August 2015 Expenditures
I’ve dubbed August “Babywoods Preparedness Month” since much of the month was devoted to readying our abode for the newest, tiniest Frugalwoods member. Though she’s not due until late November, I’m what you might call a planner (to put it mildly… ) and for me, seeing our physical space transformed into a baby-welcoming zone helps me process and internalize the imminent fact of her arrival. Plus, washing and folding her itty-bitty clothing is adorable!!!!
The one thing we aren’t doing to prepare for our daughter? Spending money. Nope, it’s totally unnecessary. We’re still rocking our $20 grand total for Babywoods and intend to keep it that way.
We also celebrated Mr. Frugalwoods’ 32nd birthday this month with his meal of choice: BBQ take-out from Blue Ribbon BBQ. They make a mean vinegar-based sauce to accompany their pulled pork and it’s downright delicious. I’m always quite delighted when he chooses this as his annual celebratory meal. Bonus: their serving sizes are so generous that we stretched it into a full three meals for the two of us. Yum.
This brings our total meals out (that we’ve paid for) in 2015 up to 1.5 (we covered part of our anniversary dinner with a gift card). Rarely eating out is one of those key elements in how we spend so little, but we’re happy to dine out for the occasional special occasion–like a birthday!
August turned out to be another notoriously low-spend month, as you’ll see below with our $843.42 in non-mortgage spending. We’re some happy frugal weirdos anytime our spending is below $1,000!
Stuff We Don’t Buy (Or Not Monthly Anyway):
I’ve received a slew of questions from readers lately on common expenses not found in our monthly expense reports, so I’ve assembled the below list of items that either don’t appear monthly, or don’t appear at all:
- Health insurance: we are extraordinarily fortunate that Mr. FW’s generous and progressive company pays not only for his healthcare but for mine too! Babywoods will be covered in full as well. Can’t tell you how grateful we are for this!
- Mobile phones: another area where we’re just plain lucky dogs. Both of our employers pay our cell phone bills every month.
- Trash/recycling: Cambridge doesn’t charge us for either of these.
Entertainment: when you can scope great trash finds, hike, and finagle free yoga, who needs an entertainment budget? We hang with our friends at each other’s houses and enjoy hosting (and attending) backyard BBQs, dinner parties, and at-home coffee dates. Just this past weekend alone, we had a friend over for dinner on Friday night and then attended a BBQ at another friend’s home on Sunday. Gotta love our frugal friends!
- Dining out: we don’t do this except for special circumstances (like Mr. FW’s bday!).
- Car insurance: we pay this once every six months (and August just so happens to be one of those months), so it doesn’t show up as a monthly expense.
- Water bill: the city charges us once every three months, so this expense doesn’t appear monthly.
- Cable: we’re not cord cutters–we’ve never even had it!
- Clothes: my clothes buying ban is still going strong, even at 7 months pregnant! And Mr. FW is sort of on a lifelong clothes buying ban due to his hatred of clothes shopping.
- Student loans/unsecured debt: we don’t have any and, in fact, never have.
- Charitable giving: we do all of our charitable giving in one fell swoop, so it’ll all show up in the same month.
Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$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 our 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.
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. 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 $4.23 this month). I do this because it’s the most transparent articulation of how we allocate our resources and managed to save 71% of our take-home pay in 2014 (not counting maxing out our 401Ks).
Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than How We Manage Our Household Finances. 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.
Interested in how we keep costs so low? Check out How We Save 65% Annually. If you’re up for some hardcore frugal adventuring, take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, and, see how we did one year later in How A Year Of Extreme Frugality Changed Us.
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.
Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent during the month of August:
|Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance||$2,407.80||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||$200.33||A particularly cheap grocery month for us, thanks in large part to the fact that we didn’t go to Costco. Since we aim for $300-$350/month in this category, it’ll even out with more expensive months over the course of the year.|
|6 Months of Car Insurance for Frugalwoods-mobile||$199.55||This represents 6 months worth of car insurance for our beloved 1996 Honda Odyssey. This ridiculous thrifty insurance (circa $404/year) is one of the many reasons why we love our old beast of a vehicle.|
|One Chest Freezer||$159.36||A chest freezer. Are you intrigued? I know I am. Stay tuned for a forthcoming post on both this chest freezer and the free mini-fridge I found by the side of the road…|
|Utilities: Electric||$99.53||Ahhh the electric bills of summer… we used our AC more in July than any other month. But we do turn it off and open up the windows whenever possible.|
|Internet||$56.95||Quite a necessary part of life for us. Too bad there’s only one internet provider in all of Cambridge. Oh well, it’s at least a tad lower thanks to Mr. FW calling the company and negotiating a lower rate (which he did by threatening to cancel it altogether–amazingly, that worked!).|
|C02 Tank||$35.00||One C02 tank refill for our epically hacked Sodastream. Read all about it here.|
|Gasoline for Frugalwoods-mobile||$31.51||One tank of gas for the ol’ Frugalwoods-mobile. A fabulous benefit of living in the city is how little we drive.|
|A restaurant meal–gasp!||$26.73||Mr. FW’s celebratory birthday take-out dinner!|
|Utilities: Gas||$22.20||A fine and dandy gas bill.|
|Dollar Store miscellany||$8.03||Pretty sure this was several $1 birthday cards, two sticks of deoderant, and a few other miscellaneous household goods.|
|20-pack of hangers||$4.23||I was in dire need of more hangers for my hand-me-down maternity clothes, which have almost entirely supplanted my regular wardrobe in our closet.|
What do you think of our expenses? How was your August?
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Oh the nesting phase. Lots of fun! We are under a week till due date. I can’t remember if you guys are going to do daycare for a little bit or not. Does the baby line up well with your homestead plans?
So exciting you’re so close :)! Hope everything goes smoothly for you guys! Fear not, we’ll be discussing our baby care plans on the blog before too long here 🙂
So excited to see you getting ready for Babywoods. It’s very impressive that you have kept your spending to $20 as you prepare for her arrival. Happy birthday to Mr. Frugalwoods!
Many thanks! We’re definitely going the uber frugal route with baby prep ;). It’s been a lot of fun to get creative in that department!
Glad you’re enjoying baby prep. It’s impressive you’re doing it so inexpensively. Gotta love hand-me-downs and garage sales!
Thank you! I REALLY love hand-me-downs and garage sales :). It’s just such a wonderful thing to be able to prepare for her so inexpensively.
Wow, sounds like you’ve got a handle on your expenses. Crazy high mortgage though. Congratulations on BabyWoods.
Many thanks! Yeah, our mortgage is the major indicator that we live in one of the most expensive cities in the world :). We’re very glad it’ll be a rental before too long here!
Your frugality never ceases to amaze me. Congrats! August was ok for us. We are slowly cutting things. I called one of our service providers and threatened to cancel service and saved us a bunch of money ($50 a month – on the cable I don’t think we need, the home phone we do and internet which we really, really do). Also, my sister was going to be getting rid of a bunch of clothes she was just “tired of” so I landed 7 new dresses. They will be perfect for a trip we have in the winter. Most excitingly we cut our grocery budget in half, and had a trip to Costco in there. (We won’t talk about our eating out, that was too high!) Slowly we are bringing our spending under control to a level that works for us.
Nicely done on getting your bill lowered! It really does seem to work when you call and threaten to cancel :). And, that’s awesome you were able to take your sister’s hand-me-downs! You cut your grocery bill in half??? WOW! That is fabulous. And, that’s a savings you can now realize every single month. Way to go!
Wowzers, that is cheap car insurance! The only time I’ve ever heard of any that cheap before was for a 70s pickup in a different province from me, more than a decade ago.
