January on the homestead

Remember a few months ago when Mr. Frugalwoods, Babywoods, our friends, and I harvested all of our apples, pressed them into cider, and popped the cider into glass carboys to ferment? Well, the time has arrived to keg this cider up! These past few months our relatively massive quantity of cider has been fermenting away down in our (now clutter-free) basement and we posit it’s just about time to begin imbibing.

This month we purchased the necessary equipment to bring to fruition this final step in the homemade cider process: a keg, C02, a regulator, and tubing. Look for a full rundown of this jolly wintertime homestead activity (which we haven’t actually done yet and might end in disaster… ) in an upcoming installment of This Month On The Homestead. If we end up with carbonated vinegar and not hard apple cider, we’ll just mark that down as another lesson learned here on the Frugalwoods homestead of “we have no idea what we’re doing out here.” Funny how long that list is getting…

Buy It All USED

The cider press in action this fall with the kids exuberantly dunking themselves into the apple bucket

You will not be surprised to hear that we purchased our cider keg used online, further illustrating my longstanding rant that just about everything in life can be bought on the used market for tremendously less than new stuff. Here is a fun comparison sheet:

  • New keg: $100
  • Used keg: $45
  • Savings: $55

Decision to buy used? No brainer. I hope you enjoyed this comparison sheet. If you too want to start buying just about everything used, check out my primer: How To Find Anything and Everything Used: A Compendium Of Frugal Treasure Hunting.

Littlewoods Preparedness Month

We’re about to have a baby! Like any day now! Our second daughter is due in mid-February and, being an inveterate over-preparer for, well, everything, I am ready for this kid. I mean, as ready as you can be for an infant, which isn’t actually all that ready when they arrive and you realize you’re now ruled by a seven pound, screaming dictator of all your time, emotional energy, and mental faculties. I mean, no, babies are awesome ;)!

They truly are and we are so excited! The carseat is installed, our hospital bag is packed, the itty bitty infant clothes are washed and folded and in her drawers and we are set. That being said, hopefully she hangs out in-womb for a few more weeks. You will note–and be impressed, I hope–that we spent precious little money preparing for this new tidbit arrival. She’ll be using all of her big sister’s hand-me-downs. Hooray!

Snowshoe hiking at 37 weeks pregnant!

So I initially thought–and wrote here on Frugalwoods–that we would call our second daughter Babywoods 2. However, after consulting census data I realized that’s not a recognized girls’ name and would likely lead to some challenges later in life, i.e. at college graduation “Babywoods 2 Frugalwoods” announced over the loudspeaker just doesn’t sound right.

And so… I’ve made the executive decision (I can do that!!!) that we shall refer to our second child here in Frugalwoods-land as Littlewoods. Hence, our first daughter (who is now two years old) shall retain her original moniker “Babywoods” and her little sister shall henceforth be known as “Littlewoods.” Hopefully this is less confusing than Babywoods 1 and Babywoods 2.

Also, I never remembered to actually use the 1 and 2, so clearly that designation was not among my better plans… Full disclosure, Littlewoods wasn’t even my idea–it is the brainchild of my friend Kate from Goodnight Debt who kindly told me that Babywoods 1 and 2 was weird and confusing-sounding. How right she was! We all need people in our lives to tell us when we are being weird and confusing. Probably I need more of that in my life…

A Very Sad Note

As you’ll see in this month’s expense list, we have our final veterinary bill for our beloved Frugal Hound, who passed away unexpectedly in January. We are heartbroken over her sudden death and I eulogized her in the most difficult post I’ve ever written: Remembering Frugal Hound. We miss our hound every day and still can’t believe she’s gone. I want to thank all of you for your tremendous outpouring of compassion, sympathy, and support in the wake of her death.

The over 600 comments on her eulogy post, the emails, the Facebook messages, the unbelievable outpouring on Instagram, the donations you made to Greyhound Options (where we adopted Frugal Hound from), and the sympathy cards and gifts that many of you mailed to us make me realize what an impact Frugal Hound had on this community. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to hear from so many of you that Frugal Hound is what brought you to Frugalwoods–and a frugal way of life–and that she’s the reason many of you have adopted greyhounds! Truly, the best legacy a dog could ever hope for! Thank you for helping me see the silver lining in this loss.

