November 2014 Expenditures
November was a rather aberrational, yet fabulous, month here at Frugalwoods HQ as we had the delightful pleasure of hosting Mr. FW’s family for Thanksgiving. Rest assured, the resident certified turkey freak Frugal Hound noshed on a few juicy tidbits of bird along with a splash of gravy on her kibble.
As I shared in A Very DIY Thanksgiving, we enjoyed flexing our DIY muscles and doing our own prep work for the holiday, which meant we only spent $177.50 on all the food and drinks for the week. Additionally, Mr. FW dry-walled and painted a wall that was missing in our kitchen (it’s a long story, which we’ll go into in a future post, but basically we had no wall) and replaced our shower mixer valve spindle assembly, which elected to break right before our guests arrived. These home improvement materials represent a bump in our expenses to the tune of $258.69.
Another unusual expense this month was our frugantic* getaway to Vermont to hike and homestead-hunt with our realtor. We stayed at a charming farmhouse via Airbnb (thank you to Justin at Root of Good for the $25-off coupon) and kept our costs on the frugal side by cooking all of our own food and not paying for any entertainment. Hence, the only expenses incurred were the Airbnb rental itself and gas for ol’ Frugalwoods-mobile.
*frugal + romantic
Our Airbnb hosts were excited by our homestead plans and graciously took us on a 4-hour timber assay, during which they taught us how to calculate timber value on a property. One of our hosts is a forester and his breadth of knowledge was incredible. He patiently showed us how to measure tree trunks, the number of logs each tree will yield, and take bore samples to evaluate the quality of the wood. It’s likely we’ll buy a property somewhat near their farm, so we’re looking forward to staying in touch and hopefully repaying their kindness in the future.
All of these extracurriculars pushed our expenditures up quite a bit for the month, but, we’re all about conscious, meaningful spending around here, so we don’t regret a single thing. The whole point of our frugal, simple, good lifestyle is to spend when it matters and on experiences that bring true value and enrichment to our lives. Quality time with family and investments in our marriage and future homestead are prime examples.
We also started our Christmas gift purchasing in November, but, we were able to procure everything through Amazon for free by redeeming some of our Amazon.com cash back rewards card points. Yet another reason why we’re advocates for responsible and judicious use of credit cards.
As regular readers know, we itemize every single dollar we spend in our monthly reports to give you a sense of how we allocate our resources and manage to save 65%-85% of our take-home pay (after maxing out our 401Ks).
Interested in learning how we keep costs so low? Check out How We Save 65% Annually and, if you’re up for some hardcore frugal adventuring, take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge. If you’re curious about some of the common expenses that are missing from the below, our August Expense report has the answers (or feel free to ask in the comments).
Where’s Your Money?
One of the easiest ways to optimize your money is to use a high-interest savings account. A high-interest savings account gives you money for nothing. With these accounts, interest works in YOUR favor (as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you). Having money in a no (or low) interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:
Let’s say you have $5,000 in a savings account that earns 0% interest. In a year’s time, your $5,000 will still be… $5,000.
Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account that–as of this writing–earns 1.70% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,085.67. That means you earned $85.67 just by having your money in a high-interest account.
And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low (or no) interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person. Be the person who earns money while you sleep. Rack up the interest and prosper. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, is here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.
Pull up a chair (or standing desk), find a festive beverage, and enjoy a good long snoop through the Frugalwoods November purchases:
|Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance||$2,741.01||Yep, it’s high. But, we live in a very high COL city (Cambridge, MA) and this house will be our cash-flowin’ rental after we decamp to our rural homestead.|
|Airbnb Stay||$333.00||Two nights at the farm, which included a few delicious and artesian foodstuffs.|
|Home Improvement||$258.69||This is mud, tape, drywall, grout, and shower valve parts for Mr. FW’s two major projects this month: drywalling and painting our kitchen wall and replacing the shower valve spindle assembly.|
|Costco||$194.00||Household supplies (toilet paper, dog food, laundry detergent, vitamins, shampoo, etc) and bulk foods (oats, beans, rice, spices, olive oil).|
|Thanksgiving Groceries||$177.89||Our Thanksgiving feast and foods for hosting Mr. FW’s family. Includes all wine, beer, and coffee. And it was scrumptious!|
|Frugalwoods Email System (for one year)||$147.60||If you haven’t signed up for our fresh & hot new email system, Frugal Hound invites you to do so at the bottom of this post!|
|Groceries||$140.52||Regular groceries for Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods.|
|Gasoline||$75.44||Slightly higher this month given our trek up to Vermont.|
|Internet||$66.95||Inspired by Budgets Are Sexy’s Challenge Everything! challenge, Mr. FW called the company this month to see if they’d lower it.But alas, since we don’t have cable or a phone line, they had no deal to offer us. It was a very circular conversation as they couldn’t grasp why we didn’t want to purchase cable…|
|Electric Bill||$62.58||It’s electric!|
|Boot Repair||$60.00||As I shared in 10 Shockingly Expensive Things We Own, I had my Frye leather boots re-soled and I’m very pleased with the result. They now sport a rubberized gripping sole and heel, which is much sturdier than the previous smooth leather (lovely, but not practical).|
|Fine Homebuilding magazine renewal (affiliate link)||$37.95||One of two print publications we subscribe to (the other is The Atlantic). Fine Homebuilding is written for professionals in the construction trade and every issue contains a wealth of specific time-saving strategies and epic tips, tricks, and how-to’s. And before you ask, no it is not available for free online. Yes, we could go to the library to read it, but it’s one of Mr. FW’s few luxuries to receive it delivered straight to our home. So there. Plus, the tips we’ve used from Fine Homebuilding have saved us untold sums of money in our myriad home improvement projects.|
|Gas Bill||$26.69||Since this is the payment for October, you can tell we didn’t turn our heat on until November 1. I expect this’ll be much higher next month!|
|Prescription Medication||$15.00||Co-pay for one prescription medication.|
|EZ Pass Highway Toll Tag||$11.50||Our EZ Pass toll tag periodically tops up our account. This total represents tolls we’ve paid over the past several months.|
|Electric Blanket & A Soap Dispenser||$4.10||We used a gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy an electric blanket and a new soap dispenser for the kitchen sink.This is the difference we paid after using the gift card. We signed up for their mobile list in advance in order to get 20% off!|
|Gift Card To A Restaurant||$3.66||We had a gift card to a local sushi joint and we got take out (which is cheaper than sit-down).This is the difference we paid after using the gift card.|
|Parking Meter||$1.50||Cost of parking at my dentist appointment. Good news: no cavaties for either of us!|
|7-Eleven Seltzer||$1.24||A rare splurge for two bottles of seltzer from 7-Eleven while on our Vermont roadtrip.|
|Blog Back-up||$0.91||You want Frugalwoods to be backed-up right? Well, we do.|
What do you think of our expenses? How was your November? Tips, frugal hacks, and advice always welcome!
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