Boatloads of Dirt

The raised beds!

May was the month of the raised bed. Mr. Frugalwoods designed, built, and installed four enormous raised beds to serve as our kitchen garden. I’ll give the full rundown in my next This Month On The Homestead installment, but for today’s purposes, know that these beds required dirt. A lot of dirt. 5.5 yards of dirt, to be precise.

And as I learned, dirt is not just dirt. At least, not when you want to grow vegetables in it. Sure, we could’ve used regular dirt dirt, but regular (free) dirt dirt is littered with weeds. And weed seeds, and nascent weeds, and nasty weeds. We already devote a large percentage of our time to the eradication of weeds from our large vegetable garden, our blueberry patch, our cherry, plum, and apple trees and so, the thought of adding four more weed vectors didn’t appeal.

So we bought the good dirt. The weed-free, compost-amended, tasty-to-baby-plants dirt. Thankfully, this is/should be a one-time dirt-related expense as all four enormous beds are now filled with the dirt that’ll be there for the ages. Or at least several years. Who knew you could send so much money on dirt? I did not, but now I do.

We bought our dirt in bulk, which involved Mr. FW making four trips to a dirt purveyor, loading the bed of the truck with dirt, shoveling out the dirt, and repeating the process with another load of dirt. Dirt was moved, a lot. It would’ve been a lot more expensive if we’d bought this much dirt in bags, so to avoid being dirtbags, this bulk dirt procurement worked well.

Advertiser Disclosure: Frugalwoods partners with CardRatings for coverage of credit card products. Frugalwoods and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers at no extra cost to you. Here’s a boring (but important) explanation of how Frugalwoods makes money.

Also, Some Bedsheets

Not a photo of my bedsheets

For a different sort of bed, we ordered one set of king-sized bedsheets. For the first twelve years of our marriage, we managed to not buy a single sheet. We received sheets as wedding presents (thank you, friends and family) and we received hand-me-down sheets from my parents (thank you, parents).

We rode this free sheet train until it ended last month with ripped sheets. The cause of the rips remains unknown, their origin is speculated upon, but the result was clear: our sheets were so threadbare they simply split. We initially rotated the sheets to see if we could stem the splits, but that just caused them to split in other areas.

Next, I attempted a mediocre patching project, which–how should I put this–failed. We then slept on slit sheets for a month before agreeing it was highly annoying to constantly tangle one’s foot/feet in ripped sheets. The time had come for us to buy our first pair of sheets. Naturally, we turned to the internet to see what she recommended.

And wow, there are some expensive sheets on the market. I had no idea one could spend so much money on square shards of cotton. Thankfully, we were able to find the sheet equivalent of our Internet Mattress: inexpensive, plain, well-made, and organic! Allow me to introduce: Internet Sheets (affiliate link). Ringing up at $55.99 (for king size no less), in the color of white, made of organic cotton, these sheets are–so far–working beautifully.

A Dishwasher Soap Dispenser Replacement

A most annoying and fiddly bit of plastic broke in our dishwasher’s soap dispenser thing and we had to buy a replacement part… for $71.97… Better than buying a new dishwasher, but come on! We fiddled with it, tried to fix it, and used the dishwasher without the soap dispenser system for months until, finally, we had to admit our efforts were in vain. Apparently, there is no substitute for a spring-loaded soap dispenser in a dishwasher. Alas. Thankfully, Mr. FW (who installed our dishwasher a few years ago) was able to install this new part, saving us the cost of labor.

When it first broke, we just put dishwasher soap onto the floor of the dishwasher, but that ended up clogging the filters and caused mold to grow inside the dishwasher. GAH!

The Wait-and-See Method

Littlewoods: suspicious sniffer of daffodils

I didn’t realize until now that our sheets and dishwasher soap dispenser are both examples of my wait-and-see-before-purchasing methodology. This methodology stems from my 72-Hour-Rule, but takes that rule farther and entails a system of doing without or coping with before buying new.

