June 2019

June on the homestead

A time of idyl and pleasures, summers in Vermont are hedonistic romps through finally-thawed ground. For two months, maybe three, we denizens of the Northeast are made ecstatic by green grass and ripening gardens.

Then we get hot, retreat to the porch, and complain that it’s only 10am and already 75 degrees. We sweat and wonder aloud when fall will start. Vermont is comprised of folks who pretend to love all four seasons, but who cannot abide any temperature above 72 degrees and who find solace in deep snow. Or perhaps that’s just me.

Summer = Visitors!

Kidwoods showing my parents the joy of her mossy rock next to our creek

Summer is when our visitors descend! For some unknown reason, our families–who live in southern climes–do not like to visit us in wintertime.

Why you’d want to avoid six feet of snow, sub-zero daytime temperatures and wind-tunnel blizzards is beyond me. So in summertime, we open up the guest room and the guest bath, wash the linens, prepare the refrigerator and enjoy the bounty of our garden and our relatives.

One of the reasons we chose our homestead is that it’s good for guests. Visitors can hike, walk, porch-sit, swim, pick berries, or read books, all within steps of our front door. I relish our summer visitors and am grateful they take the time to travel here and contend with black flies and our lack of central air conditioning.

In June, my parents stayed with us for several weeks and, right after they left, my in-laws arrived and will remain until August when my sister and her family arrive. Friends are sprinkled in with shorter visits between the family lode and I love it all.

A Child-Free Vacation: Of The Gods

Yet another reason we love our summer visitors? Free childcare. Our girls don’t see their grandparents all the time, but they get a full dose of grandparental love in the summertime. As an added benefit, Mr. Frugalwoods and I get a break from the relentlessness that is parenting a three-year-old and a seventeen-month-old.

There aren’t enough superlatives to encapsulate how grateful I am to my parents and in-laws for watching our kids. My in-laws get the gold star this year as they kept the girls for FOUR DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS while Mr. FW and I went on a child-free vacation. Everyone survived our absence and, aside from me nearly drowning in lattes, it was a bout of respite for we weary parents.

Reverse Commute Vacation

The Cambridge coffee shop (and the exact seats) where Mr. FW and I realized we wanted to move to the woods

A lot of folks come to the woods of Vermont for vacation. But we who live in the woods of Vermont find the city a more appealing destination. It’s been two years since our last child-free vacation and Mr. FW and I looked forward to this vacation every single day of those two years. Every single day. We started planning by searching for quaint New England towns we could drive to. This quickly started to feel like work. I proposed we do a no-plan vacation and visit Cambridge, MA, which is where we lived before decamping to Vermont.

I would like to commend myself for this idea as it granted us total freedom from planning and researching and mapping. We know our way around Cambridge, we knew where we wanted to eat (and drink), and we didn’t feel any pressure to see the sights. We know the sights. We had a languid four days of doing our favorite vacation thing: walking around the city, stopping for coffees in the morning, decadent lunches at noon, afternoon cocktails, and divine dinners. We averaged 9 miles of walking each day, which I don’t think made up for the amount of food and beverage we consumed… but it was a nice counterbalance to the fish tacos, sushi, French pastries, nachos, craft beer, craft cider, craft cocktails…. uh, it was a delicious four days.

Nerd alert: I had to go find my book in the Harvard Bookstore and, of course, take its picture.

Plus, we got to hit up old haunts including the coffee shop where our homestead plan/Frugalwoods/financial independence goal was birthed (photo above: obviously the latte was mine… ). I also went to the Harvard Bookstore to see if they had my book (they did) and then took a picture of it on the shelf (yep, I got weird looks, especially because it was on the bottom shelf and so I had to sit on the floor in order to get the photo… ). This was the first time I saw my book in a bookstore (I don’t make it to many of those with my kidlets in tow) and I was like, WOW, I used to come to Harvard Bookstore for author talks and now, I’m an author?!? Still feels surreal. I also saw my friend Kristin Wong‘s book, Get Money, along with my buddy Erin Lowry‘s book, Broke Millennial Takes On Investing. I then nerded out and texted them photos of their books. Clearly I enjoyed myself in this bookstore…

I didn’t want to feel rushed or hectic on this vacation and, turns out, going to a city you already know is the answer. We felt zero pressure to be anywhere or do anything. We roamed around an urban Whole Foods for a good thirty minutes. I’ll be honest: they had free samples. We ducked into shops to peruse art. We stopped for a drink anytime we wanted.

