November epitomized large unexpected expenses and semi-annual (or simply annual) expenses lining up and hitting us all at once. It was, as they say, one of those months. But we don’t sweat it because our overarching approach is to live frugally every month so that unexpected or infrequent expenses aren’t a burden. By not spending our money frivolously or out of alignment with our goals, we can always rest assured that pricier months aren’t a hardship. Lifelong frugality is, ultimately, a way to make your life easier and to ensure you never have to worry about money. So what’d we spend on this month?

Rural Life

Babywoods’ favorite outdoor activity: tractor rides!

I keep meaning to write an entire tome dedicated to this topic–and I will!–but, what I will say briefly is that the early years of living rurally (after living urban-ly) are extremely expensive. The start-up costs of getting our homestead outfitted and equipped continue to pile up, which fortunately, is exactly what we anticipated.

Before moving here, we knew there’d be a great deal of equipment and tools required to maintain one’s own 66 acres, grow one’s own food, plow one’s own quarter-mile long driveway, repair one’s own home, preserve (and store) one’s own food, and harvest one’s own wood for heat all winter long. If you’re interested in following along with our homesteading journey, check out my This Month On the Homestead series.

This month’s purchases in the vein of homestead start-up include:

  • Pallet forks for our tractor, which allow us to use our tractor to move logs, pallets, and anything else that requires a forklift to maneuver.
  • A smart plug for the tractor. Being a diesel engine, it’s good to warm the engine prior to turning it on when the temperature outside is below freezing. In order to do this, we use a block heater, which needs to be plugged in an hour before using the tractor. Warming the engine reduces wear and tear on the engine and ultimately extends its life. So, a good thing to do! This smart plug will allow Mr. FW to turn the block heater on from his phone an hour before he needs to use the tractor. A vast improvement over needing to trek out to the barn in the wee hours of the morning to perform the task. Technology!
  • Fox caught on the wildlife cam

    A long measuring tape, which will be employed in plotting out next year’s garden beds and also a woodshed. Oddly enough, there’s no woodshed on our property, so Mr. FW has designs on building one himself.

  • A ladder. Can you believe, we were so city before moving here that we didn’t even own a ladder! Not even a joke.
  • Lights for the tractor… this after learning last year that it’s really hard to plow snow in the dark by headlamp…
  • Two wildlife cameras. Longtime readers know that we have an unabashed obsession love of capturing wild creatures on our wildlife camera and so we decided to go ahead and buy two more since they were on sale and we have a lot of un-photographed woods. Here’s hoping we have many more animals-on-film to share with you in the coming months!

Each of these purchases drove home the point that we are still very much in the process of outfitting ourselves for years of homesteading bliss. And while we buy absolutely everything used that we possibly can, these are all items we were unable to find used over the course of the year. We search the used market (here’s how) for months on end and, if we cannot find what we need–and we truly need it–then and only then do we buy it new.

Frugal Hound

A daily occurrence in our home: Babywoods’ ongoing efforts to educate Frugal Hound

Frugal Hound, who turned 8 this summer, is getting up there in greyhound years and she had a frightening episode this month that left her partially paralyzed for a few hours. Being the concerned hound parents that we are, we rushed her to the vet for an emergency visit.

Our vet concluded that she likely had a small seizure, not uncommon at her age and for her breed. Fortunately, her partial paralysis only lasted a few hours and now, several weeks later, she appears to be back to her normal self. The vet did a full exam and blood work and nothing nefarious popped up, so we’re all hoping this was an isolated incident.

This expense is apropos as just last month I wrote about the imperative of planning for pet expenses before you even get a pet. Having an animal in your family will add expenses on a regular, expected basis (food, medications, vet visits) and an irregular, unexpected basis a la this dog seizure episode. We are so relieved that Frugal Hound is alright and I can report that, at present, she is happily basking next to the warm wood stove without a care in the world.

Babywoods 1 Started School!

