Well, if you’ve ever wanted to feel good about your spending vis-a-vis my spending, then THIS is your month!!! April was absurdly expensive around here. ABSURD, I tell you. As I shared the other week, Mr. Frugalwoods and I finally broke down and bought a used truck in April, and since we paid cash for the full amount of the truck, that accounts for the vast majority of our spending. I have several posts detailing why paying cash in full (and buying used) is the most financially sound route to car ownership, so I won’t rehash all the details here. Suffice it to say that by taking this approach, we avoid incurring the interest rate and the massive depreciation that accompanies new vehicles (or used vehicles bought with financing). While it’s a lot of money to pay all at once, buying used and avoiding a car payment generally costs much less overall (which allows you to save more every month, which allows you to fund this type of purchase).

Our new-to-us 2010 Toyota Tundra

Folks have asked how we manage our cash flow for large purchases, such as the truck, and the answer is that when we’re anticipating a large purchase like this, we maintain a fairly large cash reserve in a checking account, from which we automatically invest in low-fee index funds on a regular basis. The amount of our cash reserve fluctuates based on whether or not we’re planning for a big purchase (like a truck) or if we’re just cruising along at our normal rate of spending. You want to have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses held in a checking or savings account that you can easily access in the event of an emergency (which is why this is called an emergency fund). In order to know how much you need in an emergency fund, you need to track your expenses on a regular basis. I use and recommend Personal Capital for this task because it’s straightforward and–best of all–free!

Beyond an emergency fund, in order for money to make money, it needs to be invested–either in real estate or the stock market (I use and recommend low-fee index funds) or some other vehicle that delivers a return. However, it’s also true that if you plan to pay cash for something large–like a car or a downpayment on a house–you need to keep enough of your money liquid in order to cashflow this purchase. It’s a balancing act for sure since you don’t want to sacrifice potential gains in the market by keeping too much money in cash, but you also don’t want to lose money you’ll need in the near term in a market downturn.

Things That Fit In A Truck

As soon as we bought our truck, we then bought a veritable flood of things that can only be hauled in a truck. We’ve been waiting on all of these purchases until we had the means to transport them home, so this buying spree illustrates our pent-up demand for a truck!

Hauling home the tool chest (featuring ratchet straps)

Topping the list at a whopping $1,200 was something Mr. FW has wanted for years: a used Sawstop table saw. He’s had a Craigslist search saved for this table saw for over a year and a half and this was the very first one to pop up. Since they’re $1,800 new, this was a decent savings. Sawstop table saws are designed to stop if they sense something electrically conductive, such as human skin. This means it stops sawing before you accidentally saw off your fingers!

Table saws are generally considered to be the most dangerous tool in a wood shop and Mr. FW personally knows several people who’ve lost fingers to table saws. Hence, although the Sawstop is twice as expensive as other table saws, we decided we can’t put a price on keeping all of your fingers.

Next up, at $299, is a gigantic tool chest for Mr. FW to organize all of his tools in the barn. He’s been collecting tools–mostly used from yard sales and thrift stores–over the years and they were strewn around the barn in various little boxes and compartments. Not exactly efficient for keeping track of things. Although he always calls me the organized half, my Mr. FW is secretly extraordinarily tidy and organized (not so much of a secret now… ).

And finally, rounding out our binge of truck-hauling stuff was lumber. Good old lumber, the raw material for just about any project I can dream up. Now that Mr. FW’s wood shop is finally taking shape, I’ve started commissioning various woodworking projects, so I wonder if he’s regretting buying all those tools… ;).  I’ll share all the details (and photos!) of what he has built so far in my upcoming installment of This Month On The Homestead.

The Baby Tent

Littlewoods in her baby tent! I usually zip the mosquito netting up too.

How jazzed am I about my new baby tent? So jazzed. And yes, I bought it new, but no, I do not regret it at all. I love it! What is a baby tent? It’s a micro tent designed to keep sun and bugs off of babies while outside. It even has an insect net zip-up cover! When Babywoods was an infant, I struggled to find a way for her to be outside in the summertime without the sun glaring down on her and bugs menacing her (unfortunately, we have a lot of ticks here). We don’t have any shade in most of our yard or our veggie gardens, so I was forever trying to rig up a blanket or umbrella to shade her (or in one memorable instance, the table umbrella from our patio furniture… ). As you might expect, the umbrellas (large and small) always blew away, as did the blankets. Not ideal.

I carry Littlewoods in her infant carrier most of the time, but she gets restless being cramped in there after awhile and wants to kick, kick, kick her little legs. Enter… the miraculous baby tent!!! It initially seemed silly to me to buy something new that we’ll only use for two seasons, but since we’re outside a lot in the spring and summer (usually every day), the baby tent is an ideal way for Littlewoods to enjoy the fresh air. She seems to like it and I love it. I find it also works fabulously well at playgrounds with no shade. Hooray for the baby tent!