I Wrote A Book!


My book! Plus some peonies from our garden.

I really did! And I’m so excited! My book, Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Livingpublishes on March 6, 2018 from HarperCollins and is available to be pre-ordered.

If you do pre-order my book, I will mail you a signed bookplate! While you can receive a signed bookplate for any book order placed before March 13th, if you order by Monday, February 5, 2018, I will get your bookplate mailed out to you super fast before Littlewoods is born!!!

Orders placed after February 5th will receive bookplates in the final batch, which will be mailed sometime after March 13th.

Details on how to order my book, and get your bookplate, are 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$e$

Signed bookplates! Get yours here.

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

January woodpile

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.

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 as well as City vs. Country: Which Is Cheaper? The Ultimate Cost Of Living Showdown.

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 Donate To Charities Like Billionaires and also How We Make Meaningful And Tax Efficient Charitable Donations.

Alright you frugal money voyeurs, feast your eyes on every dollar we spent in January:

Item Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Vermont Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $504.50
Veterinary bill $310.00
Preschool $270.00 Babywoods LOVES the two mornings a week she spends at our local Waldorf preschool.
Car insurance for both cars (for six months) through Geico $269.50 Six months of car insurance for both of our cars. This is so low because: we shopped around, we are both accident and ticket-free, we live in a rural area, we don’t commute to work, we have small cars, AND we don’t carry comprehensive insurance because we could easily replace both of our cars (in full with cash) if we needed to. However, we carry the maximum in liability coverage because we feel that with healthcare costs as they are, the risk of a large liability claim is one we don’t want to self-insure against. More here.
Cider kegging equipment $227.17 Regulator and tubing, used keg, CO2 tank, and gas for kegging our apple cider
100 Town Trash Bags ($2/bag) $200.00 Our town doesn’t provide trash or recycling pick-up, so we take our trash and recycling to the town transfer station once a week. We have to buy special trash bags, at $2 per bag, for this purpose. We use just 1 bag per week, so this stash should last us a few years!
Household supplies $154.38 All non-food household items, including such thrilling things as toilet paper, laundry detergent, and toothpaste. Woohoo!
Gasoline for cars $80.02
Utilities: Electricity $77.93
Restaurant dinner for date night $74.29 We go out to dinner once a month on a date!
Internet $74.00 LOVE our fiber internet
Boot Dryer $31.75 Mr. FW and I both have these insulated muck boots, which we wear on a daily basis. We discovered that, due to us sweating in them while hiking, they weren’t drying out properly and were then making our feet cold. After experimenting with using a hairdryer and placing them by the woodstove–neither of which worked–we capitulated and purchased… this boot dryer! Works like a charm.
Doctor visit co-pay $25.00
Cell phone through BOOM Mobile $19.99
New cable for our GPS $12.50 The cable on our (ancient) GPS broke and, happily, we were able to buy this new cable and thus didn’t need to replace the whole GPS.
Farm supplies $11.56 Shear bolts for snow blower attachment on tractor
TOTAL SPENT: $3,735.45  

How was your January?

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    1. Babywoods is SUPER excited for her little sister–an enthusiasm I imagine will last only until the baby actually arrives 😉

      1. For us #2 was great with #3 until #3 started getting into his stuff, so we had about a year of bliss. Now a bit more drama ensues, they are 5 and almost 3. They still love each other, but bicker on occasion over who had what first etc. #1 who is 11, dotes on them both, but prefers #3 at this time as he is less intrusive. Sibling love, it all works out in the end…

  1. Yes! I love the name “Littlewoods”!!!! Our third kid’s nickname is “Tiny” or “Teensy” , even now that she is 10 years old.

  2. Kegging >> bottling – though if you have bottles, bottling can be cheaper since you don’t have to buy the keg (or canister) and you’re re-using bottles. The capper and caps are fairly cheap too. I used to bottle beer (and made some cider in my day too, though from apple juice and not pressed apples) and it was a lot of fun to make your own booze. I bought old soda kegs (mine still has a 7-Up) sticker on the side and used those, they were great.

