July 2019

The July 4th celebration at our town center.

Summer, apparently, is expensive. I think we set a record high for spending in a single month. On the upside? We had a lot of fun. July continued our summer-of-visitors and my in-laws, who were here all month, were generous with their offers of childcare. We took them up on those offers. Every single time.

I’m so thankful that our girls have involved, loving, healthy, vibrant grandparents. And I’m so thankful my husband and I got to spend a lot of time alone together. All those dates meant we had…

A Month Of Hedonism

If we weren’t eating, we were drinking. If we weren’t drinking, we were eating. All this child-free time made us wild, hedonistic heathens. I’m not gonna lie, it was amazing. We spent tons of money. I’m pretty sure I gained 5 pounds. More importantly, my husband and I carried on uninterrupted conversations. We enjoyed silence together. We ate meals un-punctuated by requests for more avocado and brown rice flung to the floor.

The first few days of July finished out our child-free vacation to Cambridge, MA (the exploits of which I detailed last month). Then in mid-July, my in-laws nudged us out the door for several day trips and a few dinners out. While the girls baked cookies with their grandparents, Mr. Frugalwoods and I ventured to the craft beer mecca of Hill Farmstead in northern Vermont. Hill Farmstead makes several of the top ten beers in the world and the diversity of license plates in their parking lot bore witness to its popularity. While our children romped around the yard with my in-laws and their dog, Mr. FW and I strolled through Brattleboro, Vermont and had lunch overlooking a river. We crammed a year’s worth of dates into one month.

A Month of Hard Work

Our first blueberry harvest!

Thankfully, we moderated our hedonism with garden and land work. Fenceposts, people. We bought fenceposts. I feel like those are the ultimate indicators of hard work, no? Mr. FW installed fenceposts as tomato trellises. The vegetable garden was weeded, tended, and harvested.

Summer is overabundance. There seems to be a correlation between the brevity of a season and the intensity with which we observe it. Winter is a long, languid unfurling of snowfall after snowfall after snowfall. I feel no urgency with winter.

I don’t need to hustle in order to experience it. Summer is the opposite. Every hour of sunlit heat feels like an imperative to take pleasure in the warmth and to work, work, work our land and gardens.

Family Dinner Out: A Success Story

Following our less-than-ideal luncheon out with our children last month, I decided to go for total immersion and take them out to dinner this month. And I have to say, it worked. In fairness, we went to an ice cream and hamburger stand where you order at the counter, the food comes fast, and… you sit outside. And the kids rocked it.

Long, long ago–during one of those soporific winter days–I (for unremembered reasons) promised Kidwoods that during the summer we’d go get ice cream at the Whippi-Dip. It was a promise made without any intention of following through. I figured the snow was so deep, and the memory of a toddler so fleeting, that this off-season promise would be forgotten, along with the feeling of ice sifting between my fingers as I scraped windshields in that interminable cold.

Kidwoods eating ice cream out of her cone with a spoon (?)

What I hadn’t taken into account was Kidwoods’ proclivity for recollection. She recounts outfits worn two years ago. She knows where everyone sat at a dinner party six months ago. Why I thought something as pivotal as an ice cream cone would be forgotten can only be chalked up to a temporary seasonal ignorance. She was patient and persistent. She mentioned the promised ice cream cone for months. She dropped it into conversation on the regular.

Capitulating to the realness of this desire, we made it a whole big thing. A dinner of a shared hamburger, a shared order of curly fries, and an ice cream cone. It was magical and lovely and I would, in fact, do it again.

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. I 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 (that are fully paid off every month) has helped our credit scores. By the way, it’s a 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 does help your score.

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

Littlewoods in ice cream heaven

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

While I like the Fidelity card, it requires you to have a Fidelity account. If you’re not already banking with Fidelity, the Chase Freedom Unlimited might be a better choice since it doesn’t require a specific bank account. Plus, it has no annual fee and offers a great cash back percentage. Another thing I like about the Chase card is that they’re currently offering double cash back. You receive 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000. After that, the card delivers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Pretty good deal, I’d say!