Another item in the kids’ gear genre this month were these toddler ear protection headphones for Babywoods. Since she loves to ride on the tractor and observe loud machinery in progress (I mean, who doesn’t?!), we thought this was a prudent investment in protecting her hearing.

Before buying something brand new, I like to follow three steps:

  1. First, I see if something I already own will suffice (which is what I tried with umbrellas and blankets to no avail).
  2. Next, I try to find the thing used (no luck).
  3. Finally, I wait at least 72 hours before making the purchase.

I find that when I follow this three-step process, I often end up not buying the thing at all. But when I do decide to buy something new–a la my baby tent–I am super jazzed about the purchase and know that it was made thoughtfully.

Estate Plan and Will

A lot happened this month apparently! We finally had a lawyer create an estate plan and will for us, which was way overdue. If you have dependents, or complicated assets, or both, then it’s a wise idea to have a formal estate plan and will prepared. I’ve seriously had this on my to do list for YEARS. Shameful. There’s no excuse for my negligence!

Thankfully, I went into a frenzy of organization prior to Littlewoods’ birth and creating a will was part of that frenzy. It’s comforting to know that our children and our assets are all squared away in the event of our dual untimely demise. Having a will is a lot like having an emergency fund saved up: you hope to never need it, but if you do need it, you need it desperately and will be SO glad you have it. For the record, I’m just glad I can finally cross this thing off my list.

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Babywoods uses her truck to haul things too… such as this empty yogurt container

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$e$



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.

Yes, I actually took this photo in April…

Tracking expenses is, in my opinion, the best way to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it. Sounds harsh, but without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a frugal must, folks. No excuses.

Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, give Personal Capital a try. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital for my expense tracking.

Where’s Your Money?

One of the easiest ways to optimize your money is to use a high-interest savings account. A high-interest savings account gives you money for nothing. With these accounts, interest works in YOUR favor (as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you). Having money in a no (or low) interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:

Let’s say you have $5,000 in a savings account that earns 0% interest. In a year’s time, your $5,000 will still be… $5,000.

Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account that–as of this writing–earns 1.70% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,085.67. That means you earned $85.67 just by having your money in a high-interest account.

And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low (or no) interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person. Be the person who earns money while you sleep. Rack up the interest and prosper. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, is here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report

Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Look no further than Our Low Cost, No Fuss, DIY Money Management System. We also own a rental property in MA, which I discuss here.

Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence and move to a homestead in the woods (which happened in May 2016).

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 April:

Item Amount Notes
Truck $15,300.00 Read all about it here
Will and Estate Plan Attorney fees $1,560.00
Vermont mortgage $1,392.86
Used Sawstop table saw $1,200.00  Investment in keeping fingers
Groceries $460.84
Cordless Tools Set $299.00 On sale!
Big Tool Box $248.00 Also on sale!
Household supplies $225.85 This includes thrilling items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo, soap, sunscreen, medications, baby items, etc!
Preschool for Babywoods $180.00 Our last month of preschool before summer vacation :(.
Gasoline for cars $173.42
Lumber for shop projects and misc. hardware $152.90
Lumber for tables, saw horses, and shelves $124.78
Cordless Vac $79.97
Internet $74.00
Doctor visit co-pay $40.00
Restaurant meal $38.25 We took a family trip to town and had lunch out (our first meal out as a family of four and I’m pleased to report that we all survived and did not get kicked out of the restaurant)
Pre-purchase Inspection of Truck $36.00 As I shared in the truck post, we had our mechanic inspect the truck before we bought it.
CO2 Refill $34.25 A refill C02 canister for our hacked Sodastream system
Replacement Blade for our 10 year old food processor $32.99 The blade on our food processor broke and, since they no longer make our model, the replacement blade was pretty expensive (but still cheaper than buying a whole new food processor)
Ratchet Straps $28.99 These are for securing cargo in the bed of the truck
Nice Beer $28.47
Baby Tent $27.99 The one, the only: BABY TENT!
Cell phone through BOOM Mobile $19.99
Ramp Brackets $19.16 For building a ramp to load items on and off of the truck bed
Utilities: Electricity $17.05
Toddler Hearing Protection $12.71 Since Babywoods loves to ride on the tractor (and generally observe loud machinery around our property), we got her these hearing protection headphones to keep her little ears safe and sound (I’m hilarious).
Total: $21,807.47

How was your April?

P.S. I wrote a book, which published March 6th! If you’ve already read the book, I would really appreciate it if you’d consider leaving a review on Amazon. Many thanks for your support!