Our big two-year-old, school-going Babywoods

Ok not “school” exactly, but preschool! Babywoods 1 turned two this month and is a bubbly, talkative, outgoing small person. She is endlessly curious about the world around her and craves engagement and “buddies” (what she has decided to call her friends). Given all this, and the impending arrival of her little sister (due in February!), Mr. Frugalwoods and I decided to see if we could find a preschool option for our daughter. In Vermont, public preschool is free for all children starting at age three and our school district offers full-time preschool for free while state-wide, ten hours per week are mandated for free.

However, Babywoods won’t be three for another year and even then, she’ll miss the cut-off for preschool and so won’t be able to start until she’s almost four. Babywoods, however, being wholly unaware of dates and ages, was ready to go to school now! On the recommendation of friends, we found a fantastic little Waldorf preschool that’s a mere four-minute drive from our house and signed Babywoods up. Babywoods loves it, we love it, and it’s a wonderful addition to our lives. She attended school one morning a week in November and, we’re all so happy with the arrangement that she’ll be attending two mornings a week starting in December. I plan to write more about this decision–which Mr. FW and I did not arrive at lightly–in an upcoming post. But for now, suffice it to say, we have a very happy preschool-going toddler!

Bulk Stock-Ups

November was also, apparently, the month for our bulk, semi-annual stock-ups. We go to Costco about twice a year, on account of the fact that it’s a 1.5 hour drive from our home, and so when we go, we stock up. WAY up. Primarily, we buy Frugal Hound’s food there as it’s the best deal we’ve found (after searching EVERYWHERE) on her grain-free Nature’s Domain kibble. We also adore their olive oil, garbanzo beans, almonds, crushed tomatoes, laundry detergent, and oats. That whopping $519.80 line item represents this massive stock-up, which should last us about six months.

Our 20lb CO2 tank also needed replenishing, another expense that crops up about once every six months. What, on earth, do we use a 20lb CO2 tank for? Oh I am so glad you asked. For our hacked Sodastream seltzer machine, of course!! I have several posts dedicated solely to this topic, so for any questions, curiosities and desires to replicate our massively cheap seltzer source, please refer to: How To: Cheap Homemade Seltzer with a Modified Sodastream and The Great Homemade Seltzer Discovery of 2015. Bubbly water: can’t live without it. No seriously, I can’t.

Brakes For Our Toyota Prius

Our used car fleet

Oh Prius, how I do love thee. We are huge fans of driving our hybrid Toyota Prius (which we purchased used for cash last year) as it costs us a paltry sum in gasoline every month. Plus, it’s better for the environment! Seeing as we live in our rural paradise, nothing is close to us except for the woods, so when we drive, we drive far, which makes a Prius an ideal vehicle for us. I will grant you that a Prius might not be the first car you think of when you think rural, but let me tell you, for the distances we drive out here, it is freaking ideal. Quite a few of our neighbors also sport a Prius for the same reason. And with studded snow tires? This baby can handle almost anything (sidenote: there is a limit to its snow capabilities and in deep winter, we sometimes require the AWD of our Subaru Outback, although much less frequently than we expected).

At any rate, we clearly drive this car a lot as it needed new brakes this month. We popped over to our local mechanic and he fixed them right up for us. What you will note in the below list of expenses is that we purchase our car parts separately from the mechanic’s labor as it’s much, much cheaper to do so. We do this at the advice of our mechanic as he doesn’t make any money from parts purchased through his parts supplier.

Mr. FW discusses the part needed with our mechanic, then locates the part online, and compares the price to the one the mechanic can get through his supplier. Every time we’ve done this, it’s been roughly 50% cheaper for us to purchase the part ourselves. I want to stress again that this doesn’t disadvantage our mechanic as he only makes money on the labor to repair the car, not on the parts. I’m not sure this approach would work with a dealership or other very large corporate mechanic, but with our hyper-local mechanic, it’s been a wonderful way to save a few hundred bucks every time we need a new part! And, another reason to shop local whenever you can. One thing I will note, in case you’re also interested in buying your own parts, is that we are responsible for managing any warranty issues with the part whereas if we bought parts through our mechanic’s supplier, our mechanic would then be responsible for managing the warranty. A small price to pay, in our minds, for saving many hundreds of dollars.

I Wrote A Book!

