Snowy, beautiful March

While snow storms raged outside all March, inside we planted the seeds for this summer’s vegetable garden. In a cold climate like Vermont (we’re in plant hardiness zone 4 for all you gardening aficionados), it’s necessary to start growing vegetables from seeds indoors.

The reason for this is that it won’t be warm enough for a long enough period of time for the veggies to ripen if they’re planted outside. It’ll be too cold too late in the spring and too cold too early in the fall to allow them to fully mature. Thus we, and all of our vegetable-growing neighbors, start seeds indoors in early spring.

Our seed start set-up in the guest bathroom

Since this is our first year starting a garden from seeds (as opposed to “starts,” which are tiny vegetable plants you buy from a garden store or farm stand), we had quite a few start-up costs. In the long run, it’s magnificently cheaper to start your garden from seeds than it is to buy the starts.

However, like so many other things this first year on the homestead, it’s more expensive up front. We take the long view of frugality and our approach is usually to invest in materials and tools we can use for decades to come that’ll yield a greater savings overall.

As you’ll see in this month’s expense rundown, we purchased: seeds, seed starting mix, trays, a grow lamp, and a plant heating pad. Mr. FW built a rack (featured in above photo) to suspend the grow lamp above the plants and we can adjust the height of the light as the veggies grow taller.

This month we started tomatoes and jalapeños, since they take the longest to ripen. In April, we’ll start a bevy of other vegetables. This first year, we’re not starting all that many plants–we’re dipping our toes in and then we’ll calibrate, gather data, and hopefully do more next year. Fingers crossed these babies germinates and we have healthy little starts to plant outside come June!

Plane Tickets and My Birthday!

Where have all the squirrels gone?

We’re off to Orlando, Florida in April for a family wedding and purchased our plane tickets in March. Although we do have credit card points, the conversion ratio from points to flights wasn’t favorable, so we decided to pay cash for our tickets instead.

Mr. FW and I prioritize time with family; thus, these plane ticket expenditures that’ll facilitate togetherness are consistent with our frugal ethos of spending on our values. It’s yet another benefit of frugality that we don’t have to stress over the price of plane tickets.

March is my birthday month and we went out to dinner to celebrate! Our very kind and generous neighbor, who comes over to watch Babywoods every Monday morning for a few hours, gave us the wonderful gift of babysitting. Going out to dinner as a couple was a real treat and we’re enormously grateful to our neighbor for watching Babywoods free of charge! I can’t think of a better birthday gift!

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.

Snowy firs on a hike

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

Mr. FW and Babywoods snowshoeing

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 money? 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!!).

Our snowy, snowy 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? 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 11,900 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! And if you’re interested in the other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.

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 March:

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Vermont Mortgage $1,392.86
Airline tickets $1,131.76 For our trip to Orlando for a family wedding in April
Groceries $605.05
Household $132.28 All non-food household and farm supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, laundry detergent, dog food, and dental floss.
Grow lights and a heating pad for our veggie garden starts $96.91 For our seed starts for this year’s vegetable garden.
Four doctor visit co-pays $95.00 Poor Babywoods had croup, many fevers, and a double ear infection. Fingers crossed April will be a healthier month!
Internet $74.00
Garden supplies $62.43 Horticultural oil to spray on our apple trees; seeds for this year’s vegetable garden along with seed starting mix and trays.
Gasoline for the cars $48.10
Restaurant meal $36.34 My birthday dinner! Yum.
Diesel for the tractor $26.26 Mr. FW uses the tractor to clear snow on our quarter-mile long driveway and we had a lot of snow in March!
Home improvement supplies $22.88 Plumbing supplies for Mr. FW to fix a leaky valve in our basement.
Cell phone $19.99 Through Boom Mobile
Prescription medications $15.83
Identification tag for Frugal Hound $8.85 An identification tag for Frugal Hound with our new Vermont address (whoops, this is long overdue!).
TOTAL SPENT: $3,768.54  
LESS MORTGAGE: $2,375.68

How was your March?

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  1. Happy Birthday. We just planted our seed this past weekend. It’s supposed to freeze here this weekend supposedly so it’s sounding like inside was the right choice. We go a bit cheaper with the setup, the seeds at forty bucks were the most expensive input, we’ve been saving egg cartons. No grow light, we have a semi climate controlled sun room, plus it’s a warmer climate here in Delaware. We did tomatoes and other longer growing plants as well.