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  1. Some expenditures could better be described as investments, and a lot of your buys this month fall into this category!When I’m looking at spending well squeezed dollars, I mentally categorise them as “investments”, ie,, I profit from them, and luxuries, ie, delightful, but inessential. Sometimes my heart is warmed by a luxury,and some of them bring long term, affordable joy, but those choices are few and far between, have been researched and debated, and are used mindfully and happily. I own an expensive English Bone China mug and plate that I’ve used every day for eighteen years, and still wallow in the luxury of using such beauty! At .02 cents a day,I feel like a millionairess, that’s value!

  2. Nice budget, etc. My question today, where do find internet service for $74. It’s $92 where I live in NH. Outrageous! I follow your columns avidly & with great pleasure. Best wishes to you & family. 🌷🌷🌷🌷

    1. Thank you, Barbara! We have EC Fiber internet, which is fiber internet through a locally owned cooperative. We feel very fortunate to have such wonderful internet out here in the middle of nowhere and it was actually one of the reasons why we chose our house :)!

      1. Hi Barbara, a fellow NH resident here! I am with you on the internet prices, but unfortunately NH has not made the investments that Vermont has to bring affordable high speed internet to all of its residents–something to keep on your state representatives and senators about! I truly believe this, among other things, is causing NH to fall behind our New England neighbor states (along with pretty much NO competition for Comcast in terms of internet…)

      2. I too am in NH, but we’re lucky enough to live within group of towns that TDS has wonderfully installed highspeed fiber internet- we pay $76 a month for a basic landline (to call 911) and 50mbps internet. It’s amazing! All I can say is contact your cable/internet provider and ask. Our town was going to be looked over and our leaders put up a fuss and it worked!

    2. Barbara I’m in southern NH and have Comcast internet only for $53 a month. It did take a few phone calls to convince them to drop the cable entirely. When we have basic cable (15 channels) it was $73 a month.

    3. DSL with my local phone company is something like $33/month. I don’t have, want, or need cable so I don’t do any of that bundling BS that Spectrum offers, so their internet is outrageously expensive. I don’t even have home phone with the phone company (I use a VOIP service called Ooma).

  3. It’s great you two had seen saving cash for such a big purchase. It is definitely a month of high expenses. But subtracting the truck and other needed expenses such as mortgage and lawyer fees, I think your April expenses hovers around 3-3.5k which I think is still pretty good for a month of big purchases!

    Mr. FAF and I spent $1,500 yesterday night alone buying stuff for our family in Vietnam and China. They would give us the money back, but it still feels like such a big dent in our budget. @_@

  4. Well done on protecting your children’s futures by getting your paperwork and planning in order. Nobody wants to talk or think about these things but it’s so necessary. Good for you!

  5. I know it isn’t finance related, but would you mind writing an article or maybe gracing me with a comment about your precautions and strategies when it comes to ticks? I have three young kids and I really struggle with getting out into the woods when I know those horrible creatures are lurking.

    1. Good question! I worry about ticks a lot too, but since we love to be outside and don’t want to limit what our kids can do outdoors, we do really thorough whole-body tick checks for everyone every evening. I bathe the kids at night before bed and do their tick checks then–hair, ears, toes–I check it all every night! We are looking into creating permethrin tubes in our yard (which target rodents, which are a major tick carrier). There are also guinea hens, which eat ticks but are very noisy. All that to say, we’re still figuring out a longterm strategy and are focused on the tick checks for now. We also change our clothes when we come inside. Hope this helps!

      1. There was a recent article in the NY Times about tick strategies (you can read five articles per month free)–some of their tips included always tucking pant legs into socks and spraying your shoes with permethrin. Apparently ticks don’t jump or fly but just crawl onto your shoes and keep crawling up, so if you can prevent them from crawling up on your shoes you are way ahead of the game.

      2. Re: Permethrin tubes, in the end we bought them rather than making them. Example,

        My husband handled it; if I remember correctly he put in an order for 500 directly with the manufacturer which was a nice discount. and then distributed it among 3 or 4 friends who had gone in on the order with us. It was a good excuse to see people we don’t always see. He put out the tubes last spring, last fall, and again this spring. We haven’t seen any ticks yet this year. By this time last year I think our Kindergartner had 2 in her scalp and I’d seen a third crawling on the wood chips at the elementary school. They sprayed at the school shortly after. My husband has also sprayed the swing set and the house foundation with something; I forget if it is permethrin or another insecticide.

      3. I’m so glad this question was asked. I live in MD on a farm that has a beautiful section of woods that I would love to walk. I have a fear of ticks, copperhead snakes and possible rabid animals. Can you tell I grew up in suburbia. Lol

      4. There is a hack for natural tick repelent, 1 part tea tree oil and 3 parts water, pour in spray bottle and spray clothes and shoes. It supposed to repel ticks. Otherwise please do your research but I remember reading that recently.

