Babywoods investigates a fallen leaf in our yard
Babywoods investigates a fallen leaf in our yard

After last month’s bonfire of the expenses, it was frugally comforting to return to a sane spending level in October. Nothing dramatic happened (other than our slightly premature snow) and nothing terribly expensive happened either. This is an illustration of why frugality is a longterm proposition: spending fluctuates–along with savings rates–and success only occurs when you maintain a frugal arc over time.

The key is that on the whole, Mr. FW and I save vastly more than we spend. Some months are simply better than others. I don’t budget for the simple reason that I find it easier to live on frugal autopilot–I approach each day with the mindset that I’m not going to spend any money. Of course I will spend some (especially if it’s grocery day), but I never plan to spend up to a certain number, which is what a budgeting mentality would prompt me to do.

Happy Halloween!

Two organic, free-range bees
Two organic, free-range bees

Ok probably the best thing that happened in October was Bumble Bee Costume Mayhem! By which I mean Frugal Hound and Babywoods were bees for Halloween. My nieces and nephew all wore this bee costume for their first Halloween and so my sister and I agreed Babywoods should wear it too. And, wouldn’t you know it, I already had those bee antennae for Frugal Hound! Sometimes I rock at life (Frugal Hound does not agree).

Since we don’t get trick-or-treaters down our quarter-mile driveway, we took baby bee over to the town center for a Halloween potluck dinner party. She loved staring at the big kids in their costumes and the highlight of her night was playing with a wrapped candy bar (which mommy later ate… ).

Winter Is Coming

As I shared the other day, winter decided to pop in a bit early this year with several mini-snowstorms. Temps have since risen–and we’ve actually gone two days now without lighting the woodstove (our heat source)–but that early snow got us in the mood to plan. To that end, we made several winter prep purchases this month.

Most notably, we got Mr. Frugalwoods a pair of insulated rubber muck boots–a necessity for working outside in sub-zero conditions. He’s been wearing cheap, uninsulated rubber boots and we both agreed that not getting frostbite on a toe qualifies as a spending priority. He also purchased a pair of insulated work mittens (along with leather waterproof sealer) and insulated rubber gloves, both of which will be useful for doing farm work outside in the wintertime.

Since we’re now a two car family, we bought a second snow broom/ice scraper so that each car has its very own (Mr. FW occasionally travels for work and hence, the cars are not always in the same place). Somewhat unrelated to winter, but spurred by our tire-changing failure this month, we’re outfitting ourselves to (finally) change our own oil. When we lived in the city, we didn’t have a driveway, a garage, or even a designated parking space, so changing our own oil wasn’t going to happen. Now that we have the space for it, that’s a chore Mr. FW will insource.

Bulk Oats (aka I do not like BJ’s)

I love leaves
I love leaves

I am mourning the absence of my beloved Market Basket (our AMAZING locally owned discount grocery store in MA) as well as Costco. We have a BJ’s here, which we joined, but let me tell you, it is nowhere near as good as Costco.

Their prices are higher (I checked them against my Costco receipts) and they don’t carry all the things we most appreciated from Costco. There is a Costco an hour and a half away from us and we’re seriously contemplating getting a membership and making a monthly trek up there. Still under debate. TBD. I’ll keep you posted.

One of the things BJ’s doesn’t have are bulk oats. As you may recall, we are a family of oat fanatics. They are healthy, they are cheap, and they are what we eat every morning for breakfast. Babywoods too! I’ve been buying our oats–we eat a mix of rolled and steel-cut–from the regular grocery store, but Mr. FW discovered we can source them much more cheaply online. So, this month we made an inaugural purchase of 50lbs of rolled and steel cut oats. We also bought several large food storage containers to house these vittles, which’ll show up in next month’s expenses. I’ll let you know how this system works out for us.

Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$e$

These two play together so well!
These two play together so well!

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 last month. I share this because it’s the most transparent articulation of how we allocate our resources and adhere to a lifestyle of extreme frugality.

Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than Why We Don’t Micromanage Our Money. We also own a rental property in MA, which I discuss here. 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!!).

View near the top of our driveway
View near the top of our driveway

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! Plus, as I explained here, we pay bills in full the month we receive them–that’s why you won’t see monthly payments for things like car insurance or property taxes.

