February’s spending reflects the endless wintertime we find ourselves mired in. Nearly everything we bought is in some way seasonal, which is a lovely way of reminding myself that this snow, this winter, this cold is temporal. It’ll melt, it’ll move on, and spring will rush in, making us question if there ever really was snow piled so high that it partially covered our first floor windows? How could that be? Well, it could be because I’m looking at it right now.

The Spending Of An Impending Spring

We’re going to make maple syrup for the first time this year and so, we bought supplies. I wrote about our preparation for the process here and I’ll update you on how it goes! This incessant novelty and learning is why we moved here. Every time we do something new on the homestead, we embrace our goal of lifelong learning. Constant mistakes. Constant newness. Constant progress.

February 2019 on the homestead. I don’t think the garden is ready to plant quite yet…

“We can only get better” is our constant refrain. I love being on this journey. I love this never-really-knowing-what-we’re-doing approach to life. Before we moved here, our lives were too easy. Too simple. Boring, even, because we’d mastered our routines. Out here? It’s a firehouse of inexperience and a barrage of errors that (hopefully) result in eventual wisdom.

We’re going to plant a vegetable garden this summer for the third time and so, we bought seeds. Each year we make adjustments to our vegetable aspirations based on what grew well, what died, what we ate, what we preserved, and what went to the compost. Even though this’ll be our third year of vegetable gardening, it still feels fresh. Our knowledge acquired so recently that we’re still tentative and green.

The Spending Of A Never-Ending Winter

Snow on our back porch steps. Real snow. Real steps.

Those are the forward-looking purchases. Then there are the where-we-are-right-now expenses. In deference to the permeating cold of this winter, we bought this electric blanket (affiliate link). Pre-heating the bed delivers the nightly luxury of slipping into an encompassing warmth that thaws even the frostiest of toes.

An advantage of the blanket we selected: two zones and two controls. Hence, if you share a bed with someone, you can each control your own side’s temperature! Very convenient if you happen to have different temperature requirements from your partner.

For warming from the inside out, we stocked up on local craft beer to imbibe on dark winter nights as we snuggle around the woodstove.

To mitigate the ice rink our driveway decided to masquerade as, we ordered a load of sand and gravel from our neighbor. This gets spread on top of the ice and gives our car tires traction so that we can drive up the driveway and not slide backwards like a wayward bobsled.

Sippy Cups: Not Related To Weather

Neither winter nor spring was the purchase of four sippy cups, to be evenly distributed between our two children. Up to this point, we’d been making it work with hand-me-down sippy cups received over the years, supplemented by a few .25 cent garage sale purchases. However. One of my teethed children chewed the spouts of every single cup to the point that they no longer function as spill-proof. Seeing as that’s the primary feature of a sippy cup, it was time to order replacements.

Who us? Do we look like we’d mangle sippy cups?

As I always do before buying kid-related stuff, I polled my wise mom’s group for their recommendations. A hearty contingent of experienced mommas recommended these Munchkin Miracle 360 cups (affiliate link) because:

  • They’re not terribly expensive.
  • They’re spill proof (I will note that if a kid throws the cup onto the floor, some liquid will leak out, but it’s not egregious).
  • They allow kids to drink as you’d normally drink from a cup (as opposed to simulating a bottle), which is supposed to be better for their dental health.
  • They can be used without the lids as regular drinking cups (convenient since Kidwoods drinks from an open cup at mealtimes).
  • They are 100% dishwasher-able.

I was sold and bought four so that I can put an end to the interminable conversations with Kidwoods over which child will receive which cup with which liquid (milk or water). Having four identical sippy cups that aren’t chewed or leaking is a form of nirvana.

Littlewoods Turned One!

Littlewoods turned 1!