We ate whatever meals we wanted on whatever schedule we wanted. During one 3pm lunch, a torrential rain descended. We didn’t have umbrellas. We could not leave the restaurant. What a shame. I asked the waiter for the drink menu and we watched the deluge as we sipped a Lost Nation beer (Mr. FW’s choice) and an aviation cocktail (my choice). This freedom from schedule and routine–the driver of our days with two littles–was refreshing and liberating. Also, disorienting.

Visiting Cambridge–the first time for me since moving away–gave me my city fix. It also made me realize how thankful I am that I no longer live there. I couldn’t get over the noise, the smells, the crowds–odd because I never noticed any of those things when I lived there. Only now that I’m more used to silence and trees does the city seem jarring.

Hotel Points!!!

This vacation also gave us the excuse to rack up hotel points on our travel rewards card (the Marriott Bonvoy). We stayed in a Marriott property (the Le Meridien in Cambridge, MA) for the stellar rate of $211 per night. Since this was such a good rate for that hotel, we decided to pay instead of using our points. By paying for the room with our Marriott Bonvoy card, we earned 6,105 points. Our plan is to (someday) use all of our points on an overseas trip where the exchange rate will be favorable to using points versus paying cash for hotel rooms.

Something Decidedly Less Relaxing (although a lot more hilarious)

The nacho-eating-baby herself

Eating in a restaurant with our kids. Before leaving on our child-free vacation, I convinced the crew that we should drag everyone to lunch at a local brewery. They had outdoor seating, a playground, lots of delicious craft beer! My expectation of this outing differed just slightly from the reality of this outing.

Expectation: We will have a family meal that daddy does not have to cook and mommy does not have to clean up. Everyone will get to order whatever they want! We will have meaningful moments and treasure the time. Reality: no one can handle themselves and the three-year-old insisted on sitting in the baby high chair because the baby insisted on plastering herself to me.

In this photo, I have an Ergo carrier still strapped to my waist because why bother taking it off since I will most certainly need to put someone in there at some point. We order nachos to share because who doesn’t love nachos?! Our three-year-old, apparently. She requests that I lick the cheese and sour cream off her nacho and so, I do. She dissolves into tears because now her nacho is damp.

Her flailing knocks over my water glass, which splashes the (not amused) people at the table next to us. I take her outside (of the already outdoor seating area… ) for a chat. Upon my departure, the baby erupts in panic screams and throws nachos on the floor (with a string of pulled pork sticking out of her mouth for emphasis). I will point out that we were eating outdoors in the middle of the day and that the nachos were intended as the appetizer. They ended up being the entirety of the meal.

Stifling our laughter over our pulled-pork-nacho-chowing baby and our not-understanding-why-we-wouldn’t-share-our-beer-with-her toddler made the whole thing worth it. Much like our Christmas Eve fiasco, these experiences (memories, I suppose?) with our kids are pure gold. And hey, the beer wasn’t bad either!

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 debt other than our mortgages, having several credit cards open for many years (which are fully paid off every month) has 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.

Central Square Cambridge!

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)

Cash Back Earned This Month: $33.07

We earn 2% cash back on every purchase made with our Fidelity Rewards Visa and this month, we spent $1,653.58 on that card, which netted us $33.07. Not a lot of money, perhaps, but it’s money we earned for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway! This is why I love credit card rewards–they’re the simplest way to earn something for nothing. I will note that if we instead had the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, we could’ve earned 3% cash back, which would be $49.61!

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide the below analysis for you fine people.

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

Me on vacation: enjoying a glass of Prosecco that no one knocked over!

Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Check out 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).

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 give you a sense of how we spend our money in a values-based 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. If you’re interested in the other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.