The best way to find a credit card that’ll work for you is to search for it yourself. Fortunately, there’s a website, CardRatings.com, with a search function for this purpose that 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.

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: $49.30

July on the homestead

The silver lining to all this spending is our cash back credit card. We earn 2% cash back on every purchase made with our Fidelity Rewards Visa and this month, we spent $2,465.09 on that card, which netted us $49.30. 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 $73.95!

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.

Living their best life

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 fashion, 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? 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).

Summer strolls around the yard

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

Since we live on 66 acres in rural Vermont, our utilities and expenses are slightly different from traditional urban and suburban dwellings.

Picking our black raspberries

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 July:

Item Amount Notes
VT Mortgage $1,392.86
Dumpster $825.00 Check out the backstory on our dumpster extravaganza here.
Vacation! $607.55 Kid-free vacation to Cambridge, MA! More about that here.
Groceries $594.04
Car insurance $278.20 Six months of car insurance through Geico for our 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Toyota Tundra. This is low because we shopped around, we’re both accident and ticket-free, we live in a rural area, we don’t commute to work, and we don’t carry comprehensive insurance because we could replace both of our cars (with cash) if we needed to.

However, we carry the maximum in liability coverage because we feel that, with healthcare costs as they are, the risk of a large liability claim is one we don’t want to self-insure against. More here.

Household supplies $226.81 Thrilling stuff. Floss, laundry detergent, medications, and more.
Day trips $185.80 Our days trips around Vermont, including buying beer to bring home from Hill Farmstead and Hermit Thrush breweries.
Massage $162.00 I got a massage while on vacation. It was divine, decadent, and sorely needed.
Doctor visit co-pays $150.00
Car repairs $143.24 Inspection, oil change, and headlight replacement bulb for our Toyota Prius
Gasoline for cars $125.55 Higher this month on account of driving for our vacation and day trips.
Parking at hotel $105.00 During our glorious and extravagant kid-free vacay.
Clothes for Mr. Frugalwoods $102.49 We got Mr. FW some work pants and shirts from Duluth Trading Co, which has a store in Burlington, MA. It was a rare moment where we were together, kid-free, and in a store.
Wine, beer, liquor stock-up $89.12 From Total Wine & More. After our Cambridge vacation, we hit up the strip mall in Burlington, MA and stocked up on discount wine, beer, and more.
Date night $77.52
Fenceposts $77.00 Fenceposts for our tomato plant trellis system.
Internet $74.00
Driver’s License Renewal $51.00 Mr. FW renewed his driver’s license.
Vermont Woodlands Association $40.00
20lb C02 refill for our homemade seltzer-rama machine (an 8 month supply) $34.25 (lasts for 8 months; so it’s $4.28 per month) Longtime readers know that several years ago we hacked our Sodastream machine to outfit it with a 20lb C02 tank, which is VASTLY less expensive than the tiny refill cartridges.

Thanks to this system, we enjoy bubbly water for a fraction of the price. This tank’ll last us approximately 8 months.

Overalls for me $32.99 After three years of cobbling together under-performing, uncomfortable outdoor work clothes, I decided to take the lead from my main man and buy a pair of these work overalls. And I LOVE THEM (affiliate link).

Yes, I looked at the women’s version, but wouldn’t you know, they were more expensive, less durable and had fewer pockets. No thanks. I went with a small men’s size and am thrilled.

Ethanol-free gas $32.16 For our small engines (chainsaw, wood splitter, lawn mower, etc)
Service for two cell phones $25.78 This is so cheap because we 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.

Gifts for several kids’ birthday parties $19.04 As Kidwoods’ social life revs up, we find ourselves frequent guests at toddler birthday parties. My preferred approach for birthdays is to either:

  1. Buy unopened, still-in-the-package toys or books from garage sales.
  2. Re-gift toys or books that my girls don’t need.