Our most noteworthy February event–Littlewoods’ first birthday–didn’t cost us anything at all. We feted our girl with homemade pancakes (we swear by this recipe) stuffed with berries picked from our garden last summer. I brought out the party hats we’ve used for everyone’s birthday for the last, oh, five years or so. Littlewoods’ grandparents sent her a few gifts and Mr. FW and I gave her a gift we’d purchased from a garage sale last summer. As soon as the gifts came out, Kidwoods went on alert and elected to “help” Littlewoods open her presents with a bit too much vigor. As Kidwoods explained, “Sometimes babies don’t know how to use their presents.” Good thing she was there to supervise and explain.

I took the opportunity to dress Littlewoods up in multiple outfits and take her photo because that’s my gift for, you know, giving birth to her and feeding her from my body for 12 months. Can’t help myself with the dresses and matching bows. Really, I can’t.

If you’re curious about our approach to frugal kid-rearing, check out my kids section. For birthdays specifically, there’s Our Thrifty And Simple Baby’s First Birthday Party (about Kidwoods’ first b-day), and for infant-hood, which we’re now departing (!!!!), last month I wrote How I Saved Tons Of Money During My Baby’s First Year.

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.

For more on our credit card strategy, check out The Frugalwoods Guide to a Simple, Yet Rewarding, Credit Card Experience.

The creek running through the woods near our house

If you want to get a simple cash back credit card, then from my research, I think the Fidelity Rewards Visa (which is the card that I have) and the Chase Freedom Unlimited are both excellent options. Both of these cards have no annual fee and offer good cash back percentages on your purchases.

The best way to find a credit card that’ll work for you is to search for them yourself. Fortunately, there’s a website, CardRatings.com, with a search function for this purpose that nicely aggregates information about tons of different credit cards.

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! (note: these credit card links are affiliate links)

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Mr. FW beating back the snow encroaching on our porch

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 manner, you might consider trying Personal Capital (note: these Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 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 Cambridge, MA, which I discuss here. Why do we allocate our money like we do? 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).

Glamour shed, in danger of being eaten by snow

For us, embracing prudent financial management and 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 in which we maximize efficiency.

Why do I share our expenses? To help give you a sense of how we use our money in a goal-oriented manner. Your spending will differ from ours and there’s no “one right way” to spend and no “perfect” budget (perfection does not exist!). We’re not the most frugal people on earth (far from it) and we’re not spendthrifts either.

We fall somewhere in between and I hope that by being transparent about our spending, you might gain some insights into your own spending and be inspired to take proactive control of your money.

If you’re wondering where to start with managing your money, or if you’d like to save more money every month, you might consider taking my free, 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge. You can sign-up at any time and you’ll start with Day One of the Challenge.

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.

Kidwoods in snow shoes, traversing the tundra

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 take it to a transfer station once a week in bags that we purchase from our town), we heat our home with wood we harvest ourselves from our land, and we don’t have central air conditioning (we use window units during the hottest parts of the summer). We also have solar panels, which account for our low electricity bill.

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 other common expenses that you don’t see listed below?

If you’re wondering about anything else, feel free to ask me in the comments section!