In both instances, we figured we’d eventually need to purchase the item, but in both instances, we waited several months to see if we could cobble together an alternative. Rather than immediately buying new, Mr. FW and I typically bide our time to see if:

  1. We can get a used one
  2. We can do without it
  3. We can fix it
  4. We have something similar that can serve as a substitute

Once we acquiesce to the need to buy new, we spend time researching options to find something that’ll suffice. We usually don’t buy the dirt cheapest option and we almost never buy the most expensive. When I’m able to remove the immediacy of a purchase, I often find I don’t really need the thing after all. Or, if I do need it, I realize I don’t need the highest end thing on the market.

This isn’t a perfect system, but it helps me curb knee-jerk spending. The reason I apply this approach to almost all of our purchases is that stuff adds up over time. This month, we’re just talking about $55.99 sheets and a $71.97 dishwasher part, but there was stuff last month and there will be other stuff next month. By bringing mindfulness to all of our spending, we’re able to reduce our overall cash outlay and, more important to me, reduce our environmental impact by buying fewer things and buying even fewer things new. It’s an ongoing practice and I still find myself with itchy online shopping trigger finger because we get a hit of dopamine when we buy stuff–that’s a solid fact. I have to continually remind myself to slow down and question why I’m compelled to buy.

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Mr. Frugalwoods and I purchase everything we possibly can with credit cards because:

  1. It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where a 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 listed at the end of each month. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital for my expense tracking (and other stuff too).
  2. We get 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 stuff 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 helps 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.
Sun in the trees in our yard

For more on my credit card strategy, check out The Frugalwoods Guide to a Simple, Yet Rewarding, Credit Card Experience. I also wrote this guide on how to find the best credit card for you.

If you want a simple cash back credit card, here are a few good options that don’t have annual fees:

1. The TD Cash Visa® Credit Card:

  • This card gives you 3% cash back on dining, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
  • Plus, if you spend $500 within 90 days of opening an account, you’ll get $150 back.
  • And, there’s no annual fee!
Kidwoods watering the strawberries we planted in two of the raised beds

If you’re more interested in travel rewards, a lot of people love the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The best way to find a credit card that’ll work for you is to search for it yourself; I have a guide to help you do just that: The Best Credit Cards (and Credit Card Rewards)!

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 using credit cards might prompt you to spend more, then stick with a debit card or cash. But if you have no problem paying that bill in full every month? I recommend you credit card away, my friend! (note: the credit card links are affiliate links).

Cash Back Earned This Month: $28.36

The silver lining to our 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 $1,418.78 on that card, which netted us $28.36.

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 cash back credit card rewards–they’re the simplest way to earn something for nothing.

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Our plum tree in bloom!

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use a free, online service called Personal Capital to keep track of our money.

Tracking expenses is one of the best–and easiest–ways 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. If you’d like to know more about how Personal Capital works, check out my full write-up.

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 CapitalHere’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital (note: these Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 

Yes, We Only Paid $31.54 for Cell Phone Service (for two phones)

Our cell phone service line item is not a typ0 (although that certainly is). We really and truly only paid $22.48 for both of our phones (that’s $11.24 per person for those of you into division). How is such trickery possible?!? We use the MVNO Ting (affiliate link). What’s an MVNO? Glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway: It’s a cell phone service re-seller.

MVNOs are basically the TJ Maxx of the cell phone service world–it’s the same service, but A LOT cheaper. If you’re not already using an MVNO, switching to one is easy, slam-dunk, do-it-right-away to save money every single month of every single year forever and ever amen. More here: My Frugal Cell Phone Service Trick: How I Pay $10.65 A Month*

*the amount we pay fluctuates every month because it’s calibrated on what we use. Imagine that! We only pay for what we use! Will wonders ever cease.

Where’s Your Money?

Glamour Shed looking good in springtime colors

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 sleeping. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.

Expense Report FAQs

  • Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Check out How We Manage Our Money: Behind The Scenes of The Frugalwoods Family Accounts. We also own a rental property in Cambridge, MA, which I discuss here.
  • 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.
  • Are we the most frugal frugal people on earth? Absolutely not. My hope is that by being transparent about our spending, you might gain insights into your own spending and be inspired to take proactive control of your money.
  • Wondering where to start with managing your money? Take my free, 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge. If you’re interested in other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.

