The FINAL month of 2020 was one of gift-buying, food-buying, and tractor repair parts-buying. Also dryer parts. Plus liquor. And some beer. According to our expenses, we were either: a) giving gifts; b) eating and drinking; and/or c) repairing stuff. Sounds about right.

A Festive At-Home Christmas

Littlewoods: THRILLED with her garage sale Madeline dolls

We celebrated a quiet, lovely little Christmas at home with just us four. It was sweet, inexpensive and un-stressful. We might do this every year. Our church held a gorgeous online Christmas Eve service, in which I sang a solo (it’s a pandemic, they’re hard-up for musicians…. ) and the kids watched from the couch downstairs with Mr. FW.

This allowed us to avoid the Christmas Eve screaming Cheerio-strewing apocalypse of 2018. See? There are upsides to the pandemic!

On Christmas Day, the girls were THRILLED with their hand-me-down and garage sale toys. At ages 5 and almost 3, they have no concept of “new” versus “used” and were delighted with their new-to-them goodies. Plus, Santa does garage sales too!!

In one of my prouder parenting moments, I remembered to wrap the Santa gifts in DIFFERENT paper and disguise the handwriting, as my own parents used to do. My found-in-a-free-pile Christmas wrapping paper was top notch! I tied the packages with reusable ribbons and tags, all of which I’ve saved for next year.

I’d say I probably spent around $40 for all of their gifts. They were purchased over time from different garage sales, so I don’t know the exact amount. Maybe I’ll try to keep track next year…. eh, probably not.

The Gifts We Gave

Statement Cards!

Were primarily foods. By which I mean wine. As I detailed in my holiday write-up, I ordered wine from for all of my family members. Easy, inexpensive, free shipping, and something I know everyone will enjoy and use (affiliate links). Cheers!

I also bought a set of Statement Cards and gave them away on Instagram. Yes! I do giveaways on Instagram sometimes! Statement Cards were created my dear friend Stefanie O’Connell and are dedicated to highlighting and honoring ambitious women.

These are not your grandmother’s greeting cards, although they should be. With biting wit, Statement Cards celebrate women for their achievements OTHER THAN marriage and babies.

We focus so much attention on when a woman is going to get married and when she’s going to have a baby and then another baby, and all of that is great, BUT women do so much more than get married and procreate! We write books! We start companies! We pay off debt! We buy our own houses! We get raises and become The Boss. If you’re a woman, or if you know any women, you want these cards.

Congrats to Frugalwoods reader Kim, winner of the set of Statement Cards!!

The Things We Fixed

To be clear, by “we” I mean Mr. FW. The tractor was due for its 400-hour servicing and so we had a few parts-related expenses. Mr. FW is pleased to report he has finished the servicing and the tractor is in fine form.

The Dryer

In the not ideal column is our clothes dryer. It decided to experience failure last month, right in the middle of a full load of damp laundry. After we hefted it down (it’s stacked on top of our washing machine), Mr. FW took it apart and figured out that the belt tension pulley was partially seized on the shaft, which will require a new pulley arm and pulley to fix it. Folks, I have no idea what these words mean; this is what he told me to write.

One of my fave Statement cards

What I do know is that my MacGyver husband created a temporary fix by applying tractor grease to the pulley shaft. He read online that this was a bad idea and wouldn’t last and… it worked for two weeks, after which the pulley seized again and the belt snapped in the middle of a load of… you guessed it… wet laundry. Being 15 years old, I suppose the dryer is entitled to this little tantrum, but did it have to happen in the middle of a pandemic winter?

Mr. FW ordered a set of OEM dryer parts in early December and… they still haven’t arrived thanks to the COVID-riddled global supply chain. He called the company to check and they originally told him the parts would arrive in “12 to 20 business days.” Here’s my opinion: if you have to say “20 business days,” you might as well just say a month. But what do I know? I’m a writer, not a dryer parts manufacturer.

He called the company after these so-called “20 business days” elapsed and they reported the parts “might arrive in mid-February.” I appreciate that they resisted the temptation of “40 business days,” but that it the singular thing I appreciate about this situation. Losing confidence in his dryer parts hook-up, Mr. FW took to Amazon and bought knock-off replacement parts which are reported to “kind of work for awhile.” Our thinking is that these knock-offs were only $12 and perhaps they’ll tide us over until the dryer parts from the manufacturer decide to show up. In 55 business days.

This means that Mr. FW and I will have to heft the dryer down from the washer a total of three times and it means he will have to disassemble the dryer three times, but this whole interaction provides IMMENSE entertainment for our kids. Since the washer and dryer are located in our main floor bathroom, we can’t leave the dryer disassembled because the parts would be all over our open floor-plan main floor, which is not tenable when you have two curious, uncoordinated young children. And it’s too heavy for us to carry down to the basement without incurring the need for surgery. So, if you’re wondering what we’re up to this month…

How Am I Drying Our Clothes?