A Note On Rural Life

City sunset

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 take it to a transfer station once a week in bags 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 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 June:

Item Amount Notes
Vermont Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $870.28
Le Meridien Cambridge $635.20 Our three-night stay, which netted us 6,105 points on our Marriott Bonvoy  card
Household supplies $181.41 Very exciting items such as: laundry detergent, dental floss, toothpaste, baby wash (gotta wash those babies after they eat pulled pork nachos), toilet paper, and more.
Gasoline for cars $157.64
Several date nights! $155.46 We usually go on one date night per month, but, thanks to the visiting grandparents we went on quite a few. Thank you, grandparents!!!!!
Meals while on vacation $130.19 Our vacation was at the end of June and spilled over into a few days of July. This dollar amount is only for some of our meals–the rest will show up in next month’s Expense report.
Internet $74.00 Love our fiber internet!
Ladies’ Night! $42.43 My monthly ladies’ night dinner out! A fabulous, child-free experience during which my friends and I mostly talk about our children.
Family lunch out $40.63 The ill-fated, though hilarious, family lunch at a restaurant.
Overalls $32.99 Mr. FW loves these overalls so much that he bought another pair (affiliate link). They are super durable and awesome for outdoor work.
Home improvement supplies $32.82
Ethanol-free gas for small engines (chainsaw, wood splitter, lawn mower, etc) $32.21
Used kids’ books $21.75 We stopped in Portsmouth, NH on our way to Cambridge and found a used book store with an excellent children’s section. Naturally, while on vacation away from our children, we ended up spending an hour reading through used kids’ books…
Utilities: Electricity $18.80 We have solar (which I detail here) and this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Mousetraps $11.90 Mousetraps because we live in the woods alongside a lot of mice. I will tell you that we’ve used a lot of different mousetraps over the years and we like these the best (affiliate link). 10 out 10, would mousetrap again.
Cell phone $10.65 This is so cheap because I use an MVNO called Ting (affiliate link). MVNOs resell wireless service at discounted rates (but it’s the same service). They’re basically the TJ Maxx of cell phone service. If you’re not using an MVNO, check out this post to see if you can make the switch. The savings are tremendous.
Book club book $10.58 This month, my book club is reading this book (affiliate link).
Pharmacy $9.84
TOTAL: $3,861.64
Minus Mortgage: $2,468.78

How was your June?

Similar Posts


  1. I love, love, love your straw hat in the photo about eating with kids in restaurants. I don’t suppose you’d share where you got it!

    1. Thank you! I love that hat too! I bought it years ago at the Eastern Market weekend flea market when we lived in Washington, DC :).

  2. Wow, I was expecting the meals out while on vacation category to be higher than that! Did some of them get lumped in with the date nights, or did you have some hotel picnics, too?

    Also, Aviations are my absolute favorite cocktail. We served them at our wedding. 🙂

  3. Gotta admit, three nights away kid-free? Sounds pretty amazing! (And I totally understand about stopping in the bookstore and looking at the kids’ section…we’ve totally been guilty of the same!) With how much you said you guys ate, I was sure you would have spent somewhere around $300 for the food on your trip, but you guys were frugal to the last drop! Very impressive numbers on what you spent.

    1. Oh whoops!! This is my bad!!! Our vacation was at the end of June and spilled over into several days of July. I totally forgot about that until seeing the comments about our meals! We definitely spent WAY more than $130 on meals for the entire vacation–it’s just that some of the restaurant expenses hit in July and so will show up on next month’s expense report. Sorry about that!! I’ll add a note to the post to clear that up.

  4. Wow your monthly expenses remain relatively low despite all of that fun travel, hotel stay, and increased food expenses! Every time I read your post, I feel more motivated to save money while finding free/less expensive ways to enjoy life to the fullest!

  5. Love this! You featured one of my comments in your frugal-hacking vacations post a couple weeks ago, where I talked about vacationing annually to a small town in SC every year (like you with Cambridge, a place I know well). This post was timely for me, because TODAY IS THE DAY (of departure)! I’m very much ready for ten days of sun, sand, and shrimp and grits.

