main expenses, teeth, tires and taxes…the three t’s. My teeth are terrible (it is genetic), my tires needed to be replaced on my Toyota Yaris, and well taxes….. Other than theses three major expenses, everything else was normal.

  5. Marya says:

    The reviews on the Skimmies just made my day!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hahah! I was totally wearing them at your house the other day as I blissfully sat cross-legged and unconcerned with our littles on the floor 😉

  6. Tara says:

    Yay for wearing your favorite clothing again! I am a larger woman who suffers from “chub rub” with dress/skirt wearing, so I love shorts and pants for this reason. But I have come across a cheaper version of those skimmies at Target (their JKY, a brand of Jockey) for $12 a pair and I can get into skirts again. I’m not always good with dresses because I also have a long torso, so dresses can frequently be too short on me. But being able to wear skirts again is great so completely I hear you on your summer attire change excitement!

    Also as far as shorts go, I don’t know where you’re getting them, but I always opt for higher waisted pairs with longer legs so as to avoid uncomfortable wear that rides down, plus with close-ish-fitting, longer legged shorts (a few inches above the knee), I don’t have to worry about flashing inadvertently. It is hard to find high-waisted though. Even though no one needs to be showing off their plumbers crack so I don’t know why the low-rise style is coming back!!!

    • Jan says:

      Thanks for this! Just ordered some from Target. I am plus size and the only other pair for these ‘skimmies’ cost more than $20. Was tired of handwashing and waiting for them to dry. But love wearing them under a skirt.
      Of course my other summer staple is capris: on me, not the classiest, but hey, whatever.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Great tip on the Target JKYs! Thank you for sharing!

    • Anne says:

      I can’t stand to wear an extra layer, so I love Long or Capri-length loose cotton or linen pants. Much easier for running around with the kids, and is a really comfy, effortless look

  7. Sarah says:

    If you’re a Costco member you can order a 2 pack of skimmies online for $15.99

    I had never heard of them and just bought 4 pairs after reading this 🙂

  8. Gretel says:

    I also only wear dresses in the summer…I don’t even own a pair of shorts….being slightly plus sized…..shorts are super uncomfortable and unflattering! I do wear sleeveless dresses despite having fat arms now because I really don’t care! The downside to wearing dresses is people mistakenly always think you’re dressed up! The other day I wore a cheap black knit swing dress (old navy outlet, I really can’t find nice clothes in a 16ish size at thrift shops) and was told how elegant I looked….cheap black knits are the way to go! (unless you have a tan pug who sheds, which I do) Don’t know about wearing your jockey undies though…I prefer to risk flashing! LOL

  9. Jessi says:

    I’m not sure if skimmies are magical, but I wear cotton biker shorts from Walmart under my dresses. About $4 a pair. Definitely a necessity!

  10. Ooo I need to try skimmies! I too prefer dresses, especially in the summer. And after one too many of my kid’s daycare friends took a peek under my skirt I committed to wearing shorts under my dresses forever. I have these Nike Pro Combat compression-ish shorts but they dig into my waist. So I’m in the market for something new. Off to buy some skimmies!

  11. Cara says:

    Men’s boxers work great under loose dresses! They’re cotton, and breathe.

  12. Emily says:

    I live in the heat and humidity of the Washington, DC area and I have two littles. Skimmies are magical.

  13. Diane Neary says:

    Do you use only the free version of Personal Capital? OR Have you upgraded to the paid version? Why have you made your choice? Thanks so much.

  14. mary stone says:

    Skorts provide the same modesty b/c they have built-in shorts, and they’re readily available in all thrift stores. They can also be worn over capris and leggings in colder weather to fake a skirted legging look. Another option is genuine bike shorts – with or without the chamois liner. Cotton does not breathe; it absorbs and retains moisture. Man-made fabrics excel at wicking moisture – that’s why athletes don’t wear cotton and Under Armour threatens larger, older sportswear companies.

  15. Maria says:

    Skimmies was new to me too! I can recommend golf skirts or outdoor skirts. They have loose fit trousers built in. I love them (even though I’m not a golfer, nor an outdoor person).

  16. Alison B says:

    How do you feel about all of the Soda Stream bottles that are used? Do you use different bottles? It is a lot of plastic and bottles have expiration dates on them. Just curious.

    • Amy K says:

      I believe the Frugalwoods skip that entirely – they use the machine but just drink fizzy water without flavoring. Water + Carbon dioxide into cup.

  17. Lettuce Dance says:

    Thank you Sarah for the Costco skimmies tip! You just saved me $25!

  18. SHERRY JOHNSON says:

    Just added the weeder to my Amazon box!!! I hate weeds, so thank Mr. FW for the recommendation.

  19. Bec B. says:

    I love wearing skorts! They give the ease of a skirt with the practicality of leggings. I can comfortably do yard work around In The Buff Farms without actually resorting to any nudity or flashing, much to neighbor Shirley’s relief.

    Here’s a link to my favorite skort: https://amzn.to/2MdAYig, but Costco has a two pack available right now for much cheaper!

  20. Yata says:

    Was going second the skinnies/Costco comment.