But Mrs. Frugalwoods, Don’t You Pay For X, Y, Or Even Z????

Rural life = different expenses

Wondering about common expenses you don’t see listed below?

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

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

Item Amount Notes
VT Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries and household supplies $519.05 Mr. FW did another stock-up of food and household supplies. He goes to the store about once every six weeks.
Dirt, a lot $439.45 5.5 yards of dirt for our new raised beds. This mixtures is 50% compost, 20% screened soil, 10% peat moss, and 10% sand. All the details will be in the next This Month On The Homestead Installment.
Local beef, 30lbs $210.00 30lbs of local organic, grass-fed beef, purchased from my neighbor, the cow farmer.
Liquor store stock-up $137.95 A stock-up of liquor and wine for our creative quarantine cocktails.

Word to the wise: DO NOT make margaritas without lime juice. Sound like it’ll be ok, it’s not.

Internet $72.00 LOVE our middle-of-nowhere fiber internet
Dishwasher soap drawer replacement part $71.97 The stupid soap drawer in our dishwasher broke and we used the dishwasher for about three months with a broken soap dispenser before it became really annoying and we finally broke down and bought a replacement soap drawer.

Thankfully, Mr. FW (who also installed the dishwasher himself) was able to install it.

Flour $65.75 A bulk buy of flour from our local flour purveyor, King Arthur Flour
Local craft beer $65.48 Stock-up of local craft beers. This sounds like a lot of beer, but it’s not. We buy super local, super delicious, super expensive beer, so this is like four cans of beer.

Our current local faves: River Roost Brewery, Upper Pass Brewery and Hill Farmstead (yes, THE Hill Farmstead. There are advantages to living in the middle of nowhere, people, and this is one of them).

King-size sheets $55.99 We bought these king-sized sheets in white and so far, highly recommend (affiliate link)!
Socks for Mr. FW $44.00 Mr. FW wore through most of his wool work socks and Darn Tough (a Vermont sock company) ran a promotion where a portion of their proceeds went to the Vermont Food Bank, so we figured it was the perfect time for a sock stock-up.
Window fan $41.86 We don’t have central AC and we find that these window fans work pretty well in our upstairs bedrooms (affiliate link).
Electrical stuff for our used powerwheels $39.15 Our two used powerwheels required some electrical work (which, thankfully, Mr. FW was able to do). He bought these splices,  and some fuses, along with these 60 Amp connectors (affiliate links). 
Bulk flour storage container $37.05 Now that we’re buying our flour in bulk, we needed this bulk flour storage container (affiliate link).
Gasoline for cars $32.80 Driving less is not without advantages
Local eggs $32.00 We buy two dozen eggs from our neighbor-with-chickens every week.
Cell phone service for two phones $22.48 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).

MVNOs are basically the TJ Maxx of cell phone service.If you’re not using an MVNOcheck out this post to see if you can make the switch. The savings are tremendous.

Utilities: Electricity $19.85 We have solar (which I detail here); this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
TOTAL: $3,299.69

How was your May?

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  1. Grammar police. Consider changing “Who know you could send so much money on dirt?” to “Who knew you could spend so much money on dirt?”. Congrats on the raised beds. Long may they provide sustenance to you and your family..

    1. If you call it soil rather than “dirt”, you might feel better about the expenditure. At least, that’s what we do!

  2. This is such a great post!

    One line item caught my eye though; you buy 24 eggs every week! That’s a lot of eggs (no judgement! I LOVE eggs, wonderful, inexpensive, nutritious, versatile little bubbles of protein that they are). I buy 18 eggs every 10-14 days and I have 3 kids, so there’s five of us and one of us is a teenager who is growing so fast at the moment that if you go into his room late at night when it’s quiet, you can hear him growing. I’m kidding, or am I?

    What does Mr FW do with that many eggs between the 4 of you in 7 days, every 7 days?

    I must know immediately. Can you tell – this is unrelated – that my work is not yet back up to full speed and that I’m quite bored?

