Mr. FW poses with Snountain #1
Mr. FW poses with Snountain #1

The month of February can best be summed up by the following word: snow. And furthermore, snow. This was a rather expensive month by Frugalwoods standards, which I’m not thrilled about. And, none of it was even for fun stuff like travel!

Uninterestingly, we simply had a slew of boring, semi-annual bills hit this month, including: car insurance (paid every 6 months), water bill (paid every 3 months), excise tax on our car (paid annually), tax prep software (paid annually), and thanks to the snow, a higher than normal gas bill. If that’s not some party-time spending, I don’t know what is!

For your amusement and possibly horror, in this post I’m presenting a low-tech time lapse of the ever-growing Snountain (snow mountain because I’m so clever like that) on our back patio.


A greyhound tail
A greyhound tail

Speaking of hits, someone hit the front bumper of poor ol’ Frugalwoods-mobile (while she was parked on our street) and dislodged it in a big way. Sad times for our 19-year-old beast of a vehicle. Our already narrow, one-way city street is now narrower than a greyhound’s tail thanks to–you guessed it–exorbitantly-sized piles of snow and ice.

So, I’ll admit that Frugalwoods-mobile was perhaps parked sticking farther out into the road than optimal, but someone clearly hit it and then gunned it. This was no light tap. Yet another joy of living in the middle of the city with no driveway or garage to our name.

My intrepid fix-it man Mr. Frugalwoods got out there with every frugal weirdo’s chief DIY materials: twine and screws. He worked valiantly for several hours endeavoring to fix the bumper himself, but alas, in the absence of owning a pop rivet gun (or pop rivets themselves), he wasn’t able to reattach it completely.

Sad times for Frugalwoods-mobile
Sad times for Frugalwoods-mobile

However, thanks to his bearded MacGyver skillz, he secured the bumper sufficiently to drive it the 3 blocks to our awesome mechanic. Were it not for his twine-related action, we would’ve been on the hook for a tow truck.

Since our mechanic is 1) awesome, 2) knows us on sight, and 3) appreciates that we still drive a car from 1996, Mr. FW was able to convince them to let him cut in line and help fix the bumper himself. He jumped in there with the mechanic and together they slapped that bumper back on in 10 minutes flat. $35 later, Frugalwoods-mobile is once again complete and we are yet again tremendously grateful that our mechanic is a mere three blocks away–this being the fourth time we’ve driven our car there on what could only be referred to as repair fumes…

Snow Does Not = Higher Spending

Mr. FW with Snountain #2
Mr. FW with Snountain #2

I’m pleased that we didn’t succumb to the common snow doldrums/cabin fever expenses of take-out, restaurants, movies, and the like. Other than our increased gas bill, our February expenses don’t belie the tremendous dumping of snow we’ve received. Part of this is luck–our roof hasn’t leaked for example–and part of this is our commitment to doing everything ourselves and not giving in to the temptations of paying for convenience foods or entertainment.

Despite our higher expenses this month (you know I’m happiest when our non-mortgage spending is below $1,000), we’re still on track to save upwards of 71% again this year. And it bears repeating that our high savings rate is absolutely a product of the incredible privileges Mr. Frugalwoods and I are blessed with.

Frugal Hound had a good February as she was featured on Cute Overload, to which she replied that she is a very fierce and serious greyhound and does not appreciate being called “cute.” Awwww, Frugal Hound!

I is a fierce beast!
I is a fierce beast!

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

Snountain at its zenith
Snountain at its zenith

We use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide our below blog-ready analysis.

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. 

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. Always good to have everything in the same place! Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital for my expense tracking.

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.

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report

From top to bottom. I jest, you could read it bottom to top if you so desire, I’m not going to stop you. As regular readers know, we itemize every single dollar we spend (which is why there’s a line item for $2 this month). I do this because it’s the most honest articulation of how we allocate our resources and managed to save 71% of our take-home pay in 2014 (after maxing out our 401Ks).

Our patio last summer, sans snow
Our patio last summer, pre-Snountain

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 missing from the below, our August 2014 Expense report has the answers (or feel free to ask in the comments below).

Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence by age 33 and move to a homestead in the woods.

We don’t budget and instead live on frugal autopilot. This technique saves us the time and hassle of building a budget (we’re some lazy frugal weirdos). The caveat here is that many people find budgeting incredibly helpful and I in no way malign the budgeting process. If you operate more successfully with a budget, then budget away my friends.