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in October:

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
VT mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $556.37 Ugh, I really miss Market Basket…
Household supplies $188.02 All non-food household and farm supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, dog food, and dental floss.
50lbs of rolled and steel cut oats $120.97 Our first foray into buying massive quantities of grain on the internet.
Arctic muck boots $92.76 Mr. FW’s new boots. They are WARM and super tall. A boon for snowy weather work.
Electrical and plumbing supplies $85.75 The last remaining supplies for Mr. FW’s fabulous installation of our fabulous dishwasher, which works fabulously.
Internet $74.00 Gotta love our fiber internet out here in the woods!
Utilities: Electric $52.66
Doctor visit co-pays $40.00 Mr. FW and I both had our annual exams this month.
Gasoline for car $34.95 Have I mentioned lately how much I adore our Prius? Gas mileage for the win!!!
Snow broom and leather water sealer $32.45 This is the snow broom/ice scraper we got.
Work mittens and winter work gloves $30.04 Mr. FW’s hands will be well warmed while he works in winter, whilst whistling Wilco in the wilderness of our woods. With a wallaby.
Snow tire swap $25.00  Swapping the Subaru’s regular tires for snow tires… something we will do ourselves in the future.
Waste oil container $10.47 For changing the oil on both cars.
TOTAL SPENT: $2,736.30  
LESS MORTGAGE: $1,343.44

How was your October?

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  1. Just a thought on changing oil. I use to do it myself but have since stopped. If you look around enough you’ll find shops here that charge 15-20 dollars for a regular change or 60 for synthetic. After the time commitment, cleanup, gas to dispose of oil, difficulty finding a place to get rid of the oil, and the value of my time it was not worth my effort. I estimated I might have saved about 5 dollars doing it myself. It might be different in Vermont depending on your regulations driving the price of the materials.

    1. I agree but around chicagoland there are so many oil change shops that they can charge $20 an oil change maybe in the middle of nowhere there aren’t as many or farther away? Plus if you don’t drive much you dont’ have to change them much. I would definitely pay the extra$5-10 to go get it done.

    2. My husband and I discovered the exact same thing. But we’re also in an urban area where a shop that does it inexpensively was easy to find.

    3. I don’t save a LOT of money doing it myself, but I save time, and I’ve had multiple issues with others doing it over time. I don’t go and wait in line for an oil change, I don’t get hassled to spend more money on stuff I really don’t need yet, and the drain plug doesn’t get stripped, the fill cap gets replaced, and the oil doesn’t get overfilled.
      Or at least if any of that stuff does happen, it’s my own fault! 🙂

      My local recycle center takes the oil, I take it in maybe once a year when I’m going there anyway.

    4. If you buy supplies on sale it still saves you some money to DIY oil changes, and around here at least a few garages and auto parts stores accept the waste oil without hassle. I usually keep it in a 5 gallon bucket with tight lid until it’s decently full to avoid disposal trips more than once a year. The other thing I find is while under the hood (and the car for that matter) I catch other problems early enough to deal with before they mean a cold roadside wait for a tow truck or a more expensive repair. Last thought… if you’re wanting to in-source other automotive work, repair manuals help a lot. 3rd party publishers like Haynes have vehicle specific versions for most models and years for < $20, but the info they contain can be priceless.

      1. Definitely agree! My husband is able to in-source a lot of car repair work by using the official manuals and buying parts through our Honda dealer.

  2. Wow oats are really expensive there….You bought them in bulk for 5.28 $ per kg. We buy 0.5 kg for 1.30-1.50 euros here, from a regular supermarket….no brand name though.

      1. How are you guys getting your numbers. 50 lbs = 110 kg (there are 2.2 pounds to every kg) and then $120.97/110 = $1.09 per kg

          1. My mistake. I reversed the calculation but it was an honest question so I’m not sure why I got the “lady”

    1. Those oats are less than 60 cents a pound at our beloved Winco stores, out west. ($14.73 for a 25 pound bag)

  3. Hello, My husband just had his annual physical (Harvard pilgrim insurance) and told me (which I confirmed) that there is no co-pay due for our annual physicals. IF you go and and it’s really a sick visit, they often do charge you a co-pay (some doctors), but if it’s strictly an annual physical, there is no co-pay due. I hope I helped save you $40!

    1. Yes you are so right, however, since this was our first visit with our new PCP, they do charge for that. Otherwise, yes, the well visits are free, which is great!

  4. Wow – that was a great price for Mr. FW’s tall winter boots and gloves & mittens! I think spending on key winter items is incredibly important. As someone who is tired of winters – if I’m dressed appropriately, I’m usually happy when I’m outside. I still have the same winter boots I bought 20 years ago. They seemed expensive then, but quality matters! I’m heading off to check out the sites you linked to! Happy November!