Frugal Hound with her copy of the book (honestly, I don’t think she even read it… )

I really did! And I’m so excited! As I shared last month, my book, Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living, publishes on March 6, 2018 and is available to be pre-ordered now. If you do pre-order the book, I will mail you a signed bookplate! You can find all of the details here.

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.

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$e$

Snowy November barn

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

Our upper field in early November, pre-snow and post-leaf

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 21,000 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 and expenses 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 November:

Item Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Vermont Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $632.40
Household supplies and semi-annual Costco bulk stock-up $519.80 We buy Frugal Hound’s food (grain-free Nature’s Domain) in bulk from Costco every six months, so this line item includes dog food and a bunch of other semi-annual bulk purchases such as: olive oil, oats, laundry detergent, and more.
Home improvement supplies $715.98 Shelves and a ladder. We took advantage of Home Depot’s Black Friday sale to buy more shelving units for our basement and barn (more on that story here) as well as a ladder and some other home improvement supplies.
Emergency vet visit $269.50 For Frugal Hound’s seizure
Pallet forks for the tractor $265.05 Pallet forks for our tractor, which will allow us to haul around pallets and other pallet-shaped things
Wildlife cameras $138.35 Two more wildlife cameras and their corresponding memory chips.
Preschool $120.00 Babywoods 1’s first month of preschool! She absolutely loves it and so do we.
Wool socks and work gloves for Mr. FW $119.64 Our locally-owned clothing store had a sale on locally-made Vermont Darn Tough wool socks and, given the state of Mr. FW’s current sock drawer (holes everywhere!), we decided to have him stock up on sale socks. Plus, he got a few pairs of insulated work gloves. Babywoods, for her part, had a marvelous time pushing a small shopping cart around the store and articulating what everyone in view was doing. At high volume. At one point I told her to “watch out for the people” and she parroted (loudly), “WATCH OUT PEOPLE!”
Parts for the Prius (purchased online from Rock Auto) $100.36 Brake rotors and pads with anti-corrosion coating. Our mechanic advised us that it was important to get ceramic rotors with anti-corrosion coating and so that is what we did.
Gasoline for cars $95.15
Labor for the Prius $93.60 Labor to replace the brake rotors and pads.
Lights for our tractor $79.33 Two different lighting systems for our tractor: this one and also this one. We decided to outfit the tractor’s lighting capabilities after learning last winter that it’s pretty difficult to plow snow in the dark by headlamp…
Dinner out for date night!!! $74.72 Our fabulous, wonderful, amazing neighbor comes over to watch Babywoods one night a month so that we can go out on a date! This is the cost of our dinner at a restaurant (used to be less, but I am pregnant and ravenous and required more food… ).
Internet $74.00
Homestead stuff $66.08 Smart plug for tractor pre-heating and a long measuring tape for planning out garden and wood shed layouts (projects for next summer!).
Utilities: Electric $64.03
CO2 for seltzer $42.87 This is the semi-annual exchange of our 20lb CO2 tank for our hacked Sodastream seltzer machine. Here’s the full story on how to perform this hack yourself and then enjoy super cheap bubbly water.
Christmas postcards from VistaPrint $39.43 I availed myself of VistaPrint’s Black Friday sale to purchase our annual holiday postcards. I have several posts on this topic, including why it’s cheapest to send postcards (and which ones to send) and also how to take your own holiday family photos for free!
Diesel for tractor $25.90
Doctor visit co-pay $25.00 I’m pregnant, ergo, I go to the doctor a lot.
Cell phone $19.99 Through Boom Mobile
Ethanol-free gasoline for chainsaw $17.66 Mr. FW’s been busy felling trees for firewood before there’s too much snow on the ground to easily navigate the woods with a chainsaw. Hence, the saw needs gas!
TOTAL SPENT: $4,991.70  

How was your November?

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  1. I found myself nodding several times throughout this post! We moved to our 10 acre “homestead” (hopefully we will make it more of a homestead as we go) a year ago and have been figuring out how to balance the start-up cost of the various equipment and tools. We have found some great deals in the secondhand market, but still have a few big ticket items that we are saving for (a tractor + attachments is the big one).

    I’m really glad you found a Waldorf school solution for Babywoods 1. Our son is a bit older than Babywoods 1 (almost 2.5) and he loves his daycare! He comes home every day naming his friends, chatting on and on about what he did that day, and singing his favorite songs. It is really fulfilling to see our son making friends, having fun and learning so much.

    Have a wonderful December!

  2. My November went really well. My wife and I had one unexpected expense, replacing the water heater which cost a little bit but that’s why we have an emergency fund. For the year it looks like we’re on track to save about 65% of our take home pay which is slightly below our goal of 70% but that’s ok 🙂 Things happen along the way!!!

  3. I was like.. $500 in Costco…before remembering that…well its Costco. That’s a lot of kibble! My normally frugal mom would spend $300 on like 5 things, when I was little, I stared with awe at how big everything was.

    Congrats on the biggest little one starting preschool! Exciting times!!

    1. Everything is bigger at Costco :)! That’s six months worth of stuff for us, which is why the line item is so high!

        1. We have a chest freezer and then the freezer on top of our refrigerator. But we don’t buy anything perishable at Costco–it’s all shelf-stable stuff that goes in our pantry (olive oil, beans, almonds, etc).

          1. I have a chest freezer as well that my mom found for $50 on next door. Makes it easy to preserve food! Haven’t noticed my electrical bill going up since having it. I love chest freezer

  4. I’m glad Frugalhound is up and around again! Our dogs are 7 now, so we are anticipating higher/more vet bills in the next few years.

    We just got a Costco and have been debating joining for the dog food. We currently don’t feed a grain free kibble, but it seems like it is the best for dogs! Our November was right on track for us, but we did buy an electric bike conversion kit for $795 (same one as 1500 days and Physician on FIRE! Our other spending for the month was pretty low! Gotta love food saved away from the garden!

    1. Thanks to Mrs. Frugalwoods’ recommendation, we switched our labrador to Nature’s Domain beef kibble 6 months ago when we finally gave in to a Costco membership. She’s been on crazy expensive dog food, relatively expensive dog food, and a few more in between. She’s done best on the Costco brand. She is not a fussy eater anymore, her coat is incredible, and she’s never had a tummy issue. The dog food and the gas price savings alone justify our membership.

      1. Yes! We’ve been really happy with Nature’s Domain. It was recommended to us by a Frugalwoods reader and Frugal Hound’s been eating it for over three years now. It’s the cheapest grain-free, high quality kibble we’ve found. Highly recommend :)!

        1. Ps. I’m glad Frugalhound is doing well. It is very frightening when they get suddenly sick, and I have so much respect that you continue to highlight the responsibility and costs of care for our animals if the worst happens.

          We have an extreme case because our little one developed a life threatening illness at 9-mths old. If we hadn’t financially planned for the unthinkable, she wouldn’t have made it.

        2. We just switched over to this brand from an expensive brand that our vet recommended for our cats. She told us it would prevent tooth problems, but every time we go to the annual checkup, they have tooth issues anyway. Meanwhile we’ve been paying through the nose for cat food and dental work for 5 years, so I was definitely ready to try something new. I like that the Costco brand is grain-free, and I’m curious about whether that will improve their dental and overall health, seeing as cats are not really meant to have grain anyway.

    2. Ohhh, can you let me know how the conversion goes with your bike? Are you mechanically inclined? I REALLY want an ebike but I also want to max out my spousal IRA this year so I’m fantasizing I could handle a kit. It would be nice to hear how it works for you!

      1. Check out the recent post on “Franish: The Blog”…she just did the ‘bike conversion’. Prices are listed, etc.

  5. I’m so excited for Baby Woods’s first month at preschool. I’m glad it has been working out great.

    We send Baby FAF to daycare too. I think he gets a bit spoiled staying at home with grandma all the time. I can see some great improvement in his behaviour.

    We had higher expenses in November too. It was the food expenses of $750 for a family of 4!

  6. My November was good! The only unusual expense was that we traveled from Philly to New Orleans for Thanksgiving. We rented a 2 bedroom AirBnB house and our two sons – one lives in Louisiana and the other lives in Texas – came for a fun time.