And now, readers and greyhounds, I present you with every dollar that slipped past our paws in February 2015:

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
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.
Groceries $305.38 This is consistent with our standard grocery purchases and represents all the food we eat for the month.
6 months of car insurance $202.90 Our car insurance is levied every 6 months, so this represents one of two annual payments.
Utilities: Gas $197.04 February was the second coldest month in Boston’s recorded history, and our gas bill reflects that. We’re just trying to keep ourselves and the pipes from freezing up in here!
Water bill (every 3 months) $141.12 Our water bill arrives every three months, so this averages out to $47.04/month.
Household goods from Costco $94.06 Household supplies (toilet paper, dog food, laundry detergent, vitamins, shampoo, etc). This total does not include any food.
Utilities: Electric $89.15 It’s electric!
Internet $66.95 Internet! Worth it! We use it all the time! Like right now!
Annual excise tax on Frugalwoods-mobile $63.75 Annual tax paid to the city of Cambridge for our car.
Public transportation (subway passes) $40.00 We both added money to our subway (T) passes this month.
Beer and wine $36.73 Founder’s IPA from Costco for Mr. FW and Big House boxed cabernet sauvignon for moi.
Frugalwoods-mobile bumper situation $35.00 As illustrated above, tragedy struck Frugalwoods-mobile’s bumper.
Gasoline for Frugalwoods-mobile $25.61 Lower this month due to reduced travel due to extensive piles of snow!
Doctor’s appointment $20.00 Co-pay for one medical appointment.
Tax prep services $19.99 Mr. FW prepared our taxes himself–this was the cost of the prep software, TaxAct. He reports they did just as good a job as TurboTax but for a third of the price. Woot!
Blog back-up $3.64 Gotta keep the ol’ backed up! We’re lucky that Mr. FW is a software engineer and can manage our website himself, which keeps our blog-related expenses extremely low.
CVS Pharmacy $2.00 I honestly have no idea what this is. Maybe Frugal Hound stole my credit card and bought some mascara…
TOTAL SPENT: $4,084.33  
LESS MORTGAGE: $1,343.32

 What do you think, how’d we do? How was your February? Have you ever lost a car bumper?

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  1. Stupid car expenses. We are having bumper problems ourselves, but due to the fact that we know nothing about cars (other than that the wheels go on the ground) I very much doubt our repair bill is going to be $35.

    1. I have a one-word solution for that bumper (and many other similar problems): duct tape. With all the different colors and patterns now available, it’s not just for ducts anymore.

      Seriously, we reattached a snapped off sideview mirror (yea, some nitwit hit it) with duct tape color-coordinated to the car. The darned tape has been on there for over a year and the sideview mirror is still rock-solid.

      1. I divide the world into Things-I-Am-Willing-To-Fix-With-Duct-Tape and Things-I-Am-Not. Alas, on the list of Things-I-Am-Not-Willing-To-Fix-With-Duct-Tape is any part of my car that could cause a fatal accident if it falls off at 80 mph on a highway.

        1. Yeah, I agree with DebtFreeJD here. Where safety is involved, it’s not worth it to save a few bucks. Plus, we wouldn’t pass the state inspection here with a duct taped bumper. But trust me, we did discuss it!

          1. I agree with your thoughts on duct tape, but what about super glue? Have you heard of E6000? Sold at most craft stores, you can get a huge tube for just a few bucks. The stuff is amazing. My aunt actually used this and one application kept her bumper on for years. An added bonus is that it’s nearly invisible!

    1. Thanks so much! We do love the frugal autopilot method–lets us be lazy & frugal all at the same time :). Good luck converting your husband!

  2. I had a school bus hit my car while parked on the street then keep driving. I hadn’t realized it at the time, so I think I even gave him a wave. But there was a big yellow streak on the car after that. Snow banks and car = bad mix. The snountain photos are awesome. Especially when the before comes up at the end. It got warmer up here this weekend and we were able to dig down and see a patch of pavement on our drivement. Come, spring, come!

    1. A bus! Ugh! Yeah, we sort of figured it was just a matter of time before someone hit our parked car. The snow is taking over the world right now! Oooo pavement, how fancy 😉

  3. February was a great month! It was the first month in my marriage where I successfully tracked all of our expenses. Wunderbar! On to month 2! I’m excited to compare months and get a baseline for what we spend.
    Also, I think it’s really quite wonderful that you and your fellow Bostonians took all the snow this year. I normally have a few feet of snow pack where I live and we have grass right now. Really cold grass.