    2. The things mrs frugalwoods suggested are things we follow as well but we don’t use permethrin, we are using eco-off yard and bug spray where the kids tend to be and we haven’t had a ton of ticks to pick off so far! It’s made with essential oils and we picked a tick off of the dog once and watched it try to get away from the smell of the spray frantically as well as a chair full of chiggers that was completely chigger free in under five minutes.. I think it works well so long as its reapplied regularly!

    3. We’ve been successful with making our own bug spray. You simply mix 1 C water, 2C vinegar, and 20 drops of essential oils (if you don’t want to smell like vinegar). The day before we started using it my sons had 5 ticks between them. Then next days they had none even though we’ve seen ticks on the ground.

  6. How did you go about finding an attorney for your will and other documents. I had one prepared about 10 years ago but it needs updating; I was unhappy with the attorney and length of time to finalize everything. Any pointers you can offer are appreciated.

    1. I started by asking a local friend of ours who is a lawyer and he recommended several lawyers for me to contact. I also asked friends and neighbors who they’d used. Then, we had phone conversations with several law offices before we found a lawyer we liked. Definitely worth it to shop around and find someone you’re comfortable with and who will do a good job. We were very pleased with our lawyer, especially as she was able to do a lot of the work over email and phone with us. In total, it only took a few weeks to finalize everything and we only had to go into the law office twice.

      1. ok, sooo how do you interview a lawyer? and how do you know you like someone lol, i assume if you call, you’ll only reach their secretaries. I bought some documents off of legalforms .com and honestly only filled out half. I feel like a real person with law experience might do a better job. I know this important. especially with the FI community where there is large amount of assets involved. p.s your blogs are so inspirational and although i’ve not reach the level of frugality you live, but i’m way better than before.

  7. Thank you so much! Inspiring! I hope to talk the love of my life to consider some (all?!?) of your choices. Especially since he loves to make things with his impressive collection of tools.

  8. I have got to get our estate plan and will taken care of. This has been on my to-do list since having kids 8 years ago. The cost has been a deterrent in the past, but now we are done paying for childcare, I have no more excuses. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Our expenses always look the same a couple months after baby. I think during pregnancy we go into “stork mode” and try to be as frugal as we can, avoiding any unneccesary expense. After you pay that hospital bill and know that you have a healthy baby (something to very thankful for) I think some of that stress is relieved. Then it feels ok to spend some of that buffer money on much needed and researched expenses.
    And I think any baby gear that allows you to get out of the house is worth it! So nice to have great weather and not be trapped inside all day!

  10. Wowza! I was not expecting such a high number, but makes so much sense since you bought a car. With all cash! That’s awesome!

    Babyx2 are so cute, you guys look like an outdoor magazine family!

  11. From the looks of your expense report, Mr. Frugalwoods wood shop is becoming a pretty nice set up. When can we start placing our furniture orders? Also, how cool is that baby tent? When my kids were little, there wasn’t anything so inventive as that!

  12. Most of your April spending consists of discretionary purchases, with true fixed costs of living still quite low. That’s the epitome of financial freedom, having the cash and ability to make targeted discretionary purchases that support your ideal lifestyle. Still jealous of that low electric bill!

    That table saw sounds like a good investment. My father cut a finger quite badly while operating one in the course of making some beekeeping equipment (frames) years ago for a joint venture that involved him in the role of venture capitalist and yours truly as the man behind the veil. He buggered up a tendon and chipped bone as well. Had years of experience operating the saw in question, you can never be too careful.

    Our April spending is going to be a bit high as well. Uncle Murph (my affectionate moniker for Murphy’s Law) decided to settle in for an extended stay, apparently. The list of unscheduled programming on the homestead:

    1) Bike tire tube goes flat just as cycling weather arrives
    2) Starter gives up the ghost without warning in Car #1
    3) Tractor muffler cracks and breaks, turning lawnmower into a cringe-inducing menace
    4) Master Bath garden tub develops leaky valves and won’t shut off completely
    5) Master Bath garden tub develops leaks at shutoff valves
    6) Master Bath toilet develops leak at bidet fill valve
    7) Exterior Faucet sillcock develops leak
    8) Insulation from garage ceiling falls into garage
    9) Lightning strike zaps DSL Modem, taking out our internet
    10) Said lightning also zaps office desktop PC motherboard

    A healthy emergency fund means none of these things constitute dire financial straits, but a commitment to saving via the DIY power of insourcing translates to a busy month of sourcing parts and performing repairs. Gonna be a Master Plumber by the time it’s all said and done!

    1. Oh wow! That’s quite a list. But like you said, having that emergency fund saved up means it’s no major financial crisis. Good luck with the plumbing! Mr. FW learned how to re-plumb our house in a baptism of fire a few years ago when one of our pipes froze and burst… PEX is your friend!