Friends are waiting for their baby to announce its arrival and they too have managed to get by with barely spending any money at all. They’ve got a new car seat and a used stroller, and everything else has been free or gifts. It’s so refreshing to see. I saw the nursery yesterday and it is overflowing with stuff, books, toys, clothes, even unused disposable diapers!
We really love our ancient car and cheap car insurance–it’s been a great money saver for us :). That’s awesome your friends have gotten by on spending so little for baby! It really is possible to do! We’re so open to used hand-me-downs (and not very picky) so we’ve been able to cobble most of her stuff together for free. It’s a beautiful thing. We even have some hand-me-down unused diapers from someone whose baby outgrew them!
It’s encouraging to see a true northeast mortgage payment in a frugal budget. Our food budget is off the charts, and we shop at Costco. We buy organic and our three kids 5, 4 and 2 consume a lot of food, with a lot ending up in the gearbage. Once we have our two year old potty trained our diaper/wipe expense should drop. Exciting stuff with the baby, our daughter was born the day before Thanksgiving and just started kindergarten this week, goes fast!
Babywoods is due the day before Thanksgiving :). Kindergarten already–how exciting! We do indeed have a true Cambridge mortgage ;). Regarding food waste, we used to have a major problem with that as well. If you’re interested, you might like my post on how we got ourselves to a place of not wasting any food: Are You Going To Eat That? Never Waste Food Again!. Although I imagine the calculations all change once you have kids!
I loved the nesting phase of my pregnancy! We just had a baby girl on July 31st, and have managed to keep costs low too. In fact there was only one item I had to have during the first week home with her and I was willing to pay full price for it! A pillow called My Brest Friend, which really did change things for the better! Lucky me – my Mom purchased it and gifted it.. I have been wondering about daycare costs? I go back to work in January and daycare is about $825 a month!
Many congrats on your baby girl!!! And, that’s wonderful you’ve been able to keep costs so low! My sister actually gave me her old My Brest Friend, which I’m very excited to put to good use. Glad to hear you’ve found it useful. Fear not, we’ll be discussing our child care plans on the blog before too long here :).
I can’t wait to hear more about the chest freezer! My husband has been scouring CraigsList for a great deal on one. I have my first Zaycon Fresh order – 40 pounds of chicken breasts – coming in early November, and I want to be ready for it!
I’m so late replying to comments this week that now there’s a post about the chest freezer :). We actually bought ours new for a variety of reasons. 40 pounds of chicken! Wow! And yum!
Nice work! And I’m envious of that super cheap car insurance. I just paid my annual bill of $663. Every year I shop around, but I’m never able to find anything cheaper. Then again, I’m guilty of racking up several speeding tickets over the years from my days on the road. Pesky out-of-state speed traps! But I’m happy to say I’ve almost reached 2 years of no speeding or parking tickets! 🙂
Hey that’s great! Ours is so low largely because Frugalwoods-mobile is so darn geriatric 😉
I remember that once I had the baby’s room put together I felt much more at ease about everything. Even if we didn’t need to use it right away, it was there all set to go!
Yes! That’s definitely how I feel. Just makes me feel more organized/prepared to see everything all set!
I’m very curious about the chest freezer – we ran the math on that and having another fridge/freezer in our garage here would consume a TON of extra electricity and necessitate really large dollar savings from bulk buying. Not to mention our garage is starting to get pretty packed especially as we just stole about 35 sqft from it and repurposed it into the kitchen. =)
I’m curious as to why it would require a TON of extra electricity? We used a Kill-O-Watt on ours, plus I compared bills pre/post installing it, and ours, even though it is a hand me down chest freezer from the 80s with no energy star rating, only costs $40 a year on us in electricity. And I KNOW I save more than that in my bulk buying of meat alone. Plus the convenience of bulk cooking and having things ready to heat and eat when I get home saves us from more expensive restaurant meals. But I’ve heard other people whom I respect do the math and they too say the cost benefit isn’t there. Did I just get absolutely lucky in my freezer? I’ll take it if that is so…but genuinely curious here!