    1. Congrats, Kate! That’s awesome! I think tracking spending is the absolute best way to get a handle on financial goal setting. So, woot! Glad we could take your snow for ya 😉

  4. I didn’t lose a car bumper but I did lose a trunk handle! The Scion xB has this awesome feature where the handle to open the trunk is held by a thread. There’s tons of stories of them just being ripped off. I felt pretty manly when I did it, then I realized I still needed it to work (it was dangling by the cords that send the unlock signal). If I took it to the dealer, they’d just replace it with the same original crappy handle. Instead, I went with aftermarket and installed it myself. It was $75 but it looks great and I didn’t have to keep all the tape on the car to hold the handle!

    I’m thinking my next aftermarket upgrade will be a set of spinning rims. Or just one. I’m currently sporting 3/4 rims due to a pothole… from last year!

    1. Haha, that’s a random thing to break off! Good call on installing it yourself though. And I like the idea of one spinning rim 🙂

  5. My boyfriend’s car bumper got cracked as he was pulling into a parking spot this winter, miscalculated the distance, and ended up crushing up against a snow bank. The fix ended up being around $400 for a replacement.

    1. Ouch! That’s rough. The snowbanks are just out of control right now, it’s like a constant game of chicken with the ice!

    1. Nice! Our gas bill especially is high in the winter–we’ve got to keep everything (including ourselves!) from freezing.

  6. I love the bumper story. Old cars are good because you don’t worry so much about getting dented and whatnot, but it’s sad for a vehicle that’s been with you so long!

    We also track spending but don’t budget. It’s a good formula for us. In fact I think we spend more when we budget because we think we need to budget for things like a little “blow money.” When we’re not on a budget we just try to spend as little as possible and talk about expenses that come up. And tracking allows us to constantly re-evaluate what “as little as possible” means.

    1. That’s exactly how we manage our money too. Works so well because, like you said, we’re never trying to spend up to a limit. I’m a big fan of the “spend as little as possible” approach 🙂

  7. I’ve never heard of an excise tax on cars – ew!

    February was a bit pricey for us. We had the unexpected hotel expense when we got stuck in the blizzard in MA, a large propane bill ($700), and increased electricity costs. Have I mentioned how eager I am for spring to arrive??

  8. Sounds like a great month! This comment is not necessarily related to this post but since I’m here I will leave it anyway 🙂 You had mentioned that when you get your homestead you will start growing your own food but that in your current house that is not an option. Have you thought about growing some herbs, small plants in pots? Judging by the picture of your patio and the plater boxes you have there I think you could grow some cherry tomatoes, even regular tomatoes and many other small plants. Just a thought 🙂

    1. Indeed! We’re keeping an eye out on Craigslist for cheap pots/potting supplies since it would be nice to have!

      1. Gardening is part entertainment, part frugalness. We’ve “paid off” our initial investment several times over now that we’re in our fourth year of gardening. We don’t have enough sun or enough bees in our small enclosed patio to grow flowering plants (so, veggies like cucumbers, bell peppers) but leafy greens are SUPER easy to grow. I cringe looking at $5 boxes of kale now!

        We aren’t trying to retire early, since we love our jobs and value the intellectual challenges they provide, but we also abide by the “save as much as humanly possible” creed. It’s fun to see what being frugal brings about. We never would have gotten into gardening if we weren’t always trying to save a buck!

        1. Well said! I agree with you on the part frugal/part entertainment aspect of the DIY life. Most of the things people pay other people to do for them are just our “hobbies.” Thank you for sharing!

  9. Sorry about your bumper. Why does the snow make people such assholes? I have a post coming up about the gigantic pile of snow, ice and garbage that someone dumped in our yard this week! Really, someone with a front loader must’ve snuck down the alley and left it on our future patio. We spent three hours yesterday trying to move it.

    I use your expense reports as the gold standard to which I aspire, so excuse me if I brag that we seem to have you beat in groceries, electric, gas, and water bills this month. I hesitate to mention that our more expensive 6-month car insurance does more than cancel that out, though!

    Frugalhound totally deserves to be on Cute Overload. Every day is Nosevember!