  5. Please post pictures of that winter wallaby. LOL

    Glad all is well with you! 🙂 Garrett changed the oil in the Volvo for years. Now, we purchase the supplies and take them to a local mechanic. In the future, I could see how he’d want to do it himself again.

  6. Hi FW’s- we moved rurally 2 years ago. I totally hear you about the dearth of local food, materials, and supplies options. We’ve used a lot of “technology” to solve specific local problems – like a water treatment system. The internet is a savior, good or bad, we rely on it a lot (at least to get us started).
    Also, I find myself wondering if Babywoods thinks she’s a hound or if Frugality Hound thinks she’s the big sister… 🙂 Probably the later, eh?

  7. Market Basket is magical and I also felt that pain when we moved from the city. There are a couple in northern MA which might be an ok trip. I also dislike BJs and find the costs to be very high. We joined for a year and quickly cancelled. If I need anything now, I just go with my mom 1-2 times per year. Not sure how strict Costco is but you might be able to join a friend or get a day pass.

      1. I second Sally’s online Costco! We live 160 miles from our nearest costco but being able to order things like diapers and toilet paper (and other sundries) and having them delivered has been fantastic! Definitely need to do the math about shipping, but they often have free shipping on many items. Something to look into!

  8. You can get 50lb bags of oats from the Hanover Co-Op! Not sure how the prices compare though. I just know that’s what my dad does (I think he special-orders them through the bulk dept).

  9. Your bee costumes are so cute! Love them! My son was a bumblebee his first Halloween, too so I may be partial to crawling bees.

    Another idea on the oil changes is to do mystery shops to be fully reimbursed for them. I’ve been doing this for both my cars and it works awesome. You pay for them upfront and then complete a simple report on the customer service of the business and get reimbursed by the mystery shopping company. I wrote a post about how to do it and which companies to sign up for Hope it’s okay to share.

  10. Mrs. FW- I remember you posting that you bought Frugal Hound’s food at Costco, but I can’t find the post referencing what type it was. Hubs and I just adopted our own hound and are looking for his food at our trusty Everett Costco! Thanks!

    1. Yes! That is one of the major reasons why we miss Costco so much! We got Frugal Hound the grain-free salmon and sweet potato kibble in the Nature’s Domain brand.

  11. Those trees are so pretty. We had a pretty lackluster fall here (although I did get to see some pretty trees in Amsterdam so that helped). You should post how long it takes you to go through those oats. I think I’d be eating them for years, but I am just one person instead of a 3 person household 🙂

      1. We bought two storage containers specially designed to keep food fresh for longterm storage, so fingers crossed they do their job 🙂

  12. Looks like you’re ready for winter! It’s amazing how much grocery prices vary between different stores, and how some items are such a better deal in bulk, while others aren’t. We just found a concession supply store near us that has a great price on bulk popcorn, our staple snack. Also, a Costco just opened near us! We haven’t been yet, as we are fortunate to have an ALDI 3 miles away.

  13. I had wondered if your grocery bill would go up when you moved to rural Vermont, and it has. I must admit it makes me feel better about my grocery bill 😉 In central Maine, we don’t have either a Market Basket or a Costco. Sigh.

  14. Might want to see if there is a Mormon lds cannery, sometimes called “bishops storehouse” within driving distance for low cost grains in manageable 5# cans. You don’t have to be Mormon to shop there and I’ve never been able to beat their prices. That’s where we get oats, cornmeal, hard red wheat, rice, etc. I’m currently using up a can of red wheat from 1998… and it is still very good.

    Thanks for the great blog!

  15. Our closest Costco is over four hours away! Still, we have a basic membership. I have a quarterly meeting that takes me to that area of the state, so I swing by and fill my car. The prices at Costco compared to the prices at our local stores makes it worth it for us. I would definitely drive once a month to shop if the Costco was closer.

  16. Every year a few days after Halloween we go and by the kids costumes for the following year. We can find them for 50-75% off. Some kids opt to reuse a siblings outfit (for an extra piece of candy), and the oldest girl and boy pick one a size or two up. With 5 little kids, it adds up! Costumes run $20-$25 a piece full price. There is no way I would spend $125 for new costumes each year. Plus the kids look forward to wearing that clearance costume all year long. And sometimes I buy a little half priced Halloween candy while I’m there. =)

    1. Thrift stores usually have a selection of costumes, particularly stores that cater to kids. Nearly all of our costumes have been purchased secondhand and put into the dress-up tub. None of the boys realized there was anything unusual about wearing the costume your brother wore last year. In 14 years of Halloweens I might have spent $200..for three boys and I am factoring in several sets of costume makeup, the bags they have used for years and the “Lilo & Stitch” Stitch costume one son got for Christmas.
      I bet your crew is a fantastic sight when trick-or-treating. A plethora of cute!