    I do have a question! I was wondering why you chose to stay in a hotel rather than your Cambridge property (it’s an Airbnb, correct?). Either is a good choice, I was just curious 🙂 we hope to Airbnb someday, with one of the perks being free stays whenever we want.

    Happy summer!

    1. Good question! Our Cambridge house is rented full-time (it’s not an AirBnb), so our tenants live there year-round.

  6. Hi Ms. FW! One bonus: upon first glance, I thought that Ergo waist strap was a cute belt!

    One question re. your expenses: do you guys pay for life insurance? Is that a “lump sum” expense? I’m currently trying cost compare on ours and I use your expenses as a barometer (or aspiration?!?) Thanks!

  7. My new husband and I went to Portland (Maine) for our “Mini-Moon” after our wedding. We’re honeymooning in October, but we wanted a few days away. We stayed at an aunt’s empty house (she was at her “summer” house) just outside Portland. And we ate lots of food. And drank lots of beer. And we didn’t have to take care of his six and eight year old. It was heavenly. Did we eat one very high end meal? Yes. We also ate taco’s, ate at Duck Fat (which, when you split everything is quite reasonable and still leaves you full through to your 8 pm dinner reservation!), and ate at Heavenly Donuts. It was the perfect break. I highly recommend the kid-free time!!

    1. Duck Fat is soooo good! We went to Portland, ME two years ago on our last kid-free vacay and LOVED it.

  8. So how did you manage spending only $130 on eating in Cambridge for 3 nights? Did you just drink lattes? Totally wired??!!

    1. Oh whoops!! This is my bad!!! Our vacation was at the end of June and spilled over into several days of July. I totally forgot about that until seeing the comments about our meals! We definitely spent WAY more than $130 on meals for the entire vacation–it’s just that some of the restaurant expenses hit in July and so will show up on next month’s expense report. Sorry about that!! I’ll add a note to the post to clear that up.

  9. So intrigued how you only spent $130 for all your meals, lattes, etc while on vacation? Maybe always split an entree? Anyway, great work!

    1. Oh whoops!! This is my bad!!! Our vacation was at the end of June and spilled over into several days of July. I totally forgot about that until seeing the comments about our meals! We definitely spent WAY more than $130 on meals for the entire vacation–it’s just that some of the restaurant expenses hit in July and so will show up on next month’s expense report. Sorry about that!! I’ll add a note to the post to clear that up.

  10. Love those Marriott points but a word of caution on saving them for overseas- the Marriotts in many places I’ve been (Rome) were the highest end therefore most points or nonexistent (Ireland). I saved a lot for our honeymoon and then couldn’t use them. We did stay 2 nights in Naples and Rome airport using points but booking hotels or b&bs on trips to Europe has worked better for us. The best Marriott conversion rate is in midrange ($150-200) hotels in low cost US cities. They have the lowest level for Marriott and therefore least amount of points. Portland, Boston, NYC for instance are one of the highest point levels but Hartford and Florida are lower. I usually scope points vs cost before I book too.

  11. “Enjoying a glass of Prosecco that no one knocked over” completely sums up parenthood. Whenever someone tells me they are having a baby I advise them to enjoy putting their coffee on the coffee table while they can. I also don’t understand how you ate and drank in Cambridge for three nights so inexpensively, did you two wash dishes at the end of your meals? Please, share your tips and tricks!

  12. That vacation sounds incredible! I had kind of forgotten how much fun it can be to just spend a weekend wandering around a city without having to plan around naps, playtime and all the other requirements that come along with small kiddos. And now you have us missing Cambridge as well!

  13. The gift of babysitting is worth GOLD when grandparents come to town! We live in a town with no relatives and no friends yet (just moved this month), so our “dates” will mostly be coffee/lunch during school hours. We’ve all but given up on going to restaurants with our almost 6 year old since she straight up says she only likes going to Olive Garden, all other restaurants are no good. That keeps it simple and keeps the restaurant spending low!

  14. Is it just me or is it impossibe to go on a kids free trip with your partner and NOT spend 50% of your time worrying about your kids? 😊 are they doing ok with the grandparents? Are the grandparents not getting too exhausted? Only to find out, upon return, that your kids have not missed you at all! 😂 The only time I truly let go of finances is when we are on a kids free trip and we are finally spoiling ourselves! Sounds like you had a great time.