    1. Good to know! Yeah, we went the kegging route in the hopes that it’ll take less time and thus have a greater chance of us actually getting it done 🙂

      1. Yep! We sometimes bottle a few beers so they are easier to bring to get togethers, but kegging is so much easier! We’ve found a lot of brewing equipment on Craigslist, so it readers don’t live in rural Vermont you should be able to get the equipment for even less!

        1. YES! We had a saved Craigslist search for over a year for this stuff. We were able to get the carboys used on Craigslist for a fabulous price, but alas, seems all our neighbors want to keep kegging their own beer and cider too ;).

  3. I can’t wait to meet Littlewoods. That’s such a cute name!

    I’m so impressed your grocery bill hasn’t gone up by a lot despite the pregnancy. I remember eating 7-8 meals a day when I was this far along with Baby FAF. I accounted for most of our food expenses back then @-@

  4. We pay so much more for our car insurance–I wonder, who is your insurance with? This is something I would love to get reduced. We pay $ 237.95 a month for three drivers…even before our son was added, I think it was around $85 a month. We drive very little and our cars are old, so I am thinking I need to shop around or change our coverage.

    1. We have Geico and here’s the full explanation on how our insurance is so low: we shopped around, we are both accident and ticket-free, we live in a rural area, we don’t commute to work, we have small cars, AND we don’t carry comprehensive insurance because we could easily replace both of our cars (in full with cash) if we needed to. However, we carry the maximum in liability coverage because we feel that with healthcare costs as they are, the risk of a large liability claim is one we don’t want to self-insure against. More here. I hope this helps!

      1. Goodness, I pay $2,400+ every 6 months for two drivers! And we have Geico. It’s almost cost prohibitive to drive!

  5. Hi Elizabeth:
    I have to say that I burst into tears when I read about FrugalHound. My heart goes out to you all. I know the huge hole having your beloved pet pass, leaves in your heart. I am just so grateful that she had such a wonderful life with you because all dogs and animals deserve our care and kindness. On another note, I want to say how very much I enjoy reading your blogs. You are a very gifted writer and I so enjoy your style. It is articulate, intelligent and witty. Happy New Year to you all! Kind regards, Bethany

  6. Time for a KEG PARTY!! I’m picturing a scene full of frugal financial geeks getting loaded on apple cider and talking IRA withdrawal strategies. Much different than the college scene of a bunch of drunks playing beer pong 🙂

  7. I laughed when I saw that you bought so many trash bags! We’re like you – pay more up front and tuck them aside, even if it isn’t a “sale” item. One less thing to think about as time goes on! The best to you as you head into another very exciting time for your family!

    1. Haha, yeah, we were tired of buying them ten at a time so decided to stock up and be done with it 🙂

  8. So jealous of how little you spend on car insurance. I live in MI where car insurance is astronomically high. Despite many, many attempts we still pay about $220/per month for our two cars (And one of the cars is older so it has almost bare bones insurance).

    1. Yeah our MI car insurance is on the higher end too! But at least it’s just one expense. Our January spending was crazy high! But we bought a new laptop, used mountain bike, and used dining table!

  9. My January spending (much to my disappointment, since I tried so hard to NOT spend during the Uber Frugal Month Challenge) was crazy high, too. My OLD sewing machine died unexpectedly – something I often use daily and necessitating my buying a new one; I signed up for senior singing classes; I had two dental appointments (for a very painful tooth), followed by having that tooth extracted; and I needed a broken decorative stained glass coffee table centerpiece (given to me by my children) re-welded. I plan to do it again – try hard to NOT spend – during the month of February. But, thank you, Frugalwoods, for your encouragement and the daily reminders.

