A winter sunset

There’s never a perfect time to start living frugally. There’ll never be an ideal month or optimal moment to decide you’re ready for frugality. Waiting until that ephemeral, non-existent ‘perfect’ time is a good way to ensure you’ll never actually kick-off a frugality regime. Why am I saying this at the beginning of my monthly expense report? Because Mr. Frugalwoods and I spent kind of a lot of money last month during our Uber Frugal Month Challenge.

We didn’t intentionally spend on foolish things–it’s not like we bought a jet ski or went out for drinks–it just turned out that January 2017 was a tad expensive. And that’s just fine. The principle of frugal living isn’t to craft an idealized month of spending wherein nothing goes wrong (our car battery died), no large bills come due (we paid our annual VT home insurance bill as well as our twice yearly car insurance bill for both vehicles), and no acts of nature/weather occur (we had to order a $65 load of gravel for our ice-rink of a driveway).

The mythical month of no surprise expenses doesn’t exist. Mr. Frugalwoods and I have enjoyed some supremely cheap months wherein none of those things occurred and our spending was low, low, low. But then there are plenty of other months where all of that stuff (and more) occurs. That, my friends, is simply how life rolls.

Our ski jump of a driveway

And herein is the genius of frugality: by controlling our spending on the millions of things within our power, the unexpected expenses are handled with ease. Frugality means we’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck, we’re not in debt, and a car battery dying is not a cause for existential concern. Frugality is the liberation, the freedom, and the deliverance from this type of worry. It’s also continuous. As I discussed the other day, frugality is not deferred spending. Successful frugality is not one month of deprivation followed by phantasmagorical spending sprees. It’s measured, judicious utilization of financial resources over the long-term.

Don’t be afraid to start your own extreme frugality journey now. It doesn’t matter if you’re going on vacation or buying a home or having a baby. These are the elements of life. And life doesn’t ever get simple in that sense–there are always unpredictable, unforeseen, messy, and possibly expensive events. Embracing frugality isn’t predicated upon a perfect month splayed out before you. In fact, I’d say frugality does best in times of turmoil because it reduces the number of things you have to worry about–there’s less to buy, less to shop for, less to stress over, fewer decisions to make, and more money to make it all possible.

Personal Capital: 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.

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Into the woods (really it’s just part of our driveway)

Mr. Frugalwoods and I purchase everything we possibly can with credit cards for several reasons:

  1. It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where that random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. This prompts me to spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense in detail at the end of each month.
  2. We get rewards. Who doesn’t like rewards? Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, Mr. FW and I get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying things we were going to buy anyway.
  3. We build our credit. Since Mr. FW and I don’t carry any debt other than our mortgages, having several credit cards open for many years (which are fully paid off every month) has greatly helped our credit scores.

If you’re interested in opening a credit card, I highly recommend using this site to search for a card that’ll best fit your needs. And if you’re interested in travel rewards cards specifically, check out this list curated by my friend Brad from Travel Miles 101. I respect Brad’s work in the travel rewards space and I trust his advice on which cards will reap the best benefits.

Huge caveat to credit card usage: you MUST pay your credit card bills in full every single month, with no exceptions. If you’re concerned about your ability to do this, or think that using credit cards might prompt you to spend more money, then credit cards are not for you–stick with using a debit card and/or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend!

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report


Want to know how we manage the rest of our monies? Look no further than Our Low Cost, No Fuss, DIY Money Management System. 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!!).

Sunset over our upper field

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? Up for some hardcore frugal adventuring? Sign-up to take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which is the method Mr. FW and I employ to sculpt our frugal lifestyle. Over 10,000 people have already taken the Challenge (and saved thousands of dollars) and you can sign-up at any time. You’ll start with Day 1 so you won’t miss a frugal thing. P.S. It’s free!

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. If you’re curious about how we handle charitable contributions, check out How We Make Meaningful And Tax Efficient Charitable Donations.

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

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
VT mortgage $1,392.86
VT home insurance for 1 year $601.00 This is for a full year of insurance on our VT home
Groceries $516.32
Six months of auto insurance for both cars $314.60 This covers six months’ worth of insurance for both our Prius and Subaru. We don’t have comprehensive insurance; but we do have $1M in liability coverage through Geico.
New battery for the Subaru $130.99 The Subaru’s battery died and Mr. FW replaced it
Plowing & sanding of the driveway ($65 each) $130.00  Thanks to a strange bout of rain and freezing temperatures, our quarter-mile long, hilly, gravel driveway turned into an ice luge. We had a load of gravel and sand put down on top of the ice.

Also, Mr. FW was out of town during a snowstorm so I had to hire a neighbor to plow the driveway for us (unfortunately, I can’t operate the tractor with Babywoods strapped to me…. ).

Household supplies and prescription medicine $139.03 All non-food household and farm supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, soap, dog food, and dental floss.
Gasoline for the cars $77.44
Internet $74.00
Trail Crampons and multivitamins (from Amazon) $68.76 After several unfortunate slips and falls on the ice during his outdoor chores, we decided to get this pair of crampons for Mr. FW (they’re little spikes that attach to the bottom of your boots to dig into ice).

I price checked vitamins at three different stores and Amazon was the cheapest!

Utilities: Electric $60.76
Beer $53.80 Mr. FW drove past the legendary Alchemist brewery on his way to the maple sugaring conference, so he stocked up on some excellent beer.
VT Maple Sugar Makers Association Conference $50.00  Mr. FW attended a day-long conference on maple sugaring.
Apple Pruning Workshop $20.00  Mr. FW signed up for a workshop on how to prune apple trees.
Local Groupon for a restaurant $20.00 We’ve decided to go out to eat once a month and there was a Groupon for one of our favorite local restaurants, so we pounced.
Cell phone through Boom Mobile $19.99 We FINALLY found an inexpensive cell phone provider (Boom Mobile) that actually gets service at our house. We’ve been without cell service for months (we have a landline, fear not), so I’m thrilled that Boom seems to be working well for us.

It took extensive trial and error on Mr. FW’s part (of signing up for, and then canceling, various different cheap providers) to find one that works out here in the country. Woohoo!

TOTAL SPENT: $3,669.55  
LESS MORTGAGE: $2,276.69

How was your January?

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  1. Outside of needing a locksmith and getting a new key cut for our diesel, January was an exceptionally cheap month.

    You nailed our thoughts about frugality in one sentence: “…by controlling our spending on the millions of things within our power, unexpected expenses are handled with ease.”