    1. Ice garbage! That’s terrible! Yet another reason why you should move to some land near Brattleboro… 😉

      Congrats on beating us in the food & utilities departments! Our gas bill is eating us alive right now 🙂

      Nosevember! I love the captions they did for her on there. Maeby is next!

  10. Impressive as always! I was just totaling up ours for February – and for being a short month it was brutal. Our typical categories were about spot on, but we had some car expenses, 4 airplane tickets, and some large vet bills… luckily they are one time costs, so I’m not fretting yet!

    1. Makes sense not to fret! Those one time expenses will crop up periodically. But, like you said, if your standard stuff is on target, then you’re golden :). Hope the pets are OK with the vet bills!

  11. Great job! You are awesome! I am so happy with my February budgeting. I have saved so much money! Thanks Frugalwoods, California Pat

    1. Thank you, Pat! I’m so glad to hear you saved a bunch in February–that’s wonderful!! Thanks for sharing the good news 🙂

  12. Someone hit the door of our truck once and drove away. We are still driving that dang truck around with the dented door. We heat our house, water and run our stove with propane. We prepaid for 800 gallons to get a deal on the per gallon price and we are about 750 gallons into that with 5 months to go on our contract. Needless to say we will be doing some energy audits. I am always envious of your savings rate. Wonderful job!

    1. It gets so hard to stay warm in the winter! I feel your pain on that propane. Poor Frugalwoods-mobile has quite a few dents as well… it’s just her lot in life I think ;). But I love that you’re still driving the truck! Dents? Who cares about dents?!

  13. I haven’t totalled up February yet as we spent half the day at the ER yesterday with Little Brother’s BROKEN LEG. Look for an exciting blog post on THAT subject soon. Sigh. February being our seriously distracted but well-intentioned uber-frugal month, I think we did keep it pretty low.

  14. I spent just about $1350 (including a more serious car repair, which did include a tow, sigh.) So it was a good February! Cold and snowy and generally unappealing here too, AND I had a cold, so I spent a lot of time inside petting my housemate’s dog and not spending money.

    1. Awww, petting a dog and not spending money is basically my favorite thing ever! But, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been sick :(. Way to go on having a frugal month though!

    1. We have Geico for car insurance. Our rate is so low because the car’s ancient (1996), we both have perfect driving records, and we only drive it about 4,000 miles/year. Might be worth calling them to see if you can get a lower rate!

  15. Frankencar in the making 🙂 That’s really fantastic that the mechanic let Mr.Frugalwoods jump in and help out. It sucks that it was damaged in a hit and run, though.
    Think of it as cramming the expensive stuff into a short month… and that the rest of the months are going to be more awesome as a result!

    1. Total frankencar! Poor Frugalwoods-mobile has really taken a beating this winter. I like the idea of cramming all the expenses into February–that’s perfect! Ok, March… don’t top that.

  16. I always dig your frugal weirdo ways. 🙂 It lets me know I’m not the only saver in a spenderific world.

    A question on the snow-related spending. Is it really a thing to spend MORE money when you’re snowed in? I think we spent LESS in February because we were snowed in (in the Southern sense of having a couple inches of snow or a thin sheet of ice for a few days). Who wants to go out and scrape snow off a car, risk sliding into other cars, and leave the comfort of a 68 degree house to buy stuff or get take out? Is that really a thing? Everything down here shuts down and roads are deserted when the snow/ice hits. It’s like 1815 instead of 2015.

    1. I feel the same way when I read your posts too! We’re not alone ;)!!

      Good question on the snow spending–from what I’ve been hearing from friends and colleagues, it’s a thing to spend more during the winter because people are looking for escapes from being stuck in the house. And since we’re in a pretty walkable city, people walk to the movies, walk to restaurants, etc. It’s also a factor of how long we’ve been under snow here–people are getting antsy, which seems to = spendy.

      But me? I’m always up for partying like it’s 1815.

      1. Ok, I get it.

        We once went out just after the worst snow storm in our city’s history (20″!!!) to buy a fancy blender at walmart so we could make frozen margaritas with finely textured ice. $40 and the blender still runs perfectly today. There must have been some subconscious desire to have a warm weather tropical drink in the middle of all that snow and ice.

          1. $40 amortized over 50 or 100 margaritas is a pretty good per drink price since those things are $6-10 in restaurants.

