Just call us the Spendywoods this month. Yes indeed, we blew our $1,000/month spending goal way far away. Like $1,121.68 away. But you know what? It’s all good. We spend less in the months where we can so that we don’t sweat the expensive times. Because unexpected expenses are a routine part of life–much like moles, we all have them and though we might try to conceal them, we know they’re there. So rather than hide our warts, I have them proudly on display for you fine folks.
A Lot Broke
If I had a theme song for February, it would be “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” with a few slight modifications to: “Apparently Breaking Is Easy To Do (in our house this month).” A tad less catchy I’ll admit. Here’s the thing: a rather hefty percentage of things we own decided to break last month, which really kept life scintillating for us.
Also, don’t get too excited because I’m not going to divulge everything in this one post… you’d be sad if I did because instead… I’m going to do a whole series of posts on stuff that broke! Woohoo!
The One Thing We Didn’t Break
A sweat. Oh that’s right, I went there. And I know you’re glad I did. Why didn’t we break a sweat? Well, for one, it’s like zero degrees here. But more to the point, months like February are precisely why we’re frugal and why we save. When unanticipated expenses come our way, we don’t worry at all. It’s truly no big deal because we can cover just about any emergency in cash, in full. And that’s the beauty of having money in the bank! (of course it’s an internet bank, so technically it’s just a bunch of ones and zeros…. ).
Mr. Frugalwoods Now Knows How To Be A Plumber
Guess what Mr. Frugalwoods learned last month? How to be a plumber! Remember when it was super duper cold a few weeks back? Well, a few of our pipes do too. And several of them decided to go ahead and freeze and then burst (this regrettable pipe-life choice despite our warming efforts with heating pads, hair dryers, and sweet sweet music… hey, when in crises, sing to your pipes).
Well, they froze and burst all the same (in front of our very eyes!) and rather than pay a plumber an exorbitant fee to rush to our house on a Sunday night, Mr. FW insourced it by hitting up the old YouTube and then the old Home Depot. He then re-plumbed our kitchen by himself. Woot! I promise to devote more air time to this thrilling topic in a post coming your way soon. Spoiler alert: heat tape was installed! I know you’re on the edge of your seat now.
The Oven Was Jealous
Naturally, on the Sunday night that Mr. FW was teaching himself Plumbing 101, we reckoned it was a great time for an emergency frozen pizza. I went to turn on the oven and… crickets. Seeing the attention the pipes were getting, our previously stalwart oven decided to leap into the fray of broken objects. We’ve ordered some parts and are awaiting delivery; thus, the oven victory story is TBD… I’ll keep you posted. Fortunately, our burners still work so we were able to resort to our frozen meals stash. Always have a back-up, people!
So Was Frugalwoods-mobile
It pains me to even write these words as I
was am deeply and emotionally attached to Frugalwoods-mobile. And so, I’ll say no more in this post. Don’t force me! I can’t even. A detailed explanation is forthcoming, I promise.
Other Things Broke Too
It has actually become somewhat bizarre around here as things seemingly shatter around us. So far, one of our mirrored closet doors (the ones I so lovingly refinished!) met an untimely demise and we are, again, awaiting delivery of a part ordered on Amazon. Additionally, some other stuff too, but I can’t even remember what at this point.
But It Was Still A Great Month!
We’ve been practicing laughing in the face of adversity, because in truth, it’s rather hilarious. These are all merely things and they are all fixed with money, which has no emotional bearing in our lives. All that matters is that we are healthy, together, and happy. Beyond that, I ask for nothing more. It actually was a lovely month: we went snowshoeing, Babywoods has started swiping at toys with her incredibly flailing limbs, and Frugal Hound continues to do her houndy thing (which primarily involves snoozing).
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. No excuses.
Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized 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
The below is an itemization of every single dollar we spent over the course of the 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 (not counting maxing out our 401Ks).
Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than Why We Don’t Micromanage Our Money. 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.
But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z????
Wondering about common expenses that you don’t see listed below? Our August 2015 expense report has the answers you seek!
Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar (and there were a lot) we spent in February:
|Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance||$2,238.50||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.|
|Car insurance (six months worth)||$386.86||Six months worth of car insurance for ye olde Frugalwoods-mobile.|
|Plumbing Parts||$324.16||A situation necessitating its own post.|
|Groceries||$291.05||A resounding success! We’ve had great luck with keeping our grocery bill low (our aim is always under $350/month) despite my increased appetite with breastfeeding.|
|Household||$242.54||Super duper high this month–we stocked up on sundry supplies (which include such things as dog food, toothpaste, toilet paper, vitamins, and more). This total does not include any human food.|
|Utilities: 3 months worth of our water bill||$187.20||The city of Cambridge levies our water bill every three months.|
|Utilities: Gas||$156.30||A tad higher thanks to colder temps last month.|
|Repairs to Frugalwoods-mobile||$110.00||Oh Frugalwoods-mobile. This is worthy of a post all its own, which I promise to deliver to you shortly…|
|Gasoline||$93.64||Took quite a few roadtrips this month in order to snowshoe, hike, and generally enjoy the outdoors. I also find that I’ve been driving more with Babywoods–we like to go to free baby groups around town, which necessitate driving, but its totally worth it to me to learn from other new mamas!|
|Utilities: Electric||$88.55||A standard electric bill.|
|Oven parts||$86.48||Another situation truly necessitating its own post.|
|Internet||$59.95||A necessity in these here frugal woods.|
|Beer and boxed wine||$32.98||Another necessity for Mommywoods and Daddywoods 🙂|
|Pants||$32.42||Mr. FW needed new pants (since he wore through the crotch of an already-mended pair of pants, which we will probably mend again, but it was becoming dangerous for him to go out in public… ). He picked this pair out on Amazon and is delighted with them. He reports they’re terrific to bike in.|
|Doctor’s visit co-pay||$20.00||I had a postpartum follow-up appointment.|
|Medicine||$9.55||Medicine from CVS.|