Fire Extinguishers And Other October 2017 Expenditures
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.
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:
- It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where that random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. This prompts me to spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense in detail at the end of each month.
- We get rewards. Who doesn’t like rewards? Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, Mr. FW and I get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying things we were going to buy anyway.
- We build our credit. Since Mr. FW and I don’t carry any debt other than our mortgages, having several credit cards open for many years (which are fully paid off every month) has greatly helped our credit scores. By the way, it’s a dirty, dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years, however, does help your score.
If you’re interested in opening a credit card, I highly recommend using this site to search for a card that’ll best fit your needs. And if you’re interested in travel rewards cards specifically, check out this list curated by my friend Brad from Travel Miles 101. I respect Brad’s work in the travel rewards space and I trust his advice on which cards will reap the best benefits.
Huge caveat to credit card usage: you MUST pay your credit card bills in full every single month, with no exceptions. If you’re concerned about your ability to do this, or think that using credit cards might prompt you to spend more money, then credit cards are not for you–stick with using a debit card and/or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend!
Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$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.
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).
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:
|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!!|
|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.|
|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!|
How was your October?
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