            And uh, blenders can be used for other cooking related tasks in theory. 🙂

  17. Wow, your car insurance is incredibly cheap. I know I drive a newer car but mine is over $1200 a year.

    My month wasn’t the greatest. I paid for some pricey car maintenance, $640 to brakes and some other minor repairs. I also went overboard on some spring clothing/footwear/accessories. However, I was under budget on groceries, gas and entertainment. I found out that there is a good possibility I could be going to Disney in December so that means that I have to focus on finding money in my budget for the next little while that I can reallocate to Disney so that I don’t throw my cruise savings off course.

    1. We’re definitely lucky on our car insurance deal! Way to go on being under budget in some categories–that always helps in the long run. Disney sounds like a lot of fun!! Would you be going with friends or family?

    1. Cars definitely have a way of being expensive little buggers, but we can’t complain tooooo much–Frugalwoods-mobile tries hard I think :).

  18. Sorry about the bumper & expense although the nearby awesome mechanic is priceless.

    You did outstanding,! But we’ve got you beat, in a really, really good way that is, and I’m betting you’ve a at least a few dollars more you can save. Kleenex, unless someone has a cold, you don’t need them, toilet paper works just as well. Papertowels, 1 roll per month hoarded for the most messy greasy hands or pet cleanup. Everything else can be accomplished with hand towels or cleaning rags(old cut up terry cloth towels). Lint free towels are my must have to clean windows, mirrors & shiny surfaces. Cheaper to wash a load of laundry, I don’t use fabric softner or dryer sheets on my cleaning rags, than buy paper products. Look at your receipts, maybe there are other non edible expenses you’d be able cut back on? We operate best on a budget and there is an envelope of cash in the house. 360.00 takes care of groceries for 2 people & 1 dog, plus ‘all other’ items to run a home, including dog food ( Eukanuba big bag lasts 2 months, mid size dog) & biskies, laundry soap, paper products, all personal care products & vitamins & so forth. I shop weekly, cash in my pocket & keep running total as I go thru the stores, so I don’t go over at the register. My list & trusty pencil takes care of not embrassing myself. Even if you don’t coupon cut, adjusting menus to whatever is on sale, check ads & make list before you leave the house, can be a huge savings. Some of your budget is a trade off for ours. We don’t drink wine or beer, for 10.00 more than you spend on that we have satellite TV smallest package which is our trade off for not going out to movies & eating out 🙂 Our utility bill average is 125.00 monthly, includes heat/AC, well water, DSL is 15.00 less. We’ve no mortgage or car payment. We could save a bundle more if one could do without home/car/life & health insurance . The alternative to not carrying these is not worth talking about.

    1. All great advice! Thank you for chiming in :)! I definitely do use rags for cleaning–you’re right, vastly better to do a load of laundry.

      1. We’ve a leg up on you two in that we’ve been practicing frugal for almost 40 yrs. The whole thing is a balancing act, frugal shouldn’t make you miserable though, I prefer to think of it as living in a thoughtful manner. Plus it helps that we are south of the Mason Dixon line so our winters are milder & COL is lower than yours. Enjoying reading about your excellent efforts on your journey to fullfilling your dreams.

        1. That’s a good way of putting it–frugality is definitely a balancing act. I totally agree that it shouldn’t make anymore miserable! For us, it’s all about the freedom it’ll enable.

  19. Whenever I think how bad our February was with the cold and the snow, I always think of you guys and my family in Boston and realize that life could be a lot worse. I don’t mind winter; however, I am ready for spring to start to show it’s face, at least a little bit.

    1. I’m with you–I really don’t mind winter (I rather enjoy it), but this one has just really walloped us!

  20. Maybe you’ve covered this before, but how’s Personal Capital compared to Mint? I use Mint now, but it’s a pain because it often fails to sync my accounts properly, so I don’t look at it as often as I should to keep on top of things.

    1. Boogie Woogie Woogie! Agreed on the mechanic bill. I’m so thankful Mr. FW gets in there with them to help–they always seem to charge us less.

  21. Oh man, what a bummer about the Frugal-mobile! Hopefully that person had a good reason for zooming off, otherwise what a jerk. Great job keeping with your budget despite the snowmageddon – that would be really hard for me to do since I get so antsy. I need to learn how to better entertain myself!
    This month was our first true month of tracking our spending and instating savings goals. I think we did an awesome job & managed to save over $1,000 – most of that went to student loans but some of it did go towards savings. Hopefully March will be even better with our tax return coming in!

