Who doesn’t need a toddler to help them with sledgehammer work?!

Our basement, as previously disclosed, is undergoing a vast improvement plan. Our Cambridge, MA home (the one that’s now a rental) has a delightful panoply of built-in shelves in its basement, which suited our needs just fine. Here in our Vermont home, however, the basement is a huge, empty, concrete-floored cavern.

A cavern I’m very thankful for and which I love, but a blank cavern nonetheless. Beholden to my commitment of waiting at least one year before spending money on renovations or improvements in a new home, we spent our first year with nary a shelf in our basement.

All of our items in storage–everything from Christmas decorations to preserved food to tools–hung out on the floor of the basement this past year. In case you’re wondering, this is not an efficient, organized, sane, or sanitary way to store things.

Especially not when you live on a homestead in the middle of nowhere and need to keep bulk quantities of food on hand. And when you love Christmas decorations A LOT. And when you store baby clothes hand-me-downs for every size up to 5T that you’ve received from friends and relatives. And so, after our one-year waiting period elapsed–something I adhere to on the principle that you don’t know how you truly want to use a space until you’ve lived in it for awhile (here’s my full post on this idea)–we acquiesced to our fervent need for a storage system.

When DIY Doesn’t Save You (Much) Money

One of our newly organized basement shelves!

Being frugal weirdos committed to DIY-ing everything possible, our first inclination was for Mr. Frugalwoods to build a basement shelving system himself. We trekked down to the cavern and measured every wall and mapped out where each shelf would go. Then, Mr. FW drew up a shelving design system in SketchUp to accurately model out the exact size of each shelf and how much lumber he’d need. Next, with a lumber list in hand, he called lumber yards for cost estimates.

Then, ever the researcher, he browsed around online for pre-made shelves, just to see how much we’d be saving by going the DIY route. Well, as it turned out, we wouldn’t be saving much at all. In fact, due to a sale Home Depot was running on these metal shelves, we’d be paying just a tad less for our homemade shelves.

Armed with this knowledge, Mr. FW set out for Home Depot that very day and returned with glorious metal shelves to adorn our basement. While it’s often cheaper to build things ourselves, there are times when buying pre-made costs either less or only a bit more. When we considered the considerable outlay of time building these shelves would entail, we decided it was worth it to pay a modicum more in order to save hours of time. It’s always worth doing price comparison research before embarking on a materials and equipment purchasing spree.

I am thrilled–thrilled, I tell you–with my new basement shelves. I’ve set about organizing and, in the process, getting rid of quite a few items we no longer need. I love organizing and it feels cleansing to me to finally label, stack, and sort everything we own. Giving away all the things we no longer need is yet another balm to my soul–it’s refreshing to let go of stuff and to know that someone else will be able to use it. The basement isn’t done yet, but things are well underway thanks to my new shelves. Money well spent. Hooray!

Other Things That Happened In July

Will be discussed in next week’s installment of This Month On The Homestead!

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

View from the lower field

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!

Meet Me In Portland, Oregon!

Our garden in July!

I’m speaking on a panel this month at a new financial conference just for women. I share this with you because it’s not a conference only for financial professionals, it’s a conference for any woman who wants to expand–or begin–her journey to personal finance prowess.

It’s called the Lola Retreat, it’s taking place in Portland, Oregon August 18-20, 2017 and I will be there! It’s not free, but if you’re interested in attending, you can get $50 off your ticket if you enter the promo code “FRUGALWOODS.” I know there are quite a few Frugalwoods readers planning to attend–let me know if you’ll be joining us and we’ll meet up!

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.

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 2016).

Babywoods on a mission, running past the apple trees

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 19,700 people have already taken the Challenge and saved thousands of dollars. You can sign-up at any time and 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.

A Note On Rural Life


Since we live on 66 acres in rural Vermont, our utilities are slightly different from traditional urban and suburban dwellings. We don’t pay for water, sewer, trash, or heating/cooling because we have a well, a septic system, our town doesn’t provide trash pick-up, we heat our home with wood we harvest ourselves from our land, and we don’t have air conditioning. For more on our rural lifestyle, check out my series This Month On The Homestead.