  13. Your budget this month IS making me feel better. We are picking up a vintage Shasta camper today and of course paying in cash. We have been stalking one for 5 years plus and this one was the right combination of ready to camp and not so fancy as to blow the budget. I will think of it as my adult “baby tent”. 🙂
    Enjoy your outdoor summer after the LONG winter.

    PS-I loved your book!

    1. “Adult baby tent”-haha! Enjoy your camper!!! And thank you for your kind words about my book! If you’re so inclined, I’d be very grateful if you’d consider writing a review of it on Amazon. Many thanks!

  14. Phew, what a whirlwind of a month! Hahaha, Mr. Picky Pincher and I did the same smorgasbord of buying once we got our used truck. I admit it’s nice being able to haul things. I once *barely* fit a couch in the back of a Honda Fit and, in that moment, I wanted a truck so badly!

    April was all right for us. We overspent on takeout, so we’re watching that this month. I think we’re doing all right. 🙂

  15. There are definitely times when going cheap is… too cheap. A sawstop saw sounds ideal for a family with two little ones! I am VERY glad to hear that you got your wills & estate plans squared away – I have seen too many horror stories from families that didn’t do their planning and then something unfortunately happened.

  16. Sometimes the littlest things like that baby tent purchase can really help with quality of life. Glad you decided to get one. 🙂

    With your now cleaned-out basement, I was curious if you guys have contemplated making beer? Since you are the big on DIY, I didn’t know if that was something you were contemplating. I do remember you talking about your cider adventures so maybe that’s enough for now. Another blogger I read, Jordann of My Alternate Life just detailed her and her husband’s beer making exploits and now I want to get back into making some myself.

  17. I hope you are planning on writing about wills and estate planning!! I’ve also had an expensive month, but my past frugality is making it manageable.

  18. I don’t know what kind of food processor you bought the replacement blade for but about a year ago Cuisinart issued a recall on their blades and replaced them for free. We took advantage of that and did not need to provide a receipt for it.

  19. Mrs. Frugalwoods, Reading this makes me think that perhaps I am doing it all wrong. Can you expand more on your cash/index fund holdings. Can you do a quick % breakout of where your funds are. For example; Emergency Fund x%, Regular Spending Acct x%, 401/retirement x%. The reason I think I’m doing it wrong is that I’m shoveling funds into my retirement accounts (401s) and while that money is technically available to me, the fees that would be levied to pull money out isn’t worth it. I have an emergency account but to buy a car in cash would wipe it out. To build it back up again I would have to lower my retirement contributions. In summary, I think I’m doing it wrong. Thank you! PS. I loved the book! I’m looking forward to part II.

  20. Hadn’t seen the 72 hour rule before… I actually do that for a lot of my decisions, even pre-FIRE journey… i do that with emails too… i wait at least a business day to a week…

    Do they have a regular human tent? sometimes i’m just looking for shade 🙂

  21. That’s not bad at all! Most of it is a truck! Our April expenses was $700 which is our standard. I noted your groceries were in the $400s! That’s very impressive for a now family of 4!! We have about 2.5 mouths to feed and we spent $350 last month.

  22. Nice truck. My internet is $69 a month and I am surprised that you can even get broadband internet out where you live. Where I grew up at is a dead zone for all broadband services. But I am getting off track, the question I have, I know you heat with wood and don’t have air conditioning, but you do have other things that use electricity, how do you get your electric bill to be $17 ?

  23. Wow! Sounds like an awesome month! We just did our finances yesterday, and for us, April finally took us over a number we’ve been trying to hit (and nearing) over the past few months. And now we’re there! I would absolutely feel “good about your spending vis-a-vis my spending”… but you’re completing your 5th lap, and I feel like I’m only on my first, only a quarter of the way through the course. We have a long way to go to FIRE, but this blog continues to be a source of inspiration. Thank you!

  24. My husband has been wanting a truck ever since we moved to our own house for the same reason! There’s just so much you need a truck to tote, and I can only imagine how much more you’d need it way out in the country. We got a huge van from his parents for free, so we use that to carry a lot, but it just doesn’t quite have the same load capacity! I’m sure that’s one purchase you’ll be more than happy you made.

  25. A lot in one month, but worth it. I wish they’d had baby tents when I still had babies! That would have been so useful in Florida, because the sun is so fierce and the mosquitoes are fiercer.
    Our April was spendy, due to a medical issue requiring all sorts of stuff that I suddenly couldn’t find used, after seeing it used everywhere before. But when someone breaks a knee, you can’t just tell him to hang on a month or so until a good used walker turns up, ya’ know?
    I’m hoping May is a better month for us. So far, the temps in the 90’s every day is NOT helping.
    Babywoods and Littlewoods are so cute!