    1. Congrats on your first month of tracking and saving! That’s absolutely awesome! Here’s to an even better March 🙂

  22. Ugh, I had someone smash my back bumper in our apartment parking lot once without leaving a not or anything. Unfortunately since my car is of the plastic, all-one-piece, bumper era, the entire thing had to be replaced and it was much more expensive than $35. Theoretically I shouldn’t have even been on the hook for that since it wasn’t my fault! Such a bummer, and feels very violating.

  23. Nice spending! You guys spent $46 less per person than I did this month, when I subtract your mortgage and utilities (my rent is paid 3 times a year and includes all utilities). Though it’s not always fair to to just take a couple’s spending and divide by two…eh close enough.

    I had to replace a UPS (big battery for my desktop – used to prevent sudden shutdowns, not run my desktop through a power outage) and get some nice cycling gloves, so that inflated my spending a bit.

    Never lost a car bumper, though I will need to replace my car battery. I’ll probably get around to it this week, but I drive so infrequently that I’m in no rush to replace it.

    1. Sounds like you had a pretty good month! And, that’s great you don’t need to drive too often. We’re so grateful for all the other transit options we have here too!

      1. Haha it turns out that something came up today where it would have been useful to have a functioning car, though not required (I biked through a light drizzle, but I was worried it would get a lot worse. I’ve never biked in a full on rain before).

        Unfortunately the public transit options in my city are pretty bad, so it’s either a car or a bike for me. Which is still great, but I wish I could rely on public transport in a pinch.

        I’m impressed you engage with (almost?) all your commenters! I’ve been meaning to get back into my routine of publishing blog posts, and I know how much effort it is to write posts on a regular basis.

        1. That’s too bad your public transit system isn’t up to snuff. It’s something we really appreciate having access to here in Boston. Mr. FW bikes in the rain and says it’s mostly about having the right gear to keep warm/dry. Thanks for the kind words too :)!

    1. Hahah, the answer is Mr. FW wishes because it’s an engine he could tinker with. But, we lack both the storage space and the space to actually blow the snow anywhere. But on the homestead… 😉

  24. Nice job! Kudos on getting the bumper fixed for $35!! It’s awesome when you have a mechanic you know really well that will do favors for you. That’s probably the only thing I miss about my ex, he was a car guy – wait did I just say that? LOL! Thankfully some of it rubbed off and I’ve got fairly good MacGyver skills. Well, that and being an only child makes you a son/daughter. 🙂
    Great February even with the extra bills.

    1. Great observation about being an only child son/daughter! I’m an only and while my dad didn’t teach me many MacGyver skills (my mother was more handy; a regular Gyro Gearloose – showing my age, there! GG was a Disney character back in the day!) but he did teach me everything about baseball! .

      1. I’m one of three kids and somehow I didn’t learn how to fix cars or how to cook…. but my parents did teach me how to write!

  25. That stinks about the bumper but it is amazing you were able to fix it so inexpensively! No bumper issues here but we did actually wash our cars this weekend and the hubs decided he likes his truck dirty because it hides all the dings and scratches. Lol!

    The big question is …. is Snountain still growing?!

    1. Snountain grew a little bit yesterday with our latest snowfall and may grow more tomorrow since it’s supposed to snow tonight… but the top of Snountain is sort of folding over at this point… it looks pretty precarious!

  26. Hopefully the no roof leaks continues once everything melts.

    My February expenses were a bit insane. CSA share and a grain mill don’t come cheap. We’re slowly transitioning from standard frugal month-to-month grocery shopping to traditional homesteader type pantry keeping, aiming for 3-6 months on hand of at least certain staples. It makes for budget headaches even though I have done enough math that we will save $, especially once the growing season kicks off.

    1. Yes, fingers crossed for no roof leaking or basement flooding… there’s a lot of snow out there!

      That’s awesome you’re moving to a more homestead-esque pantry. And, seems like the start-up costs will be worth it in the end. Makes sense to spend in order to save down the line.

  27. February was brutal and March will only be marginally better as we have big expenses with the solar system install and the kitchen remodel at the moment. We also found out we need a new roof for our rental, something we were hoping to do in 2016, which the insurance co is insisting happens in 2015. So it’s going to be a pricey next few months… =/

    1. Also – would it be worthwhile to add roadside assistance to your car insurance? Ours is $5 every six months and covers basically what the standard AAA membership does. Great for short tows or dead batteries and we appreciate it so much more now that we are a 1 car household.