That approach failed for two parties this month, so I picked out these books and this puzzle as well as this one to gift (affiliate link).

Shirt for me $18.00 Following my successful copying of Mr. FW with regards to overalls, I purchased these SPF long-sleeved work shirts, which he’s worn for years.

Yep, also men’s, also cheaper, more functional, and more durable than women’s (affiliate link).

Utilities: electricity $17.95 We have solar (which I detail here) and this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Family dinner out $13.84 Successful burger, fries, and ice cream cones with the kiddos.
Coffee shop work day $10.39 You guys, I spent an entire day working BY MYSELF in a local coffee shop while my in-laws watched the kids. It was amazing.

I drank 90 lattes and wrote 809,882 words.

Total: $5,511.58
Minus mortgage: $4,118.72

How was your July?

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  1. I fee like you should have a story on men’s versus women’s clothing! And I hear you on the toddler remembering everything. I am sad that I missed your trip to Burlington, MA where I used to live!

    1. My largely non-verbal 1 year old is constantly going over to a bowl where we keep a pile of fake (soft, throwable) snowballs in the winter, pointing at it, and sadly saying “Ball?” Those toys have been put away since February, but they obviously loom VERY large in his little toddler brain.

    2. Yes! Those shirts are a steal. We need more of these tips. Except then I will spend money (says the girl who immediately bought Skimmies when you mentioned them, but I got them discounted from Costco at least).

  2. Writing in the coffee shop all day sounds dreamy! I might have to follow suit now that my kiddos are in school full-time. Gotta soak up those breaks when you can! Thanks for sharing a realistic month, with beer purchases and all. It really shows that balance is key and you don’t have to completely deprive yourself in order to live a frugal and responsible life. 🙂

  3. Thank you for sharing the overalls! I’ve been hunting for proper work clothes FOREVER. Duluth does have some great women’s work pants, but I just can’t find coveralls (only ever in men’s sizes) in anything close to a regular size. (We do a lot of fun woodworking and sometimes I need to run out to the shop to apply a coat of poly or something and don’t want to have to change…just want to slip on some coveralls and then hang them back up.) My hunt will continue and I’ll be checking out the overalls. 🙂
    I’m so happy for both of you that you had some well-deserved alone time!

    1. Yeah, I’m super happy with these overalls. They’re big on me, but since the shoulder straps are adjustable, they work fine. And I’ve found that I really like the extra room across the midsection because it’s much more comfortable for squatting and bending in the garden. The downside is that they’re just a tad too long, but I could hem or cuff them if I was motivated enough…

  4. 90 lattes for $10.39?! Dang, you found a great deal! I love that you bought the men’s clothes. The funny thing is, my husband is always complaining because women’s clothes are typically so much cheaper and have more color and variety available. I guess he needs to be in the working clothes sections! Aaaaaand….how those girls managed to eat ice cream without a drop on their clothes is amazing! You must have birthed magicians! Sounds like you had an incredible month!

  5. I’d like to hear more about the tomato trellises you built! What did you use to connect the fence posts? My husband built some with tall posts and twine for our plants this year, but we’ve had issues with the twine staying in place.

    Also, hearing you talk about taking advantage of grandparent visits and date nights prompted me to put my ILs visit to good use earlier this month. While they were in town, I asked if we could leave them with our newborn one night after she went to bed so my husband and I could enjoy our local restaurant week. It was an expensive evening, but it was so nice to get dressed up and sip cocktails without thinking about getting home to a babysitter!

    1. I’m so glad you were able to get out for a date night!!! So important for you as a person and your relationship with your partner :). Yay!!! The tomato trellises are fence posts at either end of each row with twine connecting them. Each tomato plant is then trained up a rope to serve as a “trellis.” I hope that makes sense, but I fear it probably doesn’t!! I’ll take a photo and put it on Instagram.