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

Item Amount Notes
VT Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $841.83 I guess we were extra hungry this month? I also did the grocery shopping once, which could explain some things… Mr. FW is our usual grocery shopper (since he’s our cook) and I tend to be less, uh, focused when I’m at the grocery store…
Preschool $482.74 Kidwoods goes to preschool four mornings a week, which we and she love! More on our preschool decision here.
Repairs for our Truck $262.30 Repairs to our 2010 Toyota Tundra, pursuant to my truck-not-starting adventure last month.
Roomba! $259.98 We bought this Roomba (affiliate link) and I’m so excited that I wrote an entire post about it. You’re welcome.
Household supplies $177.29 Thrilling items such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, medications, dental floss, baby supplies, etc.
Maple sugaring supplies $153.46 We’re making maple syrup this spring! This was the cost for tubing, spiles, T’s, and a tapping bit. Wondering what all of that means? Lucky for you, I wrote this post about maple syrup making.
Electric Blanket $153.16 Mr. FW and I adore a pre-warmed bed and our old electric blanket ceased to get warm. We did some research and selected this one to keep our toes toasty and whoa buddy is it warm (affiliate link).
Gasoline for cars $80.40
Internet $74.00 Big fans of our fiber internet!!!!
Date night!!! $70.61 Mr. FW and I went on our customary once-a-month date night (our adopted grandma neighbor comes over to babysit after we put the kids to bed!!! WE LOVE HER).
Driveway sanding $65.00 Icy conditions necessitated we order a load of sand/gravel from our neighbor to dump on our quarter-mile long, steep driveway.
Local craft beer $56.00 A stock-up for our beer fridge. Yep, we have a beer fridge, which we found for free on the side of the road many years ago.
Diesel for the Tractor $45.86
Spices from Penzey’s $40.63 Smoked Paprika, Chili Powder, and Epazote
Kitchen supplies $29.29 We’re in a never ending quest to find spatulas and spoons that don’t fall apart. We cook a lot and our stuff takes a beating. We bought this cooking spoon and this spatula (affiliate links) in the hopes that they’ll be more durable.
Vegetable garden seeds!!! $26.50 It’s seed starting time! We bought seeds for our massive vegetable garden from Sample Seeds this year, which has a chaotic website but cheap prices.
Co-pay for a visit to the pediatrician $25.00 One of the kids was sick with something at some point during this month. Can’t remember who or with what, so they must be fine now.
Local maple syrup $25.00 Can’t wait ’til we’re making our own!
Sippy cups for the kiddos $23.94 On the recommendation of my mom’s group, I bought four of these and I love them (affiliate link).
Cell phone through BOOM Mobile $19.99 BOOM is an MVNO cell provider, which is why it’s so cheap. If you’re not using an MVNO (such as BOOM, Ting, Mint, Republic Wireless), do some research as it’s likely you’ll be able to decrease your cell phone bill by A LOT.
Utilities: Electric $19.09 We have solar (which I detail here) and this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
TOTAL: $4,324.93

How was your February?

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  1. Oh how we love Penzey spices. Sometimes we even visit their store while visiting family and it is ridiculous how many items we think about using. Luckily for our budget we’ve gotten wiser over the years. This reminds me though that I need to buy vanilla beans. My homemade extract will be gone soon so I need to start a new batch!

    1. Yum! My friend recently made me homemade vanilla extract and I LOVE it. I hadn’t realized how easy it is to whip up!

    2. I’ve seen other posts re: Penzey spices. Are they truly more flavorful than other brands you’ve tried?

      1. They are. We adore Penzey’s in our house! They also typically include a surprise free spice if you order online. It’s how we discovered dried shallot powder, which is our new obsession that we add to most dishes including Mac and cheese, popcorn, soup, salads, quesadillas… just be sure to sprinkle a teensy bit as it’s very flavor packed.

      2. Wait for the deals, though – there are many each month, it seems. I wait for a deal for the freebie to definitely be something that I want/use regularly because they are so pricey. I find that bulk spices in stores like Fresh Thyme, though, are very good – bay leaves, especially are especially affordable and not hugely marked up. It’s definitely a splurge in my budget when I buy from Penzeys.

    3. Good luck finding some vanilla beans that aren’t outrageously expensive. Did you know that there’s a worldwide shortage of vanilla beans right now? I guess Madagascar didn’t produce the normal amount in their crops last year. I first noticed a few months ago that I couldn’t find vanilla beans anywhere— finally found a jar and it cost $18 for one single bean. I’m embarrassed to write this on Frugalwoods but I bought it anyway because I was making something that required it and enjoy eating good food! A few weeks ago I ran out of vanilla extract and had to pay $25 for an 8 oz bottle. I’m motivated to make my own extract now since it will likely be far cheaper, even by paying $18 per bean, since I like baking and use it regularly. Like Ina Garten, I like good vanilla! 😋