  2. I can’t wait until we’re living in a place that allows me to start a fully fledged garden! For now, it’s just herb starters for us on the back deck. Can’t wait to hear more about how the seeds progress!

  3. Happy Birthday! One question: What do you do for Frugalhound care when you travel? Do you need to pay someone to care for him, or do you have a barter arrangement?

  4. When I was a kid my Dad created quite the indoor growing area in our basement. Lots of fluorescent lights which I thought was funny. But it paid off once summer came and the loads of veggies.

  5. I was wondering if you could please explain how to calculate if it’s better to use cash rather than points to buy your airline tickets. I’m trying to figure that out with a ticket I need to get. Thank you!

    1. Hi. This is how I usually go about in determining whether it’s worth it using miles vs cash purchase for airfare and hotels. Some major airlines have standard rewards redemption program (e.g. a base of 25K roundtrip domestic on AA in economy depending on availability, sometimes it could cost as much as 50K roundtrip). You can price out how much it would cost to purchase the airfare using google flights or expedia, etc (for example Dallas to LA for $350). Depending on how much you have to use your miles to redeem for the same flight (let’s say it’d have cost you 50K), the point to dollar value is calculated as follows: 350 divided by 50,000 = 0.007. If the ticket costs $200 and the reward redemption is still at 50K, the point to dollar value becomes 0.004. In this case you’re much better off buying the ticket (while it’s cheap) instead of using miles. There’s really no right/wrong way to using miles; if you have a lot of miles but short on cash, the redemption value may not matter a whole lot. But if you want to maximize the redemption value, then it’s best to use the miles when you can get a higher dollar-to-mile return.

  6. Happy Birthday!! Every christmas my cousin gives us free babysitting and it is my favorite gift! Every October I keep reminding her that I would love the same gift as last christmas and she is happy to oblige.

  7. Happy birthday! I’m hoping to do better at gardening this year. I have off in the summer, I might as well tend a garden! March was great for us as we paid off another student loan. (yes I’m gloating!)

  8. I have many fond memories of helping my mom tend the garden. I always got one corner to plant something of my own. I did the best with sugar snap peas, and did the worst with watermelon. Ended up with one little guy about the size of a softball. I hope you and Babywoods get the same pleasure when she’s older! (just don’t plant a ginormous oak tree too close to the garden like I did. It snuffed out the light. whoops!)

  9. Hope you had a great birthday! What a nice neighbor! I love that you point out that you’re willing to spend money on what you value. It’s not always about NOT spending money, but on what is most important! Have fun in Orlando!

  10. Hope you had a lovely birthday! We’ve got a tray of veg seedlings sprouting on the kitchen windowsill, and I’m hoping to start some more in loo roll tubes filled with compost. fingers crossed we get something to eat at the end of it!

  11. I can’t wait to start growing my own vegetables! We’ve always lived in apartments with no access to a garden but I’m thinking I’m trying to get an allotment patch so I can start growing my own. Working towards financial independence has made me really think about the way I live and has made me want to live as sustainably as possible.

    Hope you enjoy that warm Orlando sunshine as a nice change from your snowy landscape 🙂

  12. Good luck with your garden! I had a pretty trim March, although groceries went over because I decided at the end of the month to make a cheesecake for a birthday and bought a springform pan and four boxes of not-on-sale cream cheese. Delicious, though. No regrets.

    My total spending including rent on our one-bedroom apartment (my two boys are with me 50% of the time) was under $2400.

    1. We do not pay for water because we live rurally and are on a well. We take our trash and recycling to the transfer station once a week. We buy trash bags from the city, a cost that’s included in our “household” line item. For more on our rural life, you can check out this series.

        1. Our electricity was covered this month by a deposit we had to put down when we signed up for service last year. Since we don’t use much electricity, the deposit is covering quite a few months for us :)!

  13. A garden …… . I love gardens, but where we live now, I have spent more on the items needed to keep the animals out than I have gained in produce. I love the concept and thought process behind it, and you may inspire me to try again (one of my daughters just asked me about a garden). But, until then the local wild life has to find food on their own!