  26. Considering you’ll never again have to make a payment on that truck, this spending does not seem crazy at all.

    When I put together my personal financials, I keep track of both cash and “accrued” expenses. For example, I don’t have a car payment today but I add a monthly cost for a car in my spending and accumulate in savings. When I do need a car, I’ll use that money to pay for it. If I spend less, great. If I spend more, only the amount above savings will impact my financial picture for the year.

  27. After looking over your expenses this month and learning about the size of your income in your book, I have an issue with the reality which your advice is built on. Your homesteading experience is a world away from many people who live frugally by necessity and depend on the land to help provide. Picking berries, making hard cider, etc. etc. is the experience of well-educated yuppies who are playing at a lifestyle and there’s nothing wrong with that but, at least, be real. None of what you accomplished at such a rapid rate, could have been done without such a healthy income and portfolio. I, for one, would have appreciated the full truth.

    1. Privilege has been discussed on the website a number of times. If I recall correctly it was also addressed at the beginning of the book.

    2. Hi Anne – I know that Mrs FW has multiple posts about how they wouldn’t be where they are today without a certain level of privilege. I don’t think she has ever hid the fact that thanks to her upbringing, education, etc. she is where she is today.

    3. Hi Anne – I’m not the author of this blog, and probably should mind my own business, but your thought, “…well-educated yuppies who are playing at a lifestyle….” is anything but a well intentioned or kind comment, in my opinion.
      If you distrust or dislike the information being provided here, then perhaps you should find another blog that better suits your life and belief systems.

    4. Hi Anne, I was reading your comment, and you know, I do think that what you say does have some merit. The reality is, though, that the folks who are Hard Core Frugal because they have no other choice than to be Hard Core Frugal are just so dang busy making ends meet, they are not writing about their experience. Liz writes about it because she has the luxury of choice in how she spends her time, and I do believe that she has been a great example of someone who has consciously made life/spending decisions that have earned her that time freedom. You are correct that most people who make those same spending decisions will not have her outcome because they just don’t have the type of income that they did/do. However, I try not to get bogged down in this. I try to take the good lessons that I can learn from this blog, and apply them to my own situation, and hope to pass along the gems to my own children as they make their way in the world. I am not saying that what you are feeling is wrong, I am just suggesting that we take a step back to examine if we are able to get useful information that we can apply to our lives from reading this blog and continue reading for that reason only.

    5. I don’t think you get more honest than this: http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/02/16/the-privilege-of-pursuing-financial-independence/

      Anne, it seems like you’re saying she should mention the “full truth” of her privilege in every post… which would make for a fairly boring blog, in my opinion. Of course Frugalwoods’ reality is far different from those who are depending on their land to provide, but she’s owned that fully, and sharing her own reality doesn’t detract from those whose are impoverished or who are living a different experience. If you’re not interested in reading her perspective, you’re under no obligation to do so.

    6. Anne, Mrs. FW has addressed this, both in her blog and in her book. She and Mr. FW have had a good foundation, but they also made their own luck from extreme frugality (and they have not inherited anything from parents, no trust fund, etc). However, even without a trust fund, Mrs. FW states that they are very privileged and that many others don’t have the same opportunities, and that she is thankful.

      The full truth? She has completely opened up herself and her family to the entire internet. She is sharing what she and her husband wanted to do and made happen. When has she not shared the truth? She does not have to apologize to anyone for her hard work. They went to school, she got a Master’s, they worked hard, had two incomes, saved from the very beginning, and waited a while to have kids. They are self-made, no one financed this life for them.

      As someone mentioned, this may not be the blog for you. You may not have intended this post to be mean-spirited, but it is. Please take your baseless assumptions elsewhere where you will be happier.

  28. Hahaha, spending more to keep everyone’s fingers I would say is a prudent financial move!

    As a skin cancer survivor, I applaud your purchase of a baby tent. Sun protection has to start from birth.

    We had a good April. Husband was able to fix his chainsaw for free after watching youtube videos.

  29. Please write an entire article about the will and estate plan! The estate planning process is so confusing and complicated, it has so much in common with personal finance in this way. We went through it and I’m still not sure if we made the right decisions. Living trust? testamentary trust? beneficiary forms? oh my. I have so many questions . . . like how did you decide to have your retirement plans be inherited, directly to a named person, to a trust, or through the will? Thanks!

  30. Wow, I NEVER comment here, but I had to laugh this month as we recently bought some of the exact same things. A baby tent for a place for our six month old to sleep when we go camping in a few weeks (she’ll be in our tent, but it will keep her from rolling around) and to have for the summer or other travel, plus baby head phones (we’re camping at a music festival so want to protect her hearing). And, updating our will is very much on our list and we specifically bought a plan through my husband’s work for this year that entitles us to services from a lawyer, which we’re going to use to get things updated.