  17. Wow, I’m not sure I can imagine what 50lb of oats even looks like! One thing I’ve come to terms with here in NYC is that bulk buying doesn’t make sense. I ordered 96 rolls of toilet paper once and there was no place to put it all so it wound up sitting in our living room for 6 months until we got through it. Now I cap my orders at 24 🙂

  18. Amazingly low expenses! For mobile phones, previously you explained your employers paid for your phones. Now that Mrs. FW is self-employed, what do you use?


    I like that your town throws a little Halloween party since it’s so rural. When we lived out in the boonies we would do Trunk or Treat, where people met in the church parking lot and decorated their cars. The kids would go trick or treating from each car. It was a good solution when your neighbors were a few miles apart!

    Aw man, it sucks that Costco is so far away. But man, if you could make a trip every few months or so and just stock up, it might be worth it? You can also use your membership to order things online, too!

    Oy, our October was quite spendy. We moved into our new house two weeks ago, so as you can imagine, there’s a bajillion and one things that we need to get done, many of which require money. And to top it off, our A/C broke (yup, we’re still using A/C in Texas in November; it’s still in the 90s), so today I’m sure we’ll pay out an arm and a leg to get that bad boy fixed. Boo.

    Many of our expenses were house-related and couldn’t be helped (we even insourced everything!), but others were food-related. I’m working hard this November to rein in our extranous food expenses, like eating out. It should be much easier since we have a functional kitchen now. We’ll see how this month goes!

      1. Also- you might look into Google Express. I used it for Costco non-perishables when I was unable to drive due to a medical condition. I think it was free for three months when I was using it, not sure what the cost is or if it would be worth it, but may be if you consider gas, miles and travel time costs. It was amazing to see all the heavy and bulky Costco items I use (dog food, cat food, olive oil, canola oil, oats, etc) just show up at my door step! The service provides delivery from quite a few stores, not just Costco.

  20. Does Costco have nonperishable food online for delivery? I know they have some options, but I’m not sure they have all the staples.
    You could also start another side hustle by making a monthly trip for all your neighbors, build community and goodwill, and get the 2% cash back on all of it!

  21. Ooo!! Yes, please make the trip to Costco! It’s only 10 minutes from my house and I’d love to have you over or at least meet you there!! 🙂

  22. Our expenses are much higher than yours, but we are currently living on one income!! Which is something that just became a reality this year for us which was awesome. Finally after almost a year of tinkering we’ve even got it to the point where we are having leftover money at the end of the month too!

  23. OMG the bees, the bees, so adorbs.

    The oats were a brilliant move (although the price does seem high). With all that space in Vermont buying staples in bulk and storing in a mouse-proof container would probably make those Costco runs worth it over the long term.

    Under the ACA annual checkups are supposed to not have a copay- I might enquire at your doctor’s as to why you were charged.

  24. Thank you for this post. I had considered getting a BJs membership since it is almost time to renew, but I love Costco. I will stick with them (dog food!).

    How far is the Market Basket in Claremont from you? Maybe it’s worth the extra drive once or twice per month.

  25. October was the big trip to Quebec to get our little camping trailer we’ve waited so long for! We took a 5800 mile, 16 day trip (11 days were camping) and I just tallied it up, plus we paid off the rest of the trailer so one could say October was pretty expensive! We drove through your beautiful state and had just about perfect colors wherever we visited (ME, NH, VT, NY) and luckily we were about a week before the snow! Drove through darling Vermont towns like Montpelier, Moretown, Waistfield, Bristol. Unfortunately it was much too short of a trip and way too much driving, but taste of trailer living which I think I can get used to!

    1. We got the Vittles Vaults, which will show up in next month’s expenses. They’re graded for longterm food storage, so fingers crossed they work well :)!

  26. I miss Market Basket too!!!! 🙁 I get sooo overwhelmed by Costco. That is one of the biggest things I miss from New England (other than my family… Of course)!

  27. It was OK. I was setting up my apartment and so bought a lot more things than I usually would, like daybed bedding (in my defense, I would using a full-size quilt my grandmother bought me circa 1994), Command hooks, and general miscellany, including things I lost in the divorce (stock pot). And spent a few hundred having our on-the-market house professionally cleaned. (No one bought the house. We have now given up and the XFP is just going to move back in with his new love and refinance in their names.) Haven’t added everything up yet.