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 July:

Item Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Vermont Mortgage $1,392.86
Shelving $828.38 For our epic basement organization project
Groceries $491.79
6 months of car insurance $269.50 This is 6 months’ worth of car insurance for our 2010 Subaru Outback and 2010 Toyota Prius. Our insurance is through Geico and it’s inexpensive for several reasons: we don’t have comprehensive insurance (just liability), we’re good drivers (with no tickets), and we own older cars. We carry A LOT of liability insurance (more than the state required amount), but since our cars have a very finite $ value (which we could replace with cash tomorrow if we had to), we don’t see the point of paying for collision insurance. It’s not like we’d fix something superficial like a dent anyway. We’re happy to self-insure when the odd rock hits the proverbial windshield (which happened to our Subaru last year and which we simply paid cash to replace).
Gasoline for the cars $78.06 LOVE our gas-sipping Prius. Since we live so rurally we drive a lot, but our gas bill does not show it!
Internet $74.00 Love our high-speed fiber internet out here in the middle of nowhere!
Utilities: Electricity $66.32
Household supplies $63.70 All non-food household supplies, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, shampoo, and dental floss.
Farm and garden supplies $61.94 Fence Wire, Sprayer, BT Caterpillar Spray, Twine
Beer stockup $59.59 Beer from the Alchemist and Hill Farmstead for our guests (and selves!)
Date night! $57.49 Our one meal out for the month: date night with free babysitting provided by our amazing neighbor, Babywoods’ adopted grandmother!
Doctor appointment $30.00 Co-payment for a doctor’s appointment
Ethanol-free gas $29.17 For our gas-powered small engines: mower, trimmer, and chainsaw
OK to Wake Clock $22.79 Our acquiescence to marketing: purchased this clock for Babywoods’ room, which lights up when it’s time to get up. Parents set the clock for whatever time they want in the morning, which teaches kids to keep quiet until it lights up. I have to say, it’s actually working so far and Babywoods LOVES having her own clock.
Cell phone $19.99 Through BOOM Mobile
Home improvement supplies $4.87 A new wax ring for one of our toilets, which was leaking a tad at the base.
TOTAL SPENT: $3,550.45  

How was your July?

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  1. We have definitely learned that sometimes paying just a bit more than DIY would cost is a better alternative, especially in the time part of it. DIY cost so much more time-wise.
    We aren’t ones to use credit cards, but we do only use our debit as we are the same with wanting to track expenses. We use a combo of Personal Capital and Mint, to help us see our budget and stick to it. I definitely second anyone that hasn’t used it yet, to give it a try.
    Isn’t the OK To Wake clock one of the best inventions ever for toddlers? We have used it for almost a year now and after the kids figure it out, they love it just as much! I guess they feel more in control. Either way, my kids love it! It’s totally worth buying!

  2. I looked at DIY and buying pre-made when I built my loft. Unfortunately, buying a loft for a queen sized mattress would cost almost $900! So my mom and I spent some quality time together one weekend and built it for less than $200. Now my space has doubled in my little studio and I didn’t have to pay through the nose for it!

  3. Yay I was so excited to see your new post. It’s great that you two found a great sale at Home Depot for the shelves. I have no doubt that Mr. Frugalwoods could make them just as well or better. But like you said sometimes it’s just cheaper to buy pre-made items.

    At the FAF household, we buy pretty much everything prepaid except for our food since neither Mr. FAF nor I are resourceful. 🙁

  4. We had a really good July as well although it was a bit higher than we anticipated. We spent money on getting a Will and also paying our property taxes for our home. So the July spike was a bit higher than all the other months. But having a will in place and making property taxes 2x a year is totally worth it, especially when you don’t have to make a mortgage payment anymore 🙂

  5. One of the main draws of buying a house for me is that level of customization. I love the idea of learning more DIY skills, but even buying to customize that space would be cool. Currently in a one bedroom apartment, we have a sort of forced-minimalism that doesn’t allow for much of that.

  6. Nice job on discovering it was almost as cheap to buy new shelves as build! A big savings when you take your labor into account.