      1. I don’t know if this is something any of you might be interested in, but we have had a lot of luck with using 20 ft cattle panels to trellis tomatoes. Basically they are heavy welded wire panels, roughly 20 ft by 4 ft tall, and you can stake them on either end. They are a great support for big heavy tomatoes, and have held up remarkably well.

    2. We found it easier to put up posts and then use that 4 x 4 fencing between the posts. It does not sag, the tomatoes can be woven in and out of the fencing and so far we have had the same set up for 10 years and counting.

  6. Yeah, I’m thinking overalls are where it’s at! It’s funny, because I’m pregnant again with my third, and nothing has sounded more comfortable than to wear a big pair of overalls, ha ha. I might have to try out the men’s pair and see what I think! (Cuz we all know if I try to get a maternity version, it will cost a ridiculous amount more than a regular pair and they won’t last that long).

    1. Thirty five years ago we owned a farm and cattle ranch when I was pregnant with my first child, and let me tell you there were NO women’s work clothes available, and certainly no suitable maternity clothes for farmers and ranchers! I wore a pair of small men’s overalls up until I went into labor. By the time that happened I could no longer button the sides, the straps were at their longest setting, and then were extended with several heavy duty rubber bands! Those overalls were the best thing ever, and still will be for you.

  7. Thanks for sharing! Can you explain the kids’ birthday gifts and how your approach “failed for two parties”? I would have thought unopened toys would be fine (even if you bought them secondhand). Details please!

    1. Oh! yeah! I just didn’t have any toys in reserve–we’ve been to so many birthday parties lately that I’d given away all of the second-hand and re-gifts in my stash :).

      1. I’ve had great experiences with buying gently used books from the used bookstore (the funds support our local library) or buying boardgames from 5 below.

  8. There’s a birthday party trend where we live for small toddlers to receive things like homemade play dough and the like, older toddlers/little kids have a toonie party (we’re in Canada with a $2 coin) so each kid brings $2 for the birthday kid. The theory is the birthday kid can get a present from their friends with the accumulated cash (thrifting or whatever). My seven year old just had a fiver party, meaning each kid brings $5 instead of a present. All the parents I know love it, the birthday kid feels flush and you don’t end up with a pile of new junk for the house. The parties are simple, and everyone has fun!

    1. Wow, I really like that idea of the collective pooling of money. The birthday kid gets to choose something he/she wants (which I think kids would find pretty fun) and parents are shelling out $$ for gifts that go unused because of an over abundance of stuff. How does something like this start? I feel it would be a bit awkward to be the first one, asking people to bring money as a gift. But $2 is a lot less than any gift you would probably bring anyways. Any tips for getting this trend started?!

    2. I love that idea! After a fifth or sixth birthday of receiving 8-10 literal junk gifts I declared my kids’ parties to be no gifts, please. We ponied up and bought them a few nice gifts that they’d actually use instead.

  9. I love that you guys indulged a little in July! Sometimes it’s just the right fix. Plus, every time we do something similar, it keeps us going through the slower autumn and winter months as we reminisce on our lovely summer memories. Your family dinner out is perfect – all that decadent food and only around $14 bucks?! Our favorite with the kids is our local fish taco stand. We can feast on fried fish tacos loaded with salsa, roasted veggies, and a creamy scrumptious taco sauce for $12 for the four of us. We like to bring them to our local park or the beach and eat out in style. Happy your family had what sounds like a great month!

  10. I find men’s clothing more comfortable and with necessary pockets but tend to go with women’s for a better fit for dressier/more conservative occasions.
    Grateful, for many reasons, to be included in recent meals with visiting extended family, where someone always picked up the tab.
    My cross street is home to a recurring box of items put out for recycling, probably from graduate students or young professionals. Wonderful items in good condition—kitchen ware (a large mug with a striking blue glaze is now my favorite), decorative artwork, books, a couple of cloth bags. If I had some help with carrying, I could also have furniture. I’ll keep this street in mind even after I make my expected move in the next few years.