    1. Haha, I know, it’s a ton of eggs!!! We bumped up to two dozen because one dozen wasn’t enough :)! We do scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, and then I use a lot of eggs in baking. I don’t use all 24 every week–it sort of ebbs and flows but overall, we seem to use them all up over the course of a month.

      1. I wonder if you’ve thought about having chickens! I would looooove to see that on your homestead 🙂

        I certainly think about that a lot but my frugalhound (another rescue just like your cutie one) is still with us so I am pretty sure she would eat the chickens before we could get any eggs out…

    2. Family of 5 here, no teenagers. We easily go through 2-3 dozen a week. If we eat eggs for breakfast 3 mornings per week (not unusual), that is two dozen or more right there (10 eggs per breakfast…3 for me, 2 for my wife, 5 split between the three kids). So that’s 30. Throw in a few for various dishes that need egg throughout the week and 3 dozen is pretty easy to hit for us.

      1. Ah, the eggs for breakfast will be the thing that tips you over into 30-plus. We do eat them for breakfast, but not as frequently and I’ll have one, husband will have 2 (if he has eggs for breakfast which may happen 2-3 times in a month) and then it’s 3-4 between the children (2 for the teen and 1 each for the other two who are 6 and 10). Saying that, as Mrs FW points out, it does ebb and flow, because even having eggs maybe once in a given week and then using a couple for baking and then hardboiling a few more for lunches / snacks and you’re well on your way to decimating many! I love eggs, I really do. They are such a cornerstone of a thrifty diet.

    3. Haha! I was wondering the same thing. My dog and I love eggs, but the 24 pack (I think) from Costco lasts maybe 2 months for us. A dozen from Whole Foods will last a month, give or take, depending upon how much I feel like eating eggs. If I get one, my dog does too. 🙂 Spoiled girl! My boyfriend eats them only if he notices I left some in his fridge or mine.

      This is more information than I ever knew about dirt, but I’m glad I know!

    4. My teenager- who is actually 20 now (!) routinely uses 6 eggs when he makes himself scrambled eggs! He has been home from college since early March (pandemic) so I now buy at least 3 dozen a week! For those with younger boys, this is pretty typical of his food intake. Along with those 6 eggs he will eat 3-4 pieces of toast or 2 bagels with cream cheese PLUS 6 pieces of bacon plus a banana or two. And that is just breakfast!

      1. This is good to know! We are a family of 6, with the oldest nearly a teen, and the next one not too far behind! We already eat about 10 dozen eggs per month, plus 16 gallons of milk . I’m excited to see what the next few years will do to our grocery budget!

    5. I can easily go through over a dozen eggs a week just for myself. I generally eat 2-3 eggs a day, so that’s 14-21 per week. And that doesn’t include any baking or if my college kids are home at the time.

  3. It’s interesting that you use a Vittles Vault for flour. Our family loves them. I actually just suggested a Vittles Vault to my husband, who needs an airtight container for his pellets for his grill. We have two for doggie kibble, but only one dog now (RIP Frankie, best golden retriever ever). When he died two years ago, I couldn’t bear to part with his Vittles Vault, but now feel like it could be ok to use it as pellet storage.

  4. I hear you on the $$$ dirt. We’re flipping a neighbor house and had to get 30 yards of dirt or something for drainage work. Another neighbor is the dirt farm of a landscaping company, so getting dirt delivered was really easy. Still cost over $1400. For dirt. I suppose in the long run this is less expensive than water wrecking the foundation, so I’m trying to keep that in mind.

  5. You’ll need to buy more dirt….you will find that the dirt that you filled to the brim, will settle and compact and you’ll lose some, and next thing you know the beds are 6 inches to a foot of soil over a few years…plus, you’ll want to add more compost to the soil to keep the plants happy with nutrients. At least that is what I have found with my 4 raised beds. I did a bulk dirt/compost stock up and then have to add a few bags every year to keep the beds filled and to keep them nutrient filled. Those beds look mighty fine!!

  6. I had to laugh about your title. I can relate, never thought about how expensive dirt could be until we moved out rural and now own several acres.
    We buy Amazon basics sheets for our king size bed, cheap and so far going on the 4th year of owning them and still are in perfection condition. I think one of the reasons is that they have never been in the dryer. We hang laundry outside in the summer to dry. In the winter we have an indoor clothesline and indoor drying racks. We live in Northern NY so limited winter options.