      1. I also was going to make my own vanilla extract this year, but freaked out over the price of beans! I had no idea there was a shortage, but now it makes sense. I checked Penzey’s just now and they are out of stock ☹️

  2. I’m wondering if I should take this post as a sign. I’ve had my electric blanket since before I had my daughter so it’s more than 14 years old. This year, it hasn’t been getting the bed toasty. Sometimes my hubby will turn the blanket on HOURS before bedtime and we slip in to semi-warm sheets. Alas, they are still semi-warm, not freezing, so I haven’t taken the plunge to buy a new one. I kept thinking if I could just make it through the winter, then maybe I could find one on clearance or something. The problem with this, is that would require actual shopping…something that I’m generally just not a fan of! But that first snuggle into nice warm sheets is like settling into a bubbling hot springs and maybe it’s time to just accept the old one has done it’s work and it’s ok to let it go.

    1. Now’s a good time to get an electric blanket on sale as the northern hemisphere warms up. 14 years is an awful lot of lifetime value for this item – they don’t usually make it to double-digit lifespans.

  3. I swear by the GIR spatulas/spoons/ladles. They’re one piece silicone so that they’re less likely to faults that stem from water/batter getting into the connecting parts and becoming gross. I’ve had mine seemingly forever (maybe 5 years) and they don’t look used at all and I use them every day. Yes, they’re a bit spendy, but worth every penny.

    1. Thank you for the tip! We had fully silicone spatulas before buying these and they ripped! But they weren’t the GIR brand, so we’ll try those next (if we have to!)

    2. I love my GIR utensils! They really do amazing things – their ladle is my favorite – bendy in the front so you can scrap the pan without having to get something else dirty!

    3. I came to the comment section just to recommend GIR spatulas. As the in-house chef, I can testify that they have the perfect amount of strength/rigidity and flex. I bought mine on Prime Day at a major discount (cheaper than your affiliate links) and have had them for years. Five stars, would buy again.

  4. We absolutely love Penzey’s spices in this house and find they are worth every penny! However I will admit to the store being dangerous territory for us back in the day. Luckily for our budget, we have wised up to which blends we will actually use and which we will just admire. And thank you for the reminder that I need to place an order. I need vanilla beans as my homemade extract is getting low and I need to start a new batch!

  5. I love snow, but it must be hard to see that much of it piled up on the porch! Soon, it will melt and mud season will begin. You’ve got me longing for a cozy electric blanket now. I think my two snuggly cats would boot me out of the bed and steal it in a heartbeat.

  6. I will affirm your purchase of that red-handled commercial spatula. We have three and they do take a beating. Ours are 10+ years old. In fact, while commercial grade utensils aren’t always the prettiest or most stylish, they are not terribly expensive and are designed to stand up to tons of abuse. I use a heating pad in my bed and love how warm and toasty it keeps me, but also wonder when it is going to suddenly catch on fire and kill me. That certainly doesn’t stop me from flicking it on every night.

  7. Yes to the sippy cups (I love that brand, too). And an even bigger yes to the electric blanket. It’s instantly soothing! Seriously the best way to end the day.

  8. “we’re going ……to……plant a vegetable garden

    I am loving discovering your blog. Have read your book which is so well written. Thank you. I’m busy sharing it with my 20 something year old kids.

    Just thought I’d let you know of an omission in your post.

  9. Just as an FYI, an enterprising toddler can figure out that if you peel up the silicon flap on the cup you can then gleefully pour out its contents onto the table in the thirty seconds your mother was out of the room fetching the fruit you’d just demanded.

    Until that knowledge is achieved, they’re great cups!

    1. Oh geez. I definitely know an enterprising toddler who would LOVE to figure that out… thank you for the heads up!!

  10. I love a cozy bed to slip into at night. I’m always cold but my hubby doesn’t like a heating blanket on the bed. I bought fleece sheets a few years ago and loved them but always had problems with pilling and they weren’t as soft as I had hoped. However, this year I bought a set of microfleece sheets from Kohls. These sheets are so warm and cozy soft and the bed is never cold. Not to mention they are very affordable.
    I also wanted to say thank you for all your posts, both blog and Instagram. I’m always excited to see an email from Frugalwoods or an Instagram post of all your snow! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Tracy! Our electric blanket has two sides to it, so you could have your side turned on and your husband could leave his off. Very convenient!

  11. We have made maple syrup for several years now. 2018 was the first year we sold syrup. Maine has this big day where most of the sugar houses are open and people are invited to visit. This is our second year being part of Maine Maple Sunday and it is so fun. We make it a big party, we sold almost everything we had made to date, it was awesome. About 350 people came. We smoked a pig, gave away ice cream with maple syrup, had a local musician play and talked to so many people in the community – so great. Luckily the sap is still flowing here so we will still get close to the 12 gallons we save for us. We use syrup instead of sugar for almost all our sweetening needs.

    Have fun with the syrup making – I love to hang oUT in the sugar house smells sooook good!

  12. I hear you on grocery expenses–if I go to the grocery store, it’s bananas spending. But if I send my husband, he gets exactly what is on the list and nothing more. Keeps the grocery budget in check.

    Before you purchased the blanket, did you look at heated mattress pads? They do the job of heating the bed, and in my not-very-sciencey-mind, I imagine you get less heat loss since it’s below you, not above you (like a blanket is). But I COMPLETELY understand the need for having a heated bed before you jump in! Helps you get to sleep faster, especially if you’re like me and get cold feet that can keep you awake. Also, an electric blanket can be used on other beds and other areas (you can’t drag an electrically heated mattress pad to the sofa, lol) so I can see it being more useful!

    I hear those round sippy cups are better for teeth development, but my son could never get a hang of using them as it requires “sucking” don’t they? He was never good at that (was a feeder grower in the NICU and had to be bottle fed with pumped milk as he couldn’t latch right). Honestly, he still has trouble with long straws. We’re still using those Camelbak Eddy kids water cups which I do recommend for having very strong silicone spouts and they are fully dishwasher safe. Plus they hold onto labels fairly well which is good for cups you need at school. Occasionally you can find a discontinued pattern with significant discounts at places like Target or Amazon so if you see one, it’s worth trying one if you haven’t yet. (perhaps you have, so ignore my fully unsolicited advice if so!)

    1. Tara, What my husband and I do is order the Walmart groceries and they bring it to our car. It saves us money over coupons because we mostly buy store brands and we make our own bread and pizza. There is also less impulse buying. Though my husband likes to stick to the list.

    2. All good thoughts here, Tara! We used to have a heated mattress pad years ago and we didn’t like it as much as the blankets. I found the wires underneath me to be kind of uncomfortable and I didn’t think it got as warm. Even though I had the exact same thought as you did regarding heat rising! Thanks for the tip on the Camelbak cups!

      1. We have an electric mattress pad and I just put a regular mattress pad over it, because I am like the Princess and the Pea. It works great, and I love getting into toasty warm bed.

  13. I keep my heat at 60f so it can feel pretty chilly when I’m on the sofa reading or watching TV. My gas fireplace insert is broken and I can’t justify the cost of a replacement and hiring a plumber to install it. My last electric blanket only lasted a year before it stopped working and it didn’t get very warm. I went ahead and ordered this one in the full size. Thanks for doing the research!

  14. We love the Munchkin 360 cups! A mouthy child can chew through the silicone top ( ask me how I know), but you can get replacement lids without having to buy a whole new cup.

  15. I’m into my electric blankie too – it’s one little luxury for the colder months. I miss it when I stay in hotels, although I have been known to bring an electric comforter/smaller size with me when traveling by car.