  10. Regarding accounting for expenses . . . I’m trying very hard to log everything I spend into my handy spreadsheet. My questions is this: I sometimes purchase gift cards to use later. For example, I just bought a $200 Costco gift card in order to get 10% cash back from my Discover card this quarter. I’m scratching my head about how to account for this. Since I’m spending the cash now, I feel it should be accounted for in some way when I purchase the gift card. But in a true accounting sense, we are simply converting one asset (cash) to another (gift card). It seems to make more sense to account for the expense when we actually use the gift card at Costco, thus making us accountable for actual purchases. I want to avoid the “lets just buy it cause we have a gift card” mentality. Thoughts?

    1. Excellent question. I usually charge the budget when the cash actually goes out (buying the card) but then I often wonder if it gives me an inaccurate picture of actual spending in a given month. I always wonder the same thing when I spend a gift card that actually was a gift. Thoughts?

      1. I think it’s largely a question of what works best for you. I don’t think there’s any one right way to account for it. As long as you’re consistent and you know what the money is going towards, then you’re set. The key is to create a system that works for you and that delivers the data points you find useful in mapping out your desired savings rate/financial goals.

      2. I agree here. And I think I’m answering my own question. If you record the expense when the gift card is purchased, then you lose the ability to see the detail of what was spent. You would see the $200 gift card expense, but you wouldn’t know how it was used. For example, my husband used our Costco gift card tonight . . . $14.23 food + $21.05 beer. Important to know that we’re spending more on alcohol than food I think – ha! For spending a gift card that was a gift, I would probably still record what was purchased with it. The expense is still an expense.

        1. I treat gift cards like cash, so record the spending when it happens. Precisely for the reason you give, that you end up with less info if you record it as a gift card…We enter our spending every single night and it has made a huge difference in our spending!

    2. Hi JP,
      I use an app called GoodBudget, but I imagine this would work for a spreadsheet as well. If I do something like this gift card tactic you described, I move the balance into a separate Gift Card “bucket” (the other buckets being Checking, Savings, Cash, Credit Card, PayPal, etc). I do the same when I receive a gift card as a gift. When I enter the expense purchased with a gift card I just choose the Gift Card bucket to debit the expense from. That way you’re capturing the “transfer” of funds from one bucket to another (or “income” if you receive a gift card as a gift), but also tracking the specific line item you are spending on when you use the card.
      Anyway, that’s what I do. But Mrs. Frugalwoods is right, you gotta do what works for you! 🙂

    3. In my accounting spreadsheet, I have separate sheets for cash, savings account, credit card and hardware store accounts. I summarise my expenditure by category on a weekly basis, and I also summarise my cashflow on a monthly basis. So when I get something on credit from the hardware store, I allocate it to the correct category in my expenditure worksheet. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll allocate the cash going out to pay the store account from my savings account.
      That way, I can check how much actual cash is flowing (amount X) as well as what I’m purchasing (total of categories = amount Y). Over time, X=Y, although they are not necessarily the same each month.
      In your case, JP, you could set up a worksheet labelled ‘gift card’. $200 goes out of your cash account, $200 goes into your gift card ‘account’ and this then gets reduced by purchases until the balance is zero.
      Does this make sense?

  11. Hi Liz, I so enjoy reading your frugal reports. They are inspiring me! I did the uber frugal Jan. I didn’t make it to no spend, but did so much better than I ever have!!
    Thank you!

  12. Can’t wait to meet Littlewoods! Our January is the first year we actually looked at each expense, and then summed it up at the end of the month, instead of yearly and I am not thrilled. Some categories are higher than the yearly average and I am not proud of it. We need to do a better job there to stay of the steep track we set for ourselves!

  13. I am very curious to learn how your electric stays so manageable in rural winter. Do you think it’s because ya’ll heat solely with wood? Our electric is so high and I suspect it might be because we are still largely heating with forced air oil for the moment (though we keep the thermostat at 53 degrees!).

  14. Hi Liz,
    How do you track your monthly spending for these reports? Do you simply download a CSV from Personal Capital? I use PC as well. I used to manually enter the numbers into a spreadsheet every month but it bores me to tears and I just can’t do it anymore. I suppose it helps that you have a blog so it’s part of content production anyway.

    So how do you track these line-by-line expenses without too much manual work?