    Nobody likes an unexpected expense, but every time one arises I just tell myself, “Imagine how much more stressful this would be if you didn’t have the money for it.” I instantly feel a weight lift from my shoulders.

    It’s an exercise in subtraction, and one that keeps us sane in the expensive months (looking at you, November 16!).

    1. It’s been higher since there’s no Market Basket. I’ve been appreciating all of Mrs FW’s research into figuring out the best plan for them. Also, BJ’s can be more expensive than Costco. I think there is a Market Basket in Claremont that is an hour away from Vt?

      1. Julie’s right! No Market Basket (sob) and no Costco (double sob). Also, we now have a third mouth to feed since Babywoods is a full eating member of the family (and drinker of whole organic milk 😉 ). The closest Market Basket is 1.5 hours from our house and the closest Costco is 1.5 hours from our house in the opposite direction. Our eating (and shopping) habits haven’t changed, we’ve just lost our two cheapest stores and added another eater :). I did, however, scout a potentially cheaper grocery store to supplement my BJ’s purchases, so we’ll see if that makes a difference in February. And before anyone even asks, the closest Aldi’s is 2 hours from our house in yet another direction ;). It’s an ongoing process of comparison shopping, but I’m not too worried. We eat healthy, whole foods and that’s about all I can ask for.

        1. Which store? I love grocery stores (yes, I am a weirdo!). My inlaws spend summers in NH, right near the VT border. My father in law preferred Hannaford over Price Chopper. He misses Publix.
          A lot of the grocery stores put their sales circulars up a few days before everything goes on sale. That was helpful for me when I lived farther away from Market Basket.

          1. I love grocery stores too :)! I am inclined to agree with your father-in-law–I’d been shopping at Pricechopper, but I’ve now switched to Hannaford’s. I did an initial price comparison w/Hannaford’s and Pricechopper won, but upon further investigation, I think Hannaford’s is actually cheaper writ large because they have more generic options. Let me know if your in-laws have any other recommendations!

          2. I live in the Norwich area and you just have to keep an eye on sales. Hannaford sometimes has pasta sales for .60 a box vs BJs which will cost you 1.00 plus per box. Other times Pricechopper or Shaws is better. The plus is the BJ’s in Lebanon just opened up a gas station and offered a deal in Dec that you received additional .05 off per gallon when you made a purchase at the store first. I just have 2 people in my household but manage to keep the grocery bill around 150-200 per month with a lot of pantry eating.

          3. We live in the Burlington area, I’ve been comparison shopping our three main options (Shaw’s, Hannaford’s, Price Chopper) for years and have to concur. Price Chopper can be cheaper if you are very motivated to take advantage of loss leaders and sales, but if you want the store that will overall result in the cheapest monthly cost without that work, Hannaford’s is it. I also appreciate that they tend to give really good coupons (5 or $10 off) at holiday times.

            As an aside, while I wouldn’t wish on anyone the annoyance of paying more for groceries, it has secretly made me feel better to see your grocery bill go up since you moved to VT. We regularly spend about $750 on groceries, household goods, toiletries, and medications, and various internet frugalistas (the type who claim a $300 grocery bill for a family of 8) would have me believe that we are way overspending. But prices really are higher here. We also have a child with food allergies, which knocks one of the cheapest, most nutritious protein options of the table (eggs, how I miss thee).

        2. Your grocery bill is a small price to pay to live in those beautiful woods=).

          This summer your beautiful garden will surely cut down the grocery bill cost.

        3. If you are going to Lebanon for groceries you could go to Claremont to the market basket. Only 30 more minutes. I live in Lebanon but work in Claremont so I stop there often for the savings! I feel confident that one of these days I will run into you either grocery shopping or in the Whites!

        4. If you find yourself in the neighborhood of a Costco and want to stock up, you can use a gift card instead of buying a membership. Just buy one on Ebay (usually for a few dollars more than their value) and pay the difference at the store with cash or your credit card. I’m single and live near 3 Market Baskets so it’s not worth it for me to shop Costco regularly, but once in a while, I go the gift card route.

      2. Pretty sure there isn’t a Market Basket in Claremont. We used to stop in Manchester to get stuff on the way up to our lake house sometimes. Not sure how far Manchester is for the Frugalwoods tho. My folks still live in NH and they favor Hannafords now.

        There was a store that I can only describe as a fire sale/scratch n dent/overstock grocery place in Newport on the way up the hill out of town…not sure if it’s still there, but it was cheap. It reminded me of Building 19, but for food lol.

  2. I felt like I wasn’t ready for an uber frugal month (although did have a no spend weekend) in January and its a good example if there never being the perfect time. Really, it is something I could tackle or perhaps its not something I need… We didn’t eat out at all, we socialised at home or at friends houses costing less than £10 for the month, we had 1 cinema trip for the month. No spending on clothes (in fact, we took something back so got a refund), no online purchases. I managed to stretch a chicken out for 3 meals plus a lunch for the 2 of us, which is the best I’ve managed so far ☺ For me, tackling 30 individual uber frugal days is less daunting than an uber frugal month, perhaps that is my way to go!

  3. We had a good month of January, which was needed after a fairly expensive December. Expenses over the holidays always seem to creep up, and January is our month to reset. Additionally, I finally switched carriers for our car and homeowners insurance which is going to save us several hundred throughout the year.

  4. My January was great! I stopped shopping, outside of groceries, and that was pretty eye opening. February is going to be…less great. Our “good” car died on the side of the highway last night (only 7 year old but ~470,000km), so we’ll get the report back on that later today. Fingers crossed that we only need to pay for repairs, not a new-to-us car. The silver lining is that because we managed to be frugal in January, we’ve got the cash to cover the repairs. Or the first car payments. So, yay? 🙂

  5. January came out slightly ahead. There were no surprises remarkably which means we are due. February so far is the month of large expenses as we perfume our vacation plans for the year. Most of it will come back in credit card churning but usually I front load the costs for the flights. I built cushion in from December to cover the difference so no issues so far.

    1. I like hearing this strategy! I too plan our vacations during this period, and did not pull the trigger lately on some right-there airfare deals because Uber-Frugal month awareness regarding how we spend travel money at all. I am still circling circling what I want to spend on! I don’t feel relief not spending. I don’t feel relief hesitating….yet hesitating I am. I might be-seeing your remarks-happier building a cushion this month and relaxing for now. Thanks.