A friend of ours has a chest freezer (10 yrs old?) in their non-climate controlled utility room and has estimated that it costs them $15/mo in electricity since by running in an environment that hot at least 6 months of the year it’s not running anywhere near the peak energy efficiency of the unit. I’d assume something in our garage would have similar costs.
For us, we don’t eat much meat (I’m a vegetarian and only cook meat for Mr PoP once or twice per month max) and already change the fresh produce we eat so it’s largely seasonal so we are getting the best prices and the best nutrition. There’s probably some savings we could generate with a chest freezer, but for 2 people with our eating habits, it seemed like a stretch that we’d be able to beat the electricity costs alone without a ton of extra effort.
Ours in in the garage as well which is definitely not climate controlled! So I’m still dubious that it is costing them $15/mo. But I agree with you that your eating habits and size of family it would not make sense. I find the savings because we buy free range grass fed meat once a year and couldn’t (wouldn’t) afford the meat if we bought it piece by piece. Thanks for the explanation.
I’m so tardy in replying to comments this week that now there’s a post all about our chest freezer decision :).
What will you do for health insurance once you both have retired to your homestead? I assume you will purchase private insurance?
Love your blog-recently found it and am enjoying reading it.
Our expenses were pretty normal in August. Nothing out of the ordinary, thank goodness! We had a ton of home repairs this summer so I’m glad to have that behind us. Question – what do you plan to do about health insurance when you retire to the homestead?
Another awesome financial month, guys! Congrats on that.
Happy B-day and wow that BBQ looks good. Almost looks like eastern North Carolina style (pulled pork with a vinegar based sauce). I make that stuff all the time at home and now I can’t bear to eat at a bbq restaurant. It’s rarely as good as home and it’s like 10x the price. Slow roast a boston (ha ha) butt or pork shoulder (same thing I think) with some brown sugar, cracked black pepper, onion slices, and seasoning in the oven on about 250 till it’s falling off the bone. Pull out meat. Shred. Consume. Addition of liquid smoke makes it taste just like it’s been roasted over wood overnight.
This was my dinner last night (with microwaved baked potatoes, salad, cole slaw, and rolls). Mmmmmmmm
Yes–that BBQ is much like eastern NC ‘cue! Mr. FW grew up largely in Belmont, NC (and his entire family is NC-based) so we’re definitely a vinegar-based family around here. Mr. FW and his mom make almost that exact recipe you describe and it is to die for. But Mr. FW must have his collards on the side. Now that I know you make it as well, we’ll be coming over to your house for dinner. How’s tonight sound ;)?
Come on down! Menu varies; today was shrimp tacos for lunch and $2 Domino’s pizza for dinner 🙂
Funny you mention Belmont NC. I lived there between age 4 and 8 back in the 1980’s. I’ll message you to inquire more, since Mr FW and I might have crossed paths back then.
I was also about 100% prepared for baby by 28 weeks! I’m a diehard planner/organizer so I couldn’t sleep (literally) knowing we had a hundred things left to do or buy.
I spent about $100 total on maternity clothes and was pretty happy with that. I got all generic/non seasonal pieces that I could wear in any season so hopefully they’ll work well for subsequent pregnancies. I’m to the point now where I only have about 3 things that I can fit into (I’m 39.5 weeks) but I ain’t trying to impress nobody.
Haha, yes! I am the same way about organizing and planning for Babywoods. It just makes me feel at peace knowing her stuff is (almost) all washed, set-up, installed, and ready to go! I’m not a last-minute gal for anything and, knowing that babies can come early really motivated me to get everything in gear! Glad to hear I’m not the only one ;). Hooray for being 39.5 weeks!!! That’s so exciting!!! All my best to you with these final days :).