  15. So sorry to hear about Frugalhound – I’ve really enjoyed her contribution to the blog, and it sounds like she’s made a big impact.
    Here in the UK Littlewoods was a large chain of clothing/homeware stores which went under some years ago now. Littlewoods also ran the ‘football pools’, and the name takes me right back to my childhood in the 80s!!!
    Wishing Littlewoods a smooth arrival…

  16. Cider is great! I just made my first one-gallon batch — I got a recipe to ferment it in the bottle by adding a little juice once bottled and it turned out great! Definitely wouldn’t do that with a large batch – kegs are the way to go.

    So sorry about Frugalhound. Losing a pet is so tough. Not looking forward to the day when I have to say goodbye to Mr. Higgins. I don’t know what I would do without him curling up on top of my chest/arm in the evening while I read!

  17. Really excited for your Littlewoods to come! That’s got to feel good to know that you’re prepared and ready for whenever she comes. I was so saddened to hear about Frugalhound’s passing–so hard to lose a beloved pet that’s such a big part of your family! That’s amazing to hear about the impact that FH had on everyone, though; it’s really quite amazing all the good that’s come about because of her influence.

    Here’s wishing you all the best in your upcoming labor and delivery! You’re probably a bit nervous because Babywoods’ delivery didn’t go as planned, but you’ll do great! Keeping fingers crossed that all will go well.

  18. So excited for Littlewoods’ arrival! (and I agree–the new naming system is easier!) I was saddened to hear of Frugalhound’s passing–it must be hard to lose such a beloved pet that was such a big part of your family. Pretty amazing though to hear of FH’s influence far and wide; people are so good!

    Here’s hoping all goes well with your labor and delivery this time around. I’m sure you’re probably a little nervous since things didn’t go as planned with Babywoods’ delivery, but I wish you all the best and know that you’ll do great!

  19. Really excited about the substitution of Littlewoods from Babywoods 2 – I’m glad your friend mentioned it 🙂

  20. I know the basic pay off your smallest debt first (Dave Rameses), however, what do you do when all you debts are high: HELO, Mortgage, Credit Card, Kids’ college, etc. and you can’t seem to get a handle on anything. Also, I am self-employed and have IRS Liens, etc. Thank you for any help you can give.

    1. Hi Alison,

      I’ll say at the outset that I am not a financial adviser, and it would probably be a good idea for you to have a chat to someone who is and who can give you advice for your specific situation. That being said, here’s my take / how I would approach things if I were in a similar situation.

      Paying off your smallest debt gives you a psychological lift that encourages you to keep on going. It can be a good first step for those who are just starting off on their debt reduction journey.

      In situations where all one’s debts seem to be equally high and getting rid of them seems to be unattainable, I would focus on which one attracts the greatest interest (either by rate or number of $$) because interest on debt is compounding – that interest incurred will itself incur interest.

      There’s also the concept of ‘bad’ vs ‘good’ debt. ‘Bad’ debt is when you can’t sell what it was incurred on for at least what you owe. Holidays already taken (hard to sell memories unless you’re an excellent travel writer / culture commentator such as Bill Bryson), and most cars and appliances (wear and tear) are classic examples. ‘Good’ debt is when the debt was incurred for something that appreciates (houses are the classic example, but we all know that that can go pear-shaped). In this situation, I would focus on the ‘bad’ debts in the hope that, as long as I kept up payments on the ‘good’ ones, I would at least not fall further behind.

  21. Hi ! I found you as the result of a domino effect. A friend posted on FB ‘ half your wood and half your hay’ and so I went looking for information on it, and found your last years blog on it.
    We too, have moved back to the woods, but in Maine on 35 acres. And we are double your age, with all children gone off on their own.
    But my question is this, how did you do on wood last year? did it last, have left over, or run out? Did you look at what you have today to see if you think it’s enough compared to last year?
    This is our first year using a stove ( I got it on freecycle!!) and it is primarily a coal stove. If I could leave a picture here I would… but if you go to my FB page Finger Ink Creations on Jan 21 you can see a picture of it. It’s a vintage Acme parlor stove. We love it.
    Congrats on the new baby to come!
    You’re welcome to visit if you come up to Maine. ToniAnne

    1. Last year we burned 3 cords of wood and had some leftover at the end of the winter. This year, we put up even more wood (circa 5+ cords) as we’re working to get several years ahead on wood. Ideally, we’d like to have several years’ worth of wood on hand–a goal we’re working towards :).