  15. A properly made Aviation cocktail. Now we’re talking. A color unlike any other. Garnished with a cherry served in a beautiful glass. Consumed while stoop-sitting on my southern porch with friends and neighbors watching the cargo ships go up the river. Almost spiritual.

  16. I totally understand about going on vacation to some place familiar. I go to a work conference at Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area of Alabama every year for the past about 25 years. . I am free after 4 p.m. every day, and walk on the beach, eat at my fav places and just chill. It is beautiful, and familiar, and I love it. I do not have to think about where I want to go, or try to find my way around. I also understand how the city noises could be a bit jarring to you, after living in the woods. The beach is so crowded compared to my very small town, country living self, and the crowds take a bit to get used to when on vacation.

  17. I noticed “mousetraps” right away! Just this morning I opened my dishwasher and there was a mouse!! I was terrified. Fortunately, my long distance boyfriend was visiting, and is dealing with it. I also live in the country at the edge of the woods, but I have never seen a mouse in the almost three years I lived here. They are renovating the house below me. And it has been raining non-stop, so I guess that drove him in my house!

  18. I too am curious how you spent so little eating out on vacation for three days! We usually average $100/day if eating out on vacation for real, especially if drinks are involved. That’s why I usually air bnb it, although I know in expensive cities, it can be illegal to get access to one so hotels become a requirement.

    Sounds like you all had a lot of fun though, and I like your idea of going to someplace you know for a mini, kid-free vacation. I plan to do that in NY (where we used to live for many years) when we can get a cheap hotel in the offseason of cold-cold January/February (exclusive of the three day weekends).

    1. Oh whoops!! This is my bad!!! Our vacation was at the end of June and spilled over into several days of July. I totally forgot about that until seeing the comments about our meals! We definitely spent WAY more than $130 on meals for the entire vacation–it’s just that some of the restaurant expenses hit in July and so will show up on next month’s expense report. Sorry about that!! I’ll add a note to the post to clear that up.

  19. Please please please tell us how you had 3 nights/4 days of “coffees in the morning, decadent lunches at noon, afternoon cocktails, and divine dinners” in Cambridge for $130. Honest question, I aspire to this!!

    1. Oh whoops!! This is my bad!!! Our vacation was at the end of June and spilled over into several days of July. I totally forgot about that until seeing the comments about our meals! We definitely spent WAY more than $130 on meals for the entire vacation–it’s just that some of the restaurant expenses hit in July and so will show up on next month’s expense report. Sorry about that!! I’ll add a note to the post to clear that up.

  20. Lovely post! Made me want to invite more people to our place and have a «staycation» instead of going away for the summer… I also have to say that you look so well in most photos: Just goes to show that your frugal «beauty regime» works better than most expensive skin-care products…

  21. I hope you enjoy Thinking Fast and Slow! It’s a very interesting book. I read it a few years ago. I bet you will have a good discussion.

  22. Such a great post! My husband and I took a short kid-free vacation back in January and it was 3 nights in FL in an area we previously lived for a couple of years…..it was FANTASTIC! It was so nice to know the lay of the land, we had a list of all our favorite places to eat and visit and being able to go wherever whenever without kids in tow felt so freeing for a few days! Wanted to share another way that we earn $ by buying things we were going to anyways: Ebates! I’d seen it around for a while several years ago and figured it must be some sort of scam, but finally took the plunge and created an account – and it’s amazing! Now, anytime I’m going to shop for something online, I start at Ebates, search for the store I’m going to order through to see if there’s any cash back deals (and even if there’s no cash back, sometimes they have other coupons/deals available). So I earn some % back from Ebates (which will literally mail you a check for any cash back earned over $5 the previous quarter – it’s that easy!), plus earning the points on my Marriott card for the spend! So it’s like I’m earning $ on stuff I was going to buy anyways! E-Bates is amazing for anybody who does online Christmas shopping, and we have used it several times to earn a good chunk of change back on big purchases like tires for our vehicles (Tire Rack or TireBuyer). Here’s my referral link in case anybody wants to give it a whirl….I can’t recommend it enough and tell everyone I know about it.