We spent much, much more than we wanted to in August. $400 per car for registration in a new state (our new city has zero public transportation outside of a small bus route that doesn’t service our jobs or home), expensive insurance for both cars (our new state is top 10 in expensive car insurance), flights back to MA for Christmas ($560, which is not so bad considering the time of the year), utility start up costs…the list goes on. Alas, that’s moving for you. We are cutting corners in other ways (namely groceries and eating out). Your list is inspiring.
Oh moving…. always a money suck, no matter what! But, nicely done on saving in other areas. I’m sure your spending will even out once you’re all settled. I always find that first month or so of a move to be super expensive. Start-up costs and all that :). Best of luck to you!
I was nesting by the time I hit the five month mark. I was the first one in the circles of cousins to get pregnant (the others are probably five to ten years behind) so there were no hand-me-downs. However, I got free clothing for the time when our girl turns eight years old (she is one now). It is cleaned and stored for the next couple of years. Can’t say no to free clothing.
Gotta love the free clothing :)! And, the nesting instinct is definitely strong in the Frugalwoods home right now 😉
I always look forward to your posts. They inspire me to try out new ways to save money. One thing I do is ask others what is their favorite cost-cutting idea. That opens up a wonderful conversation filled with enthusiasm and creativity. I work in a retail venue, and when I go on a retail free diet, I’m always surprised by how many of my coworkers want to join me! I wanted to do a full year, but fell off in July, spent $35 at work, now I’m back on the bandwagon again until the end of the year or possibly forever! It actually takes a lot of burden off my shoulders to not have to look at things in our store, figure out how much they’re going to cost at their lowest point, and then try to find them at the end. Thanks again for all of your posts, and best of luck in the future with your new family.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Jennifer! And, I’m with you on the liberating feeling of not buying stuff. It’s amazing how much energy we put into making those consumer choices. So nice to break free of it! Congrats to you for being on a retail-free diet :)!
Looks like another great month in frugalwoods land. 🙂 Plan on crunching our numbers this weekend. Back to school will increase our spending just a bit.
Thanks! Best of luck with back to school 🙂
Blue Ribbon is the best! My dad is a North Carolina native who has tried every BBQ joint in the greater Boston area and he has proclaimed Blue Ribbon the best. Although now he smokes his own (a great option for those frugally inclined – he buys pork shoulder on sale in the summer, smokes huge quantities and then freezes it to enjoy all year long).
I am envious that you are able to get by with only one tank of gas, even while using your car to commute. Somehow, even though my commute is about 9 miles per day, I always need two tanks to get through the month.
Ahh yes, then Mr. FW and your dad would agree! Mr. FW is also from North Carolina and has similarly determined that Blue Ribbon has the best vinegar-based pulled pork in the area :). Love that he smokes his own! Sounds fabulous!
You never cease to awe and inspire me! I was really contemplating buying some new clothes for the fall…you’re post came just in the nick of time! 🙂
Thank you so much for your kind words :)! Glad I could help on the no clothes buying front. Stay strong :)!
Looks great as usual and late November will be here before you know it. 🙂 We had a couple bigger expenses – mainly annual business expenses that came up last month. But, we budget for them so it was as simple as a transfer to cover them. Love that gas bill for the car! Ours is similarly low since we work from home. With gas prices down it’s even better. 🙂
Gotta love the low gas bills! Really makes a difference, and, we’re happy that we don’t have to drive too much on a regular basis. And, it’s a wonderful thing when you can easily cover those annual expenses–such a great feeling!
Car insurance and internet…. both very cheap! We actually have two internet service providers up here in Alaska, but one charges for bandwidth (yes, bandwidth) and the other one is just expensive. We have the “other one” and are grandfathered into very tiny and slow plan that still costs $84/month! Now the lowest plan they offer is $120/month.
Ugh, that’s a bummer for internet!
Looks good as usual. We got a chest freezer in August too.
The belly bump is looking good. 🙂
Hooray for chest freezers! And, thank you 🙂
That chest freezer will come in handy for storing pumped breastmilk. My stash kept overflowing our freezers, but I ended up donating the excess so it worked for best.
That’s exactly one of the things we plan to use it for 🙂
Hello! This is really great and I commend you for it. May I just say, in our case, teenagers are expensive and there is only so much one can do to get around it. Our monthly auto insurance bill alone is more than half of your net monthly total expenses. You have no idea how hard I worked on this, but insurance companies hate teenaged boys and we have to pay for it. We do carry high deductibles, but also high liability limits due to our fear of the slimy, ambulance chasing lawyers that advertise ad nauseum in this city. Teenagers also need (vision) contacts, sports dues/equipment, school books, clothes/shoes for growing bodies, FOOD, etc. etc. All have jobs and contribute/pay for to their own clothes, gas, cell phones, etc but there are still expenses that you simply don’t have and don’t have to account for at all. You are doing fabulous in your own situation and are a great example to us all. You are years and years away from the expense explosion of teenagers. Keep up the good work!
Great point! Everyone’s situation is definitely different, which is why I always say there’s no “one right way” to budget, spend, or save. We’ve all got to figure out what works best for us given our personal circumstances.
This was a shocker to me. I only have 1 teenage driver so far, (will have another within a year) but our car insurance doubled..and it is mandatory on them. I almost had a heart attack. This was not fun! 🙁
Yes!~ We need details on the chest freezer! What are you going to cook and store?! I am very intrigued! We have a small chest freezer than I am hoping to unplug and sell. It’s currently filled with just chicken wings (don’t ask) and um, White Castle (again don’t ask). But if you’ve got some ideas I’m all ears. I can be wishy washy like that!
I’m so late replying to comments that now there’s a whole post on the chest freezer :)!
Congratulations on another fab month! All I would suggest at this stage is to make the most of your quiet time and get as much rest as you can 🙂 November will soon be here!
Many thanks! And, I keep hearing we should catch up on sleep now… better do that :)!
It was gruesome. Totally gruesome. $44 on school supplies. $40 in uniforms. $30 “iPad fee.” $15 for uniform-conforming pants. I sent him to school in yard sale sneakers with a Goodwill backpack. (The preschool-size ones I saw at the LL Bean store were super-adorable… but he didn’t ask :-).)
$32 for dry cleaning. $158 for wedding presents. (One was Canadian so it looked like more money!) And an embarrassing number of hundreds of dollars on food, babysitting, and entertainment. (Mr. FP bought tickets to Yanni. Seriously, Yanni?!)
I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I want to hear more about your chest freezer! My side-by-side gets overfull with pre-cooked beans and on-sale chicken and whatnot. Clue us in!
Ok, I had to LOL at Yanni! Hah! Do you have to go with him to that ;)? Good call on the yard sale sneakers and Goodwill backpack–woohoo!
Yanni is not until March, so we are still negotiating. At least it’s a sit-down show, so it would be more like 3-4 hours of babysitting rather than the 5-6 hours we typically shell out for a night at Red Rocks. But… Yanni would be painful enough without feeling the clock running on that $15 an hour. I think I’ll make him bring a friend while I stay home eating popcorn and reading romance novels.
Oh, you are going to love your chest deep freezer. I recently posted 50 Things To Freeze to Save Time & Money. I freeze EVERYTHING. This month I joined Sam’s for the first time ever, only because I got the $100 membership basically for free. They had a special where it cost $40.50, then you got a $20 gift card and over $20 in free food. Yesterday I went and got all my free food and it was pretty cool. I got a big pizza, a rotisserie chicken, a dozen hoagie rolls, 1.5 lbs. of deli turkey and a big tub of hummus, FREE. Sweet! I also discovered their hamburger meat is cheaper even than Aldi, so this morning I was packaging the hamburger I bought in smaller quantities for the freezer. I took the chicken off the bones to freeze, froze some of the hoagie rolls and the deli meat, you get the picture. 🙂 Anyway, with the Sam’s membership I’ll be able to get one of my prescriptions free every month and I just lost my health insurance that covered it, so that was another incentive to join. I’ve never thought those club memberships were worth it before, but give me a free membership and it suddenly is! lol
Sounds like you are using that Sam’s membership to the fullest! We love our Costco membership too, which is fortunately only $55/year, although we didn’t get any free food with it :). Looking forward to putting our chest freezer through its paces!
August was a little high for us spending wise and way higher than what you guys spend. We did attend a friend’s wedding in the ridiculously expensive town of Jackson, WY which didn’t help. Our groceries and restaurant spending was very high as is normal for us. I just can’t seem to get that one down although it doesn’t help that my fiance absolutely loves eating out.
I bet Jackson, WY was gorgeous! Food is always tough and definitely used to be our largest expenditure (after our mortgage). It took us some time to get our grocery bill down, but once we did, it became pretty easy to just keep on that path. I wish you all the best on that front!
The mortgage payment caught my eye. My mortgage payment is close to $1000 and I am planning on paying off the mortgage in two months. Your story is very inspiring to me. I like that you don’t pay for cable. I really don’t need cable to live. I prefer to read books and I get these from the public library.
Congrats on being so close to paying off your mortgage! That’s fantastic :)! And, I agree, no need for cable.
I just got the PLUTUS email and saw that you guys are finalists in 2 categories! Woohoo! I love following along with your blog (even though I’m not planning a homestead myself) and you guys are just so approachable and sweet. I’m tempted to start blogging just to make blog-friends like you have! Congrats and good luck,
Awww, thank you so much Jamie! I appreciate that :).
Great job keeping the baby related expenses to a minimum so far! I love me some BBQ.
Hooray for free baby stuff and for BBQ :)!
SO envious of your car insurance and electricity bills. Texas is HOT in the summer, and I think our insurance commission is a little too lenient with the companies…that and too darned many uninsured drivers here (and with the cost, vicious cycle) which keeps the costs high for us all. I don’t know how I’d live without a freezer. Can’t wait to hear about yours.
We do luck out in the summertime here–we just don’t have to run our A/C all that often. But then we make up for it with our heating bills in the winter ;). It took me so long to reply to comments that now there’s a whole post on the chest freezer ;)!
Were you recently able to refinance or did you pay off your PMI? Nice lower mortgage payment than a few months ago.
Good eye! The lower payment is due to a lower tax assessment on the house–happy to pay less :).
Just started following the blog and your monthly expenses really motivate me! I have been following MMM for a couple of years now but have hit a rut. Thanks for helping to inspire and congrats on Babywoods!
Thank you so much for reading, Helen! I’m so glad you found us 🙂
Great job in August, even including the semi-annual car insurance. The free health insurance and cell phones from your employers are great benefits. It’s amazing how little you spend on Babywoods, when other people spend thousands on a new baby. I love it!
Many thanks! We’re definitely going the frugal route with Babywoods and its been a ton of fun to get creative in pulling together all of her little baby stuff for free/cheap :).
A verily august August my frugal friends! You look fantastic for seven months pregnant, I might say 🙂
A word of advice on the freezer: make an inventory sheet that you pin with magnets to it (or, as someone who commented on my blog did, paint it with chalkboard paint) BEFORE it is full of all sort of things.
I love having a chest freezer and will somewhat soon be ordering a second one so we can have some fruit-veggies stored in it as well as a pig and a side of beef. Locally-raised meat bought in bulk is AMAZING. Despite previously being low-meat frugal eaters, we’ve found we’re personally much happier with more meat in our diets and this was a great way to accomplish it.
We looked at used but it didn’t work out.
Many thanks! I love the idea of a freezer inventory sheet–definitely sounds like something we should do! Thanks for the tip. Yeah, we didn’t go the used route either–better to spend a tad more and reap the energy efficiency benefits in our calculations. Good to hear you found the same.
