It was a relief to see our expenses dip back down into the territory of normal this month. I find there’s invariably an expense burst surrounding a move–and especially a move to a completely different way of life!
Our sojourn from urban to rural continues to unfold, but it seems our relocation spending has started to abate. Quotidian categories such as groceries, household supplies, and gasoline all wended their way down, down, down in a trajectory that’s hopefully a harbinger of our future here on the farm.
The Frugalwoods Fly
Our most notable outlay in July was a whopping $936.53 spent on airfare. Whoop! Yes, we do indeed use credit cards and yes, we do indeed have plenty of credit card rewards points, but, we elected not to redeem them for these trips. In September, we set sail on an unusually long and slightly convoluted trip involving numerous airports, several destinations, and one baby.
We’re headed first to Florida for Mr. Frugalwoods’ brother’s wedding. Then, Mr. FW will return to Vermont to tend the homestead at peak fall production time while Babywoods and I jet across country to San Diego to: 1) visit my family, 2) attend the annual financial bloggers’ conference, which is conveniently taking place there this year, and 3) possibly regret my decision to fly solo with a baby…
Travel, and marking important family events, are spending priorities for us and I never bemoan the costs associated with such sojourns. Experiences, writ large, are vastly more important to me than things and experiences with family rank above all else.
Mr. FW and I have adult frugal travel on total lock down–international, domestic, by train, plane, auto–we’ve got it covered! Hence, as a documentarian of frugal life, I’m looking forward to cataloguing how to travel frugally with a baby. But as a mom? I’ll admit I’m a tad wary. Tips, advice, and sanity balms welcome.
A Note On Charitable Contributions
Previously, I haven’t included our charitable contributions in our expense reports. However, I’ve received quite a few requests from readers for details on our charitable giving; thus, I’ve decided to start including these donations along with our other expenses. I also plan to devote an entire post to explaining our approach to charitable giving in the future, so stay tuned!
Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$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 and move to a homestead in the woods (which happened in May!!).
For us, embracing frugality is a joyful, longterm 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 July:
|Airline tickets||$936.53||For our epic trek next month.|
|Groceries||$290.05||Happy to see this amount returning to a level of normalcy. Curious how we eat so cheap? Check this out.|
|Car insurance||$242.73||This is 6 months worth of car insurance for our Subaru and Prius.|
|Household supplies||$136.46||All non-food household and farm supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, a tractor drawbar, grab hook, and 14 foot chain!|
|Internet||$74.00||One bill I’m always glad to pay! Having high-quality Fiber internet here in the woods is perfect for our digital homesteading lifestyle.|
|Gasoline||$59.94||Pretty reasonable thanks to our almost exclusive use of the Prius during the summer months.|
|Cambridge, MA car excise tax||$44.37||The prorated amount we owed on our cars for the portion of 2016 that we lived in Cambridge.|
|Home Improvement||$41.80||Something from Home Depot. Can’t recall what.|
|Electric bill||$35.77||Nice and low! We don’t have air conditioning, which helps keep this expense down.|
|Donation to NPR||$35.00||Now that we’re residents of Vermont, I joined Vermont Public Radio–my lifeline for what’s happening in the world.|
|Doctor’s visit co-pay||$20.00|
|Ethanol-free gas||$18.47||This gasoline is used in our various small farm engines, including: the lawnmower, the chainsaw, and the weedwacker.|