  23. Oh yessssss on the joy of kids free vacation!! My husband is driving the kids to Grandma’s house as we speak and we are picking them up in 6 days! 6 days!!!! So excited! We are staying home, doing whatever we want, eating whatever and whenever we decide, going out or sleeping in as much as we wish, cleaning up once and stuff staying in order. Paradise!!! Absolutely adore my two Little Ones but so grateful for this vacation with hubby! No guilt whatsoever and will totally enjoy it!

  24. Wanted to comment on toddler meal out- best meal out we’ve had in a while was actually takeout we ate at a public park. Ate great food no one had to cook, birds took care of toddler flung tortilla chips, no one next to us trying to enjoy themselves annoyed at out precious monster, and no anxious “where the eff is the effing check” waiting. 10/10 would recommend.

  25. 75 degrees is too hot?! LOL! Good thing you’re up there and not in Philly (or NY or DC where you used to live)!

    Glad you had such a lovely vacation – I particularly love the picture of the two coffees and dessert where you decided to move to the woods. And so exciting to find your book on the shelf of your old bookstore!

  26. “… folks who pretend to love all four seasons, but who cannot abide any temperature above 72 degrees and who find solace in deep snow.” <- This is a perfect description of my husband lol. 🙂 We are working on our transition to frugaldom with the help of Uber Frugal Month. I think it will take three months to get through all of the great content! Thank you for the work you do here. 🙂

  27. Oh gosh, this reminds me of a quote that I have read…I have two favourite times, one is with the children and the other is without the children. I always think the food tastes better child-free. Like it can be the most ordinary of food and yet it tastes utterly delicious because you get to utterly relax in the peace and quiet. I love the photos of your homestead. It is so beautiful. I love Kidwoods at the creek- it is such a lovely photo. They must have the best childhood growing up with nature all around them. Well done for getting away just yourselves! Then your parental ‘bank balance’ is back up in the black. We went out for lunch for a family member’s birthday on the weekend. She really wanted to have the family altogether. We said ok…needless to say we spent the majority of the time walking up and down the pathway in front of the restaurant….no leisurely drinks or meals for us! Thank you for your posts. your honesty, sense of humour and passion has such a positive effect on us readers.

    P.S. W while back I asked for frugal exercise suggestions with he kids. Thank you! Youtube (Fitness blender) has been a great help. for those in Australia look up MEGA on Facebook for a location near you -basically it’s Mums in your local area volunteering to run free exercise classes in parks. Thank you for your encouragement to all of us- you inspire each and every one of us 🙂

  28. Great post! Wondering though. I don’t see a line item for insurance of health care via buying from the state exchange. How much are you paying for that? That’s kind of our top concern with the idea of early retirement.

  29. We did a family vacay in June and visited my relatives on the east coast. We saw the Statue of Liberty and a few revolutionary war historical sites. We needed a hotel, and minivan-overall this was a very expensive trip. But it was worth it to spend time with my uncles and their families… so our spending priorities were fulfilled. That said, we also got pretty inexpensive camps for the kids. VBS week which was free, and swim camp with one on one instructors through my moms homeowners association. The kids loved it. We’ve been enjoying the summer-it’s definitely flying by but we’ve also been able to keep our day to day costs low since we don’t have fancy lunches to pack and I made cut off shorts out of all the holey pants my kids discarded throughout the school year-so we got to splurge on cute summer tops. We also bought very cute shoes at Payless for cheap before the local store closed. Glad you guys got a child free vacay-it’s so weird sometimes you feel like you’re missing someone and then you realize oh yeah, we’re by ourselves lol!!!

  30. My June was ok but its my August which is about to get a whole lot more as my car just started overheating and my mechanic told me DO NOT DRIVE IT! all in caps just like that. Yay. I have had to make sure i stick to my strick $100 a fortnight grocery budget this means, i have written about it over on my blog with some handy tips for those looking to cut theirs down also. Keep up the good fight!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *