I don’t just write about extreme frugality and the awesome lifestyle it enables, I actually live it. Often, folks ask me how I devise my article concepts and the answer is that I simply draw from our daily lives. Everything I write about is either the articulation of an idea I’ve been mulling over or the result of something Mr. Frugalwoods and I experienced. I don’t make anything up on here, so it’s a darn good thing we live the frugal life every day. To that end, I thought I’d share a few tidbits with you on what’s been happening in the lives of these two (2.5 with Babywoods? 3.5 if you count Frugal Hound?) frugal weirdos.
The Great Frugalwoods Coffee Taste Test of 2015
Do you all remember the great Costco coffee experiment Mr. Frugalwoods and I embarked on last month? In case you’ve forgotten amidst your own frugal investigations, allow me to summarize. Mr. FW and I had long clung to a frugal hold-out in our lives: very expensive coffee beans (which we grind and brew ourselves at home). However, last month, spurred on by our continual examination of our spending, we decided to do the unthinkable: buy coffee beans from, of all places, Costco!
The rules for this venture were as follows: 1) we had to use the entire 3 lb bag of Costco beans (not going to waste something we’d already paid for!) 2) after one month, we’d assess if we wanted to revert to the expensive beans or continue on with the bargain beans.
Well, that month concluded last week. We skimmed the dregs of our gigantic bag-o-beans and called a family conference to determine our course going forward. Coffee, after all, is not something to be handled lightly. In a unanimous vote with one abstention (from Frugal Hound), we resolved that the Frugalwoods are heretofore Costco coffee drinkers!
What our month-long analysis taught us is that we’d been buying ritzy beans on the assumption that they were vastly superior in flavor. While they’re slightly better tasting, they’re not $214.11 per year better tasting (which is the amount we’ll save by switching to Costco-vended beans). Many of you savvy readers suggested we mix the Costco beans with the more expensive beans, but for our money, the Costco beans alone suit us just dandy.
As a side note, the month-long trial horizon is an approach we employ anytime we’re testing something out, trying to change a behavior, or instilling a new routine. It’s long enough to provide a reasonable sense of the change, but short enough that it feels tenable at the outset. For reference, this is the methodology we used to break our eating out habit and, in the larger picture, commit to our lifestyle of extreme frugality.
If we felt we were sacrificing flavor or enjoyment with these cheaper beans, we’d hop back on the pricey bean train. After all, life’s too short to drink bad coffee. But, we’re perfectly content with these money-saving coffee producers. As I discussed on Wednesday, spending that’s based solely on assumptions or inertia is spending that deserves to be put under the microscope.
Continually questioning spending choices–especially on sacred cows like coffee–is a valuable exercise in the life of the frugal weirdo. Buying certain items or brands on autopilot is something we all fall victim to, and it’s wise to shake it up every now and then to ensure we’re creating efficiencies everywhere we’re able. This is but one more example of how we manage to save over 70% of our incomes every year–it doesn’t happen by accident, we make daily decisions that cause it to be so.
July turned into hike-o-rama month as we scaled not one, but two, 4,000-footers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Since these trailheads are a solid three-hour drive from our home in Cambridge, it’s no small feat to carve out the time for our treks.
I shared the details on our early July summiting of Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower in Hike More, Spend Less: Our Tricks For Frugal Hiking, and our hike up Mt. Liberty this past Saturday was no less magnificent.
At 23 weeks pregnant (almost 6 months!!!), the 4,000 foot climb in elevation was challenging, but doable for me. I’m tremendously grateful I’m having such a healthy pregnancy and I’m committed to eating well and exercising for as long as I possibly can. A number of people on the trail asked how I was hiking pregnant and the answer is that I do it just like everyone else–one foot in front of the other, up the side of the mountain.
There’s no automatic switch that flips when you’re pregnant preventing you from doing physical activity (unless you have a specific medical condition or your doctor advises against it) and in a normal, healthy pregnancy, you’re encouraged to continue working that bod!
Hiking soothes our souls and is a hobby that brings Mr. FW and I closer every time we’re on the trail. It’s a quiet, calming activity entirely absent the harried distractions and screens of our daily modern lives.
We’re able to challenge ourselves physically, and also emotionally since we’re usually on the trail for upwards of 7 hours and we don’t do anything but walk through the woods, talk to each other, and eat the occasional snack.
This detox from everyday life decompresses us and often brings clarity to our thinking for days to come. Being in the woods is a retreat and a refuge. And as people who don’t like being told what to do and prefer to chart our own course, hiking is one of the few sports that doesn’t involve complicated equipment (like a boat), expensive services (like a ski lift), or teammates (like Frugal Hound!). While we almost always hike together, we see plenty of solitary hikers on the trail, out there refreshing their own souls. Plus, we get a stellar view at the top, not to mention a fulfilling sense of accomplishment.
This Is My Face!
Well, part of it anyway ;). After putting it all out there in my Frugal Beauty Manifesto on Monday, I wanted to illustrate that I practice what I preach. I don’t wear make-up to hide my flaws. I’m imperfect, we’re all imperfect, and I’m sick of the media telling us we need to buy stuff in order to make ourselves beautiful. Nope. We don’t. I’m deeply inspired and uplifted by all of your sincere, heartfelt comments about your own experiences with the pressures society puts on women to look a certain way. I want to thank you all for sharing your stories!
We all look the way we do for a reason–it’s part of our unique presence on earth and I, for one, appreciate the way I look au naturel. To that end, I’m sharing this photo of my blemished, makeup-free face and untreated natural hair today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If you too feel that confidence is the best beauty product out there, I encourage you to join me in posting your own awesome, genuine selfie.
I’ve heard that the latest trend is to heavily edit, re-touch, and otherwise falsify one’s selfie, so I thought it would be fun to fight the norm in typical frugal weirdo fashion and instead celebrate our real faces. Mention me in your tweet/post so that I can join in the fun, and if you want, you can use this hashtag:
#BeautyCantBeBought (I’ve never made up a hashtag before, but apparently anyone can do it?). If the hashtag police call me, we’ll know I was wrong.
Frugalwoods Around The Web
I participate in a super fun monthly podcast series “Martinis and Your Money,” hosted by the fabulous Shannon from Financially Blonde, along with my buddies Tonya from Budget and the Beach and Melanie from Dear Debt. Our conversations run the gamut from investing to food to life philosophies and today we’re chatting about overcoming obstacles. Check us out if you’re the podcasting type!
Weekend Road Trip!
Mr. FW must attend a work conference in Burlington, Vermont this weekend and so, spying an opportunity to revel in his free hotel and per diem together, I’m tagging along. We’re driving the Frugalwoods-mobile up this morning and will enjoy a blissful weekend by the shores of Lake Champlain.
Mr. FW shall conference and I shall do what I do best:
eat write about weird frugal things in various different locales around town. Never ones to pass up a chance for free travel, we’re excited for this mini weekend jaunt. I hope you all have a divine frugal weekend; I’ll see you on Monday!