  14. I’ve started lots of plants from seed (75 tomatoe plants one year!) We don’t really have the indoor space other than for a bit of basil. For now we just buy starts from the farmers market. But we also keep a smaller garden. 7 tomato plants now. 🙂 When the kids are older we might have time for a big garden again and the food preserving. There is a fine line in gardening between enjoyable hobby and part time job. 😉

    1. So true! We expanded our garden space every year and could definitely feel it when we crossed over the line to part time job. Luckily we have the time and love for it. However, I always tell people to go slow when starting. I think starting too big can back fire and turn people off to gardening. By the way, love reading your blog as well. 🙂

  15. We have also started tomatoes and peppers and celeriac so far. We have grow lights set up over our wood stove for plenty of heat and my husband made a rack that attaches to the beams for us, as the get big enough we move them to our bay window which we have a big shelf in. We built a greenhouse 3 years ago so we will be able to plant tomatoes and peppers in there earlier then if we didn’t have one. We live in maine, so this was essential in our quest to be as self sufficient as possible. Last year I made almost enough salsa, ketchup and tomato sauce for the entire year. Alead picking salad greens and scallions from the greenhouse. Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman, is an excellent read! Have fun with the garden!

  16. To avoid having to start all the seeds inside the house my mom converted an old, never used fish house into a “grow house.” It sits in the back of their garage away from the frost and wind so the tiny plants are never in danger. It’s pretty neat!

    And Happy Birthday!

  17. Hi,
    What about electricity/propane or gas? I know you burn wood but you never turn on your heat source?

    1. The only utility we pay for is electricity and it was covered this month by a deposit we had to put down when we signed up for service last year. Since we don’t use much electricity, the deposit is covering quite a few months for us! Since we live in the country, we have a septic system and a well, so we don’t have any sewer or water bills. We do have back-up oil heat (which we almost never use) as well as propane for our gas stove and hot water but both of those were paid for in full at the time they were delivered (we have big tanks 🙂 )!

    1. So the only utility we pay for is electricity and it was covered this month by a deposit we had to put down when we signed up for service last year. Since we don’t use much electricity, the deposit is covering quite a few months for us! Since we live in the country, we have a septic system and a well, so we don’t have any sewer or water bills.

  18. Any good recommendations for where to buy dog tags? I just bought some on Amazon and they chipped after a few weeks and are almost unreadable now.

  19. I have been starating seeds indoors for a couple years and think your gradual approach is great! We keep our house colder in the winter/spring so I had also considered purchasing a heating pad but instead I am attempting to see if keeping some trays on our radiators will work.

    We have a new rabbit visitor to our little urban homestead and so far it has managed to destruir blueberry bushes, raspberries and possible 1-2 baby apple trees. So our biggest challenge will be dealing with both deer and rabbits.

    Also, I’m preparing for our future honey bee hive! Which is exciting and a little daunting since I’ve never been involved with beekeeping.

  20. I started some seeds a few weeks ago. Peas, carrots, cucumbers, basil, onions… I got a spiralizer for Christmas that I just learned to use and now I’m thinking I should plant some zucchini!

  21. My husband loves starting seeds, so much so that he has to give some plants away, which isn’t too frugal, but some of the recipients gift us back with produce they grow that we don’t so that helps. Here in Florida, we have tomato plants started from seed that are 18″ tall now. Over the years, he’s started tomatoes, herbs, flowers, peppers, eggplant, okra, peppers, beans, corn, peas, lettuce, cabbage, peppers, onions, squash, pumpkins and did I mention peppers? The man loves peppers. He found some seed starter light/tray kits on sale for 1/3 the cost and bought two, plus he sets up his heating pads and independent grow lights on benches built to sit beneath our windows. He also installed daylight bulbs in the ceiling fixture. Our living room is a greenhouse each spring. I try to adjust. We have a big yard, but since our tiller died, we’ve been using buckets and growing container gardens, plus we’ve got three raised beds we use. The gardens don’t always produce well, but we get enough to make it fun and worthwhile. Our grown kids have memories, but not good ones, of getting up at 6:30 on Saturday mornings to go weed the garden with me before the day got too hot, ha. Still, they both enjoyed eating the home grown produce, and try to grow a few things in pots themselves these days. And, truthfully, they enjoyed those days of running between rows of corn playing hide and seek and playing in the soft turned dirt. I feel sure Babywoods will grow up to really enjoy the garden, the dirt, the fresh veggies, and the time spent with Mom and Dad out in the garden.