  16. What kinds of foods do you cook with the Epazote spice? I’ve never heard of it before! Thanks for another post that somehow makes your monthly spending interesting each and every time.

  17. I live in South Africa and I have an electric blanket YES I KNOW… but my rather whiney argument is that because our homes are really, really not well-equipped for cold (they just aren’t, it’s very sad, but might have something to do with the generally hot climate) and I do really struggle with cold extremities, to the extent that even wearing warm socks and slippers doesn’t warm my feet if they’re already cold. I actually need to heat them up. They are numb blocks of ice and then it takes hours to get warm in bed. SO I have an electric blanket and I adore it. Adore it. Turn it on about 20-30 mins before bed, turn it off once I’m in, and I am happy!

    My normally very frugal and budget-conscious, sensible mum used to – wait for this – *leave her electric blanket on low most of the day for her elderly cat* during the winter, because ”he really seems happy”. That’s a step too far, but having lived very sensibly and within her means all her life, it was her money to spend as she wished and it made her (and the cat, who lived till 23, unsurprisingly) very happy. Priorities people, priorities!

    1. What a loving thing to do for her cat! Made me feel warm and toasty!

      I’m with you on the climate issue: I lived in Sydney for a year and during the winter months, my two housemates (sturdy Aussie construction workers) would sit with me in between them on the sofa in the evenings so that they could share my blanket! No heating. Still have the pictures. Only fight came when someone had to leave the warmth of the blanket, in order to put the kettle on to make tea!

  18. I second the recommendation for the GIR silicone spatulas. I also like the Trudeau brand, but it looks like they’re not making the all silicone ones in multiple sizes before. The only issue I’ve had was little notches when I stupidly used it to scrape things out of the bottom of a blender with the blade still in place.

    Also a huge fan of Penzey’s (happy to support them simply for their voice when it comes to important issues), but will also recommend Savory Spice Shop: https://www.savoryspiceshop.com/. They have some really great custom blends that I like to use when I’m making a simple dinner, to flavor a stew or some steamed veggies or rub on a steak or pork chop before cooking.

    Lastly, for anyone considering an electric blanket – Costco! They have electric throws as well that go on sale periodically. I use one of those to keep the house a few degrees cooler than I would otherwise when watching TV in the evenings.

  19. Another hoorah for Penzey’s!
    Do you ever purchase discount gift cards to places you shop? For example, Penzey’s ran a holiday special where gift cards were 20% off, so I bought a few at that time. We’ve also done the same with Airbnb on discount gift card websites. What I’m really wondering is if you and Mr Frugalwoods find it beneficial to frontload purchases like that at a discount, or if it doesn’t fit in with the rest of your frugal mindset?

  20. Would it be asking too much to ask you to post a detailed report of what you (or your husband) purchase at the grocery store in a typical month, and also what you buy under your “household supplies” category? It seems to me that $1,000 a month is very high. I get by spending half that for a family of three (including a teenage boy who eats like none other), a dog and two cats, and all of our household supplies. I don’t mean to be critical; I am just genuinely interested in what you buy. I do clip some coupons (only for items we actually use) and shop the sales, and we are able to eat pretty well and live comfortably just spending $500/month.

    1. $500/month is amazing! Congrats! We live in California and for our family of five, which includes 3 boys, we spend $1,100 a month on food and sundry items. I have tried to get that number lower (shop at discount grocery stores, meal plan, food prep), but cannot seem to do it! I would love a detailed look into Mr. FW’s monthly grocery spend. I seem to recall that the Frugalwoods don’t eat much meat, so that probably helps! I remember the older posts about the dry beans and buying in bulk, but any additional details would be awesome! Thanks!

      1. We live in Kentucky, so I am sure our cost of food (and everything else) is much lower than yours! Three boys- wow! They are like human vacuum cleaners…once my son became a teenager- look out! He loves pizza, so one thing we have learned to do is make homemade pizza (we use a bread machine to make the dough)- more cost-effective and definitely healthier!