      1. Pricey yes, but then you’re going to have a new kitchen and SOLAR! So very fabulous.

        We haven’t done AAA or the like–we’ve just been able to get along by changing flats ourselves and limping on over to our mechanic. If we didn’t live so darn close to them, we might consider it! Also, we’re both able to commute on a daily basis without the car, so we’re not in dire straits if it doesn’t start.

  28. Maybe you have covered this elsewhere, but what are your thoughts on giving to charities/non profits as it relates to frugal living? As you’ve very graciously acknowledged, you are only able to save in this way because of the privilege you’ve had your entire lives. How does giving generously to others who have not had the same advantages fit into your frugal lifestyle?

    1. I think charitable giving is a wonderful thing and Mr. FW and I feel fortunate to be able to make philanthropic donations every year. We typically select a few charities each year and make our contributions at the end of the calendar year.

  29. My frugal budget’s pooch has been screwed this last month by unexpected medical bills. I was in the hospital for three days in February due to a weird skin infection.
    Congrats to Frugalhound for her appearance on Cute Overload! She is cute but fiercely so!

    1. Hahah, I wish! We’ve recently taught her how to high-five, so maybe this is next… 🙂

  30. We had the same exact bumper casualty last winter when either my wife or I (I won’t say which) ran into a UPS truck at about 2 miles per hour on the ice! Cost us $1,000 to repair. Well done in Feb! It was a good month for us budget-wise too.

    1. We have Geico for car insurance. And I think our rate is so low because the car’s ancient (1996), we both have perfect driving records, and we only drive it about 4,000 miles/year.

    1. Good question! We don’t have a landline and both of our employers pay for our cell phones, which we’re very grateful for.

  31. Great job on not succumbing to takeout during these cold winter months! Our grocery bill was the lowest it has ever been in February because it was cold and nasty and I just didn’t want to go anywhere. We ate lots of random stuff from the cubbards! I hate dragging the kids out when the weather is so ugly!

    1. We had a lot of random pantry meals too! You do hit that point where it’s just not worth it to leave the house 🙂

  32. Success for us last month; we are on a second month of living on 40% of our dual income and 60% saving! Oh…I have a confession to make, I sometimes come to your blog to see new pictures of your frugal Hound. Love, love her and my Lhasa Apso fur baby says ,”Whoof hi to Frugal Hound!!! Great job working towards financial independence.

    1. Woohoo! Congrats, Mrs. Frugalista–that’s some awesome frugal action! And, I love that you come for the Frugal Hound photos :). She says “roooo” to your fur baby, which is her version of a bark!

  33. We’re both very fortunate to have handy husbands. A repair like that for $35 is awesome! My car is having some issues right now and Mr. Smith is going to attempt to fix it himself. He already handles the oil changes and the brakes. I have faith in him (and YouTube).

  34. Sorry to hear about the bumper and great job on your numbers. We’re also a couple working on financial independence. Our february expenses were low as it’s usually the case for us. With the PA cold weather, we tend to hibernate and spend less on experiences. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That’s great that your February spending was low! It’s definitely a time to hibernate. Thanks for stopping by!

  35. Good job you guys! Glad that car repair wasn’t too bad considering what it could be! I ran our taxes through TurboTax and TaxAct and got the same results. TA was cheaper as well. I looked at just the water portion of my city bill. It’s $32.75/month and I live in a desert state. You’d think water would be pricier here!

    So without Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance, we are at $2,105 for living expenses (compared to $3,150 last month!). Food was slightly higher (thanks to three Natural Grocers visits), our eating out went down a tad to $140. Only one alcohol store purchase ($97 – I must have stocked up). Gas for the cars was lower this month. Not as much good snow lately for skiing, so we did the dry hiking trails closer to home. No medical expenses for Feb. Husband went to San Fran for 48 hours of business and netted $137 in per diem (after all his Thai restaurant stops). I made about $270 selling eBay items. I did not stay away from the clothing website unfortunately, but I sell eBay to make myself feel OK about it! Bought a few miscellaneous items like my face lotion (cannot find a cheaper equivalent that works), dog tag fee, books that husband preferred to own rather than rent, powder SPF in a brush, chocolate fundraiser tickets, and another race entry fee for husband. Fewer items that last month!