  22. Congrats on the upcoming addition. I admit I said, “Awwh,” when I read “Littlewoods.” 🙂

    January was a pricey one. In addition to just not paying attention to our purchases, we had to replace our hot water heater for $750. Our saving grace was that we installed the suckah ourselves, thanks to a family member’s help. Phew!

  23. In efforts to get both our kids off to a great start (three years, 5 months apart), we, our son and I, would read a story to the baby in my tummy every night. Big Boy got to choose and that tradition continued after our baby girl’s birth. We tried to defer to our son because he cared, and the baby, well, she could care less. Crowning achievement, hear me now, was a wrapped big present under the cradle at the hospital, that Baby brought for her Big Brother. Works like a charm…:) Good luck! It’s really not twice as hard.

  24. I love Littlewoods! Great choice.

    For the first month ever, Mr. MLM and I spent ZERO dollars on restaurants/fast food/coffee in January. I think the lowest we ever got before was $200-something. As a reward, we went to a nice restaurant last night. It was delicious and relaxing, and we ordered food we would have trouble making at home. We spent about $64. If that is our only restaurant/fast food/coffee spending in February, we will have another nice dinner in March.

  25. Yeah for Littlewoods! Much easier than Babywoods 2.
    I did the UFMC again this year and realized that January is usually an expensive month for me. Due to how some family events fall, I tend to buy a bunch of travel in January to cover through June. Nothing astronomical, but that and CA car registration definitely skew the month. I’m already using PC and I’m going to pay extra attention for the next couple months to see what my ‘normal’ spending is outside of the annual big ticket items.
    Thanks for blogging and looking forward to getting your book in the mail next month!

  26. So excited to hear about littlewoods. Littlewoods has a sweet sound to it. We overspent by 600. This month due to illness and needing a plow. We have a long driveway that can’t be hand shoveled anymore. I am still trying to talk my hubby into getting a snow blower. It costs 57.50 taxes in each tome the plow guy comes. He came every week in January 1-2X. That gets very pricey.

  27. Yes! I love you are making your own cider and kegging it. My husband and I started homebrewing beer a few years ago, and absolutely love it. We were able to score some second hand kegs last year and have had a blast getting the hang of those. we even planted a couple hop plants so we could save money on ingredients – hops are super expensive to purchase at brewing supply stores. I really love the satisfaction of starting with all the raw ingredients and turning them into something delicious and drinkable.

    This will be something for you to enjoy once Littlewoods is here!

    1. Love the idea of growing our own hops! Definitely a future goal :). And, yes, I am super excited with the timing of Littlewoods arriving and the cider being ready!

  28. I’m inspired by the fact that you use credit cards for all your expenses. It makes perfect sense, and I’m trying to get to that point, but have such a knee jerk, negative reaction to credit card debt that it’s something I’m transitioning to slowly. We got an Amex last month, because the rewards are amazing (6% cash back on groceries and $200 statement credit for charging $1,000 in the first three months, for starters). It still feels very weird to put groceries on a credit card and I’m already looking at a $1,000+ bill the first month. How do people make this transition? Any tips? Do you feel like you need to set aside money in a special account during the month as you charge things on your credit card? Just trying to figure out a sane way to handle this.

    1. So it’s not debt as long as you pay it off in full every single month. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to pay it off–in full–every single month, don’t do it! But if you have no problem paying off a credit card bill monthly, then it’s a fabulous way to earn rewards and points.

    1. Keg was sanitized using the homebrew sanitizer Star San. I’ll do a full rundown of the process in next month’s This Month On the Homestead :).

  29. The Boot Dryer made me lol. I can see with your lifestyle how that is a completely necessary thing but I can imagine it gave your frugal minds some serious pause before buying it. I had to talk myself out of one when I read that it dries gloves too. I don’t live in the woods of Vermont.

