May 2016 will be forever enshrined in Frugalwoods lore as the month of THE move. In what was hopefully our last move for many a year to come, we divested ourselves of our city trappings and jetted off to our country homestead. Scratch that–it wasn’t “jetted.”
More like slowly drove down the highway in a caravan of me, my mother-in-law, Frugal Hound and Babywoods in the RooBaRoo (oh yeah, we were the exciting car), my father-in-law and sister-in-law in their car, and Mr. FW bringing up the rear several hours later in Snowdrop (he stuck around in Cambridge with the movers until their loading work was done).
Our tenants also moved in at the tail end of May, so this’ll be the final month of paying mortgages. From here on out, both the VT and MA mortgages will be covered by the rental income–net, not gross–from our Cambridge property (hence no more mortgages on our expense reports).
In addition, we had Babywoods baptized here at our Vermont church while my in-laws were still in town. We wanted to celebrate the occasion with family, so it was a wonderful alignment of the stars that they were here. I’m deeply grateful we’ve found such a wonderfully progressive and caring church home here in the woods.
May is also the month when Frugal Hound had her houndy teefs professionally cleaned by the vet. Greyhounds have notoriously bad teeth and so, despite the fact that we regularly brush her teeth at home, she needed to have a professional cleaning in order to save her fangs from certain demise.
When we decided to adopt a dog four years ago, we knew we were assuming all sundry pet-related costs and so this expense is not a shock to us. In a typical year, Frugal Hound costs less than $900 to care for, so this’ll just be one of those atypically expensive years. For more on our frugal pet-rearing philosophy, check out Our Approach To Affordable, Responsible Dog Care.
Months like May are a reminder for me of how valuable it is to live on frugal autopilot. There’s no way I could’ve handled preparing or adhering to a budget this month–every day was a marathon of herculean proportions and I’m relieved everyone (and everything) is still intact. Since we never budget, we have the freedom to simply live our lives as we feel naturally compelled to–which is to say extremely frugally. This approach allows us to not worry about money and to instead focus on spending where we see value.
Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$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 happened this month!!!!!).
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.
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 May:
|Movers||$2,415.00||Moving from MA to VT. Best money we’ve spent all year. Check out all the gory details on our move.|
|Vetrinarian||$687.66||Frugal Hound’s dental cleaning.|
|Groceries||$223.92||Babywoods joined the cadre of eating humans in our household this month, but we’re making her baby food from scratch, so the cost is negligible.|
|Toilet||$210.32||Yep, you read that right: a toilet. The master bath toilet in our VT home is ancient and wastes a ton of water; therefore, we’re replacing it. This is the cost of a new, water-saving toilet from Home Depot. Yay toilet!|
|Cambridge water bill (3 months worth)||$161.24||The water bill for our MA home. This covers the last three months worth of water usage.|
|Gasoline for RooBaRoo and Snowdrop||$92.60||Gas for the Frugalwoods fleet of vehicles (which now also includes a tractor… )|
|Household items||$92.50||Household supplies (including such things as dog food, toothpaste, toilet paper, vitamins, and more). This total does not include any human food.|
|Utilities: Electricity (MA)||$81.77||Last month of paying electric for our Cambridge property.|
|Utilities: Gas (MA)||$76.43||Last month of paying gas for our Cambridge property.|
|Internet (VT)||$74.00||Happy to pay for our awesome Fiber internet here on the homestead!|
|Game camera||$49.99||We know we have creatures on our land (well it’s really their land) as we’ve seen tracks, so we bought and installed this game camera in the hopes of catching them on film! So far, the only creatures we’ve photographed are ourselves as we go to retrieve the disk…|
|Restaurant meal||$47.54||Before leaving Cambridge, we went out for one last dinner at our very favorite local restaurant.|
|Car insurance||$43.90||This is the cost to add our new-to-us Prius (aka Snowdrop) to our car insurance.|
|Pair of pants for Mr. FW!||$36.01||Mr. FW loves these work pants so much, we got him a second pair. It’s tough to subsist on a single pair of pants (though he tried for months).|
|Internet (MA)||$29.95||Last month of paying internet for our Cambridge property|
|Utilities: Electricity (VT)||$26.64||Electricity for our VT home.|
|Parking||$16.00||Took Babywoods to a few doctor’s appointments in downtown Boston and thus had to pay to park.|
|Coffee shop||$9.76||Before moving to Vermont, we went to the coffee shop near our Cambridge home where the idea for Frugalwoods was born. Had to have a final send off!|