  6. Just a warning about replacing the Subaru battery yourselves: There is some type of switchboard electronic adjustment that must be made when a new battery is put in. I learned this the hard way recently when I had the battery on my 2013 Outback replaced by an instant oil change type place. Car was fine at first but started slow starting and long cranking to start. I ended up having to take it to the dealer so the appropriate computer adjustment could be made.

  7. My mortgage is $372 a month including taxes and insurance, car payment $320, car insurance $280 (I have kids in college but their cars are paid for), groceries $70, Pet food $30, cell phone $65, electric $150, water (includes garbage pickup) $55, gas (I travel 40 miles round trip per day to work in my Ford Focus and gas is $$2.20 a gallon here $150 (I also travel over 60 miles one way away every weekend to see my kids)…so that was basics BUT I had to help out a kid with medicals $200 out of pocket, and special food $100 for him….sooo that is life…lol. I think my low mortgage and land taxes helps me to pay for all the other stuff that happens in my life with kids having chronic health issues. I could get a different prepaid phone contract but I have poor coverage where I live in the boonies. I am gonna check out your phone plan! All I need is unlimited talk and text.

      1. Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods, thank you for the info regarding the cell phone plan. Question were you able to bring your own phone or did you opt to purchase a smartphone through them? Thanks so much!

  8. I live in rural South Carolina and we had a contract with AT&T for our cell phones. Unfortunately, there was no service at our house. Luckily for us, our neighbors did the research for us by signing up for every service and then cancelling if there was no reception, like Mr. Frugalwoods, and found that Verizon was the only provider that worked out here. So we recently started with Verizon. And now we can cancel our land line. Yay!

    1. I had to laugh at your comment. I, too, looked at her home insurance bill and turned green with envy. Add a zero and you have our annual home insurance bill. Part of the issue for us is that we have some very unique, very EXPENSIVE medical equipment in our home. That jacks up our home owner’s insurance to an astronomical number since the replacement costs would be staggering. We’re also talking Canadian dollars which also might explain for part of the higher number.

    2. Me tooooo! Mine for a condo is $590 CAD a year!
      Plus those car insurance numbers, sheesh! We pay around $2500/year for our two vehicles. The newest one is 5 years old and we have the max tier discounts!

  9. I’m convinced you and Mr. FW could turn your blog exclusively into a picture blog! Wow. Just wow.

    As far as January went, I engaged in your uber frugal month challenge. And I must say, even though we spend very little as it is, I still found a little room to save more. Now, it also helped that my husband was out in LA all month filming a movie. That meant that my daughter and I were left to our own devices. Fortunately, she LOVES just hanging out at home. So, that’s what we did! I taught her to play a few card games and she was exposed to the game of Monopoly for the first time ever. She couldn’t get enough of buying houses and hotels. This made me ecstatic, since I also can’t get enough of buying houses – real life style.

    Thanks for that challenge. It’s definitely something that can be done more than once. I’m thinking once/yr, for calibration purposes. 🙂

  10. January was a good month for us. I haven’t bought clothes in quite some time. My husband bought a pair of pants for $5 on Amazon. He’s noticed some of his coworkers wearing jeans, so he has been doing the same. This will save $ on dry cleaning work pants. We ate out a couple of times, most of them being with gift cards. I finally returned a Roomba to Costco (I love their return policy) because it kept getting stuck on an air vent or a rug, and we were not using it anymore. Costco also had the beef version of the dog food my dog eats on sale for $10 cheaper than the salmon version, so we will see if my dog likes it. Otherwise, we’ll return that as well.

    I’m trying to work on taking my lunch to work more (my husband already does this because I make it for him), however, it is trickier for me because I am an in home therapist, and pb&j does not fill me up. I’m at least keeping some snacks on hand so I can hold over until going back to the office where I have access to a microwave. Doesn’t happen everyday though.

    1. I used to be with a hospice, so I was rarely in the office. I had an insulated bag with blue ice for cold items (veggies, hummus, etc) but the best was my Thermos. I’d fill it with boiling water in the morning while I heated my lunch a little hotter than I like, then simply switched the water for food. At lunch I’d open the Thermos and my food would be piping hot. The Thermos lid even had a spot for a travel spoon. I highly recommend getting one.

      1. Thank you for the hot water suggestion! I packed some soup in a Thermos for my husband and he said it was lukewarm by lunchtime. I. I’m going to try the hot water thing and see if that helps. 🙂

        1. Yes, putting hot/boiling water in the thermos for 5 minutes really helps the food stay warm. I always send my kids with hot food. My daughter took linguine with clam sauce the other day!
          I personally don’t like bread, and my kids don’t like sandwiches. All the photos of Mr. FW homemade bread inspired me to start making multigrain bread for my husband. I was tired of paying $6 a loaf at the grocery store. Groceries are very expensive in the San Francisco Bay area.

  11. It always sucks when you have to spend money on needs, like car parts, during an Uber Frugal Month. We had to take our kitty to the vet and had other non-negotiable expenses that made January a tough month for meeting our budget goals. However! Spending money on things that matter is still frugal. It’s not budget-friendly, but it’s still very much necessary. It would be cheap not to replace a necessary part.

    I like that you pay home insurance once a year. Does your company offer discounts for paying in advance? I think ours comes out each month since it’s bundled with our auto insurance as well.

    I love the idea for the apple pruning workshop! I think that’s money very well-spent. 🙂 And congrats on finding an affordable cell carrier! I have Google Fi and even in the city the service can be questionable.

    Our January was actually fantastic, all things considered, so thanks for keeping us honest with the UFM challenge! We put an additional $3,600 on our student loan debt and cut our cost per meal down to below $3/meal (it used to be $10/meal–yikes!).

  12. I always enjoy reading your blog. I am at a much different place in my life, being in my mid fifties, with two adult daughters who are on their own. Both my husband and I plan to work until we are 60. It is a bonus that we both like what we do. I describe us as living a luxurious frugal life. We are able to save about half of our combined incomes and because we have been in current careers for quite some time we make more then we ever have. We travel a few times per year, with credit card points usually helping with one of the trips. I am really anal about credit card balances and tend to pay off any purchases on the day that I make them. Our mortgage will be paid off in May and we plan to put that money into savings as well. We want to have choices when we retire but will continue to live below our means and hopefully be able to continue travelling as long as we can. Living this way is really comforting as we do not have to worry if something breaks down. There is money to fix it. I see coworkers who seem to spend time stressing about not having money for necessities, even though they seem to spend lots of time shopping. I don’t want to feel like this. When we were younger, although we were fairly good with our money, we should have gotten into the habit of paying ourselves first to a greater degree then we did. We would have been further along in our savings but have been doing a good job over the past several years to make up for this. Even though I am more moderate in regards to my frugality I want to thank you for thanks for inspiring me to think about the joy of simplicity.