  21. georgette says:

    i just ordered the slipshorts from amazon free 2 day shipping ,2 pack for 29.95 i also use amazon credit card had reward points that made them free but i do pay off the card right away.

  22. Mary says:

    Aren’t skimmies hot???? I admit, I do gladly wear shorts in the summer as they feel the most comfortable and cool.

  23. Liz in Lebanon (Ohio) says:

    Gretel, I know what you mean! I wear dresses and skirts to work every work day (my preference, not a rule). People always mention how “nice/dressed up” I look, even though a lot of my work clothes are thrifted.
    I also know your pain as a 16ish size….hard to find anything nice in that size at thrift shops. I’ve lucked into some nice things, but it’s very hit or miss.

  24. Katie Camel says:

    Good to know about skimmies! I used to wear a pair of shorts under my dresses as a teen for the same reason of not wanting to flash people, but those shorts are long gone and were of no particular name or brand. I’ll have to look into these, especially if I want to ride a bike in a dress. I routinely see women in Philly flashing everyone while biking in dresses!

    Anyway, glad to see you’re “splurging” on monthly date and ladies’ nights. 🙂

  25. JD says:

    I wish that young lady in Walmart, who was bent over at the waist checking the candles on the bottom shelf, had been wearing Skimmies under her mini-dress. Oh, how I wish.
    I like dresses, too, and have a couple of lightweight dresses to do housework in when the weather is hot. Since my shirt tail is always over or under my shorts waistband, I always end up with a sweaty waist when wearing shorts, well before the rest of me is sweaty.
    I wear dresses to work a lot, but as I work in a professional office, I wear (gasp!) pantyhose. I’m used to them, but they can be a pain sometimes. The panty helps provide modesty, but if I wasn’t wearing hose, some Skimmies would probably do the trick.
    My late great-uncle always wore overalls, always. I think they work much better than “hitchin'” up one’s pants all day long. Mr. FW is probably going to be very happy with them!

  26. Maureen says:

    No one can ever say you don’t share, and I love that!
    Not only do you help me stay on track with the frugaling, I always learn something and get to laugh too.
    A perfect trio. ❤

  27. Becky says:

    I’ve been known to just cut the legs off of old leggings and wear them under skirts!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Smart!

    • Marly says:

      I’m with you , Becky! I’ve been known to cut the bottoms off nursing scrubs and wear them as capris. My last three pairs ripped out in unmentionable and unrepairable places, within about a week of each other. And scrubs are a lot cheaper than capris. And they have lots of nice deep pockets to boot!

  28. Dianne says:

    I too, prefer dresses in the summer. I just wanted to confirm that Skimmies feel nothing like Spanx underneath your clothes.

  29. I live in sleeveless, knee-length dresses all summer long! I finally found some comfy shorts that fit me well (Old Navy ftw!), so I’m trying to mix it up a little this year. lol Thanks for sharing these expense reports—they always inspire me! 🙂

  30. Jane says:

    Hi
    You do not add your mortgage of house in Ma. Or expenses there When do you plan to unload this?
    Thanks😃

  31. Lori says:

    I tried undershorts for a while, but they are too hot here in Texas. To prevent chub rub, I use friction guard made for runners. It looks like a stick of deodorant, but you apply it where ever you think you might rub. There are many brands now, but mine is from Gold Bond and is called Friction Defense. I used it for two weeks walking around Rome last summer in July. It works so well! But it doesn’t solve the flashing problem…

  32. I pretty much always wear short leggings under my dresses (I too like breezy dresses, but work with kids in the summer). I did not know these had a name! Lets you bike in dresses too! I’m a big fan.
    My outdoor work clothes are typically clothes that no longer fit right… but they no longer fit right, so that creates issues. I do have a pair of paint overalls that I love!

  33. Liz C says:

    Not related to summer attire, but I’m not sure where else to pose this question/request. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts and recommendations on smart spending on technology – phones, phone plans, internet plans, computers, tablets, media, etc etc, ugh. I’m not a techie person, but I find that a certain amount of spending on things like laptops and internet is necessary if I want to participate in modern society (buy stuff on Amazon, entertain my kids without crafting, whatnot). One could probably spend an insane amount of time comparison shopping phones, phone plans, and the like, or switching internet providers every six months to take advantage of the current “deals”, but that would drive me insane. I’m sure you’ve got some useful insights on this topic, and I’d love to see a future post on technology spending! Thanks!

  34. Rachel says:

    Mrs. FW! I’ve been following your blog for a loooong time – since the pre-kid Boston days – and I’ve always wondered one thing: do you and Mr. FW ever take cash withdrawals from your account to have a bit of spending money? And if so, do you track that cash in your monthly accounting? What about incidental cash given to you by other people (i.e. to pay you back for something)? I have been tracking/budgeting my money for about 15 years, and I do it based on what goes into and out of my checking account. But cash always feels loosey goosey – I always track the amount of cash withdrawn, of course, but I don’t have a method for tracking how that cash is spent once it’s out of the account. Nor do I track cash given to me by others. Over the years I’ve definitely reduced the amount of cash I withdraw, as it’s not typically necessary spending, but it’s nice to have for small purchases or for places that only accept cash (rare, but it still happens!). Thanks!

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