  11. I also love rewards credit cards. I have used several that allowed me to travel around Europe for a month and get all of my AirBnB stays covered by travel credits, paid for half a r/t flight overseas, paid for all but $123 in taxes and fees for another r/t non-stop flight to Europe etc. I’ve cut down on the traveling now and I’ve dropped any cards that charge a fee but I’ve still got a cash back card and an Amazon points card. I too charge pretty much everything from gas to groceries to car insurance and pay it in full each month. And yes, being able to clearly see how much I spent where is helpful.

  12. I love this post! Your girls are gorgeous, isn’t it amazing how, though they are definitely sisters, one is more your husband, and the littlie is you. Just the cutest and I am intensely jealous of your time off via the grandparents. Grandparent babysitting is completely different from any other (maybe there are exceptions with aunts or similar), but you can 100% believe and trust that all will be fine, if it’s not they’ll deal with it. It is one of the most selfish, self-centred reasons I miss my mother so very, very much. Apart from being my best friend in this life, she was generally very game for overnight babysitting from time to time (she was not in any way our daycare on a routine basis), having the kids to stay over odd weekends, just the most wonderful granny. It is one of the thousands of reasons I miss her desperately, having those people you can just totally trust and not feel guilty about.

    But I digress.

    Have you yet shared littlewoods name? I know kidwoods is Estelle (which is gorgeous), I nosily wondered what her little sister was called? Ignore if this is not for public knowledge.

  13. I love how honest ou are about the kids gifts. Where on earth can you have a family dinner out with burgers, fries and ice cream for $13.84? We did frugal July but still ended up spending $35 for our monthly meal out – pizza, shared salad and sodas 🙁

  14. Almost a month of babysitting! I’d take some vacation time, too! It sounds like “A good time was had by all” as the old cliche goes.
    Re; the gift line on the budget: Get ready for the birthday party onslaught. For a few years we were drowning in them, but after pre-teen age, they start slacking off, so you only have, um, a decade of parties to get through. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought that up….
    Your berry bushes seem to be doing great. Ours had a so-so year, due to a late cold snap, in Florida no less, and some periods of super rain then a period of high heat with no rain. We got some berries, at least.
    The pictures of the homestead are so pretty. I remember on a long ago trip to Vermont that Vermont looked so… tidy, I guess, compared to the weedy, messy wilds of north Florida. To stand in your house in the morning and look out across the rolling land, so beautiful and colorful — it must be wonderful.

  15. I’m glad to see that you had a plethora of guilt-free indulgence! It’s such a balancing act between living fully in the now and preparing for the future, especially when at most your future might be another 20-25 years. If I don’t go to Ireland now, chances are I never will. At the same time, I need to make sure my kids aren’t burdened with my care if I run out of money before I run out of life. Do I NEED beautiful art on my walls? No; but will I ever get to experience the joy of it if I don’t acquire some and hang it on my walls NOW? I was in full-on frugal mode most of my life, and I have found it more difficult to temper that with living in the now than I did being frugal in the first place (it wasn’t really a choice for a long time, just a survival tactic.) I appreciate and enjoy your posts and everyone’s comments.

  16. I had to look up the average temperature in Vermont because here in Texas I can’t wait for the brutal summer heat to end!

  17. I love that you toss in a good dose of hedonism haha! Seriously though your tips for finding good deals on kids meals and how to save when possible for things like kids birthday gifts are my favorite insights. It’s hard to know when to spend vs save on social etiquette items like these.