          1. $2400 is the best we have found for property insurance but we live in Florida so are glad to get it at all.

        1. If you have an emergency fund, get the highest deductible possible. It really makes a difference in the rates, and you are still insured against large catastrophes.

        2. Also, give them a number that you’d like to be at or under and let them know the quotes their competitors have given you. I am doing this for car insurance right now. I told the agents what I currently pay, how much I want to pay, and why I think I should be at that number (no claims, safe area, etc.) and let them compete for your business. So far I’ve had two agents lower their initial quote to compete.

  13. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate and look forward to your blog. You’re a fantastic writer and I always glean new insights from your posts, and usually share them with my husband to see if we take away the same things, or what ideas he develops from reading them. We’re just a teensy bit behind your family in age and we’re expecting our first child in May, so it’s super helpful to read from someone so close to our life situations. *waves hello from Kansas*

  14. Do you have some recommendations on what pieces of auto insurance to get, at what coverage levels, and what to skip? I have been meaning to shop around on mine, but am never sure what I need and what I don’t. Is there a useful guide somewhere? Thanks!

  15. Hi Mrs. FW! I’m a big fan and one half of a frugal couple in Watertown, MA – it’s been awesome to go back and use your time in Cambridge as an example for us that living frugality really CAN be done in this area.

    I’m wondering what made you switch gears on eating out after many years of the no-eating-out-whatsoever rule. Could you share your thinking behind that a bit? I’m not trying to criticize at all, I’m just genuinely curious (and trying veryhard to stick to no-eating-out myself!)

    1. Good question on the eating out–I should probably do a whole post on that at some point. I think it’s just an evolution of our luxurious frugality mentality. Since eating out is something we love (but was costing us a lot), it was important for us to give it up entirely for several years in order to save at our absolute maximum level. Now that we’ve reached quite a few of our financial goals, it’s one of the things we wanted to add back in–but just one time a month :). It’s all about what your goals are, how much you need/want to save, and where you are on your financial journey.

      1. Thanks for the thoughtful answer! I figured it was something well-thought out and along those lines. 🙂 I’m sure it also has more value to you now that you have a baby and eating out can give you more quality time with your husband, as opposed to using eating out to avoid meal/prep cooking (which is what I used to do, whoops.) Thanks for taking the time to respond.

        1. Yes! That’s another great point! When we do eat out, it’s to savor the food and the experience–it’s not a rushed trip because we didn’t cook. You’ve got me thinking of writing a post now… 🙂

          1. I had wondered the same thing! Good for you guys! And since Babywoods goes to bed so early, you can do an early dinner somewhere which is sometimes cheaper, too! When my husband and I only had one, the 3 of us would rush to a restaurant by 4:00 so we could still order from the “lunch” menu. BTW, I am so impressed that you are so transparent with us about all of your expenses. I am constantly justifying every purchase to people even when they don’t ask…not sure why I do that.

  16. I totally agree that keeping everything low provides a ton of margin for when things go wrong, or when there is something that we really do want to spend money on. We had to buy a new upright freezer in December. While replacing an appliance that we keep in our basement isn’t my favorite way to spend money, our overall expenses were still low because we keep everything else so naturally frugal. It’s not fun, but it isn’t stressful either. New tires, dentist bills, car batteries, it all happens. But none of it throws us off our goals.

  17. I’m super jealous of your property taxes! Especially knowing how much property you have.

    Also very interested that you’ll go out to eat once a month. Very fancy! We probably did once a month last year, but hope to cut back this year. I think we might go with birthdays only- so once the baby is here, we’ll have 4 out to eats a year. Combine that with vacations, and I think that is plenty.

    Uber Frugal January went well- no unnecessary spending, but we spend A LOT on groceries. DH isn’t willing to budge on that, and that’s okay. I also found out I can use the track at the community center for free, so I got while DH swims ($120/year). I don’t like to swim, so right now paying $4 each time for drop in the few times a year I go is a good deal, or getting a monthly membership if I know I’ll be going for a reason. Maybe once we have a toddler we will go with a family membership (under 2 is free). I am pretty excited about this because I didn’t want to pay a $4 drop in to walk, and it’s too icy (and cold, I’m a weenie) to walk outside at 8 months pregnant.

  18. I did fairly well in January, but I also had a sick cat and that ate up half of what I had saved on groceries, sigh. I know I will spend more money this month or next on groceries, as it’s getting “stock the freezer” time soon.
    I’m trying to re-arrange my money to make tracking easier. I went to Personal Capital, but my main bank isn’t on their list, which means — manual entry. Bummer. I’ll keep trying, though.
    Like others, I’m amazed at what you pay for home insurance. I pay almost $1400 a year for a less than 20 year old home (living area is less than 1600 sq. ft. ). Of course, I have to pay for hurricane coverage and sinkhole coverage, too. Ah, Florida, the “tropical paradise.”

    1. I use Mint through Intuit and I really love it- so easy to use, track spending, make budget, see charts and progress reports, ect. You can even set up autopay for some bills through your Mint account. Something to think about 🙂

  19. Awesome!! You guys are such an inspiration, and I love what you said about how frugality is a way of life and you should limit the things in your control, that way when “life happens,” you aren’t caught off guard.

    Our January spending was better than I thought! We took a trip to AZ for 8 days and got a CRAZY deal on tickets. For our family of five (baby being free), we spent $528 total on four tickets round-trip from NC to AZ. We also managed to spend less on food/restaurants than prior months, so I’m calling January a win!

    February, we’re focusing on reducing our food expenses to the bare minimum. Goal is to eat at home for every meal with the exception of Starbucks a few times per week. Starbucks is our alcohol, to say the least, haha. We go on drives together and our girls always fall asleep! They only nap in the car now :/ However, I am considering just bringing along some coffee in mugs to enjoy rather than spending $6 on fancy iced coffees.

    Anywho, love your spending reports!! You two are a huge inspiration!! 🙂


  20. Despite participating in the Uber Frugal Month Challenge, January turned out to be an expensive month for me as well. I felt like I had a lot of wins (I brought my lunch to work every day!) but I had really high vet costs from my beloved senior dog who had a run of seizures and needed lots of vet visits, testing, and trial and errors with medications. Luckily he is back to his lovely self but it was a scary, and expensive ($400) two weeks. On top of that I paid personal property taxes this month as well as took my car in for its annual state required inspection and got it serviced. Hopefully February will be a less expensive month as March will also be expensive with my annual insurance premium due. I agree that living frugally most of the time helps to combat these more expensive months.