    I was the recipient of SO MUCH generosity this month, from kind words from old acquaintances to $1000 check from my grandfather to a very nice tea kettle sent to me by an Internet stranger (really!).

    I’m very sorry about Costco. That would make me very sad, too. I often buy non-grocery items there because they come with a guarantee and I don’t get decision fatigue. A toaster, for instance. Instead of researching toasters ad nauseum, I just bought the basic two-slice toaster for sale at Costco. (Best for smallish purchases, of course, but seriously, it’s a twenty-dollar project–how many Amazon reviews is that really worth?)

  28. So, as someone who only grocery shops once a month, I feel you. I feel that you should either, maintain your Costco membership, or shop with a friend who has a membership, or drive to another store you have found to have good prices. I do not maintain a Costco membership because that store encourages over spending in me. But I live in a small town of 150 people. We have a small market that has milk, eggs, bread and a few canned goods. the only vegetables it sells are onions and tomatoes. that is it. I shop at Fred Meyer, Grocery Outlet, Foods for Less, and sometimes United Grocer or Cash and Carry. The later is a restaurant supply store, it is excellent for large amounts of flour, meat, and kitchen tools. The point is, you can get your bulk oats cheaper at Food for less, or a restaurant supply store. I also shop online with Azure Standard a few times a year, if you can get on their truck line, you do not have to pay shipping. Azure has great bulk items that are organic, however, it is a west coast company, so might not be as useful for you. We drive each month to shop, so we save money, make a list, and make a rough meal plan. We also take back cans when we go, in Oregon the bottle bill allows for you to return pop and beer bottles/cans for 5 cents (now going to 10) each, every vendor has to redeem them. it is a huge pain in the butt, but, we take back our recyclable bottles and cans, as well as all of my relatives, and make about $50 per month. We use it for gas and lunch out when we go to town. Town, is 2.5 hrs away, and we have to use our pickup to take all the recyclables. I think Vermont and Main have similar programs. Most people in my town do not want to drive far away to turn in their cans, so they are happy to have someone else remove them (we do not have recycling or garbage service). Just some fuel for though. also a Prius is a great reason to shop out of the country, and a good way to teach your baby to nap in the car 🙂

  29. I’ve been so inspired by your blog. You live very much the way my husband and I aspire to (he grew up in the homestead/survivalist lifestyle). I wanted to chime in that for a rural area a 1.5 hour drive to Costco is very convenient. Having grown up in rural areas most of my life, we now live in a tiny southern town that is 1 hour from our nearest Coscto, but we find the the drive is well worth it if you pick up several months worth of supplies in one trip. The selection is better than what can be found in local grocery stores (though we are lucky to have an Aldis within 20 minutes) and the prices worth the gas expenditure!

  30. That is a cute Halloween costume. My kid had the typical one Snow White, but she won the best Halloween costume as we tried to make her look like a real Snow White.

  31. You have mentioned attending church and various community events. How do you handle charitable giving? Thanks for all your budgeting info.

  32. FWIW, the LDS church, the Mormons, require their members to keep a year’s supply of food on hand all the time. And, of course, Preppers do the same for a decade or more…..
    You can probably find bulk supplies cheaply online that are carefully packaged against vermin or oxidation(by packing in Nitrogen) for long term storage, usually in big cans, I think, at very good prices by googling.
    It’s good to have supplies for a balanced diet if some calamity isolates you for a week or more.

  33. Have you ever looked into Azure Standard? If you can find a drop in your area you can get oats for much, much cheaper!

  34. As a photographer who often works outside in winter, I’m constantly on the lookout for warm, flexible gloves that allow me to operate a camera. I’ve tried many pairs, and the best gloves I’ve had by a considerable margin are the el-cheapo double-fleece gloves I buy at a gas station/mini-mart near the farm sanctuary where I volunteer – $5 a pair. You never know where cheap/great stuff resides until you experiment.

  35. Doing your own oil changes is smart. You can use better oil than what the shops would, you don’t have to wait and can change it whenever you need, and it is super simple. Mr. FW could totally handle it. I’m surprised people would tell you not to do it.

    Also, I am a recent morning oatmeal convert (hooray)! Wondering why you guys buy both steel cut and regular in bulk? Does one person prefer one over the other? Or are the regular oats for baking? You may have written about that previously, my apologies if you have.

