In April, we geared up for the ultimate move (and hopefully our last move for quite some time… I am not packing’s #1 fan) to our Vermont homestead, which inflated our expenses quite a bit.
Although we’re now a family of three humans and one hound, most of our new expenses this year are related to the acquisition of our property and not to the acquisition of our baby! If anything, Babywoods is proving herself to be the cheapest new life event on our roster (curious how we baby-rear so frugally? check out this post and this one too).
As you might’ve surmised, the expenses I share in our monthly expense reports exclude the majority of our homestead start-up costs. In order to keep everything as straightforward (and entertaining) as possible, I’ve decided to dedicate a separate post to detailing these specifically homestead-related expenses; which include, for example, our used chainsaw among other sundry supplies.
April: A Veritable Shower Of Expenditures
The category of home improvement–all of which is for our Cambridge house–accounts for a good deal of our line items lately as we prepare this place for rental. Mr. Frugalwoods and I want to future proof the home (to the extent possible) for our tenants in the hopes that they won’t incur too many repair needs during their tenancy. I’ll illustrate all the fixes we’ve done in a separate post, but suffice it to say, we hope it’s money well spent!
We also hit up Costco twice in April–as opposed to our customary single jaunt–as we wanted to stock up on a few essentials (dog food!) prior to our decampment north. Plus, we purchased all new 10-year lithium-battery smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for our Cambridge home–again, we want this place in top shape for our tenants.
April is, of course, the month when taxes come due and so we paid our state and federal taxes as well as a small amount for TaxAct (online tax prep software).
Gasoline was also rather high this month in light of our frequent road trips to Vermont. I am seriously looking forward to getting settled up there–I’m not a ‘weekend house’ kind of gal–all this driving back and forth (especially with Frugal Hound and Babywoods in the back seat) is not my cup of tea. The incredible upsides of spending weekends in Vermont, however, are the wonderful people we’re getting to know in our community and the time we’ve devoted to cleaning up our garden beds, digging out culverts, clearing trails, and pruning fruit trees!
In the arena of our move itself–we hath incurred an unavoidable charge: packing tape! I’ve sourced all of our boxes and packing paper/bubble wrap for free by taking hand-me-downs, but, it’s rather impossible to reuse packing tape (I actually tried and, uh, poor results). In light of this adhesive-related need, we had to hit up the old Amazon.com. Fortunately we have our handy-dandy tape gun from our previous moves, and let me tell you, that thing is worth its weight in gold. Actual gold I tell you. Especially since I’m packing while simultaneously entertaining Babywoods. Do you know how many words rhyme with pack? And do you know how many baby-engaging songs you can make up about packing? The answer is a lot. A great lot.
Brace Yourselves: We Went Out To Eat!!!!
In what will come as shocking news to regular readers, we–on a whim–decided to go out to eat for lunch one day. Vermonters (and Vermont-adjacent folk) will be excited to hear it was our inaugural trip to Worthy Burger, which is VERY worthy in our estimation. Absolutely delicious. A delightful and rare delicacy for us frugal weirdos who only eat out a few times a year.
For this treat, we carefully selected a restaurant that’s local, highly reviewed, and special–no reason to waste money on a meal at a trite chain restaurant or for a subpar sandwich. When we do go out, it’s for something supremely yummy. And these burgers, fries, and beer were worth every penny!
Babywoods got to enjoy her first visit to a restaurant (not that she actually ate anything, although I did drop some ketchup on her head) and Mr. FW and I were reminded of the joy that comes when something like a restaurant meal is a rare pleasure and not an everyday (or every week or every month) occurrence. It’s refreshing to relish the little things in life.
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 the 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 manage 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 (which is happening next month!!!!! I still can’t get used to saying that!!!!!)
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 we spent in April:
|Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance
|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 (which is next month!!!!!!)
|MA State Tax
|What we owed on our state taxes.
|Wooo dogs, this was a pricey month! We prefer to spend in the realm of $300-$350 on groceries and I attribute this higher amount to the fact that we’ve stocked our Vermont kitchen with non-perishable essentials. I forgot we’d previously taken coffee, for example, so we now have a 6 month supply of coffee in our VT freezer… hey, that is one thing I do NOT want to run out of.
|A mega month as we went to Costco twice in anticipation of our move, and purchased all new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for the Cambridge house along with things like lightbulbs and dog food for Vermont.
|What we owed on our federal taxes.
|Higher due to our many treks to and fro Vermont. Looking forward to being settled in VT and not commuting!
|Both Babywoods and I had doctor’s appointments this month.
|Home Improvement Supplies
|Various supplies for our sundry home improvment/tenant prep projects at the Cambridge house.
|Online tax prep software
|Beer & Wine
|This line item was a lot lower when I was pregnant and not drinking wine… 😉
|We got our snow tires taken off along with an oil change.
|Our very scrumptious restaurant meal at Worthy Burger in Vermont.
|Ahh yes, the packing tape! The better to pack boxes with, my dear!
|I took our comforter and large coats to the laundromat for my traditional spring cleaning of “stuff that’s too large to fit in our home washing machine.” Sidenote: laundromats are ridiculously expensive!!
|Tolls (via our EZPass)
|Added funds to our interstate toll EZPass.