  21. Thank you!! For turning me onto Personal Capital. For a long time I felt like we were doing fine and I didn’t need to track expenses (I know) but my husband’s job changed, and our income went down, and suddenly I was finding more times than I preferred when our checking account balance got quite low. I’ve found a few recurring expenses that probably aren’t necessary (one I didn’t realize was still happening) and by my calculations saved us ~ $1400 this year. Fantastic!

  22. Very similar to our uber frugal month. Our car battery died, we had to hire a plowing service after our driveway snowdrifts became taller than the snow blower could throw the snow, and the top of a tree broke off and landed on our car.

    Good news is that we saved money lots of other places and ended up only going slightly over budget.

    1. A tree on your car! Oh no! What a pain! Yeah, we’re contemplating buying a plow for the front of the tractor for that very reason… so far so good with the pull-behind snowblower, but we’ll see…

      1. My aunt and uncle live on a mountain in upstate NY, and like you, have a long inclined driveway. They have a jeep with a plow in front and REALLY value it. In such a rural area, it helps them be very self-sufficient even in terrible snow, and the jeep can handle the terrain. It’s an old cheap one that my uncle fixed up into good working order, and this is pretty much all they ever use it for. Since you have the tractor anyway, I think a plow might save you a lot of time, energy, and headaches.

        1. Yeah, the plow is on our “considering to buy” list. So far, fortunately, the tractor has been fine (it has huge tires with chains, so definitely built for this terrain). But a plow would give us more options!

  23. hhmm, there are very few genuine ‘surprise’ or ‘unexpected’ expenses for car and home owners – lots of Murphy’s laws apply to both, so you must anticipate maintenance and replacement costs. People who whine about those things crack me up – what are they expecting? Smart budgeters slate a few thousand dollars for both every year. Even better cost control occurs when you proactively replace/maintain instead of waiting for something critical to break. You always have more negotiating time and leverage in proactive mode vs. reactive mode.

    1. I agree! I’m always shocked when I hear people complain because they need to replace their brakes or tires. I always say to them “You do know those things need to be replaced every so often, right?” Even worse are those who don’t do regular maintenance and then a small leak gets bigger and the auto repair bill is so much higher. The state inspection law in our state is a headache, but I do love that I am forced to have things looked at so that I have the opportunity to ask the mechanic anticipated time frames for replacing tires, brakes, batteries, etc. It’s such a part of my normal now that the times when I’ve moved out of state I’ve scheduled an inspection into one of my oil changes.

    2. I am around a lot of very low income people every single day, and the reality is that they simply do not have the means, unfortunately, to set aside money, when they are struggling to keep basic food on the table and pay the electric bill. I live in a very low income area, one of the lowest in the nation, with a lot of elderly and/or disabled people. The able bodied folks have left to follow the jobs. I agree that folks with good jobs should be able to set aside money for anticipated maintenance and replacement costs. However, the key where I live is that there are very few good jobs. Folks struggle to keep the roof patched, and the car repaired.

  24. I think your trial and error with the cell service is true frugality. Don’t ever settle for something that doesn’t work and take advantage of trial periods! I’ve never heard of Boom Mobile myself so we’ll look forward to hear how your experience has been once you’ve used it for a while.

  25. I also undertook the Uber Frugal month of January and did really well with my controlled personal expenses (no out to eat, no getting a starbucks during coffee break, ect.) but I ended up saving less money than I usually do because of two unforeseen circumstances. My income changed due to a new tax policy so I made $150 less than I normally do per month, and my dog got sick and the vet bill was quite high for my budget. Although discouraging I couldn’t put any money into savings, I’m glad I didn’t have to tap into my savings to pay for the vet bill.
    Also side question: if we are interested in being a case study, how would we go about that?

    1. Hi Rachel! You can email me (mrs@frugalwoods.com) with a brief description of your situation and what your case study questions are. Looking forward to hearing from you 🙂

  26. Just wanted to let you know that your blog is my favorite by far. I love the lack of judgement and the great ideas and attitudes. We have always been somewhat frugal (both of us were raised that way), but I feel like we can do more and waste less. Our first child (we have 4) starts college next year and our goal is to help them get through college without debt. They will all work in high school and college and we are trying to teach them the same values we live by. Reading your blog is a treat, but unfortunately I recently finished all your old posts. Best wishes.

      1. You two are amazing! That’s a lot of reading :). I can’t even remember some of the stuff I’ve written ;)!

  27. Thanks for the Boom Mobile tip. We checked out Republic Wireless, but they wouldn’t work out for us. I’m going to get my honey right on it! 😉

  28. I started the Uber Frugal Challenge Month with high hopes. Then the Chiefs not only made, but hosted a playoffs game. My father is a die hard Chiefs fan in his 70’s. I don’t know that the Chiefs will host another playoff game in his lifetime. So I splurged and got tickets to the game for my mom, dad, sister, and me. (The 4 of us also went to the game where the Royals won to go to the World Series, so you could say it’s kind of tradition). My sister and I both married men who couldn’t care less about sports so they didn’t want to go. But for the 4 of us, with parking, hotel, game tickets, tailgating beer, etc, it was pretty pricey. I do such a great job of being frugal in my every day life, it’s these “memory making” events that I can’t pass up. I would say it was worth it…maybe more so if the Chiefs had won.
    That being said, I went over my budget for January by $26.84. Which isn’t bad, but I was hoping to go under by about $300. There’s always next month, right?!?! 🙂

    1. What you are describing is intentional, values-based spending, so I wouldn’t worry about it one bit :)!

  29. Hi! Im a first time commentor here. Just wanted to say Ive stumbled onto your blog a few months back and have been consistently reading and enjoying your updates! Im AMAZED at 33 you both have managed to retire. I just turned 30 and for the most part of my 8 or so years working, I’ve managed to save 70-85% of my monthly income for the most parts. I have no debt. I dont consider myself a big spender and have (somewhat) vague goals to retire early. I also record every expenditure (dividing into necessary vs umnecessary) that happens. BUT! I have to say, ever since I stumbled across your blog, its made me realise the mindless spending (however little it may be) that I do indulge in. A coffee here..some clothes etc. In fact, since first reading your blog, Ive quit my takeaway coffee habit (saving me a few thousands a year?!?!) and started a year long clothes ban. Ive also been extra mindful of my expenses and its opened my eyes up to what I mindlessly spend money on as a crutch, if I am stressed etc etc. I did the UFM in January and combed through my ‘unnecessary’ column and realised how much I could have saved. Then shuddered to think of all the mindless stuff over the years. I thought I had pretty good saving habits but you guys take it to a new level! Thank you for renewing my mindfulness. Its made a big difference to my start of the year, not just in money, but how I use my time, behaviours etc etc.
    Now just a question, how much health insurance is necessary vs ‘for peace of mind’? Would be interested in finding out as my premiums seem a bit excessive at the moment….