    Mrs. Freaky Frugal and I do the same thing with credit cards – use reward credit cards and pay them off each month. The cash rewards add up to a fair amount over the course of a year. Every bit helps even after we’ve FIREd.

    We use Mint instead Personal Capital to track spending. Last month cost about $4,000 for us but that includes $1,500 in rent.

  7. We have been eyeing shelving for our garage and have been going through the DIY vs. buy calculations too! When moving, we packed everything in stackable plastic bins so everything is relatively orderly now, but it’s a bit hard to get to things when they end up in the bottom box!

  8. We DIY what we can with our abilities. We replaced our dishwasher (and it’s dedicated electrical wire from the junction box) ourselves this past weekend. We could not put a dishwasher where one was not previously like your husband did without help from my father-in-law as I wouldn’t know how to cut out cabinets properly to ensure counter top was properly supported. My mom was saying “I would’ve hired that out” as it did take some time and sweat equity. But the $200 ish it would have cost to install was money in our pockets. Same thing with installing a ceiling fan this weekend–it’s not “hard” per se, just time consuming and a SERIOUS arm workout (for weak armed people like my husband and I). We probably would’ve had to pay around $75-$100 in our area for an installation and that was more money for us. But to have to put a ceiling fan where no light fixture was previously? I’d probably outsource that out. It’s all about DIYing within your comfort and safety zone. Plus, like you argue, if the time/financial payout doesn’t make sense to DIY, then it’s better to buy.

  9. Metal shelving is the way to go – great investment! I’ve built wooden shelving and often wished I hadn’t after they warped, needed additional bracing, were attacked by termites (even pressure treated), etc.

    Our July was expensive because of an emergency surgery for one of our dogs. We found a mast cell cancerous tumor which the vet told us often fills with histamines and if ruptured can lead to anaphylactic shock and a quick death. That wasn’t something we could afford to put off.

    Really glad I found your blog via the Plutus Awards website as I believe we are kindred spirits and I look forward to following along!

  10. The price of wood is so high now. Plus I think you’ll prefer to have metal in a damp basement. We haven’t had a lot of luck on wood in our basement. Then again, all the water we live off of is down there, so maybe our basement is wetter than the average basement?

    We had a pretty good July. We managed to knock out some more debt, saved on the things we needed to purchase (even got free entertainment and a free haircut!), and managed to avoid spending money on entertainment and the house despite the fact that I got really itchy to just be done with our #yearofno already!! We’re going to power through this debt thing! 🙂

  11. Wow quite the shelving project! But great inspiration to purge the basement. It’s a good reminder to challenge everything, even DIY projects.

    And the clock looks like a good Christmas present for my nephew (or my sister-in-law really).

  12. Herm, it looks like I can’t get my comments through, but I’m not sure why… anything I can do to fix that?

    I’m always a fan of DIY, but there’s totally some things that are worth buying – we have a mix-match system of shelvings: DIY in the ‘cold storage’, old metal in the laundry room, and shiny new ones in the garage (that replaced the metal ones :P).

    Good luck in August!

  13. Since you’ve successfully completed your move and Babywoods is quickly becoming Toddlerwoods, your impetus for saving must have changed dramatically. I would love to see a post about your new goals.

  14. Great Month Frugalwoods! Love the shelving project. While I love to build things, often when I do the same math on ‘build’ vs. ‘buy’ it usually ends up that buying is more cost effective. Can’t beat cheap overseas labor I guess!

    ‘Free’ from a buynothing group or freecycle is even better of course!

  15. I try to live the frugal life. My husband, however, does not. As expected, this can lead to arguments and a disproportionate amounts of money being spent. This last month we finally had the talk that
    A) he was killing himself with his fastfood addiction (he has type II diabetes)
    B) he was spending way too much money on his fastfood addiction, at least one of his paychecks a month.
    C) due to my frugality, we have one credit card with balance on it ($4000, will be paid off by December), and a kitchen remodel loan (which has $5000 on it). We started last year with four credit cards outstanding with an accumulated balance of $22000. I used this as a plus in our argument that frugality works.

