Accepting the award for “Best Frugality Blog of 2017”

In October we went on what was our last airplane trip ever. For the rest of our lives. Ok I jest, but the mere thought of traveling with both a toddler and an infant sends me into near-paralytic spasms of stress. So I think it’s safe to say we won’t be traveling for awhile after Babywoods #2 makes her debut this February ;).

We’ve traveled quite a bit with Babywoods #1 and she’s an excellent little plane rider (loves the flight safety card and in-flight magazine far more than the games, books, and toys I judiciously cram into our carry-on backpack), but it’s still quite a process to coordinate, pack, plan, and then execute plane travel with a small person. That being said, we greatly enjoyed our October trip to North Carolina to visit Mr. Frugalwoods’ parents, sister, aunt, and uncle!

Then we REALLY enjoyed the part where we left Babywoods with her grandparents for a few days while Mr. FW and I jetted off to Texas to attend FinCon, which is the annual personal finance conference. While there, I was deeply honored to be awarded “Best Frugality Blog” for the second year in a row! Frugalwoods was also in Glamour Magazine and on NBC’s website in October, so it was a busy month in our frugal corner of the world.

Our low-key Halloween

We celebrated Halloween with my in-laws, which entailed our ideal version of trick-or-treating: we dressed up Babywoods (and my in-laws’ dog, because dogs are for dressing up) in their costumes and had our own mini parade around their neighborhood. No door knocking and no candy (no reason to give candy to a two-year-old!), which suited us just fine. Hilarious, low key, and cheap.

In a continuation of our winter preparations, we had our chimney swept and inspected this month. A worthy expense since we heat our home with our woodstove and chimney fires are a real bad thing. However, after carefully observing the process this year, we both fairly confident we can insource this task next year. We are fortunate to have a modern, efficient stove, which means there was actually very little residue in our lined chimney and not much to sweep out. This’ll be a good project to tackle next fall and, if we fail, we can always call the chimney sweep professionals again!

The rest of our October was filled with the wonder that is fall on the homestead, all of which I’ll chronicle in my next installment of This Month On The Homestead (spoiler alert: there’s homemade cider involved… ).

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

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. By the way, it’s a dirty, dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years, however, does help your score.
View of the barn in October

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!

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).

Ye olde upper field in fall

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 free Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which is the method Mr. FW and I employ to sculpt our frugal lifestyle. Over 20,900 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. 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 tax.

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 October:

Item Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Vermont mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $421.77
Chimney sweep and inspection $185.00 Since we heat our home via our woodstove, it’s wise to have our chimney cleaned and inspected annually. Chimney fires are no joke and not something we want to experience.
Wedding gift (cash) $75.00 We attended the lovely Vermont wedding of two of our friends from church. I’m a big fan of giving cash as a wedding present because it allows the couple to allocate the money to their highest and best need. Plus, no one really needs three different sets of wine glasses. Just saying.
Internet $74.00 We have high-speed Fiber internet here in the middle of nowhere, which is a wonderful thing.
Work pants for Mr. FW and mittens for Babywoods $66.94 In our ongoing quest to find durable outdoor work pants for Mr. FW, we bought a pair of Carhartts for him to test out. Also got a pair of insulated, water-proof mittens for Babywoods (the only piece of her winter wardrobe I wasn’t able to find as a hand-me-down).
VOIP (voice over IP) landline phone $50.00 Eleven months worth of landline service through VOIP MS. Since we don’t have reliable cell service at our home, a landline is a requirement.
Gasoline for cars $45.55 I cannot emphasize enough how amazing it is to own a Toyota Prius. We drive some long distances and our gas bill never shows it!!
Utilities: Electricity $36.81
Diesel can $32.99 For totin’ diesel for our tractor
Doctor visit co-pay $25.00 I’m pregnant! Ergo, I go to the doctor a lot ;).
Fire extinguishers $22.97 Seeing as we heat our home with a woodstove, we thought it would be prudent to own a few fire extinguishers.
Prescription medication $21.31
Cell phone $19.99 Through BOOM mobile
Rechargeable lantern $18.99 A shockingly bright rechargeable lantern for performing wood splitting and wood stacking activities after dark. As it gets dark earlier and earlier, Mr. FW finds he’s not quite done with his outdoor chores when the sun goes down. Enter this delightful little lantern!
TOTAL SPENT: $2,489.18  

How was your October?

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  1. Babywoods looked so cute!! Laid back holidays tend to be the best and most enjoyable for sure.

    Looks like it was a really good month! October was pretty good for us, coming in around 50% savings rate. Fully filled our roof fund, as we have to replace our 22 year old roof soon. Now starting to pay down our house (only 6 years left!) All in all, a good month!

    Question, what insurance do y’all use? You said copay, but i was wondering who y’all go through, since y’all have unique working situations.

    Love the pics as always!!

    1. House expenses can be a big one! I was worried the roof on my addition would need replaced (a new coating of tar that I did with my dad this summer didn’t help the leak…) but my handyman found that it was just totally disintegrated caulk on the window above it causing the leak…a cheap fix after all! What a relief.

      It must feel good to only have a few years left on the mortgage. You are mainly paying to principal now! I am on the 3rd year of a 30 year mortgage…so more goes to interest than to principal. The whole shebang including escrow and PMI is…wait for it…$700 and renting would be 1k-1200, so I don’t feel too bad 😉

  2. Congrats on the well deserved Best Frugality Blog Plutus Award! Your monthly expenditures helped inspire my family to track our spending and cut our costs. It was crazy how much money we were spending on things that didn’t matter to us! This last month was our lowest spend month of the year! Mostly due to a low grocery bill (I’m loving the garden) and lots of free outdoor fall activities! We have been debating having someone clean and inspect our fireplace. We don’t use it, since it hasn’t been cleaned, and it’s a purely decorative fireplace. So, it hasn’t made the priority list yet.

    I love that you just went on a parade for Halloween instead of actually collecting candy! She looks adorable as a ladybug.

  3. Congrats on winning the award two years in a row!!! That’s amazing!!! Plus to get featured in Glamour and NBC’s website. Sounds like a really busy October.

    My wife and I had a great October as well. We had baby #2 and then got everything lined up for him. Getting him added to our insurance, making sure he was all set with appointments. Opening up a 529 plan 🙂 The little things added up!!!

    1. Congratulations on baby #2! I didn’t know your wife had given birth last month. It must be such an exciting and busy time for your family. Quite coincidentally, Mr. FAF and I were just talking about our baby #2 yesterday hehe. We’ll just let it happen naturally, but I’m really excited and nervous to say the least 😀

  4. Two Plutus Awards – very impressive!

    This month’s expenses of less than $2,500 are also impressive. Mrs. FF and I are FIREd, but we typically spend around $5,000 per month living in downtown Philly.

  5. That looks like a very frugal, successful month. And I’m very impressed with the $400 grocery bill for 3.5 people!

    And I do agree with you giving that a cash wedding present is the best. And I do love it when couples put it on their wedding invitations that cash is preferred.

  6. Heads up – if you bought a Kidde fire extinguisher (the biggest brand at Home Depot, etc.) then it’s likely been recalled due to them not working! I got one for my kitchen about a year ago and sure enough, it was on the list. They’re sending me a free one – might want to check it out!

  7. We use Ooma for our VoIP home line. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them or if they’d work for you, but we paid a one-time $200 fee for the receiver about six years ago, and just pay monthly taxes on the line ($4.13 currently per month). Congratulations on your publicity in Glamour and NBC! That’s so exciting!

  8. It was SO great to meet you at FinCon – even if it was just for a minute! I love that you point out the importance of having your chimney inspected and cleaned (even if you do it yourself.) We have friends who lost their home to a chimney fire – and almost lost their lives. It isn’t a “we can put this one off” until next year event. Our October would have been very frugal except for FinCon! It was expensive (almost $2000) but worth it to me to meet the folks I’ve been virtual friends with for over a year. I also see it helping me grow my blog and business. Now I just need to get more serious. Watching you and your writing group take home so many awards was inspiring. The power of collaboration and synergy at work!

  9. Your blog is a constant reminder of things I need to do (like call the chimney sweeping company!) – I love it. 🙂

    And I hear you about traveling with kids… it wasn’t until ours were several years old that we started braving it again. Our kids are relatively well behaved too but there’s something about flying that makes everyone, adults included, go a little nuts. 🙂

    1. Haha yes, even with well-behaved kids traveling is just such an… experience! Good luck with your chimney 🙂

      1. We took a last minute trip to Miami to go on a cruise. Without kids!! and it was a blast. So much easier to get on/off planes, trains, buses, trolleys, etc without needing to consider the kids. And “oh no we have to sit here and wait for the plane for 2.5 hours with 3 bored kids!!” becomes “Yes! I get to finish my book I’m trying to read in a quiet corner of the airport!!”. 🙂

        1. That sounds awesome! My husband and I are expecting our second child in February, so we booked a trip away for a couple of days next week as the last chance to get away by ourselves for a while. Our son was supposed to stay with my mother for that time, but she has just contracted shingles, which is highly contagious. Sadly, our romantic “babymoon” in a really cool city (Melbourne, Australia) is turning into a “drag-the-toddler-along” trip which will no doubt involve going to the park twice a day and going to bed early instead of leisurely lunches and dinners out. 🙁 Oh well, First World problems, I guess. 😉

  10. What part of North Carolina did you visit? Were you able to see any pretty autumn colors? The colors are late here in the foothills this year, I had cousins from Iowa visiting the first week of October, and we were all disappointed that there wasn’t much color at all at that time.

    1. We were in Charlotte and there were some beautiful leaves! We took a lot of walks with Babywoods and were able to enjoy the warmer NC weather 🙂

  11. Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods! I’ve been working on building out a FIRE spreadsheet for myself and was curious if you guys are still tracking. I know moving to the woods was a big step, but are you still working toward the early retirement side of the equation?

  12. Congrats on the Best Frugality Blog award! FinCon looks like it was a lot of fun!

    I am always intrigued by the small differences from one country to the next. In Norway, you get an official chimney sweep on a regular basis (how often depends on your county), but that is covered by your monthly council tax bill anyway. Interesting that you can do it yourself and learn some skills/save some money while you’re at it!

  13. $1,096.32 for spending alone is just awesome! Mr. FAF and I usually spend twice that amount (besides mortgage and daycare). We’re trying to adjust our spending after Mr. FAF came to stay in DC permanently. It’s been a challenge with the food budget (which stood at $1,000 in Oct), but we managed to get it down to $500 in Oct. I was SUPER happy about it. Blogging about the expensive food expenses stressed me out and made me feel a bit embarrassed too >_<

    Congratulations on the award! Your blog is amazing! ^.^

    1. This seems reasonable from a person in small-town (no costco) canada. Everything is more expensive here. Our family of 6 is challanged to get our food bill below 2000 can$. We have not comprimsed on providing healthy food though. 90% organic and free range meat etc. Regular cheese though. Organic pastured cheese or european cheese is so expensive especially since my husband is a cheesolhilic. A fraction of us eat out maybe 1 time a month.

      Congrats on the award.certainly yours is the only blog i have stuck with. Good for you…keep it up…good thoughts from snowy (ridiculously early) british columbia.

      1. Everything is so much more expensive in Canada, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. When you add on top the sales tax, it becomes ridiculously expensive. I get sticker shock every time when I visit family in Canada. Down here we walk out of the grocery store with 5-6 bags for $50, while in Calgary we leave with 1, maybe 2 bags tops!

  14. I usually agree with your moneysaving comments. However, I don’t think cleaning your own chimney is the best idea. I would leave this job to a professional. I believe peace of mind and maximizing the safety of your family is well worth $185 a year. I may be sensitive about this topic. My daughter and I were in Napa when the wildfires started. Very, very scary.

  15. I see you have a co-pay but not where you paid for insurance. I often wonder how people who retire early pay for health insurance. Do you mind if I ask how you do it since it’s not budgeted?

  16. I love that you can score the landline for $50 for almost a year. 🙂 Ahhh, I remember the good ol’ days of landlines, hahaha. Back then I’m sure we would have been horrified to see today’s $250+ cell phone bills that many of us pay.

    Anyhoo, October was great! It was nice meeting you at FinCon. 🙂 I had a great time and learned so, so much. It’s all about growing and getting better, and I think the conference will enable me to do those things.

    On the money front, October was pretty good. We miraculously came in under budget on food expenses and were able to slam $3,000 on our student loans. 🙂

  17. I am interested in your link on credit cards, I am always so stumped by the credit card rewards area. I use a Citibank American Airlines card and a Chase Amazon card and I think in the end they are both bad deals. The American Airlines rewards system/rubric is really a bad deal: low point flight availability is a problem,and their fees to get a ticket with rewards are just too high. The Chase Card gives five percent back on all Amazon purchases, seems like a good deal but I have no idea. When I look at your link, I just feel overwhelmed. It is also not clear to me how many different cards we should have.. One thing that I know from running a business is that the fees charged to the merchant on reward credit cards are much much higher but that is not the topic today!

  18. We are very much proponents of buying everything on credit card, too. We pay it off in full every month, but it gives us a great way to track every penny we spend. When we used to spend cash, it would quickly disappear without any clear indication of where it was going. We definitely could not track cash down to the penny like we do with our cards.

    Giving cash for wedding gifts is brilliant. Even though we had a registry, I cannot tell you how many different sets of glasses and potholders and towels we received. And many didn’t come with receipts to return them. We definitely didn’t need a different towel for every day of the month…

  19. I love catching up with what you’re doing ,thank you!

    Here’s a note on DIY chimney sweeping: we’re in the UK, so may be different there, but thought I’d comment as you probably have international readers and this may apply to you anyway. We looked into sweeping our own chimneys and by good fortune happened to renew our home insurance around the same time. Our buildings insurance (and many other providers’ policies) stipulates that we must have our chimney swept annually, and it must be done by an accredited professional. If we do it ourselves, we void our insurance. Definitely something to check out.

  20. So impressed with your frugality. We have a new mortgage that’s in the neighborhood of yours…but man, we are spending around $4k every month total.

    I want to blame the mortgage but friend, that is not even close to the whole story. We’re just being spendy pants.

  21. A pretty frugal month for you! October tends to be a pretty frugal month for us, too–Christmas shopping hasn’t usually started, we’re not needing a ton of gas to go to a million different holiday things, and nothing comes due for us in October. So it was a good one!

    I never thought about buying a fire extinguisher, but now that we just moved into our first home, I’m thinking we might want one of those ourselves (even without the wood-burning stove!). Thanks for safety reminder 🙂

  22. Very frugal indeed! Congrats on winning best frugality blog! We spend around $1k a month but my husband’s company covers cost like his phone and bus transportation. A simple Halloween is a good Halloween. I don’t imagine you guys get tricker treaters out there do you? We haven’t gotten a single one in 2 years. I think this holiday is sadly a bit…dead :p haha I punned again….

  23. Nice Frugal October Mrs. Woods!

    Our October was a *little more* expensive than usual because we spent the month traveling Japan. It was a super fun trip, but with two kids not one I’m likely to repeat soon!

  24. October was great for us! We were married in late September, and had our honeymoon in October. We also worked to create shared financial goals for the upcoming year (as well as a budget). Our frugal win for the month was when my brother helped us to winterize our sprinkler system. $75 saved, and we learned something new that will save us money each year!

  25. We are struggling to make ends meet…..due to our health insurance! How can frugalistas get by? I guess being fugal helps us be able to pay our premiums, but my husband and I are both self employed (56 and 55) and make too much to receive an ACA subsidy and our premiums are going up to $3000/month in 2018. It just makes me ill thinking about it. We would be better off not working and filing for Medicare. I know not your job to solve the health care crisis, but that will be a looming problem for everyone as thy age.

  26. Liz, you have reached what I call “The Season of Staying Put”. When we had our second I sent up smoke signals to all we knew that we would no longer be traveling for holidays or summer vacations, at least until the youngest was out of diapers. Ain’t nobody got time for that! It worked beautifully and everyone understood. I think some may have been secretly relieved, but let’s not go there. 🙂

    Enjoy the day!

  27. October was a spendy month for us with a new vacuum (it’s HEPA compliant and helpful for our allergies) and a big, unexpected doctor’s bill. But hey, that’s why we’re as frugal as possible all other months. Congrats on the award!!! What an exciting achievement (again!)!

  28. I went directly to your blog from Google, and I could not find your above post. However, when I go to my email, I see this post you made. I wonder why???? Just wanted to let you know maybe some of us are not seeing your latest post, when goggling your site. Congrats on your October expenditures, which are extremely low!

  29. Congrats on the Plutus awards – I love your blog! And great credit card advice, I’ve had cards since I was 18 and have never carried a balance in my life even once. My Momma taught me well!

  30. Nice, Mrs. Frugalwoods!! Definitely a frugal month for you guys. We have a Prius as well(Prius C to be exact) and echo your statement for how nice it is to own one. Our monthly gas expense is about the same as well which is amazing considering that the Bay Area has the highest gas prices in the country. Cannot beat 45-50 mpg!!
    Congrats on winning the award for the second year in a row!

  31. I get the traveling thing. My brother had 7 kids and moved to India (for work). They would come back to the States twice a year. The stories of 9 people traveling in economy for 14 hours would curl your hair (and the hair of anyone you met for a week afterword).

  32. Can you elaborate on your VOIP choice? We are looking into getting since my mom is caretaker with son at home and she sometimes forgets her phone is silenced. Also, being that you are in a rural area with shallow root conifers, do you all have a generator? I don’t recall you mentioning a power outage before but I was curious. Here in the Philly burbs, the old deciduous trees cause outages quite often. At least you never have to worry about heat in a power outage. And if it’s winter, you just leave the fridge food outside, so not a huge need.

  33. Congrats on the award and recognition both from FinCon and the major news outlets. We also use credit cards to reap the benefits of the awards offered. In fact, I used one to pay my taxes this year. That led to multiple nights in a hotel while on vacation for free!

  34. Congratulations on your award (and Babywoods free vacation)! It’s great to see you given the accolades you deserve.

    I’m hoping you consider a doula for Babywoods #2. Whatever type of birth you have ahead of you, it is worth every penny! I used to tell people, “Car Seat $100, Crib $200, Doula Priceless”…you know, like the old Mastercard commercials? (I’m showing my age here) But in your case you get everything for free or really cheap so my adage doesn’t sound as spectacular. LOL

    Still, consider it, at least. It’s a worthy expense for a less fraught experience. I’ve worked as a doula for over 20 years & have never had anyone balk at the cost since they got so much more out of it than they thought.

    Enjoy the rest of autumn!

  35. Hello! I‘M a frequent reader of your posts and have used several ideas For frugality Already. Thanks For that! i‘m wondered About is your use of a land line, besides the use of a cell phone. In the netherlands all people over 50 definately own a landline, because that was a normal thing to have. Now they also have a cell phone because they want to receive telephone calls always and Everywhere.

    For the people up to 40 Year Old this never has been normal. We Grew up in a house with a land line, but as soon as we moved to study or found a place of our own, the cell phone already had a place in our pocket. No need For another telephone. And this is still the case, because on birth cards the cellnumber of both the parents is presented, and not a landline.

    So that is how it is going in the netherlands, with reliable cellphone providers. So i was wondering when i looked at your expenses to find both a land line and a cellphone. Is it not cheaper to have a prepaid cellphone instead, when you really need a landline?

    (I must say that prices of internet, cellphone and landline are really cheap in the netherlands. Sometimes you forget that, when youre counting Every euro 😉 For internet the prices vary from 22 – 40, but in the 40,- case there is Often also television included. When you work at a big company or in the government, it becomes more and more normal to receive a cellphone from work. Yes, with no costs extra when you use it For your own)

    Keep up the posts! It has been enjoying to read them and scroll through your website!

    1. We don’t get cell reception at our home and so we need a landline. But we also like to have cell phones for when we’re out and about, hence we have both. My monthly cell phone bill of $19.99/month is extremely cheap in the US :)!

      1. Do you use Republic Wireless still? I really need to make the switch from AT and T. My husband has a company plan, but my iPhone SE (paid for phone!) has a high bill due to unlimited data etc.

        Also, anyone cut back in other areas to build or buy their “dream home”? We are in the process (5 kiddos and 2 dogs so 7 of us total and are so excited for the space) and have a plan for about 40-50 percent down, but it is still a huge move for us. Wondering if we should do 20-30 percent down and invest the rest when our current home sells? Open to any thoughts on this from anyone whose been there! 🙂

  36. My children are 3 and 5 and I’ve never been brave enough to take them on an airplane. Our air travel has been on hold for now – I am always so impressed when I see parents seemingly effortlessly flying with small babies and children. One day…. when they are old enough to zone out to the individual movie/game console 😉

  37. I wish you added the picture of the dog too. Your shirt looks cool! You have a great time in the woods. What you will be doing in the winter? How cold it will be ? I always wonder how to live in rural areas!

  38. Under the “chimney sweep” description, you said “Since we heat out home….” That should be “our”.

    Also, make sure the fire extinguishers you bought aren’t part of the recent, massive recall! They recalled many extinguishers from the past 40 years.

  39. My wife and I spent a lot in October, but we took a small chunk out of her credit card debt. If you take that away, it was still an above average spending month, but that gives me that much more incentive to be as frugal as possible these last two months of the year.
    We also purchase everything with credit cards. The AMEX Blue Cash Everyday is perfect for us! The Blue Cash Preferred might be worth it now, its $95 per year, but better rewards, since we combined our accounts right after we got married in July of this year.
    Instead of using Personal Capital or Mint, I created my own excel workbook that is customizable and most everything they do, except you have to manually input the data, which I don’t mind to do at all!
    Great post as usual!

  40. Nice idea with fire extinguisher better safe than sorry.

    When you back out a mortgage payment $1,392 on VT homestead does that include Principal and Interest and taxes ? Assuming no PMI. Sorry if you already addressed.

  41. Congratulations ! Expecting baby 2 I’m a fan of your blog my husband and I have practiced being frugal for our married life 45 years we raised 2 daughters with same value system and love reading about young people who believe and embrass this same mentality while enjoying life

  42. Congrats on the award! You definitely deserve it!

    Sounds like it’s been a busy month for you guys. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Texas. While I did not end up going to FinCon, I did meet up with a few fellow bloggers who were in town for the conference. Since last month was only my second month of blogging, I could not justify the cost but I’d love to be able to attend in the future.

    For us, the transition from one to two kids was a little rough but we’ve finally settled into a good family routine. I’m sure you will have a much easier time since you seem to take everything in stride. I’m so impressed with the fact that you’ve flown several times with Babywoods #1!

  43. I am so excited to see and read about another family that wants to be self-sufficient and live out in a rural environment. My husband and I want to do this too. Thanks for sharing your story. It is such an encouragement.

  44. Congratulations on a great October Frugal Month!
    I have three kids ,and because my family lives in Europe, we traveled regularly back home from the time they were born. Sometimes I traveled with them alone because my husband had to work. Some trips were more challenging than others (my third one once was sick for the entire 7 hour plane ride , he was 1 ) but it was all worth it. Don’t wait too long, they adapt so well to everything. My kids are older now and they love traveling.

  45. Good idea regarding the fire extinguisher. I live in a 3rd floor apartment and also have a fire escape ladder to escape via my balcony. It does not quite reach the ground, but it’s a safe little jump from where it ends, which is good enough for me. The ladder cost about $130, but it is one of those items you cannot go out and shop for when you need it. 🙂 I am also assuming that you have a fire blanket in your kitchen, since it looks on one of your photos as if you have a gas stove? These are not very expensive at all, and way better than an extinguisher for pans catching fire. (I learned all of this stuff when I trained as a fire marshal in my workplace.)

  46. I totally agree with you on the credit cards. If someone can’t pay the full amount at the end of the month, the interest would be too high to carry a balance. In that case, it’s good to not use the credit card, and stay with either debit card or cash.

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