    Mrs. FF made a bodacious Thanksgiving dinner in our rented kitchen. She’s a miracle worker when it comes to cooking!

  7. I’m glad frugal hound is okay! Poor puppy. A lot of people forget to budget for things like the emergency vet, which costs more than the regular vet, so frugality for the win. Thank you for setting a great example of responsible pet ownership. 🙂

  8. Oooo LOVE the wildlife camera!!! My neighbor has one and always catches deer 🙂 I usually see 2-5 in our backyard a few times per week!!
    Also, I think preschool is awesome!! Great decision!!! My oldest is in kindergarten now, but has attended preschool since age 2. My 4-year-old goes five half-days per week now, and my one-year-old is home with me full-time, but she’s absolutely starting next year haha!! It’s really good for them and hey, mama needs a break!!!
    Thanks for sharing your expenses!! Love how you always manage to keep food so low. We spend ~$900-$1200/month on food for our family of five. I’ve tried trimming it down but this is pretty good for us!! We used to eat out a lot and now I cook at least six nights per week, usually seven!
    Hope you have a fantastic day!!

  9. That tractor is sweeeeeet, love the redness of it! And my goal in life is to live in a place where I could get great action from wildlife cameras, it’s a cool and fun thing to have. Where I live now, I would get a few deer, but too many opossums and probably a racoon or two. You will no doubt have a greater variety of critters!

  10. It is so exciting to watch as you stock up your homestead for the future, and we are so happy to hear that Frugalhound is safe and sound.

    We can definitely see Christmas approaching in our spending, but it is still all good. As you say, being frugal most of the time allows us to spend on those things without fear.

  11. Lol @ no ladder. You guys were more city than us. Makes me think we might be able to survive in the woods too 🙂

    Sounds like BabyWoods has the same personality as Baby99to1percent. She will love school.

  12. You guys missed the Darn Stuff sale at the factory in Northfield! There were so many socks for about half the price of what the usually are. Happens every year so check out the factory sale. They had kids sizes too!

    1. Actually, this was an intentional decision on our part to skip the Darn Tough sale and go to the competing half-off sale at Farm Way (same weekend!)! Farm Way is a lot closer to us and Babywoods loves the store (they have a life-size stuffed bear and a horse saddle kids can sit on! We are easily entertained 😉 ).

    2. Also, have you considered ordering whole oat grouts? If you have a kitchen aid stand mixer you could get a flaking attachment to make your own steel cut oats. Fresher and cheaper per pound then already rolled oats. You can even get a hand attachment to use the device without electricity.

  13. I’ve become a huge fan of Darn Tough socks after stocking up myself (“socking up”?) at their sock sale. I’m just sad I didn’t get them in kids sizes for the boys. They can wear mine this year when we go skiing–can’t believe my oldest and I wear about the same sock size!!

    I’ve heard such great things about Waldorf preschools. We didn’t have one for our boys close to us, but friends that did send their preschoolers had wonderful things to say about them.

  14. Oh my gosh, I am so happy to hear that Frugal Hound is okay. That is so scary! We had to drop $250+ on vet fees this month on Zap, so I sympathize. Also, great idea putting the little one in “school”! I’m sure it’ll be a great way for her to make friends while giving you some time to work, too.

    November was a bad month budget-wise. I had a big health scare that racked up some extra costs, so that wasn’t fun either! I’m happy for a new month and a new beginning at the end of 2017.

  15. Waldorf all the way! I homeschooled my five kids and in the times I needed a Mommy-break with newborns, I arranged a hybrid Montessori-Waldorf preschool to have my older kids for a couple of days a week.
    Worth. Every. Penny.

    Glad Frugalhound is better.

  16. Glad to hear frugal hound is doing well.
    I have a greyhound too and he is 6th one that i have adopted.

    My wife has a mixed breed dog that is 15 years old. It sounds like the symptoms that FH went through my wife’s dog went through too. You might want to look up vestibular disease. In her dog, it would last a few hours. Her dog would have trouble sitting up and walking, looked confused, cried when you left her alone, and her eyes would go back and forth. It’s happeend to her 4-5 times, usually once a month. Like I said, it would last a few hours than she would be fine like nothing happened.