    His answer was we should go to separate monies, that way I wouldn’t be able to bitch about how much he spent. I said sure. He asked me what half of the mortgage was ($700), his share of the mobile ($100), he already knew his car payment ($300). I reminded him that he was the only reason we had television ($100), his share of the food bills ($80), insurance ($75), kitchen remodel costs ($150), his diabetes medication ($80), and utilities ($125). He did the math and realized what I knew. That due to our disparate take home pay, I make 4X what he makes per year, it would be to disadvantage to split the money.

    Now that the conversation is over it, he has been more frugal. We came to the agreement that he would eat out only 3 x per week (too high, I know, but you’ve got to start somewhere) and the rest of the time he would eat what I make. Baby steps.

    Take home from this long-winded post: instead of eating out 8+ times a week (!!!), he now eats out 3 x a week. I count this as a win and a positive to our balance sheet.

    1. That’s an awesome start! Just a thought- if the health and financial reasons don’t motivate your husband to stop eating out, could you emphasize the time savings? Hypothetically, if he’s eating out 8 meals per week, and it is a 10 minute drive each way, and maybe 5-10 minutes to place and receive your order that adds up to 4 hours per week (or half a day of work!) that he is wasting obtaining fast food rather than having the extra half day of free time. Could you possibly have him pick out his favorite frozen meals at the store (tray dinners, burgers, whatever (to keep in the freezer at work or home) so that it’s faster and easier for him to heat that then to head out for food?

      1. Good points! Anything that helps him eat at home will save money, make him feel empowered, and give you time together.

    2. Congrats on moving this conversation in the right direction! I wish you and your husband all the best! Looking at those hard numbers sometimes really is the best way to drive a message home–can’t argue with math.

    3. Kathleen

      Well done for mastering that huge debt, especially with a recalcitrant spouse.

      Here’s to him accepting the benefits with grace and enthusiasm in the future.

      Good luck and best wishes.


  16. I just saw that you don’t have trash pickup. I assume that you are both fervent composters? 🙂 What’s your system?
    I can’t believe how much potential waste we avoid by being avid composters. Even in the city, I’ve discovered some amazing hacks that I’d to share sometime if anyone’s interested. 🙂

    Miss you both!

    1. I’d love to hear more about what you have learned. I’m in the suburbs, but we are just starting to think about composting. It bothers me how many food scraps we toss each week (mostly veggie/fruit scraps).

    2. Hi there! You should come visit :)! We compost in a pile in our garden and turn it regularly. It’s not a space efficient method, but since we have the space, it is easy! We also recycle a ton (our town has free recycling drop off) and then we can take trash to our dump once a week–we have about one bag of trash per week.

  17. Love the basement shelves! I must say, I’m inspired to organize my own basement now in a similar fashion. We have shelves and totes but they need gone through! I love knowing what’s actually down there.
    The retreat sounds absolutely glorious! I might look into it…we have airline points… 😉

  18. We bought those very same shelves and organized our basement with them last year, after 18 years of shuffling stacks of bins. DefIntely worth the small extra cost. My husband and I got them together in no time. Very easy and sturdy.

  19. How do you keep your electric bill so low? Do you dry your clothes on a line? My bill here in MA is always around 100 per month……I do have an electric dryer and am wondering if that is the cost difference per month………..

    1. I do dry most of our clothes on the line (I put sheets and towels in the dryer) and we have a high efficiency washer and dryer. Other than that, we’re just very mindful of the electricity we use and try not to use too much.

      1. Hello I currently rent and our electric bill was 490$ this month (Crazy I know!!!!)
        On that note what can I do to reduce this as much as possible? Ill honestly take any suggestions you have to give for this!
        Thank you,

  20. A big advantage to the kind of shelves you picked, vs wood shelves, is that these won’t collect dust & dirt.

  21. Our July was a good month, financially speaking. And considering we have also been on a short vacation (1 week) but stayed within budget every single day, I’d characterize this past July as amazingly frugal!
    We also tend to save a lot on gas during summer months. The weather’s just perfect for biking, so we actually use our car much, much less.