    1. Hah – this brings back so many memories. My parents used to set up a garden every year – I kept asking them if we could just put a pool where the garden spot was as it was the only sunny flat spot. Apparently one of their first tasks when they bought the house was to till and clear this huge flat patch to use as a garden. They used to start everything from seeds and my dad would have us put lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc, in the lines he tilled. I remember searching for long straight sticks and cutting up panty hose to make ties for the tomatoes. The smell of tomato vines is still one of my favorites. We used to get to plant our own garden on the outside as a “bunny buffet” to keep the bunnies and deer at bay – it never worked. We planted marigolds around the entire parameter and had a huge asparagus patch in the back. Our old neighbor used an entire acre of land to grow tomatoes – this lot is now a new house – so when our tomatoes were eaten by deer, he would give us some. My mother used to can an insane amount of vegetables – with 3 kids under 6. I’m now in awe of her energy. I remember hating weeding and being out there when I wanted to play but I’m grateful for the lessons.

      In my college economics class, I was one of the few people in 2008 who knew that vegetables only had one growing season (therefore a finite economic resource). Our professor from Iowa was shocked and appalled.

      We now have an incredible CSA and my parents have expanded their yard/flower gardens so they have less time for veggies. My dad still uses the garden patch to grow herbs, raspberries and potatoes, and the asparagus patch is still going strong. My husband really wants to start our own vegetable garden but the CSA does a really good job and homesteading is not my dream. I take pride in knowing I could do it. I think I will take up many of these tasks with our future children just so they can have these lessons.

  22. Happy Birthday!!! Can’t wait to see how your garden turns out!! That’s something we’d love to do, too, but this year we probably won’t as we haven’t done any research/prepared anything yet. I do plan on getting some indoor herb plants for cooking, though!!

    Your spending amazes me!! Keep up the great work!! I’m frugal overall (I get my haircut maybe once a year, during the great clips $6.99 sale hahaha, for example) but definitely have my little splurges!! These do add up though. I admire your consistency month over month 🙂

  23. Good luck with the gardening this year. I recently got into doing a little last year and found it was a great stress reliever puts you much more in tune with the weather and the seasons, and gives you some good conversation pieces. Plus – you get to eat the results!

  24. May I ask where you sourced your seed starting trays? I researched it some time back having grown frustrated with my mismatched, reused pots, but it was more than I cared to spend. I’m sure you’ll have found the best deal possible!! And I’m sure you’re aware of this but if the seeds you’ve selected aren’t hybrid, you can seed save for next year! Dill, cilantro and the like are especially easy!

  25. My parents have had a veggie garden for years and boy do I miss fresh produce in the summer, especially tomatoes that have actual taste! Still living the apartment life so no garden for me, but maybe some day. For now I’m trying (and usually failing) to grow herbs on my kitchen windowsill. Just bought little new mint and rosemary plants and the basil I’ve had for a few months is still hanging on, so we’ll see how long these last before I inevitably kill them…

    Hope you had a good birthday, and I hope Orlando is a nice break from all the snow!

  26. As you expand your gardening plans in the coming years, you should check out Winter Sowing ( and also a Facebook group). As I grew my garden and my family the amount of space/time it took me to start seeds in the house grew exponentially. I read about winter sowing on and started with sowing seeds in 5 milk jugs. This spring, I have 32 milk jugs with various flower and veggie seeds in them. I still plant a few tomatoes and peppers in the house but last year planted some using winter sowing as well and by the end of June, you couldn’t tell the difference in my seedlings. The ones I started indoors required a great deal more effort! I am also in VT.

  27. I’m so impressed by your savings! I would love to learn more about Boost Mobile. Please write a post about it! 🙂 I would love to help my aging parents save money on their phone bills by switching, and I’d love to switch, too.

  28. Sounds like a great month to me! I can’t believe how chilly it still is for y’all! It’s been in the 80s and 90s this week here in Texas. We planted our seeds a few weeks ago and we’re now seeing lots and lots of radishes and strawberries. 🙂 But don’t worry–the sun will be unmerciful and horrible come August, when little will probably grow.

    Great job prioritizing family and spending moolah where it counts. 🙂

  29. Awesome post! Can’t wait to hear how it goes as I would like to do seeds. I’ve done them without a light and they didn’t make it.

  30. Living near the woods, do you ever have mice in the house? Thsts been our only occasional issue. They go after the seeds.

    We did great with starting plants inside except for one year when our mini garden was discovered by a mouse or two ( there’s never just one, is there?) and destroyed overnight.