Not well, I will tell you that. I’m a life-long line-dryer of clothing and THOUGHT I only used the dryer sparingly, but this dearth of dryer that exposed that I REALLY like to use my dryer. Yes, I line-dry dresses and pants and sweaters and tops and long underwear. But I DO NOT line-dry socks, undies, pajamas, all of the two-year-old’s clothes (her socks are the size of a peanut, what am I supposed to do with those?????), towels, cleaning rags, blankets, and bed sheets. I’m managing this two ways:

  1. Please enjoy: laundry by the woodstove

    Taking wet laundry over to friends’ houses. They take it inside, pop it in their dryers, we take a socially-distant hike together and when we return, they put a basket of dry laundry in my trunk. This is another in a litany of examples of how deeply I value our tight-knit community and friendships. Having friends who will dry your undies is true friendship indeed. Shout out to RG and RW for the loving use of your dryers P.S. RG, I have one of your dryer balls and RW, you have one of my socks.

  2. Hanging laundry to dry around the woodstove. I do this anyway, but the challenge is the volume of laundry. I can only fit one load on my drying racks around the woodstove, so I’m doing one load of laundry a day. This way, I can fit everything around the stove. In our pre-kid lives, I did about one load of laundry a week, but with the addition of two messy marmots, my washer is almost always on the run.
  3. This whole situation would be a lot easier if it were summer and I could hang everything outside. But alas, it is snow-covered winter and my laundry would freeze to the porch. Then I’d have two problems.
  4. Of course there’s no laundromat in our tiny town or the surrounding towns.

What I will say is that this has re-taught me gratitude. When something you use every day is suddenly gone, you realize how fortunate you are. When Mr. FW and I first moved into an apartment with an in-unit washer/dryer, we marveled at the ease of doing laundry every week. In the intervening years, I think I’d forgotten just how amazing and luxurious it is to have your own washer and dryer. So for that lesson, that reminder of my privilege, I am grateful.

P.S. I don’t think I need another “20 business days” to let this lesson sink it. I get it, I promise.

Personal Capital: How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use a free, online service called Personal Capital to keep track of our money: our spending, our net worth, our investments, our retirement–everything!

December on the homestead

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). 

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 mortgage, having several credit cards open for many years helps our credit scores. 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 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:

Another type of card: Statement Cards!

1) The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • This one’s good because it offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases. There are no categories to keep track of, you just get a straightforward 1.5% cash back on everything you buy. Nice, easy, and fee-free!
  • What this means is that if you spend, for example, $1,000 on this card in a month, you’ll get $15 back.
  • Plus, if you spend $500 in the first three months of having this card, you’ll get $200.

2) The Chase Freedom Unlimited:

  • Also offers a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases–with no categories or restrictions–which makes it super simple to use.
  • You can earn up to 5% cash back in specific categories as well, which makes it really attractive to folks who can track their spending carefully.
  • This card also offers you $200 if you spend $500 in the first three months of having it.

3) The Citi® Double Cash Card:

  • Gives you a total of 2% cash back (1% at the time of purchase and 1% when you pay your credit card bill).
  • This is a really good cash back percentage and it means that if you spent, for example, $2,000 on this card in a month, you’d get $40 back, just for using the card! Not bad.
  • I also like this card because there are no categories for purchases–anything you buy with the card is eligible for the 2% cash back, which makes is super simple to use.

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: $33.70

Kidwoods in a tree

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 $1,684.90 on that card, which netted us $33.70. 

Not a lot of money, 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.

Yes, We Only Paid $24.75 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 $24.75 for both of our phones (that’s $12.38 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 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.

Expense Report FAQs

  • Our main floor washer and dryer

    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.

  • Don’t you have a rental property? Yes! We own a rental property (formerly known as our first house) 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.
  • Why don’t you buy everything locally? We do our best to support our local community and we buy as much of our food as possible directly from our farmer neighbors. Our town doesn’t have any stores, so we rely on online ordering and larger big box stores for necessities. The closest stores are 45 minutes away and Mr. FW goes once a month to stock up on what we can’t get from our neighbors or online.

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

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 December:

Item Amount Notes
VT Mortgage $1,392.86
Groceries $884.47 Christmas treat foods!!!!
Gifts of… wine! $239.63 Wine from gifted to our families (affiliate links).
Household supplies $150.41 Thrilling items such as hand soap, toilet paper, dental floss, toothpaste, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, white vinegar for cleaning, shampoo, etc.
Liquor for holiday festivities $106.56 Let’s see…. whisky to put in warm apple cider, caramel vodka to put in egg nog, gin for tonics, and I’m not sure what else…
Utilities: Internet $72.00 LOVE our Fiber internet
Craft beer $66.37 For our date night hobby
Dryer parts $54.13 Stupid dryer parts that aren’t even here yet
Gift cards $50.00 My oldest niece and nephew requested gift cards for Christmas and WOW was I happy to oblige. It’s like they know I hate to shop…
Window crayons $42.20 My friend who teaches our homeschool pod introduced us to these amazing crayons that you can use to paint on windows!!!! They are addictive.