  31. The baby tent looks wonderful. I’m sure Littlewood will enjoy many happy hours in it this summer.

    Also, I’m gonna need you to write another book so I can discover Littlewoods’ name. I’m guessing that’s the only place you reveal your actual names and I’m so curious! 😉 I love Babywoods’ name.

  32. The longer I live in New Hampshire, the more I appreciate why lots of residents choose to drive big trucks. There is a lot of stuff to haul, especially when you have big parcels of land you have to maintain through these long winters. I’m not much of a truck person, but it looks like a nice truck you got for just $15K.

  33. Nice article and some interesting comments. We should all know that not everything can apply in our specific situations. Just take what we can use and run with it. I have needed to buy a couple new items recently. A computer for a friend (needed for work), and actually needed one for me this month. Washing machine 2 months ago. These were purchased using a 12 month same as cash deal with the vendors. Also, when I cut the grass, I put a certain amount in an envelope. Also, when I use the washing machine, I put a dollar in an old peanut butter container. I paid for the lawn mower with the money I put in the envelope as well as buying a chainsaw to trim my trees and a couple other items, so I figure these things were free. I also put away any saving from coupons, my AAA discounts, AARP member ship and use this for purchases I may need to make. Also, if you are a veteran, ask for a discount- many don’t advertise these things, but will give if you ask for them.

  34. I love it when I read a post which is not only interesting but provides me with an answer to a dilemma of my own. The ramp widgets? I can only afford to run one vehicle, but living on acreage, it needs to be one that can carry items like my generator when it needs repair.
    My old Mazda 323 van was very low to the ground, so I could lift one end of the generator into the back of the van while the other was still on the ground, then push the lump up and in, but the current vehicle, a Nissan X-Trail (medium 4WD) is much higher, so I’ve been using two planks to form a ramp to slide the generator up. It’s not an easy manouevre on my own. Ramp widgets to the rescue!

  35. That’s a big month for you guys! April was pretty lean for us spending-wise. May will have a lot more expenses. We’re going on a road trip to the mountains. It will be the longest driving trip we’ve taken with our toddler. Yay! And eek! Lol

  36. I’ll add a kudos to the SawStop decision, both for safety and frugality . I have had two “lucky” table saw incidents, and one “lucky” router incident…and I’m only 33! Sparing the details, all three involved ER trips, and one required some follow-up surgery…but all were lucky in that they could have been MUCH worse. After my most recent incident, I bought a SawStop fearing my luck was nearing an end. Do keep in mind though the safety system will only *minimize* the injury; it’s still possible to have a bad injury, so always use the guard! 🙂

    Side note: if you/Mr. FW don’t have a dust collector, which is required on the cabinet saw version, you can DIY a cyclonic dust separator for a 5 gal. bucket and use a ShopVac (just search on Google). For light usage it works great!

  37. Hi! First time commenter here 🙂 I’ve however, been reading your blog for several months now 😉 and can I say, there has yet to be a blog I’ve been so enthralled by! You’ve encouraged me so much on my journey with frugality. I’m continually inspired and challenged. I just love it here at frugalwoods ha. And it must be said you have the cutest little family!! I can relate with my husband and I also having two little girls (3 & 1) 🙂

    Welp, our April was decent. Better than March, ha! We had near $600 for my husbands school tuition and books.. buuuut His work is reimbursing us!! Hollaaa lol. And on two high notes our fast food spending was cut in half. And I’ve learned my downfalls as too how we fall into the convienance food trap and I’m making changes accordingly. Note, being A, too tired to make dinner and B, not eating before going out for errands etc.. so I’ve begun to make dinner early afternoon whilst I still have energy and pack snacks for the road! So far, so good-ish ha! 😉

    We as well, did not spend any money on alcohol! Gasp! Lol. We were spending about $100 a month. Sigh. So much. But hubby and I are taking a break and it’s going pretty good because we have not bought or drank since March! Woohoo, feels good! Although, last night I was complaining that it sounded good 😉 ha!

  38. April was a big spend month for us too. Income taxes & Property taxes due. Also an unexpected trip due to husband’s dad’s rapidly declining health & a home improvement project. I like that baby tent. My new grandbaby needs one of those.

  39. Don’t forget Life Insurance. With children I find it a must. So sorry I was not blessed with them, but find my sisters kids a blessing. I had a friend who lost her husband…no life insurance. My cousin lost her husband, but did have life insurance. Very sad, but she was able to keep on going in relative the same life style for the children. Our husbands stepped in until she met a very wonderful man. Life insurance should cover both parents!!!! Just wanting to make sure the babieswoods have more than a will. Love you all!!!!