    In spite of our best attempts at getting rid of the mice , we couldn’t get enough seeds started that year. But we’ve had great luck otherwise.

  31. We bought a house last April and had the garden in by June. For the first year, I concentrated on establishing the herb garden (and fruiting plants), though we grew vegetables too. This spring brought us free cilantro from the reseeding of the plants we let go to seed last year. The other seeds should pop up when the weather warms. I find the naturalized plants from reseeding are stronger and healthier. We invested in a coldframe last year that we will cover the herb bed with this winter so we have year-round herbs. This was pre-Frugalwoods or we would have built it ourselves. Free supply of herbs for the rest of our lives — done.

  32. A belated happy birthday to you! I hope your seeds yield lots of glorious little plants.

    I attempted to grow green onions from the roots of other green onions by putting them into a glass filled with water. The internet assured me that this would be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. The internet underestimated the extreme non-greenness of my thumb. I frequently forgot to replenish the water, and then guiltily topping it up. I eventually ended up with an interesting looking fungus growing on the corpses of green onions.

  33. Belated Happy Birthday Mrs.FrugalWoods.

    Great idea to start the garden with seeds. I’ve bought bulbs for Lilly, Dahlio and Gladiolus. Looking forward to planting those in.

    I noticed that your newsletter has PO Box no. in the footer but don’t see it as an expense. Do you pay for renting the box or if not, how?

    1. Yes we did pay for the PO box (it’s an annual fee), which I lumped into our household expenses for that month.

  34. Happy belated birthday. The growth lights aren’t all that expensive. I think that will be a great investment for the future. My wife gave up her garden for this year. She had a 4×20 foot plot at our community garden as we don’t get enough sun in our yard. It was getting to be a bit time consuming for her so she decided to give it up for this year. I will miss the fresh peppers though!

  35. Good luck with your garden! My parents plant their tomato seeds on Valentine’s day every year and always get a bountiful crop. On years when late snow storms hit, they keep the tomatoes inside a bit longer; this sometimes requires hand pollination of the tomato flowers using a Q-tip.

  36. I hope you and babywoods have a better spring and have been able to rest and get your energy back! Doctor visits are not fun!

  37. Dear Liz,
    Happy Birthday! Yes March has been challenging here in New England. I am itching to start gardening. I have a vegetable garden. I also have wonderful neighbors who give me plants they grow on their sun porch. Last year the rabbits were relentless. Make sure you have adequate fencing to ward off the animals. I have found the animals will not bother my eggplant or peppers. They just love my green beans………unfortunately.The animals also do not bother my herbs so I have plenty of oregano,sage etc……Have fun in Florida. My sister called to say it is in the 80’s down there. We do facet time and it is nice to see all the palm trees and greenery in her backyard!!!!!!!!

  38. I’m curious about Boom Mobile. What do you get for that $19.99? I use US Mobile, and my bill is only $11.16/month, but that’s only for 250 minutes and 500 texts. I don’t use data, so depending on your usage, it may cost you more. But I’m still curious.

    I don’t like unlimited plans for me because I find I’m typically paying for more than I need.

  39. I have to say that your photos of the lovely Miss Frugalhound – and the hilarious captions – would make a great book.

  40. You may have answered this or posted about it before or you may be keeping it confidential but I’m curious which area of Vermont you moved to?

    My family is all from the St. Johnsbury, VT area and I LOVE LOVE LOVE visiting there. As a Florida native I’m not sure I could survive a winter there but I’ve always thought about retiring either as a snowbird or full-timer to Vermont. It’s just too beautiful.

    1. We’re in central Vermont :). If you’re interested in reading more about where we live and our homesteading adventures, check out this series.

  41. I just love your blog 🙂
    We live in scandinavia on the border between sone 3 and 4. Due to global warming, spring is very early this year, and yesterday we actually found a scilla .
    With all your lovely snow you should absolutely take up cross country skiing, it is tremendous fun! We start seeds every year but we very seldom succeed, and usually end up buying starters on sale in late june. That is too late. I hope you can tell us about your experiences with seed starting 🙂
    Btw, this year I am going to make paper pots to avoid plastic, the YouTube vids are so convincing;)

  42. Happy Birthday and congrats on a great March. I can’t wait to see those seedlings in action later this year!

    Good luck on the gardening!