  30. Ooh beer from the Alchemist! Heady Topper, I assume? It’s so yummy. Also, I’m really hoping you share some of what you learned at the apple pruning workshop in a future post!

    Our January was a good month for us, expense-wise, thanks in big part to the Uber Frugal Challenge. Our tenants moved out at the end of January, though, and our rental is vacant until we sell it. We’re very thankful we had one month where we could build up our savings a little before we start to pay for two homes this month. You’re so right, there’s always some unexpected expense lurking around the corner. The best way to mitigate the unknown is to keep your spending as low as possible on the things that are under your control.

  31. Love the maple sugaring conference and the fruit workshop! 🙂
    I think it’s great that you both are invested in the maple trees on your property. Jealous!

    Greetings from Belgium

  32. We had a fab überfrugal January too (don’t know what’s going on with that umlaut there, I can’t seem to get it to disappear so imagine it’s just because I’m European?!) Mrs Frugalwoods, a question for you (or anyone else who wants to jump in), not sure if this is the right place, but something I’ve been thinking about. Can you offer some tips about where/how to do packed lunch eating when a) the weather is foul, and b) you have a small messy person in tow? My husband and I used to retire to the car to eat our sandwiches but this is not working with our toddler! There have been a few times this winter where we have spent money on meals purely to get out of the rain while on frugal day trips away from home. Most recently a walk in the woods turned into a £36 lunch because it was bucketing it down and we had a hungry child demanding lunch and nowhere to feed her the sandwiches I’d made. I want to get better at planning around this but there don’t seem to be many dry/warm public spaces to eat your own food. At least not here in England. What do you/other parents do? Thanks for your time! X

    1. Hi Jen! So Babywoods usually eats her packed lunch wherever we happen to be (the grocery store, church, on a hike, in the car, at playgroup, etc). I bring damp rags in a plastic bag with me to wipe up after her since she is ridiculously messy! I also put a bib on her, which helps a tad. And, I don’t pack super duper messy things (i.e. no yogurt)–usually just a peanut butter sandwich. If we’re in the car, I’ll give her water to drink (instead of milk) since it makes less of a stinky mess. Hope this helps :)!

    2. Hi!. Mother of four grown kids here. I used to pack water only, no stickiness, a wet rag in a plastic bag, a small hand towel, and what I call snackable food., i.e. cheese, crackers, boiled eggs, maybe peanut putter on crackers, and if old enough, raw carrots or nuts…..

    3. I have, perhaps, the messiest eater ever as my child. If I anticipate that we will be eating in the car or out, I pack a damp cloth or two for clean-up, place another small towel or cloth napkin on her lap and / or under her, and I only serve water to drink. A water bottle with a spout helps reduce spillage. I have found that bite-size food is best, and anything sticky, soupy, or sloppy (i.e. applesauce, yogurt, actual soup) is out of the question. Sliced apples and grapes have been successes, while oranges were a sticky disaster. Cheese cubes, a small sandwich, sliced veggies, fruit, etc. all seem to work well. I make my own crackers, which are not crumbly, but I avoid crumbly foods too, since they end up everywhere! I also like a little bento box for feeding children, because it can sit nicely on the lap and catch the crumbs. Just close the lid on any mess afterwards. I’ve found it helps to dole out the food in increments, rather than presenting it all at once, as well. I’ve seen one too many lunches accidentally dumped on the ground by a wiggly preschooler 🙂

      If you have space in the back of your vehicle, it can be fun for kids to sit back there, too! Our small SUV has an area behind the backseat that is perfect for little picnics.

  33. Hi! Not sure if you remember me, but I posted how we were debating about going to 1 car family so both started walking everywhere durine UFJ (in central PA). Funny story, in January, while doing UFJ, I went to move hubby’s car out of garage so I could get something out of the way. His car wouldn’t start!!!!! So the whole time we thought we were being frugal and using 1 car, we actually were a 1 car family by default because his car would not start!

    After researching a few things and really procrastinating on sending car to a shop, your post today on your Subaru battery got me going. I have never done anything to our cars before but figured that if I can change a bathroom fixture out, a car battery can’t be so bad. Within 2 hours today, I ordered my part online, picked it up, installed it and returned the old battery for my recycling refund back. The car worked beautifully! I can’t thank you and Mr FW for the unintentional encouragement. I came in $136 total, including a $16 tool. Had a 20% off coupon to Advance Auto but needed a Ratchet and 10 mm socket (boo! But I am set for life now). I celebrated by….going home for lunch leftovers (really wanted McD’s celebratory Diet Coke!).

    I look forward to your posts but would love if you could do a post on car maintenance and repairs Mr FW does. Maybe it will give some of us encouragement to do some easy stuff. I have 1500-2000 budgeted per year in our retirement budget for car repairs alone and other than driving less, would love to DIY some things to move that money to another category or retire sooner!

    Thank you!

      1. I thought that sounded like me when I read it the other week. I’m famous! LOL.

        Hubby wants 90 day trial, so we are almost halfway through. He is coming around to it every day and realizing that we can’t keep 2 cars for the 1-2 times a year we may need two cars. Need to manage to the 99.5%, right? He is telling people we are considering it and actually finding that some of his coworkers also live downtown with us and also keep 1 car, so I am optimistic.

        1. Hooray! 90 day trial sounds good! Do you have Zipcar or other carsharing options in your town? That could be a great solution for the rare times when you need a second car. We used Zipcar occasionally in the city back before we owned a car.

          1. No zipcar here, but Uber, Lyft, and then Enterprise Rental car within a mile. I added up our second car costs us minimum $1,469 per year (depreciation + insurance + registration + minimum maintenance + lost opportunty cost of that $7,500 KBB private party sale value at even 5% market gains – our car was paid in cash over 8 years ago). So I proposed to him that we budget $200 per year for freedom of rental car/Uber use for those 1-2 times a year we may have a need and can’t reschedule/figure out something. I would take $200 over $1,500+ every day. He agreed with my math. Only 45 more days to go….I am going to start cleaning it up little by little to be ready for picture day on April 1 for Craigslist. Hehehe.