    1. Haha, the Boot Dryer makes us laugh too! One of those things we never knew we needed until we tried all the alternatives… and needed it 🙂

  30. I switched from Mint to Personal Capital and love the interface and tracking! Thank you for the recommendation! It has helped keep our grocery and restaurant spending in check (work in progress 😊).

    Our sympathies for the loss of beautiful Frugal Hound. Our 13 year old Siberian Husky was put to rest last Fall and it hit us hard! So many sweet memories and I imagine you have the same for Frugal Hound.

    Can’t wait to meet Littlewoods!

  31. Thanks to the Uber frugal challenge, we really tucked away $$ this month, very eye opening and inspiring. Also learned that we truly can eat well on $40/week and only spent $100 for the entire month on restaurants (b-day and work related). After a 10 minute phone call, we saved $400 per year by reducing coverage on my 11 yo car, so score!!

    Such an exciting time for you all as you await littlewoods arrival, blessings.

  32. You’ve got FIBER! I’m so jealous. We live out of the city limits so our choices are tower system, satellite, or cell. We have the tower system and it’s pretty good but doesn’t handle multiple devices so well. And it seems like everything wants to talk to the internet these days. Oh well, maybe someday:)

  33. No, I never carry a balance on credit cards. Slowly warming to the idea because it makes total sense. The other day, our grocery store had this deal where if you buy $50 worth of groceries you can buy a $50 gas card for $40. They happened to have all kinds of attractive BOGOs, so bought those + the gas card and put it all on the Amex, which is giving us 6% off groceries. Still not clear whether Amex is going to give us points for a gift card, but I must admit to fiendish delight just thinking about it. I think I just have to switch my mentality about credit cards and see it as a bit of a game!

  34. Just to say thank you so much for your supportive e-mails during Uber Frugal Challenge Month. The interesting bonus was that I finally started tackling the time sucks – you know, reading junk mail, slavishly reading all those newsy (and pointless) items that pop up on my mobile, watching rubbish on TV, etc., so as well as saving money I’m saving precious time too! Couldn’t have done it without you.

    The very best of luck with the new baby – hope all goes well.


  35. Don’t you think you’ll go through trash bags faster with a newborn in diapers (unless you’ve decided to start using cloth for Littlewoods)? This seems like the perfect time to stock up!

    Good luck with everything for Littlewoods. I’m also at the point of “soon, but hopefully not for a few more weeks” with my baby!

  36. First, my condolences on Frugal Hound. Losing a part of your family is a sad time. However, it sounds like overall you had a great month. Congrats on your book. I may have missed it, (and I checked your 2015 expense report), but where does investing fit in for you all? I do love that you give so easily and have a heart for helping others. That’s a great trait.

  37. As a February baby myself, I am happy for Littlewoods. Yay for February births! Start planning now for sledding and bonfire birthday parties. And please note, they are inexpensive — a trash can lid or used sled, and wood you already have.
    I’m excited for your other “birth,” too: the book! It’s almost here at last.

    We ended up with unexpected car repairs in January, but otherwise, I kept the spending pretty low.

  38. I did the Uber Frugal Month Challenge along with you last month and really appreciated your daily emails. About halfway through the month, I started blogging my daily frugal accomplishments to keep me motivated and on track. The good news is that because of our efforts to save money, we were about to pay an extra $3,000 towards our mortgage principle!

  39. You have to buy special trash bags?! Is this something that the town transfer station requires of all those dumping waste there? What are they made of?

  40. Do you hike much in the muck boots you reference? About how many miles and how comfy are they for hiking? I’m hoping to find something completely waterproof that is comfy enough to wear hiking 10-12 miles in the snow.

  41. I just found your blog and I’m loving to read every single post.
    I run a blog about FIRE in Brazil, yes FIRE community is growing a lot down here. It’s just that I couldn’t imagine living in a snowy place like that because here when it gets around 40F it’s like the Armageddon. It’s probably the same for you when it gets above 90F, right?
    Well, just stopped by to say hi and congrats you on the amazing work you’re doing on this blog. It’s inspiring.
    All the best,

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