  17. I can so relate to this. Though at this point in our lives we seem to own most of the necessary tools, things do pop up. We live 4 hours from Costco, but manage to get there three or four times a year, when I have meetings that take me near one. We’re getting ready to make one of our big trips there in a couple of weeks and I’m dreading the total because we are low on everything.
    We had our dogs on the Kirkland dog food but one of them has a very sensitive stomach and only does well on one pet-store brand (Zignature) so we are back to that. But our local mom-and-pop run pet store has their annual Christmas sale next week and we’ll be stoking up then.

  18. Oh my goodness, Frugalhound! It breaks my heart to think of her going through that. Please give her a hug for me; glad she’s doing better!

  19. What a fun, life!!! My 9 year old loves to read your blog, especially the anecdotes about Babywoods! Here is your open invite to stay with us if you are ever in Northern Colorado for a night!

    1. Ok, I can’t stand misplaced commas! Since there is no edit function to correct my comment, just know that I hang my head in shame regarding the comma after the word “fun.” Abysmal.

  20. The red tractor looks so lovely, especially those big wheels. Many years ago when I was in the college, the school arranged a trip to visit a family who owned a farm in Ohio. The host and hostess were so nice, and gave us a hay ride, in a big tractor. It was so cool, roaming on the big farm under the moonlight. We also had bonfire. That was the first time I tasted marshmallow.

    Wildlife cam is a great idea. I thought that was a cat. Wow, a fox! Living in the country is fun. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  21. My 17 .5 year old cat has had 3 fits in a year & is fine after a sleep. It is frightening but nothing can be done. He also has heart problem (beating too fast) and a slight kidney problem which could be controlled by diet, but he refuses the white fish and chicken offered. I give him a natural plant tisane with a dropper & 2 heart pills a day: expensive but he’s given me unmeasurable joy all his life! His litter brother died earlier this year and he was inconsolable for 6 months, signaling that by going around mioualing. He suffers from constipation in soite of total freedom to come & go and has always eaten chiendent grass. Vet doesn’t know anyway of helping that and discovered nothing sinister on palpating. Anyone know of a remedy? I won’t be going to see my family for Xmas this year: too much responsibility for a caring friend and he’d be alone this time. He got depressed last year…..

  22. I’m honestly kind of relieved to see you talking about how expensive it can be to set up a homestead and live in a rural area or have a rural lifestyle. You guys are like the champions of frugality so I’ve come to expect your frugalest of frugal approaches to homesteading, but my experience has been that even with a frugal approach getting a homestead going is not cheap. Very much appreciate you sharing your experience with this.

    Did you get the skid-steer style quick attach pallet forks, or the clamp ons? I have a smaller B-series Kubota and have a set of clamp-on forks. They do everything I need and are also very handy for moving brush piles. Any chance Mr. FW is on Tractorbynet?

    Our previous dog had a bout with vestibular syndrome at age 14. Sounds similar to what Frugal Hound went through. It’s a very frightening thing but fortunately for us it simply passed.

    Gotta love rock auto and farm way.

    1. We got the skid-steer style quick attach pallet forks. And Mr. FW reports that he sometimes looks for answers on Tractorbynet 🙂

  23. What a great monthly update! One of my favourite part of your homestead posts are the photos of the wildlife… I always wonder what they are thinking, as their shiny night-time eyes turn toward the camera watching them. If they feel the predator-nature of humans via the lens…

  24. Glad to hear Babywoods 1 is loving preschool! And as amazing as it is for you to be home with her, it is also nice for you to get a little extra time to yourself, too. I hear two-year-olds are both wondrous and exhausting 😉

  25. So happy for you to have found a Waldorf preschool for Babywoods! Our son went to three years of Waldorf preschool/kindergarten, which was the best thing we ever did for our son and family. Now a 6th graded at a public middle school, he still thinks of his preschool years fondly as his best years of school.

  26. Whew! That was an expensive month for you guys! Most of the line items are long-term expenditures though. Those pallet forks and new shelves will last for a very long time.