    1. Sounds like a pretty good month for you! Gotta love saving those per diems! Mr. FW is a champ of that, but I always worry he’s not eating while he travels.

      Out of curiosity, what kind of face lotion do you use? I don’t wear any make-up, so the only thing on my face is my SPF lotion and I’d like to find one that’s more moisturizing, so I’m polling people 🙂

      1. I use Dermalogica’s Active Moist face lotion (USA made, not tested on animals, or Ulta). I think a big bottle will last me 2 months or more? It feels so good on my face, not greasy. I don’t have a good day time SPF yet, so I just purchased this brush wand thing with the tinted SPF 50 powder in the handle from the dermatologist to try it out. I use Coppertone sport for any extended outdoor time though.

  36. Those are some amazingly low numbers for owning both a house and a car; kudos! That mechanic is definitely a keeper, and with on-street parking, eventual damage to the car is pretty much inevitable.

    Our old car basically goes into hibernation in the winter. We don’t have snow tires, so we slide all over the road; if it’s below -10F it won’t even start, and if it does start, the gauges don’t. My January-mid March always gets pricier because I bus/pay for carpool instead of walking. Your snowfall this year is just a few inches higher than our average snowfall, and every winter the roads become solid ice or 4″ deep slush lined with packed 6-8′ high mounds for 3 months. I just read your winter biking post and would love to be a hardcore winter biker too but given the route is 55 mph rural roads with no lane markers, no curve visibility, and no space or intersections to pull off to let someone pass/spin out I am pretty sure I will die. They also don’t plow the roads on days when school is canceled–but work is always open anyway! Yay, rural townships.

    Maybe someday. More power to you guys for keeping it up 🙂

    1. That does not sound like a safe wintertime biking route, eek! And agreed, on-street parking is just damage waiting to happen. Good thing we don’t care what Frugalwoods-mobile looks like–she has quite a few, uh, beauty marks ;).

      Thanks so much for reading and saying hi!

  37. Sorry to hear about the bumper! I’m actually surprised to hear the fix was that low. That’s pretty awesome…still… I love your patio btw! Looks like a great place to enjoy some boxed wine. 🙂 Still need to make it to Boston someday!

    1. You are in fact right–it’s a GREAT place to enjoy boxed wine ;)! You really should come test it out with me! Frugal Hound will hang out there with us too.

  38. Nice work with frugal mobile, I can only hope we are able to get a fix on the cheap when issues arrive.

    I love the pictures, I can’t even imagine having to deal with that much snow (and more on the way)! I am sure it gives you time to catch up on the spreadsheet action though, so that has to be nice.

    February was not great for us as an unnamed individual tried to be helpful and wash a large shouldn’t-be-washed comforter and walked away. Alerted to a problem by the smoke alarm screeching throughout the entire house, he ran to see that the agitator had became entangled in the aforementioned comforter. The smoke was brutal and the washer ceased to be. So he tried to wring it out and figured the dryer would live up to its name. It did not. The waterlogged comforter proved to be too heavy and burned out the motor on the dryer as well. This did not go well with the pregnant one.

    1. Oh no! Sounds like a royal washing mess! Sad times. Hey, at least the intention was good, right? A clean comforter is a good thing in theory 🙂

    1. Seriously! The patio pic was Mr. FW’s idea and my first thought was…. oh no, our patio furniture is under Snountain! Somehow I’d sort of blocked that out of my mind… I really hope it’s ok under there. I paid good money for that set on Craigslist ;)!

  39. I will blame the ice but it might have been I wasn’t looking but I crushed my passenger side mirror. We couldn’t find one in the dump that matched the colour of my car so boyfriend used black spraypaint, reattached it himself and now they both match. I work at a hospital and when I was single people would say “you should find yourself a nice doctor boyfriend”, no offense to doctors but I would always answer, “Why, it’s not like he can do surgery on me at home…give me a mechanic or a plumber”, now that is a catch.

    1. Haha, I love it! We’ve often joked that we draw the line at DIY surgery ;). Some things are worth paying for! I like the spraypaint idea–that’s a good one. Sounds like you found a handy man ;)!

  40. Just found your blog today. I love it! We, too, have a rescued Greyhound, Wonder (we kept her racing name), so really enjoy your Frugal Hound tips!

    1. Thank you! So glad you found us, Victoria! It’s always fabulous to have fellow greyhound lovers here :). I like the name Wonder!

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