  7. Hi, how come you don’t have chicken? You could easily have 10/12 and a cock. We feed ours mainly leftovers, stuff from the yard, snails and others and a bit of cracked mais. We spend less then 25$ a years on chicken feed. We have chicks a few times a year and Coq au vin with the too old to lay.

  8. I used to work in the plant industry. Dirt is free, soil you pay for. So don’t feel bad about buying dirt, you didn’t. You bought soil.

    1. We tilled bare ground for our large (primary) vegetable garden, but chose raised beds for the kitchen garden for a number of reasons–weed abatement being one of them! I’ll do a full rundown in the next This Month On The Homestead post.

  9. Oh yes I know about shredded sheets!! I must run in my sleep because I rip them by my feet! Now I’ll buy just a white king size fitted sheet alone when needed since I’ve got enough pillow cases/flat sheets that last longer than the fitted ones seem to.
    And goodness I love your writing-don’t underestimate the light you bring to your readers! We are still in Covid-limbo/reopening slowly and out May was I guess way better than any other May to date lol! I did have to break down and buy much needed larger shoes for my oldest daughter since I can not shop clearance racks in an actual store and her shoe size right now is a 5-she needs girly shoes but in a women’s size luckily sketchers had some variety and I bought her two new pairs for summer/fall. Her sister is set with hand me downs and brother has summer shoes I bought last year on clearance in his future size! I love and miss clearance shopping… the girls had clothes I bought end of summer last year in Larger sizes, hopefully some hand me downs will make their way to my son from friends with older boys… in the meantime he’s been good with his 2T sized summer clothes from last year. Oh my I wrote a lot-miss talking to other adults-I do get to tether with a friend about once a week for my sanity, one friend invited us all for a walk around a lake I’d never been to this week!! It was pure joy for my cabin feverish kids to go somewhere in the minivan and get out somewhere other than our house lol!!! Makes us all appreciate friendship and nature so much more!! Take care!

  10. We have a Vittles Vault for dog food, but for flour and other bulk foods, we use 5 gallon buckets with Gamma Seal lids (and some non Gamma lids because they are cheaper). I can store 50# of flour in two buckets, at a cost of $24 (food grade buckets at $4.50 each, Gamma lids at 7.50 each, and you could do it cheaper using a non Gamma lid on the second bucket, which we do for some of out bulk foods). I currently have 75# of all purpose flour in 3 buckets and 50# of bread flour in 2 buckets. I keep one of each kind in my kitchen, stacked on each other. Whichever one I’m using is on top, making it easy for me to scoop flour, even from the bottom of the bucket. I struggle to get the last of the dog food out of the Vittles Vault, which is another reason the cheaper bucket solution appeals to me. Right now I have about 25 buckets of bulk foods (flours, wheat berries, various beans and lentils, popping corn, oats, sugars, etc.) scattered all over my house, The buckets are easy to stick here and there — I have 6 buckets stacked two high behind the “chair and a half” I’m currently sitting in, and they are completely undetectable to guests.

  11. I can’t believe the dishwasher soap dispenser was so expensive! I have changed the electrical panel on our dishwasher and we bought a new chopper mechanism for it which we will install this weekend. Have people ever taken apart their dishwasher and cleaned out all of the inner workings? It’s pretty gross inside. You can find the directions on YouTube for your specific model. Takes a few hours, but worth it, especially if it is stinky. I also replaced the flexible hoses leading to the kitchen faucet in my rental unit yesterday because one was blocked with sediment, which I was very proud of. The two hoses were $14. Had I dared call a plumber it would have been a couple hundred.

  12. Re springloaded dishwasher thing. Ours broke a few years ago. We just put the half-tablet or whatever detergent we are using on the floor of the dishwasher. It works just fine. Too late for you to try it, but maybe next time…

    1. That’s what we did for three months and our dishwasher started building up a mold/fungus in it and on the dishes! EEEEEK

      1. That sounds like a bigger problem than the spring loaded tablet dispenser. Ours has run for years without issues. All the springloaded dispenser does is release the pellet at the right time – on to the floor of your dishwasher. It only matters if you use a cycle with a pre-rinse, and not much then either. Empty and clean your reservoir, then run at highest temp with strong detergent.

  13. Interesting note, raised garden bed soil in Texas has WAY more sand than yours does. We live on the Texas gulf coast and rain rates in excess of an inch per hour are quite common. We sent a sample of ours into the lab for testing and it’s in excess of 50% sand. Our plants love it, but we have multiple growing seasons down here, so we don’t need our plants to grow as quickly as you do.

  14. My in-laws live right where you are, and River Roost is one of our faves. But can you believe, for all the times I’ve been out there to visit, I’ve NEVER been able to get beer from Hill Farmstead????? It’s usually because we can’t get across the mountains and I’m there in winter or some other reason. But it chafes me that I LOVE IPA, they make the best one in the world, and I’ve never gotten to have it! (We were supposed to be driving out there now, but the pandemic put the kibosh on that plan, as it has for all other plans).

    1. You’ll have to get to Hill Farmstead one day! It’s a gorgeous drive and they have a beautiful tap room and lawn with a view of the mountains. You can sit on the porch or out in the lawn and sip the best beer 🙂

  15. Those are the most gorgeous plant boxes I have ever seen, congratulations to Mr. FW, who is a very handy guy!! (you are both handy, but in this case he did the work!!) The dirt sounds like super dirt to me, may you grow many pounds of yummy veggies in these boxes. ann lee s Vancouver Island, BC

  16. I hit the link for your bulk flour storage container and it said it was for pet food. So, I hate to ask a dumb question, but does it also work well for flour?

    1. Yes! We’ve been using that brand of storage container for years now. We store bulk oats in it and bought another one to store our flour in.

  17. Wow, does it really cost $16 for a dozen eggs over there? I don’t live in the States, but that seems so expensive! Unless they are super duper organic swan eggs or something… 😉

    1. I think it’s $32 for 8 dozen eggs (2 doz/week for a whole month) so $4/dozen, which is what we pay for farm eggs in PA.

    2. This is a *monthly* expense report, so that’s $32 for two dozen eggs each week—so $4 a dozen, which is a very, very low price for fresh organic eggs.

  18. Thanks for the sheets recommendation! We’ve been overdue for new sheets for quite a while now, and those seem like great value! I’ve added some to my Amazon cart to purchase next month.

  19. Great post, as always! I wonder if you have considered testing your new soil for lead? A friend was planning to have a garden this year, got her ground dirt tested, and realized it’s too contaminated for anything but flowers. So next summer she’ll work on making raised beds with a barrier between the soil and the ground underneath. Just a suggestion.

  20. I would have just squirted some dishwashing liquid into the bottom of the dishwasher every time you needed to run it instead of replacing the dispenser. Also, why do you separate alcohol, beer and eggs from your regular groceries/household expenses category?

    1. We did that for a few months–put the soap on the floor of the dishwasher–but it caused the dishwasher’s filters to clog and the inside of the dishwasher built up a mold/fungus. I was bummed the approach didn’t work since it was a lot cheaper than replacing the part! The alcohol, eggs, and beef are only separate because they were purchased separately. Since they came through as separate line items, I just left them as such, though I certainly could’ve added them into “Groceries and Household Supplies.” So… laziness on my part ;)?

      1. When my dispenser was broken, I would let the dishwasher run for a while to rinse, then I would put the soap pellet thing (that is the kind I buy – the little pellet) in one of the compartments of the silverware tray and it seemed to work! I used to hear the dispenser spring open every now and then over the years so when it broke, I googled a bit and found that the soap dispenser generally opened about 10 min into the cycle…

  21. I have noticed you do not have life insurance noted. I would think to make it easier on both of you, if the worst happened, you should have at least 500000 on each of you, Just a guess though. Also car insurance and homeowners which I assume is in with the mortgage payment. Sometimes I feel like we are insuranced to death. But it is great when you need it. We found that out after hurricane Charlie and then a small tornado the next summer that flipped over our new storage barn and ruined the contents by spewing roof tar all over everything inside of it. Yes, new sheets are great! Christian sirianno sheets from sams club are really good and reasonable sheets also. They are thick but have that crisp crinkly sound like high end hotel sheets. My parents had a big garden for years. They always worked new soil and manure into their dirt most years. They had bumper crops of food. Nothing like home grown baby butter beans. Whole different taste than store bought.