  22. Sadly, in my little corner of Italy, DIY always turns out more expensive than e.g. IKEA. Sadly because me and hubby are both DIY buffs.
    Mrs FW, I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it!!!! So much good stuff waiting to be read! 😊

  23. Great shelves! We have shelves in our basement, and they’re full of stuff – but the stuff needs to be gone through!

    I took part in July’s Uber Frugal Month Challenge, and kept track of every cent we spent – to the best of my ability. I kept a tally on my cellphone, so I don’t have it broken down by categories. (I’ll look into Personal Capital.) We don’t have a mortgage or any other loans, but it was still a pricey month @ $6,312.08. Our annual homeowners and umbrella insurance payments were due, I bought several plane tickets for upcoming trips, and I was more charitable than usual. My biggest win was that I ate the food we already had on hand, rather than eat out.

  24. Our basement is prone to at least damp, and several years ago flooding, so I added in some extra protections. The legs/feet of anything like the big table stored on the floor down there are protected by being set inside large empty plastic yogurt or margarine tubs, like putting boots on it. If it floods, the water would have to be at couple of inches deep before it causes damage. In the meantime, damp coming up from the floor is somewhat stalled as well.
    All the tubs, boxes, and shelf units are lifted off the floor by being set on upside-down milk crates, (often can find them at yard sales), for the same protection and air circulation. Some of my plastic storage tubs are older and have cracks in the bottom, so water could seep in during a flood if they were right on the floor.
    I admire your organized space! Re-arranges all the “chi” energy down below and helps the rest of the house!

  25. Build vs. buy is really the most fun financial analysis to do. It’s amazing that build comes out ahead as often as it does, given the power of scale corporations have in automated manufacturing, sourcing materials, etc. Still, I guess taking labor out of the equation sure does help the build side. 🙂

    Cool idea to hold off on house stuff for the first year. We may steal that one.

  26. I will be a guest for such beer! 😉 j/k
    I was just driven around in a Prius during my vacation to the grand canyon and beyond. That car can cross over some good dirt terrain. I was impressed.

  27. I really hope you are staying VERY close to your event. You’ll be here the weekend of the Eclipse…Oregon is supposed to be having 1 million+ visitors in our state for the eclipse that Monday morning! Best of wishes for your travel.

  28. I’m just envious of your basement, period! I live in Florida, where basements are known as “indoor pools” due to the high water table. In short, very, very few people here have a basement. Most people have a garage or shed, which don’t stay cool like a basement. Melted candles, anyone?
    Shelves for storage are a necessity to me. Some people are real minimalists and have nothing to store, but most of us do need storage of some kind, and I fully understand springing for shelves. We built some, and it took us so long to finish, since we both worked full-time. By the time they were done, and with all the wood expense, we figured we would have been better off just buying.

    1. I was thinking the same thing! Basement? We don’t have them around here (central California). And yes, any above ground storage it’s going to get really hot!

  29. Great minds…I cleaned out MY basement and organized it all in July!! You are so right…I felt a wonderful rush of achievement and good will to all as I could give piles of things away. For so long the basement made me feel like a failure but now I smile each time I go down there. BTW, Babywoods is growing so fast! She is just adorable! You are blessed to have this precious time with her.

  30. Lola Retreat looks soooo so great! Why won’t you do this here in La Jolla/San Diego area? Weather is always nice ❤️

  31. I spent about 500 dollars last month for all my expenses. (didn’t go out or buy any new clothes last month) The other 40% of my income went to saving. Still working on increasing it to 50%, but my rent is set (renting a room) and still looking for good recipes that are not based on US foodstuffs.

  32. I was eyeing those shelves at Home Depot! They look like they’re really high quality and will last forever. Congratulations on your newly organized basement. I love our gas-sipping Prius too. It’s so fun to fill it up for $15!! 🙂

  33. My July was great! I spent the month living in my camper van and traveling around the northwest. I’ve been tracking our expenses carefully this year so I can tell you for sure that we spent less money than we would have living in Denver for that month. My mouth watered slightly when I read the words “Alchemist” and “Hill Farmstead”, enjoy that Vermont beer!

  34. Last month was great for saving. We’re doing really well on groceries and expenses this month but I just paid $600 for a semester of language classes. I’m excited to pick up a new language, though, and we recently downsized like crazy, so it feels very much worth it.

  35. I have basement and indeed shelf envy! We moved house last May too and there are still some boxes around the house which we haven’t unpacked! We don’t have a basement or a loft, although we’ve built a form of loft in our garage building. I know I need to just delve in and sort through those boxes, but it’s hard to find the time and the motivation to do so! Well done with your organising.


    1. I had the same problem with unpacked boxes, so I simply set myself a rule: I am ONLY allowed to unpack one box per day. It freed me from the burden of feeling that I had to do it all in one go.

      But I had to deal fully with the contents. If it needed cleaning (laundry, dishwasher or other), it got done. If it was for charity shop, into a bag and out to the car for delivery that day (weekend) or on the next weekend (if unpacking mid-week). Otherwise, into its correct space in my home.

      What shocked me was how much stuff fell into the donate or recycle/dump piles. Why did I pay to move this crap??? (Err… because I didn’t sort it out before I moved, idiot that I was.)

      1. Yeah, if and when I move again, I swear there will be less to move.
        I’ve been in this property for 2 years and haven’t unpacked everything if that makes anyone feel any better… 😉

  36. Re: Credit cards

    I agree that it is best to pay off a credit card each month, and I have been doing so with my credit cards since I got my first one at age 18. However, I’m back in grad school and I might need to take out 3-5k in loans…and I realized it is cheaper to get a 0% 18 or 21 month credit card when I run out of savings. By the time the interest period hits, I will already have graduated from school and be working again (in a much higher paying job!).

    Obviously, don’t play around with stuff like this and only do it if you have successfully managed credit cards over the years. But in this case, it will end up being cheaper than student loans

    1. We have done this with our farm business too! I’m hesitant to recommend it to others, since so many people struggle with responsible credit card usage. But I know myself, and I’d never let it start collecting interest. A couple years ago, we financed a small hoophouse, and this year the cost of drilling a new well. It’s amounts that we know we can pay back by the end of the growing season, and so much easier than trying to get a loan (plus we get travel miles!).

  37. I am so looking forward to the Lola Retreat! It will be my first time at a personal finance event and my first time in Portland, too. I can’t wait to geek out about finance with other women who get it – none of my IRL friends are into finance or frugality at all…

    Will you be doing a meet-up for Frugalwoods readers in Portland outside of/before or after the Lola Retreat? 🙂

  38. I just read through most of the comments from this post. So happy to see so many people taking care of their money. My world is full of spenders and I sometimes feel very alone. These comments help a lot. Thanks Mrs. Frugalwoods for another amazing post,

    1. Lark

      I read your post and it felt like a blow to the stomach: I finally have also realised how alone I feel in the real world. I’m not great at explaining my financial journey from unhappy hedonistic spendthrift towards being someone who is making different choices (not always getting the frugal thing right yet, but baby steps!). It is definitely isolating in some ways. My mission is to find like-minded people in the real world. Seems harder in England somehow: the taboo of discussing money still weighs heavily over here.

  39. I love my credit card (it’s a travel points one). We recently purchased a condo, and boy, do I wish we could use it for all our mortgage payments…sadly the banks seem to frown on that.
    I guess they have a hard time believing some one could/should charge a home to a credit card!

  40. This is so awesome! Since y’all like using your credit card (I do too), you should check if your current card offers “price protection”. Especially for all of your Amazon purchases, it’s super easy to get reimbursed if there’s a price drop in anything you buy within 90 days of your purchase!

  41. Comment for Denise (Lark)

    Mrs. F has a great post on how to deal with spendy friends. You might want to hunt it up. I have used the “don’t bring it up” routine for years and it works. The other one that works is “thanks, but I have other plans but how about coming over to my house for lunch-dinner on Friday instead?”. Your other plans may be to read a book or clean the bathroom, but they are “other plans”. You don’t have to explain yourself, it’s your life and your choice. This is a way to get around it without hurting anyone’s feelings.

    Contacts in the UK: How about setting up a separate e-mail for the purpose of finding these contacts.
    Put it out in the ethers (FIRE blogs and whatever contacts you do have) that anyone interested in contacts in the UK can send their e-mail address and general area and every so often (monthly?) you will send out a list of these contacts so people can get together by e-mail. If this works, the new e-mail can be passed around, so others can take turns keeping the list up to date.