Our expenses were off the charts for August, but if you take away the wedding stuff, then it was probably pretty average for us. Way more expensive than you guys, but I’m working on bringing it down.
I’m surprised that you purchased clothes hangers… I feel like that is something that you could definitely have found used or free with your crazy frugal finding skills. Or were they used, but purchased? 20 for $4.23 does seem like a pretty good deal… 🙂
Hahah, the hangers were purchased new because I was desperate to get my maternity clothes into the closet ;). I totally could’ve gotten them free/used, but I just pooped out and bought them at Home Depot–which is the lowest price on hangers of all retailers (I researched all the usual suspects and Home Depot, of all places, won out!).
So does this mean you’re married now :)?? Super exciting and huge congrats!!!!!
Yup, we are married now! 🙂 Thanks!
I am curious to see what you do with the ice chest and mini fridge. 🙂 I have been trying to track my spending as much as possible and finally just decided to use a moleskin notebook I carry around anyways. I’ve even debated about starting weekly spending reports to help with a monthly report as well!
I took so long to reply to comments (my bad) that now there’s an entire post on the chest freezer :). Good luck on the spending tracking–I find it helps me a ton to see it every month.
Have you addressed the car seat issue yet? I’m curious how you will handle that. We purchased a used infant bucket for our baby, but she’s now a year old and outgrowing. Most of the used convertible seats I’ve seen are very well used and don’t have much time left on them before expiring. And people still want a lot for them! I would like to get her a nicer one, but spending $200 isn’t an option.
We actually received hand-me-down infant (rear-facing) and toddler (convertible) carseats from a good friend. Since they came from someone we know and trust, we felt fine accepting used as we know they haven’t been in an accident, etc. We looked at the fancy new convertible ones online out of curiosity and they are so expensive! There are cheaper toddler carseats that don’t go up to as high a weight limit (I think they cap out at 40lbs instead of 100), but then I think you can move to an inexpensive booster seat after 40lbs, so maybe that would be an option? I’m sorry I don’t have any great insights on this, but I wish you all the best in finding an affordable option.
I did not see Charitable Giving addressed in your questions of what you buy or don’t buy. Is this an annual expense or does it fall into the “don’t buy” category?
Great question! This is an annual “expense” for us. We do all of our charitable giving in one fell swoop, so it’ll all show up together in one month. I should add that to the list–thanks for pointing it out!
I would LOVE to see your plans for when baby arrives and how you plan to attack some of those big ticket items…car seat, day care, diapers, etc. You guys are seriously opening my eyes to how having a baby doesn’t have to be crazy expensive, so I’d love to see your overall plan for maybe the first year after babywoods arrives! Also, thanks for mentioning the Buy Nothing project a few months ago! I joined my local group and have been able to give away SO much stuff!!
So glad to hear you joined Buy Nothing–that’s awesome! It’s basically my favorite group ever. In terms of frugal baby rearing, we’ve had wonderful luck thus far with accepting hand-me-downs for everything in her nursery. Babywoods probably won’t have a single new item in her entire retinue :).
You can check out my post: Fighting Back Against The Baby Industrial Complex, which has some of my tips. And, I’ll be writing a lot more about it in the coming months and after she’s born. Principally, we’re applying all of our same frugality principles to baby prep and just not buying much of anything. We’ll definitely have to spend more after she’s born, but we’ll be looking to do it at frugally as possible :).
Question and tip on hangers:
1. Why not pack away clothes that don’t fit right now to free up some hangers? Then, post-pregnancy, you can swap again.
2. Look in college dumpsters around move out time. You will never need to buy hangers again. We work at a boarding school, and I have a literal box of hangers underneath our bed.
Is life insurance also through Mr. Frugalwoods’ work? Or are you self-insuring?
Back when I was unhappy at my day job, I pretty much made sure to wake up early every single work day. While I was tired, I knew that waking up early allowed me to have just a little bit more time so that I could work on reaching my goals.