    1. I’m assuming that they may not need life insurance because they are FI. As for other insurance I’m sure they pay it lump sum, so it doesn’t show up in every month’s expense report. I am curious if she carries umbrella insurance though.

    2. Yes, I have wondered about life insurance, too, especially with two young children! The Frugalwoods are not retired, they just have very interesting jobs that allow them to work remotely (even pre-Covid). I’m sure the loss of income , especially Mr. Frugalwoods’, would have a huge impact on them should the worst happen….I feel like surely they know this and they do have life insurance? Term life insurance, especially when you’re young and healthy, is super cheap. I know a lot of older people opt out of life insurance, but when you’re young and have a family I view it as a necessity no matter how financially well-off you are!

  22. I learned recently that you can put limes (and lemons) in the freezer, then zest and juice them right from there. It’s been a game changer since now we can have margaritas anytime even though we’re not doing grocery runs for one item.

    1. Great tip! Thank you! Never will I ever make a margarita without lime juice again… 😉

    2. I tried lemons in the freezer and found they had what I can only describe as a funky taste. I was bummed it didn’t work out.

    3. Yes! Our lovely neighbours have given us stacks of lemons from their beautiful lemon tree, far too many to possibly use in a reasonable time, so they suggested halving and then freezing them and then using as needed for juice and zest… works like a bomb!

      1. If you don’t like the cut in half and freeze taste you can zest and juice lemons, limes and oranges and freeze in ice cube trays then pop the cubes into dishes and or melt and add to drinks later! My family has lemon trees and I spend a couple hours each December juicing and am able to have “fresh”, free juice all year!

  23. Congrats on doing metal beds. We live in the coldest part of Alaska and have found that metal beds are about 6 degrees warmer than wood beds (that they replaced) and about 10 degrees warmer than ground level beds. Also, less watering than the wood beds, which seemed to soak in the water more. And voles and shrews cannot get purchase to climb in, which they can in wood beds (the year they ate all our potatoes did it…). Our beds are three feet tall and we first filled them with semi-decomposed compost so we paid for less soil and it emptied our three compost bins. The next year we had to top them off with finished compost and some purchased soil, as things decomposed and the soil level fell a bit. Years later, when I got ill and had to garden from a wheelchair, the beds were the perfect level. It cheered me enormously to still be able to do something useful while too sick to even get out of the chair without my husband’s help.

    1. I’m glad to hear the metal beds are working well for you! We filled ours with old wood at the bottom, so they’re not 100% soil.

  24. Soil – you bought soil not dirt! I take it delivery of all 5.5 yards was more expensive than four trips (gas and Mr. Frugalwoods time)?

    1. Sadly, they don’t offer delivery–otherwise, we definitely would’ve had it delivered!

  25. Due to your and your husband’s experience with the dishwasher soap drawer replacement part: if this were to happen to my dishwasher, do you think it would be hypothetically possible that I could go to the recycling center (which is less than a kilometer away from my flat) and take this part out of one of the several dishwashers that is brought there weekly? Or is this one of those instances where it has to be the specific size and model of your dishwasher?

    1. Hmmm, I don’t know, it did seem pretty specific to the make and model of the dishwasher. But if you can source some free dishwasher parts, it’s certainly worth a try! Good luck :)!

  26. My mother used to make flat sheets last longer by doing ‘sides to middle’. Sew the sides together, I’d recommend a fell seam, which is flat. Then cut the sheet down the middle & hem the cut edges. Hey presto, the original sides which are less worn out are now in the middle of the sheet. Obviously it only works before the sheets get too threadbare. Sue

  27. Another advantage to raised beds — no aching back from bending over all the time. Those beds look really nice! How long will it take the kids to water them with that teeny tiny can? 🙂

    The soap dispenser — my former boss said his broke, and the appliance manufacturer told him there was no way to replace it separately, he had to buy an ENTIRE NEW DOOR for over $400. He has little patience — he went right out and bought a new dishwasher instead. Of a different brand, which I probably didn’t even need to add.