  36. Wow, great month FrugalWoods! Back to your usual incredibly low spending levels.

    I’m also a huge fan of muck boots (aka Mucksters), although I prefer a different style than the tall boot. They ARE super warm and way better than a traditional boot. They honestly changed my life!

    I made an entire post over on my blog about how awesome they are!

  37. Did you really pay that much for oats? $120 for 50 lb comes out to $2.40 a pound, which is more than twice what I pay at the supermarket for the circular cardboard container thing, $1.13 per lb.

    And I agree. BJ’s sucks. We go once a year using a free membership offer we always seem to get in the mail. It’s overpriced, and I don’t think their inventory has changed in ten years.

  38. Do you find your food costs have gone up much since having Babywoods? I was looking at my spreadsheet for last month, and our spending is almost identical to yours (minus rent/mortgage respectively). Now that she’s eating food, have you seen a marked uptick in grocery spending that isn’t new store-related?

  39. I hear you, I am a MB fanatic also! Do you have an Aldi near you? I’ve price comped and although the selection is smaller, they are right around the same price as good old Market Basket. Glad to follow your adventures!

  40. I like oats too, especially during the winter. The price of oats seem high for a bulk purchase. Here in Canada, where I assume most food costs more than the US, a standard 1 kg bag of large flake rolled oats at a standard supermarket is around $2.00 ( .90 cents a pound). I’ve never checked bulk costs locally. What is the price comparison at the grocery store? Interesting.

  41. Oh my goodness, I may actually have a tip for the Frugalwoods. You don’t need to buy containers for bulk food storage. Just collect the 5 gallon buckets from restaurants and bakeries in the nearest town. The icing buckets are particularly good. All food safe, free, stackable, and designed for long term storage. This is very common amongst 1) Bread bakers who grind their flour at home 2) Mormons 3) Preppers. I’m aspiring to be #1, and did a lot of research about how to store grain and found things like these Whole grain stores indefinately, and other dry goods can last for a year. That is how you make a costco membership, or a trip to a local grain mill worth it! And now that I’m writing this, of course you must have come across this in your typical exhaustive research, so of course you must have chosen to purchase for your own reasons. Whoops! Well, I’ll still leave you with this link. The 5 gallon bucket guy has some hacks you may find worthwhile, particularly for the garden next year.

  42. Did you find a frugal option for purchasing snow tires? We just moved to CO and are looking for ways to save on this yearly expense.

  43. Hi! I just wanted to let you know that you have inspired me to start my own blog! I am hoping to retire by the time I am 35. My future hubby and I are starting to get on a strict budget of $1,026 a month! Thank you for the inspiration!

  44. This may sound like a dumb question, but how do you handle cash purchases? It’s easy to track purchases you made by card, as it shows up in the bank statement, but do you both just make sure you keep every receipt from cash purchases and manually add it to your monthly expense report, or what system do you use? I’m always chasing my husband up every other day to see what cash purchases he has made so I can enter them in my spreadsheet, but I don’t think it’s a very reliable system in our case, as he sometimes forgets. 😉

    1. Good question! We don’t buy very much in cash each month (sometimes nothing at all), so we just manually add in any cash purchases to the spreadsheet.

  45. You can get food grade seal lids with an interior screw top that fit on 5 gallon buckets for about $7.50 each. The buckets themselves are about $4. We keep flour, sugar, and rice in them and we’ve never had anything go bad. We go through the flour and sugar fairly quickly with homemade bread, I guess, but still several months.


    Food grade 5 gallon Buckets:

  46. You said your husband travels occasionally for his job. Is he near a Costco then? Maybe he could stock up on goods then? Someone else may have suggested it, I didn’t read all the comments. Love the blog, it is really helping me to see what I really need to have, and how I spend my hard earned money…

  47. The Costco you are talking about is the one I frequent…maybe I’ll have a celebrity run in one day 😂. The only thing I like about BJs is their deli, but I’m not going to renew my membership. My sisters family and I split a costco membership.

  48. Just wanted to mention that Co-Ops are a great place for buying bulk items in Vermont. I live in NW Vermont so I’m not sure what options are close to you (see a list of Co-Ops here but you can order whole bags of any bulk item and they give a 10% discount. I buy 50lbs bags of organic steel cut oats when they are on sale for $1.09/lb, so with the 10% discount it’s only $49 per bag. It’s a great way to keep grocery costs lower- which is hard to do in VT. I also recommend Hannaford over Price Chopper- their prices are consistently lower.

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