  18. You’re making me feel so much better. I got my credit card statement this month and thought for sure it had been stolen! Nope, just some vacation expenses, dinners out, fruit picking at the local farm and some vet bills. Oh well, there’s always next month 🙂

  19. I am new to Frugalwoods, and am thoroughly enjoying. Your discussion and education on the frugality of using credit cards has me cheering! After following many frugal groups on Facebook and reading about frugal lifestyles for years, you are one of the few with this mindset.
    I too am a fan of the Fidelity Visa card, and have been for nearly 15 years. When my granddaughter was about four years old, I asked a financial advisor about starting a college fund for her. She directed me to something fairly new – a Fidelity 529 College fund, and its associated Visa! For 15 years, I’ve been automatically depositing $50 per month in the account, and doing EXACTLY what you’re recommending. I have never paid a penny in interest, but have been receiving two percent rewards deposited into her college fund every month.
    Now at 19, she is in the last semester of her Associates degree on an A+ scholarship (available to Missouri high school students) and preparing to start work on her Bachelors degree as a Junior. I have calculated expected expenses to finish her Masters degree, and am confident she will be able to complete this education debt free! All because someone gave me the same advice you are offering! Bravo!

  20. OMG, Hill Farmstead! 😀 🙂 Hubby and I learned of this AMAZING place through a humorous (to us) story. We were at a B&B in East Burke and returned from a lovely day of biking. Who doesn’t want a cold beer after traversing over hill and dale? The inn had a community refrigerator and we were informed that guests often put leftovers in there, but also certain shelves were community property and up for grabs. Great! Hubby is particular about the beer he likes and we were thrilled to see some local beers on the community shelf! Hubs grabbed one, took a swig, and remarked, “Wow! This is one of the best beers I’ve ever tried!” I tried it and was equally impressed. Good stuff and how wonderful the inn owners supply local beer to encourage visitors to keep it local! Well… not so, as we found out. A man entered the kitchen area, saw husband with beer in hand, and asked where he’d gotten it. Hubby lauded this fine specimen of hoppy goodness and told the guy to grab one from the fridge. Oh, this man turned unpleasant very quickly! He explained that was HIS beer, yes it WAS delicious, he’d driven from New York to get it, it was expensive, and again… it was HIS beer. Hubby was taken aback, but recovered, apolgoized, explained why he thought it was ok to take, and offered the man some money for the now-empty beer. The man walked away, disgusted. We felt bad for a short bit, then got a kick out of the situation. The guy was SO. MAD. over a beer. One beer. How could this be? We decided to take a trip to Hill Farmstead to check out their other offerings and enjoy more VT scenery. Oh, it didn’t disappoint. We learned how difficult it is to acquire this beer. We tried numerous styles that were so damn good. On the way home, hubby commented that he could now see why this man was so mad. The beer is that good. 😀

    1. if the guy was that concerned – and I can imagine he was – then why not simply label his beer? In a situation where there are community shelves and ”own stuff” shelves, it’s best to be clear, otherwise there is no leg to stand on when someone quite reasonably believes something on the community shelf is… for the community?

      Too funny!

  21. Ah Kidwoods – holding moms to their ice cream promises for the sake of ice cream lovers everywhere! Love that little tidbit.

    I am a pretty recent convert over to Ting and loving it. I love that you only pay for what you actually use!

  22. How was my July? I spent it getting quotes for insurance, I sensed we were overpaying and my quotes confirmed. However, I couldn’t pull the trigger. I got sucked into a cyclone of “buyer’s remorse” before buying. Do you Ms. Fruglewood or dear readers have any tips on how to handle the mental game of “what if questions”?

  23. We are staying over in Brattleboro this evening on our way to the White Mountains! Going to do some camping and hiking with our kiddo. 😊We had dinner at Turquoise Grille and it was SO. GOOD. These types of trips and occasional hedonistic meals are our why!

  24. I have yet to meet a toddler who doesn’t remember the promise of a gift, ice cream, or candy, no matter how many months has passed, so be careful about the promises you make. 😉 In all seriousness, it seems as though Kidwoods’ infallible memory proved to be a gift, since you all had such a lovely time and dinner out was a (frugal) success. I agree that this summer’s spending is worth it because you can’t buy precious memories or moments. Glad you shared your example of worthwhile spending with us!

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