    Sorry to hear Frugal Hound wasn’t feeling so well. It’s always tough when pets start to age and have problems. I call that the “hidden cost” to pet ownership — it’s both an emotional cost and a monetary cost.

    Great month Mrs. FW! Congrats!

  27. I’m so glad Frugalhound is okay! That sounded scary.

    I’m curious, did baby Frugalwoods want to go to school to meet school friends? Or is it because she likes reading and learning? Being so young, I’d imagine she’d have a lot of separation anxiety (or maybe it depends on the kid). I’m wondering because my nephew did NOT want to go to school at all. There was so much separation anxiety for him from his mother, but after a few months, he grudgingly got used to it and now likes school. So I’m wondering, for the kiddos, is it the interactions they crave from school or the learning aspect?

    1. Fortunately, Babywoods hasn’t demonstrated any separation anxiety and is excited to go to school. She only goes one morning a week (two mornings starting in December), and she loves it. We go to playgroups often with her, so she’s accustomed to being around other kids, but she seems to really enjoy the independence of going to school without mommy and daddy! And at this developmental stage, it’s more about interaction with other children, following the teacher’s instructions, learning to be a good friend, being helpful with cleaning up, etc.

    2. Separation anxiety usually indicates insecure attachment, I’m afraid, hence the long settling-in period at school.

      1. Actually separation anxiety is completely normal regardless of attachment style at Babywoods’ age. As is not having separation anxiety. There is very little that is not normal.

  28. My husband and I don’t give each other birthday gifts usually, but this year he gifted me a pre-order of your book. Not only was I delighted that he’d thought of it, since he doesn’t follow your blog, but he told me he’d got the pre-order price guarantee from amazon, AND had got a £10 voucher towards it by applying for a credit card. You sometimes write about how to get partners on board, and I started the uber frugal challenge last January very much on my own. Some things met with resistance then, so I didn’t push, but having repeated the challenge twice since, the things that first met resistance (like letting go of Sky TV, cancelling gym membership and a getting a cheaper mobile package) have now happened at my husband’s instigation, and he proudly reports his money saving efforts. He does the accounts and could see the benefits of my initial efforts, and I think there’s a little frugality competition going on now! His gift of your book made me realise how far we’ve come in less than a year. So I would suggest to anyone with a skeptical partner to just start with the spending you can control yourself first and don’t push too hard on contentious issues; sew a few seeds and wait a while…
    Thank you Mrs FW!
    PS I’m in the UK and read your articles on cheap uni education thinking it couldn’t possibly apply here. I’m now enrolled on a part time masters degree funded by the government (I work for the National Health Service), and there’s not even any tax to be paid on it so it’s 100% free, plus I qualified for £4000 worth of funding for ergonomic kit and IT/adaptive software due to a disability, and I’m making very good use of the various student discounts available! I can’t quite believe it; thanks for the inspiration.
    Looking forward to joining January’s challenge again for the next level of savings.

    1. That is a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing and I am so happy to hear that you and your husband are on the same page now :). And, many thanks for pre-ordering my book!

  29. Glad FrugalHound is doing better! I had a dog who had a few seizures when she got older as well… but we had her until 14 (old for a Shepard/Collie mix!) so here’s to many more years of good health for FrugalHound!!!

    I live in an old (117 year old) rowhome, and needed a new roof and a LOT of repointing/brickwork this month. However, having read your blog for a few years I have been working on saving more. Although I was annoyed spending the money for things I really can’t see everyday, I was super thankful that I had a house savings fund ( I was trying to save for a new kitchen) and could simply write a check and not worry about having the money to cover my expenses. It made it *much* less stressful than it would have been a few years ago, when I would not have had the savings account for it.

  30. Your wildlife photos are my favorite (non-frugal tip related) part of your blog. I can’t wait to see what else you capture!

    I’m glad to hear Frugalhound is doing better-how scary! We have elderly dogs and so far they’re healthy (albeit a tad overweight) but I know their health won’t last forever.