  34. I love how you mention how there’s never an “ideal” time to start living frugally. I know I’m not alone when it comes to the myth of fresh start: starting again on a Monday, or the first day of a new month, or the first of the year. I’ve definitely fallen prey to this mentality before (with both money patterns as well as healthy eating plans, exercise plans, you name it). The trouble with that is, “I’ll start on Monday” always becomes next Monday, then next Monday, and then the habits are never implemented! In getting over my shopping addiction, I’ve often had a bad slip-up and would tell myself I’ll start my no spend week over again next Monday. I feel like subconsciously that made me feel like I got a green light to keep spending until that Monday rolled around – obviously that was detrimental. So as much as thinking “I’ll just start again Monday” comes naturally to me, I’ve decided I’ll always take a “start where you are” approach when it comes to good habits and implement them on the spot.

  35. First off, I really enjoy the blog. 🙂 You provide great inspiration and a different perspective!

    I’m curious why, with 2 relatively new cars, you choose to not carry comprehensive car insurance? I Was taught to look it at as, it’s way cheaper to pay the extra in car insurance than it would be to pay to replace the car if a major accident happened. What factors led you to decide differently? Thanks!

  36. Looks like a good month (overall 🙂 ). I had no clue you could order a load of gravel and sand to dump on your driveway when it turns to ice. I guess it makes sense if your driveway is already dirt/gravel/unpaved (just heap it up).

  37. I’m always impressed and baffled by your expense reports. I spent almost $1,000 more than you and that was just for my half of the bills. Even after two years of staring down these costs I can’t find way to move them. One day, maybe…

  38. Hi Frugalwoods,
    Have to agree you are an inspiration to us all. At 65 I thought I lived a pretty frugal life but doing the challenge in January has really focused me on All the.little things that creep back in over time. I always shop around for things like insurance renewal and cell phone contracts to try and get a better deal. UFC for January made me look at all the little spending. In January I managed to chop an extra 10 percent off our day to day spending and has encouraged me to continue through February.
    Although some of the thing and places you mention in your blog mean nothing to me here in the Uk I have enjoyed reading and drawing inspiration from you past posts.
    I love your attitude to life and you practical and down to earth thinking.
    Pity there are not more 30 year olds out there like you. I find most young people today are so.wrapped.up in what they think they need in life that they are settle.them sells up.for a life of financial misery.
    Keep up the good work and I will continue to read your past posts and eagerly await your new posts.

  39. I had such a good January that I am continuing in February.
    I had a bigger challenge for January than some because I was actually on a break from my work without pay. And knowing this in advance, I had saved up some money for January bills and some of February as well.
    I had 16 No Spend Days in January and I am working on 5 days in a row of No Spend.
    The biggest bill was my property tax bill which was paid Feb. 2nd.
    So the challenge has made me more Frugal and more aware of our spending.
    Thanx Bunches😋

  40. I think your monthly dining out is a wonderful (and well-deserved) treat! After cooking at home almost 100% of the time it’s good to let loose of the frugality reigns every once in a while (not to mention, have the opportunity to see what food or cuisine is trending in your area).

    Our January was the opposite of yours – it was our first month (in a while) that was ultra frugal which allowed us to bump up our monthly savings. I’m hoping February will be the same as the latter part of last year was chock full of planned and unplanned expenses.

    Absolutely agree with the reasons you use your credit cards for spending. I took the Travel Miles 101 course early last year and have been baby-stepping my way into travel hacking – glad you’re giving them a shout out as rewards travel is truly amazing and they have a wonderful community. Thankfully, we opened a couple of new Southwest credit cards during 2016 and I managed to earn the Southwest Companion pass – woohoo! Highly recommend the course (for those who haven’t taken it) and the SW Companion Pass (if you travel domestically and are near an airport that offers Southwest flight).

    Wishing you a frugal February!

  41. Frugality is the starting point for financial freedom journey. It is also a habit.
    I suppose everyone has some money to invest every month., even though only $ 50 every month. Frugality will accrue your investing principle at a high speed. A simple life also helps us to learn new knowledge and technologies, for example investing, reading more books.

  42. I too am continuing the challenge into February! And this is such a timely post for me, Mrs. Frugalwoods. I received an unexpectedly large dental bill ($1200) from a procedure my son had done at the end of the year, for which insurance covered very little. My first response was rather deep discouragement, after all my frugal changes in January, to dip into two of the “savings” pots. But after I sat with it, I realized that we are in this journey for the long haul, and there are always bumps on the road. Creativity and optimism are benefits of the frugal path.

  43. So, I only just started our spending via an app. In Jan our family of 4 spent approx $1500 USD on groceries ( live in Sydney, Australia). Obviously, we haven’t yet adopted the frugal lifestyle. Feb experiment – primary shop Aldi with a top up from items that cant be found out Aldi’s from our local grocery store. Will report back Fab results. I am hoping we get it under $1,000USD.

  44. From the way this post started, I expected you to have a really big total in January. $3.6k really isn’t all that bad Mrs. Frugalwoods!

    We easily break $5500 per month, although about $4400 of that goes to our two biggest expenses — the mortgage and daycare!

    Congrats on a great January!

  45. January went well – some unplanned expenses (didn’t realize cars would need oil; drivers license renewal) but nothing huge. Groceries for our family of 5 continue to be a pain. I did start tracking all expenses in Excel again, which I prefer to the automated tracking because I find I’m more mindful of my spending. We shop at BJ’s because it’s in town, but the prices are definitely not comparable to Costco. Perhaps I’ll ask for a Costco membership for my birthday!

  46. We have had 3 unexpected expenses in a week! Our dog was sick, I had a crown come out and our garage door was not working. My husband spent 2 hours driving back forth to get parts to fix it himself, only to come home and find out the store gave him the wrong part. He had to give up and call a repairman so he could go to work! Needless to say, our monthly budget has taken a hit but we have savings to cover everything from being frugal in other ways! we are splurging on a concert later this month. Music is my husband’s passion and we have been waiting for someone we want to hear and tickets that were in our price range. We will also buy tickets for a concert later this summer that go on sale tomorrow. Having something to look forward to is a good way to get thru Vermont winters!

  47. I think the point of expecting unexpected expenses is important. I’ve known plenty of people who dig into their emergency fund for a repair to their 15 year old vehicle. Irregular doesn’t equal an emergency and people need to be ready for those expenses.