  43. Happy birthday! Here’s to a healthier April for Babywoods. We also had a rough March with many, many doctors visits for the three kids. I plant a garden every spring but I’ve never started from seeds before. I’ve definitely thought about doing it if I expand my garden! Every year I try to add a few more square feet onto the front garden, and plant a few perennials along with some annuals. Last year I had some tomato plants that did amazing, and my herbs all did great too. Not so much my cucumbers, they were sad and either didn’t grow or hid from me until they were giants. On to next year!

  44. So impressive that you are seed starting! We always “cheat” and buy starters from our neighbors with green thumbs. Then, we plant on Memorial Day! You’re right, though–the tomatoes never have long enough to fully ripen, even when we plant fairly mature plants. Hope you guys have a nice April and maybe by the end of it the snow will have melted!! 🙂

  45. Hope you had a good birthday, Mrs FW.

    I’m hoping to start some seeds this weekend (it’s pretty mild in the south of the UK, so I think we’ll get by with our unheated plastic growhouse). If your season’s long enough, I’d recommend courgettes (zucchini)- if the plant likes you, you’ll get armfuls of the things. A rhubarb plant might be a plan as well as they tend to be OK in cold climates (but check- I don’t know much about Vermont).

    It might be worth seeing if you can swap seedlings with any of your neighbours (I know that I always end up with lots of one thing and end up swapping with my parents and in-laws).

  46. Happy belated birthday!

    I’ve been wanting to start seeds for awhile now, but am somewhat intimated by the whole process. Do you have any good resources, websites, or tips for starting seeds?

  47. I have the best kind of garden. A few years ago our son’s friend asked if he could have part of our garden (we have a farm) and I told him he could have the whole thing. He plants, weeds, and harvests and he shares produce wiith my husband and I. Win, win!!

  48. May I suggest Ruth Stout’s series on gardening. The no work heavy mulch plan. In year two of finally have a place to garden with sun, thinking I will just hay like crazy.

  49. Maybe someone has said this ahead of me, but if croup becomes a regular problem, you may be able to talk to your doctor about prescribing more than you need and keeping it in the fridge, or see if you can have the nurse talk to them about calling in a prescription? Of course, working with your doctor here, but my kids were getting it so frequently that my doctor did this and it’s saved us several trips this year. Hoping for a healthier month, I HATE croup.

  50. I feel like things are missing on the budget…maybe someone else can fill in the blanks.

    Car Insurance
    Life Insurance
    Heating besides wood
    College Savings
    Only 1 Cellphone?

    Thanks, Jason

  51. Happy Birthday! That’s incredible that you could keep the dinner date down to $36. We celebrated my husband’s birthday last week, and I was pleasantly surprised when my sister-in-law’s boyfriend paid for the meal. I bought drinks after, and spent about $40 for the four of us, so I will count that as a frugal birthday win, as well. I couldn’t help but splurge on his gift, though (fancy whiskey). I can’t wait to see how your garden turns out this year. I’m already drawing plans for where our gardens will go, but with construction this summer, I don’t think I’ll plant until next year.

  52. Happy birthday and happy planting! I don’t know if there is any science behind it but I always feel so much better when I get to play in the dirt 🙂

  53. I notice that you don’t give to charity. How does charity and giving back to others enter into you plan? Right now I am seeing stingy instead of frugal.

  54. Quick question. You mentioned paying off credit cards in full every month which I had just started being able to do ( hooray!) But then a friend told me that its better for building credit, anyway, to keep a small balance from month to month so your account is “revolving”. Anyone know which is better? I planned to keep a very small balance thinking the minor charge on what I owe might be better than the higher rates I’d pay on loans, etc, by having a lower credit score. I’m looking to refinance my home or sell soon. Anyway, always love reading your posts. I’d love to have garden but it does sound complicated! So glad when my kiddo grew out of the getting sick a lot stages!

    1. NO!!! Keeping a small balance DOES NOT help your credit score! That is a myth! Apologies for the all caps, but it’s VERY important for folks to understand this :). What will help your credit is keeping a credit card open (and paid off in full) for many years. This proves that you’re able to handle credit responsibly, which is what will boost your credit score. Another important consideration is your credit utilization rate. I HIGHLY recommend reading Erin Lowry’s book, Broke Millennial, which covers credit and credit scores in an easy-to-understand, thorough format. I hope this helps and, bottom line, pay off your card in FULL every month.

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