    2. I was wondering the same thing. We have a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 tots, plus 2 dogs), and we average $80/week. I do a 3-week meal plan and spend $200, then we fill in with milk as needed. The grocery store is an hour away for us. We include household sundries and dog food in our grocery budget. So we’re at about 320/month total.

      1. It’s a good question and I appreciate you all bringing it up. Back in the day, Mr. FW and I managed to keep our groceries at around $300-$350/month, but it keeps creeping up… first with one kid, then with the second kid… and most profoundly with our move to Vermont. Unfortunately, groceries are more expensive here. When we lived in the Boston area, we shopped at Market Basket and Costco and we sadly don’t have those options here. I’d say we’re in the phase of working on our grocery expenses now that we are four eating people (it’s amazing how much our kids eat, small as they are… ) and adjusting to our (not so) new grocery options. So, wish me luck in getting better at our grocery spending!

  21. Thank you for the “You may also like” at the end of your post. While I was reading the monthly report, I was thinking how much I missed seeing pictures of Frugal Hound.

  22. Tapping trees to make maple syrup sounds like a cool skill to have, and maybe profitable? And maybe very sticky? I’m pumped for your veggie garden. I tried seedlings last spring, I didn’t pot nearly enough, most were duds. Good luck with your seeds 🙂 can’t wait to hear more

  23. We’re big fans of the Munchkin lidded cups that you bought and have actually never used sippy cups because of them! The real question is…were you smart and bought them all four in the same color, or did you make the fatal mistake of buying different colors so that your offspring could endlessly squabble over who gets the favorite color? 🙂

    Also, I will be anxiously awaiting your experiences with maple sugaring, since I find the whole process fascinating and am forced to live out my homestead dreams through you guys, ha ha.

  24. I too wish you wrote everyday: always eagerly look for new post. Your babies are adorable; thanks for sharing your family and your daily lives with us. Reba in Tennessee.

  25. Thank you for the pancake recipe! Every recipe I’ve found so far includes loads of sugar, which is an instant turnoff. (The maple syrup provides enough.) I can’t wait to try this one.

    Happy birthday to Littlewoods!

  26. I have heard so many hurrahs for those sippy cups. I think my kids must be the only ones who hated them. And they quickly learned how to get them open, which made for lots of messes until I gave up on them.

  27. I love the munchkin cups! Make sure you completely take them apart to wash them as there is a lot of dirt that hides under the silicone and behind the little rubber bands.

  28. So much snow! And a big happy birthday to Littlewoods 🙂
    I’m a 21 year old who’s been very inspired by all the FIRE blogs out then and started my own personal finance and mindful living blog. I’d greatly appreciate it if you would check it out if you have the time, but if not, thankyou for all the good content you post!

  29. I still tuck a fleece throw blanket around my feet even with an electric blanket.
    You can take the vanilla bean you used to make extract and dry it and put in sugar to make vanilla sugar. I just bought several vanilla beans from Amish store… pricey but did get several. We live in an area around Amish, not much in the actual grocery stores after shopping in stores like Dayton OH. as they grow most of what they eat. Adding more plants and more variety that comes in at different times in our gardens.
    Enjoy the maple syrup …it’s a lot of work but worth it in the end.

  30. Your baby is sooo adorable! To be honest winter makes me sad, I hate the cold, and I always just see white everywhere but of course I need to suck it up cause Winter will come every year no matter what haha! I also use credit cards for online transactions only but prefers cash when I am doing the shopping/payment in person.

  31. We bought Tovolo silicon spoons and spatualas in 2012, and still love them. Metal handles so they can go in the dishwasher. We cook daily, and they’re holding up great. The spatula is a bit thicker than I’d like, though. We also have a Tovolo mini spatula meant for getting the last of food out of jars, and I get so excited making one last pbj with the stuff you’d normally throw out.

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