  48. I just want to say that I too spent more money during uber frugal month because I bought a ‘new’ used car for $5k and then needed another $1k for safety inspections and registration and all that. Don’t regret it. What I will say is that I eliminated all dining and drinking out. I made all meals at home and enjoyed the home made booze I already had from when I brewed it in the autumn. I saved myself over $500 from that alone, compared to all the whining and dining out I did during December! I want to continue that trend and eliminate all eating out (unless someone offers to treat, of course) for as long as possible.

  49. So, I’m curious about the eating out once a month? Not a slippery slope? I agree that the occasional treat makes frugality easier, but you seemed to have a strict abstinence policy to eating out. Would love to hear what changed!!

  50. Hey, this isn’t directly related to this post, but I wanted to share that I just (literally, JUST now) cancelled our Netflix subscription thanks to your inspiration! We already didn’t have cable, but your post about free TV convinced me we should try giving up Netflix as well, and to my surprise my husband was 100% for it when I suggested it to him.

    Now if only I can get him on board with eating out less (we do it about once a week, and we both really enjoy it, but there’s definitely a cost…) and learning to cut our own hair.

    1. I should add, this post also made me take a second look at our spending from January (though I wasn’t an Uber Frugal Month participant). We had a major unexpected expense, because my husband’s grandfather passed away and he bought an expensive last-minute cross-country plane ticket to attend the funeral. With that in mind, I think our savings rate of 40% for the month was pretty good by our standards.

  51. Wow, your expensive month is still extremely cheap compare to a lot of people (including us.) We spent about $3,000 in January and that’s our lowest month in a long time. We didn’t have any unexpected expenses and we were home most of the month. The weather was so bad in January. Interesting local expenses. 🙂

  52. The perfect time to be frugal is today. I used to want to start to be in a specific time, but when the time came, I usually procrastinated. Thus, I told myself to start now and have a can-do attitude, and most especially, I assure I keep my positive attitude as being frugal is not that easy. It requires commitment and consistency.

  53. Thanks so much for the blog and continuing to share your journey. I did not officially join the UFC but I have been reading your blog and have been a practicing Frugal girl from Boston for many years. Some months it feels like one step forward two steps back. I save money in a number of ways but then the dog will need something major at the vets ($400) or we need some equipment for home or yard. I have been a good saver for a long time but it would just be great to get to the point where the setbacks did not pinch the budget so much. I have cut way back on shopping and trying to get the grocery bill down. I am so impressed with all of the comments and am fascinated to hear how people find ways to save money.

  54. Hi Frugalwoods family! I have never responded to a blog before – you are my first. I somehow stumbled upon you last December and my life has been deeply blessed by your sharing. I am so inspired by your excellent writing, beautiful and inspiring photography, your common sense and your desire for wanting a simple and full life, and the drive and joy to make it happen! You have a beautiful family! My husband and I are 60 (and approaching 60) and we have always lived with the same values. We never ever felt deprived. We both have served in the field of education for a combined total of 70 years. We have loved it – and all along the way have had plenty of money to help students and families with food, coats, supplies, etc. My classroom is full of repurposed furniture that my husband rescued and repurposed from dumpsters and the side of highways! We do splurge on vacations and my husband loves fixing up motorcycles and old cars. I am also a member of a beautiful yoga studio/ community. We are doing very well financially all because we chose (and continue ) to live a life of frugalness and simplicity. I read your articles every day and like your gorgeous pictures on Instagram. You are wonderful blessing and you inspire me everyday!

  55. I love your website. I too am much older(66 this year). Husband retired at 53 with nice pension and also receives social security. I will draw spousal social security this year in June when I actually hit 66 (that will be 1/2 the amt my husband received at 65). My soc security will continue to grow. I still work 4 eight hour shifts a week as registered nurse and will taper down in July to a couple of days a week. (I actually work nights). We have always been fairly frugal but also with nice luxuries too. Moved to florida 18 years ago. Bought small 20 year old house on canal for 100,000, has pool too. Updated it slowly Plus hurricane charley helped with part of that by replacing the roof, pool cage, sliding doors, storage barn, etc. hurray for insurance (expensive but worth it). We have been invested in the stock market since the early 1980’s. We could not afford a lot of investment then but just slowly kept increasing the amounts we put in until we were maxing out everything in the 1990’s. Again, slow but sure. We now have 7 figure portfolio, I have a small pension that started at age 65 that is small but it pays for internet, cable, landline, electric and water bill. I could have stopped working long ago but just wanted to pad things a little more plus I feel keeping my brain and body moving is healthy. As nurses we have the luxury of going to very part-time. I did leave the high stress of hospital 3 years ago for a nursing home. We owe no money on anything and that is such a great feeling. When I found your website I read it for a couple of months and loved it so much that I messaged my 22 year old grand daughter about it. I plan to follow up to see if she started reading it. She graduates with a business degree in may and I am hoping she follows your site. Over the last couple of years I have mailed her about mr money mustache and Darrow Kirkpatrick, etc. the way you are frugal but still enjoy life is wonderful. Please keep posting for myself and my grand. Thank you.

  56. Hello! After reading a previous expense report of yours, I signed up for Personal Capital and I like it. However, it counts both my credit card purchases AND my credit card payments (as “ATM”), so some of the categories become superficially bloated. Is there any way around this that you’ve found, or do you just manually subtract out the payments to see how much you’ve truly spent in a month? Thank you!

  57. I used to have an old car that seemed to know exactly how much I had managed to save…and then develop a problem that cost exactly that amount!
    It felt like a huge blow every time it happened, until I thought about how much worse it would have felt if I didn’t have anything set aside and had to go into debt for the repair.
    These days I have a newer vehicle (oh…wait a minute! It’s 20 years old!) but in much better condition, but it’ll have to go sooner than later. Time to start planning for that eventuality!

  58. Our monthly income isless than 2/3 of your expenses for this month. Ouch! Sometimes I forget how very little money my husband and I actually make. I desperately want to be a stay at home mom on a farming homestead, but it seems that dream is eons away. 🙁

    I’m curious when you guys transitioned from “college jobs” with wages from $8 to $13 an hour to real professions, that actually net the kind of income that can support your expenses. I’m working at a job with the potential to double my hourly rate in a few years, but it sucks because I don’t want to be a working mom! (Or rather, I want to work at HOME!) My husband is in an annoying cycle of getting underpaid and overworked. He just quit his job (2 months before my baby is due D’:) so now we have the irony of him staying at home, and me working my butt off at a career with long term potential that I never intend on using.

    Distant dreams are the hardest to bear.

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