    Have you looked at “trench” composting in the beds when they aren’t in use? It’s just burying your compostable matter straight in the raised bed, really. Since I’m not familiar enough with the Vermont climate, I don’t know when would be the best time to do that, and it may be that it’s just not warm enough in the non-gardening seasons for that to work, but it’s a possibility I thought I’d point out.

    Buy a bunch of lemons and limes and juice them, then freeze the juices in ice cube trays or silicone candy molds. Pop them out, store in the freezer in a container, take one out when you want to have that perfect cocktail or do something boring like cook with the juice.

  28. The plastic door to our 21 year-old dishwasher’s soap dispenser increasingly flies off during the cycle. i’ve been popping it back on, grumbling to myself that surely there must be a better design out there. But after reading your post, it seems perhaps not…

    1. A couple days after posting this, the spring for the plastic door of the soap dispenser snapped in two. While I was wondering whether it was time to look for a new dishwasher, reckoning a more efficient/greener appliance might be around now that a couple decades have passed, my husband found the replacement part (not just the spring- it had to come with the plastic bit attached to it) online from the manufacturer (Bosch), for €17 including shipping (about 20 bucks). The part arrived today- so exciting! We’ll see how long the dishwasher lasts, and hopefully this repair is just as ecological a fix as buying the next generation.

  29. The soil you purchased for your raised beds may have come sterilized, but seeds from weeds spread in the wind. There will always be some weeding. I recommend that you do composting of leaves, garbage scraps, etc. as you will need to refresh your raised beds so that the plants do not deplete all the nutrients and minerals, rather than dump petroleum based fertilizers in the raised beds. We use the waste from cleaning out the chickens coop to add to the compost. You should also check the PH level and add magnesium sulfate, as plants need the magnesium to make chlorophyll, as well as sulfur or dolomite lime to balance the PH for the plants you are putting in. I strongly recommend that you do not add any herbicides or pesticides into your garden. You do not want to put that poison in your family’s food.
    We are doing back to eden gardening, adding layers of shredded leaves and wood chips on top of the soil as well as compost. Never mix wood chips into your soil as they use nitrogen to break down, the air is 78% nitrogen, use it rather than the nitrogen in your soil. This method significantly reduces the weeds as well as keeping the soil moist, reducing the need to water. Organic gardening has become my frugal hobby.

  30. That’s a lot of dirt/soil! 🙂 I like the idea of the metal sides on the raised bed. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the next house.

    Also, pulled the trigger on Ting as a test run. This should be interesting…

  31. Just checked American Express Savings. They were at 1.15% Our high yield account (different bank) recently dropped also. Hoping the rates will go back up.

  32. When my sheet rip, I use the side, which are usually still good, to make pillowcases. I love to repurpose, I joked that not much goes past me without it being made into something else!
    And thankfully I found a way to turn that skill into a little bit of money by opening an etsy shop Come and see what can be made!

  33. Haha, that really is an incredible amount of dirt! Congrats on the garden growth, though.

    Looks like we beat your May expenses 😉 Though…we may have a few less expense sources.

    How are those sheets holding up now that it’s probably been a month and some washings? They always seem to lose their soft sheen so quickly…

  34. I highly recommend flannel sheets in the winter. They make you so much warmer. Also, the Darn Tough sock sale every fall has amazing deals on socks.

  35. Long time lurker, but I have a question: Milk? How many gallons do you buy to last 6 weeks? I have four kids and we go through 8 gallons a week, I don’t have enough room in the Ice Box for the amount we would need for an entire month. Any suggestions?

    1. My kids are lactose intolerant, so we don’t buy any. I have some powdered milk to use for recipes, but that’s it. Sorry to not have a helpful answer!

  36. Wow! What a great post, and a great month! I really appreciate how expenses were broken down and explained very well. Overall an excellent post!

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