I bought one box for us and one box for my youngest niece. Highly recommend! (affiliate links)

Gasoline for cars $40.54 Going nowhere has its upsides.
Postcard stamps $38.50 Postage for our holiday cards
Statement greeting cards $37.00 A set of Statement Cards
Mocktail gift set $29.95 I have a friend who doesn’t drink and so I ordered her a gift set of mocktails from The Mocktail Club.
Gear lube for the tractor’s snowblower $27.16 2x CRC Gear Lube for tractor snowblower (affiliate link).
AA Rechargeable Batteries $24.78 I’m a huge fan of rechargeable batteries and these work well and are pretty cheap (affiliate link).
Cell phone service for two phones $24.75 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 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.

AAA Rechargeable Batteries $20.52 More rechargeable batteries, this time in AAA (affiliate link).
Utilities: Electricity $19.79 We have solar (which I detail here); this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
1 gallon measuring pitcher for measuring the amount of oil drained from small engines $13.25 If you don’t think my life is glamorous by this point, I don’t know what to tell you (affiliate link).
Total: $3,334.87

How was your final month of 2020?

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  1. Have you thought about creating a clothesline in your basement? Clothes won’t dry as fast but they will dry. Also, my grandmother didnt have a dryer until she was in her 80’s, lived in Colorado and hung he clothes outside year round. In the winter they freeze dried. When you bring them in they are stiff but quickly become malleable and almost dry but cold

    1. I was going to mention this too. I’ve never tried it, but my grandmother freeze-dried clothes for decades before she had a dryer. Apparently it works just fine!

    2. My MIL hung her sheets and cotton fabrics outside in Canada during the winter. The frigid air would dry them, escpecially when it was dry and sunny. It takes a bit longer, but they do dry.

      1. I just read about it in the Little House series (Plum Creek one, I think its #4 or #5 in the series) with my children. Ma takes the clothes outside in the winter and let’s them freeze, just like mentioned above. The other thing I wanted to point out is that for my family of 5 (kids ages 6,4,&2) we only use two IKEA racks like Mrs. F shows in her picture. We do dry our sheets, but we get away with this by not washing clothes every time they are worn. So it is lot’s of socks and underwear but only if mom’s spaghetti is spilled does the shirt go down the chute! We wash clothes about every other day.

        1. I thought of Laura Ingalls too! They do it in Long Winter as well I think.

          I well remember the days of dragging two sacks to the laundrette and sitting there for two hours so no one stole your stuff. I’ve had to do it since when my machine broke so it’s a good reminder to be grateful for that.

      2. But hanging them inside to dry is like having an extra humidifier – great moisture for cold vt winter air!

      3. Yup, we had to learn about it in science lessons in school.
        Water can evaporate. But ice can sublimate. That’s how clothes dry outside in winter.

    3. I freeze dry clothes outside on the line in the winter. They are stiff trying to bring them but it doesn’t last once back inside. I would think it would work very well in your state.

      1. And they smell so wonderful. I especially like to do sheets and towels this way, year-round. Socks and undies go on the racks with clothespins. Shirts and pants can go on hangers or be draped on racks (or doors, furniture…). My Mom had 5 kids and no dryer for years.
        I feel privileged to have a dryer, and am very glad it’s not a stacked one!

  2. Our local appliance repair person shut down his business because he could not get appliance parts. I feel like our appliances are becoming disposible.

  3. I just ordered a bunch of statement cards – thanks for the heads-up on those! They are GREAT! I am a professor and have several students I will be giving them to at graduation this spring. Just awesome!

    1. I didn’t see the name “Condoleezza” on the list of women, or a few others I would expect in a well rounded, inclusive selection.

    1. I use a version of these from Ikea and I hand everything small on them such us undies, bras, socks etc. They are under cover but what I love is that when a subtropical storm hits I can grab them and bring them inside very quickly.

    2. Yes! I love these! I lived overseas for five years with no dryer and this is what I used for all the small things. I had at least two of them.

  4. Like you, I have experienced, with much gratitude, the kindness of friends willing to let my family’s dirty unmentionables sully their appliances. Twice over the past several years, once each with the washer and the dryer, friends allowed me to come over and do my laundry in their machines. This was in pre-Covid times, so I would go over and spend an hour or so visiting while their machine handled my laundry. One friend always had a jigsaw puzzle going and I’d spend my time helping with that diversion. We have a laundromat in town, but that expense adds up fast, especially on a limited income. I was, and still am, grateful for those friends who offered such a service to us.