  31. I’m so glad you’ve found a Waldorf pre-School. I’m in the UK where they’re called Steiner schools and my 2 sons started in our local Steiner School Nursey when they were 3 – they are 16 and 13 now and still there. I’ve always thought of you as a Steiner Mom who didn’t know it yet, how funny you’ve made the decision to go down the Waldorf route! My old poodle had fits (canine epilepsy)regularly and whilst it was upsetting for us all at the time he lived to a ripe old age of 14! Dogs are so resilient. Looking forward to reading your book in 2018 too – love the artwork!

  32. Excited to hear about preschool for Babywoods 1! We started our little guy very part-time at a cooperative preschool (around the same age, while I was expecting #2) and he (and we) love it. Look forward to hearing more.

  33. Congrats on BabyWoods going to preschool and even better she loves it. It’s great that you found one for her and it’s not far from the homestead.

  34. I really enjoy your blog and have ordered a copy of your book. I do have a question. You mentioned that you got iPhones last month. I have an iPhone SE and pay quite a bit more to Sprint than you do to Boom Mobile. Did you get your phones from another vendor and transfer the service to Boom Mobile?

    1. Thank you for ordering my book :)! We bought our iPhones awhile ago directly from Apple (just paid for them outright) and then signed up for BOOM mobile service, which is super cheap.

  35. Aha! Darn tough socks: have you used them before? Are they as tough as adverstized? Have you used their warranty? I have just purchased first test pair to my hubby who I swear has abrasive feet, and I am curious about whether it is a worthwhile investment!

    1. This is our first time buying them, so we shall see! But I do love their warranty and getting them on sale made it all the more reasonable. I hope they work well for you :)!

    2. I buy a pair each year for my partner for Christmas and he says they’re the nicest socks he’s ever owned. We’ve yet to use the warranty, but I love that it exists.

      1. I have used their warranty several times, it is so easy! If you call ahead to a store that sells Darn Tough socks and ask if they honor the warranty you can walk in with your old socks and the warranty paper filled out and walk out of the store with new socks. They are my favorite for hiking.

  36. Exciting times, I love your monthly updates! It’s wonderful that you have found a suitable play school so close to home, that can be a down side of living rurally, the distance to that type of place, and if one does live in a relatively isolated place, it’s all the more important for children to get into socialising on a regular basis, with and without the parents there. Also, crucially, getting her into it and happy NOW before baby sister arrives, a nice long time before is good timing. I’ve got 3 kids and the number of people I know who were totally blindsided by the fact that their 2-3 year old was less than delighted about being turfed from their cot / sent to play group / made to potty train the week before a new sibling arrived. It seems obvious to me that it could set up huge tantrums and reluctance, but it happens so often with very well-intentioned parents. By the time you are in the throes of having her sister, she’ll have her own little ”life” and activities and stuff that’s just hers, and will have been so ”forever” in her mind, that’s nothing to do with the screamy small person whose stuff is EVERYWHERE and distracting mom and dad. Much easier and kinder on everyone… most especially you!

    1. My thoughts exactly!!! We’ve been working very hard to set up a full weekly schedule for Babywoods so that she has plenty of engagement and fun activities that she’s comfortable with well before baby sister arrives. I’ve read that one major change at a time is good for kids, so that’s what we’ve been trying to do these past few months. So far, so good–of course everything will still be chaotic when the baby arrives!

  37. Does Costco ship any of the things you want for free? I was shopping with my grandmother and decided to order a few things after we left the store. Some of the things had free shipping which meant no gas and no random purchases at the store.

  38. Just a friendly note for Mr. Frugalwoods on the light purchase; he may find it useful to get some supplemental fog lights in the 3000-4000K range when working with snow since they might actually help give some contrast to what he’s working on at the time. Enjoy the snow plowing this winter!!

  39. Oh my god! That’s so scary about Frugalhound! I can’t take any pet emergencies. I get totally panicked. On Thanksgiving, Maeby tore off a nail, the whole thing, on a curb and had to go to the emergency vet just as we were about to put the turkey in the oven. She’s been in a booty since then. Then she developed a limp on another foot on Sunday, but the vet says it’s probably just an injury from compensating, or an age related injury. We wish Frugalhound nothing but good health!

  40. Cell phone bill is one area that I am looking at to decrease our expenses. Does you cell phone plan have wifi? thanks!

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