Ahhh, summer on the homestead! June was an unusual month for us expense-wise as we continue to hammer out the transition from urban to rural. Sundry expenses keep popping up as we finalize our new residence along with an array of homestead start-up costs.
In a fit of productivity and gritty determination, we made a mega sojourn to the DMV (which is an hour away) with both cars, the entire contents of our filing cabinet, and our firstborn child. We figured this assortment of documentation should cover our bases–and lo, it did.
Both cars are now registered, titled, and licensed in the state of Vermont and Mr. FW and I proudly sport VT driver’s licenses. Inspections were required for both vehicles and, during the inspection, Snowdrop’s brake pads were found wanting. So add new brake pads to the roster this month!
Keeping with the transportation theme, we decided to register for TSA pre-check since we have several airplane treks in our future. At $85 per person (good for five years), we figure it’s a cheap price to pay for an easier security process with Babywoods in tow. Good news–we were approved! Our TSA “interview” took place in the adorable town of Burlington, VT–on what just so happened to be our 8th wedding anniversary–so we decided to make a day of it. We strolled around, poked through art galleries, and enjoyed lunch out followed by beer in a garden.
To facilitate our burgeoning homestead-related projects (detailed here), we bought quite a few supplies this month. The way we’re outfitting ourselves for rural life is by purchasing stuff as we need it. Rather than stock our barn with tools we might someday need, we buy things as they become pressing requirements.
Ever devotees of the used market, we scan our local Craigslist and visit flea markets, garage sales, and estate auctions in the area. When that approach fails to proffer the goods we seek, we buy new. This first year of homesteading will be an expensive one, primarily because prior to moving here, we didn’t own a single farm or garden implement–not even a humble rake! But that’s something we expected and planned for in our projections. I still need to write a more holistic post on the other homestead expenses we incurred in the early days of farm ownership and I will (as soon as I have time!). But for now, I’ve combined all homestead expenses below with our household expenses since they’re now one in the same.
Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$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 managed to quit our city life and decamp to the country.
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 last month!!).
For us, embracing frugality is a joyful, longterm lifestyle choice. We prefer a simple life to one filled with consumerism and we spend only on the things that matter most to us. Our approach isn’t one of miserly deprivation; to the contrary, we live a luxuriously frugal existence.
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 June:
|Groceries||$463.94||Ugh, super high this month. I’ve been testing out the various grocery stores in our area and I’m sad to report that none are as cheap as my beloved Market Basket. But, I do have several options here (Hannaford’s, Price Chopper, and BJ’s) as well as our local farmer’s markets. I’ll continue to compare prices until I settle on a better grocery routine.|
|VT DMV||$456.00||Taxes and registration for both cars plus our VT driver’s licenses. Glad to have that transition taken care of!|
|Homestead supplies||$310.99||A smattering of supplies including: chainsaw bar oil, a splitting axe, chainsaw maintenance parts and tools, a peavy, diesel fuel anti-gel, a bolt to fix our lawnmower, and a wheelbarrow.|
|Household supply stock-up||$292.78||Mr. FW was back in MA for business this month so he swung by Costco and stocked up on 3 months worth of staples, including: dog food, olive oil, rice, oats, as well as non-food household supplies. Since we don’t have a Costco near us in VT, this’ll be our last Costco run.|
|Car inspections (for both cars) and brake pads for the Prius||$179.17|
|Final MA Electric Utility bill||$52.70|
|Lunch and beer out in Burlington||$49.25||Yum! Perfect anniversary celebration.|
|Joining BJ’s Wholesale Club||$40.00||I had a coupon to join BJ’s at $40 for 16 months so we decided to go for it. Their prices and selection are similar to Costco’s, if a tad more expensive. But, I think it’ll be a good option for us on the whole.|
|Membership in the Vermont Woodlands Association||$40.00||This is the professional association for people who own forests in Vermont (hey that’s us!). They provide forest-related education and advocacy.|
|EZ-Pass purchase||$38.90||We got an EZ-Pass (for interstate tolls) for the Prius.|
|Pants for Mr. FW||$38.68||Mr. FW needed more of these pants (which are amazing work pants, by the way).|
|Hat for Mr. FW||$35.96||Mr. FW was wearing my gardening hat all the time, so I insisted he purchase his own so that we could both wear our hats together (also he was getting my hat all sweaty and stinky… some things should not be shared).|
|Garden supplies||$35.25||Garden plants and seeds, purchased from a local farm, to get our veg garden off to a good start.|
|Final MA Gas Utility bill||$33.27|
|VT Electric Utility Bill||$26.74|
|Ethanol-free gas||$18.40||This gasoline is used in our various small farm engines, including: the lawnmower, the chainsaw, and the weedwacker.|
|Beer!||$15.09||We found a local craft beer store! Hurray!|
|Postage stamps||$9.40||I like to mail letters to people.|