  40. I love that tent! I’m definitely going to set up an alert for a similar table saw. We have a less safe standard table saw, and it would be nice to better protect our fingers. I’m imagining if the safety mechanism is triggered it damages the motor… but I guess body parts are lots more important than electrical motors!
    Our April was completely average for us.

    1. Hi Ashley – the motor is pretty much untouched, so that’s a positive. A metal cartridge rams into the blade, and the whole thing drops into the table…so you’re out ~$70 for the cartridge, plus a blade. All in all, not terrible. I think Bosch might have a portable jobsite saw that has a reset-able system, but the SawStop is a really nice saw in general (precise, sturdy, etc). You won’t regret it! 🙂

  41. Thanks for sharing the link to the tent. I had bought a play yard for our baby, and it’s getting good use in the house to manage the times when she and our dog are unsupervised. I feel like I need something else for outside, and the bugs are definitely a consideration. I really like the tent. Thank you!

  42. So glad to hear you had your will and estate planning done! I am a Benefits administrator at work and it’s so sad when someone dies and the family is left floundering when there is no will or the beneficiary information for their life insurance is not up to date. Note to everyone – keep everything current and save your family the heartache after you are gone!

  43. We have a sawstop table saw as well. When our old one broke, I cajoled/begged/manipulated/guilt-tripped my hubby into buying one with the safety feature. Some of the in-laws think it’s dumb to spend extra money on something that will “just make you sloppy” and “depend on it to cover your mistakes”. That might be true, but what’s a finger worth?? Also, we have a lot of people using our saw (family members, teenagers, new employees, etc.) and not everyone is as “safe” as my in-laws think they are.

    So, yeah… good investment there!!

  44. I enjoy your blog a lot :-). I wanted to comment about the table saw. My father is a shipwright (boat carpenter) and has used a table saw and many other power tools for decades. The table saw has fortunately only caused minor injuries, but he has nearly lost his fingers several times on a router! My point? Be careful with all the power tools… since keeping fingers intact is indeed a good investment:-)

  45. We keep buying things we don’t really use much like a running machine, but funny you mention the baby tent …. I am an international overseas expat …. and it is mosquito season here …. so we have these tent like contraptions that act as mosquito nets …. other than that though we live like kings overseas with 2 maid-chef and a chauffeur or driver as we call them – Michael CPO

  46. I read with great interest your SawStop purchase. I make furniture as a (decidedly unfrugal hobby) and my tablesaw (a 5hp cabinet version of the SawStop) was one of only 2 major tools I purchased new. I’ve had the SawStop for 11 years, and have not triggered the brake yet (yay me!). I would caution you on 2 fronts. First, if you are cutting any wood other than kiln or air dried hardwood (think dimensioned pressure treated lumber), test it against the blade to insure the moisture content doesn’t trip the brake. The second piece of advice would be to buy an extra brake cartridge. If you do trip the brake, the blade and cartridge will be toast, and you won’t want to have to wait until a new one arrives to restart building. These are not carried locally in any stores that I’ve seen.

    There are many other websites where high quality new-to-you woodworking tools can be found at very reasonable quantities. The best in my opinion is http://www.woodnet.net

  47. Kudos to you on finding the baby tent! If there had been something like this 30+ years ago when my son was small, I would have snapped it up, especially at that price. Many times I have seen baby items sold now that would have made life easier “back when”, but on the flip side there are also some things that just make me want to do a major eye roll!

  48. It is important for seniors to keep their power of attorney; advance health directives, wills, beneficiaries, emergency contacts updated. My mother in law was estranged from her entire family for over 40 years. At age 88 she called 911 and was removed from her home. She went into the hospital and died 2 weeks later. She was able to give the doctor verbal end of life directives but gave no personal contacts…not a lawyer, friend, pastor, banker. Her neighbor goggled my husband’s name and the hospital found him thru an obsolete phone number. The hospital informed him of his mother’s death and requested plans for her body. We had to put the hospital on hold, get a lawyer, get a court order to break into her house (100 miles away), search for a will or any advance directives (none found), found evidence of banks -11!!!!-got court permission to open lock boxes…no will,directives,beneficiaries found. As my husband was her only living relative he was declared her heir and representative of her estate. It took us a lawyer and one year to deal with her estate. She was quite wealthy and a Rhoades Scholar but had made no plans. We decided the deposition of her body, her home and possessions, and her wealth. It was a lot of work and time spent over the year and 100 miles one way from home. Make plans, people! Even if you have no family you can choose how you want your body handled and to which charities you want your wealth distributed. Don’t leave it up to someone who has no idea of what you might have wanted.

  49. PS…mark your money accounts as “payable on death” (Obviously not for minor children). Saves your responsible adult beneficiaries lawyer fees and hassles and multiple trips to the holding financial institution as long as it is an amount that does not require medallion stamp from financial officer.

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