  42. I enjoy your posts!. July had some extra medical bills and car repairs, and food costs associated with staying at hospital with a relative undergoing major cancer surgery. As far as entertainment, I went swimming, once, for $3.00 at a lake in the local National Park. I was just really, really busy this month with all of the above. August is shaping up to be the same, as well as a really busy month at work. I just want a nap…lol. Folks act like I am strange because I do not have a tv nor a computer at my house. I am seldom there until about 8 or 9 pm at night, so what would be the point? I do not understand what people do not understand about that? Besides, I sorta live in a sketchy neighborhood. If I had a tv or a computer, it would probably get stolen. I keep my bicycle inside the house and I gave up on keeping a lawn mower.

  43. Seeing you do all of the first year stuff is something I can really relate to. Hubby bought the homestead last year before our wedding and it was quite a transition period. Lots of upfront expenses. But this spring we put in raised beds, planted fruit trees, transplanted berry bushes and planted vegetables. Were a little late getting some in, but our organic blueberries that were there, pruned by hubby in March have yielded well over 100 quarts. Froze plenty, freezer full, plus eating fresh, jam,baking and gave away to family. Hundreds saved versus buying at the grocery store, and home grown tastes better. Hubby started with one bee hive, now up to four. Costs of frames, boxes, etc were upfront, but next year we are in the local honey business 😊. And our fruit trees, bushes and garden has pollinators. Will be canning vegetables, salsa, etc this fall. No preservatives or pesticides in our organic food. Getting income from hubby’s previous vacation house in an association on the lake. It earned more than I did on my job so far this year. Deer population is promising, seeing plenty and hunting season resulted in three deer in the freezer last year. We have been eating venison in many different ways. Still a few packages left, glad we love it chef hubby prepares it well. Have plenty of wood on the land, but cutting it and using it for heating is next years project. Will be adding more more fruit bushes and vegetables next year. Garlic goes in this October.we love the peaceful seclusion on own rural homestead as well.

  44. I rarely comment, but just had to say that we were in the middle of making a plan for my husband to build shelves in our garage and we went for a walk on a Saturday morning and happened across a garage sale (yard sale?) where they were selling these exact shelves for $15.00. We didn’t have any cash but they offered to set them aside for us. My husband ran home, got money, got the car, and came home happy as a pig in mud. I never go yard sale-ing, so it was quite the score for us!

  45. Basements! Ours was a disaster when we moved in–moldy, full of old wooden partitions and a cracked concrete sink. Gradually, we completely re-did it; we had to hire out to have installed a system with French drain and sump pump–that cost a bit but our “new” dry & finished basement increased our living space by 25%. Now we have a spectacular laundry room, office/project room, gym & beautiful storage space. And shelves–we found a Home Depot special and I organized the entire mess (tools & hardware, seasonal items, painting supplies) one weekend. Now the basement is one of my favorite spaces. For anyone re-doing a basement, take care of any moisture first; once that is done consider investing in a “floating” floor that snaps into place over the concrete…ours looks like wood, warms up the space, and is super easy to clean.

  46. LOVE our shelving! We got it 17 years ago from a hardware store that was going out of business; it was the shelving they used for the store. 6’H x 4’w x 2’d its strong metal uprights and supports fit together so that you can make the shelving section as long as you need it to be. We bought 15 sections including 60 completely adjustable plywood shelves for $200 and still use all of it except for the 4 sections that we sold to the person who bought our third home. Last summer we replaced four of the shelves damaged by the ravages of time, but this shelving has really held in there through six house moves.

    As for the clock, our kids are teens and 20s now, so I used: if the sun’s not up, you shouldn’t be either. Our oldest used to sit in his crib waiting to call out, “Mom! Sun’s up!” It’s good to be able to smile about that now 🙂

  47. Would you be able to do a series or post on how to maintain a rental unit cheaply? We have an older house we are renting out and when things go wrong (which seems to be a few times a year), we have to figure out if we want to fix it ourselves or call a contractor. It can get expensive. What do you do when things go wrong (if they do, hopefully not) with your rental. Thanks!!

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