  5. I doubt you would want to acquire one just for this purpose, but a dehumidifier does help the wet clothes along. I know- you’re using electricity when line-drying is free. But especially in winter, or if you live in a very damp climate like we do (Ireland), it makes a difference, and it hasn’t affected our electricity bill that much on its own. I do think running it is cheaper than running the dryer. It was many years before I bought one, believing it was for houses with “damp”. But I am a convert. We run it in the kitchen where there has certainly been a lot of steam produced this year with all the home cooking. Also, if you’ve got a family member with seasonal allergies and don’t want to hang your laundry outdoors, a dehumidifier could help with that as well.

      1. Darling Mrs. FW, that post is almost four years old! How have thigs changed since then? I know firsthand that when you have good tenants, it’s hard to raise the rent, but other costs keep rising. How have you handled this?

  6. Hi Liz,

    Here it is:

    Clothing $878- advance purchase 1 year of clothing for 2 kids including shoes/coats.
    Groceries $479- including 2 Turkey dinners and around $60 worth of Christmas junk food.
    Dining out $268- takeout ($148), fast food ($9), coffee ($57), restaurant sitting ($27)
    Transport $93- gas $90, parking $3
    Cell phones $107 for 3 lines
    Internet $110- 300mgb speed
    Heating $151- natural gas furnace (it’s winter, annual outlay is around $1000)
    Power- $43 hydro
    Christmas presents $316

    Misc expense:
    Dog haircut $70
    Protein powder 9kg $236
    Husband haircut $26
    Fitness equipment $100 (home gym we use everyday)
    Baby gate $28
    Diapers $26 (148 count size 5)
    Carbon tank refill $23

    Total: $2971

    * This is for a family of 3 with one more on the way living in Vancouver, Canada. My mortgage is paid off on a bungalow. Some expenses such as insurance and property taxes aren’t showing because I pay them annually in the months they fall. We are FIRED. Our expenses are meticulously tracked, so this is an honest capture of December.

  7. I would have given in and bought a new dryer, like, 22 business days ago. You show fortitude.
    And yes, appliances are disposable. I just had a dishwasher repaired (it was less than 2 years old). Luckily I had bought it from Costco on my credit card so it had a 2-year warranty.

  8. Would another drying rack be feasible? Also, my mother also hung her laundry out in the winter until we got a dryer. It’s not fun – wet laundry + cold air = freezing hands, but I’ve done it myself, and it’s doable. I hope your dryer parts come sooner than planned, though!

    I think I’ve asked this before, but – wouldn’t full-on curtains be a help for keeping heat in the house? And how do you heat the upstairs? Does the stove heat go up there?

    1. Curtains would probably help on the margins, but, we love looking outside :)! One of our favorite things about this house are the views of trees in every direction :). Also, since our windows are wooden, they will mold if suffocated by a curtain–a discovery I unfortunately made in the baby’s room where I had a black-out curtain up. Not fun! In terms of heat, yes, our wood stove is indeed sufficient to heat our whole house. We have a highly efficient catalytic stove and it does a great job. We have oil baseboard heat as a back-up in the event that we’re out of town or the house dips below circa 55 in the middle of the night. Otherwise, the wood stove does a great job.

  9. Chelsea doesn’t have a laundromat? They used to….but that was years ago, now I think about it.

    The absolute best tool our family has created for Christmas giving is Amazon wish lists for everybody. You know the items are wanted/needed, and you can look elsewhere for the items if you’re bargain-hunting. We are mostly adults and it works amazingly!

  10. Dry those clothes outside in the cold and snow. My mom tells me stories of my grandma drying clothes outside in South Dakota all year round. They would come in stiff in the winter but as soon as the softened up, they would also be dry.

  11. I raised 3 kids without ever using a dryer (even in our cold Canadian winters). I have a clothesline outside for about 8 months of the year, and two sturdy clotheslines/racks for use indoors the rest of the time. Saves money on electricity and clothes (they last longer when not put in the dryer), and helps to keep the house humidified in winter. I just have to do a load every couple of days to have enough space to hang them on the lines/racks.

  12. Hahaha, what is UP with replacement dryer parts taking forever to arrive!? We had a similar experience about five years ago and our basement became the craziest looking place while we waited for those parts to arrive. I had a wire rack like yours and it was MAXED OUT with baby and toddler clothes and diapers. So then we put some nails into wooden beams and 3M hooks up on the concrete posts in the unfinished basement and strung rope from one end to the other, hanging all the rest of the family’s clothing and/or blankets, towels, whatever. It looked… hilarious. I felt bad borrowing our neighbours’ dryers too often since we had SO MUCH laundry with three small kids, I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone regularly (not that anybody minded, of course, but I felt bad anyways). But how satisfying once the parts arrived and we had a dryer again! It is still kicking today.

    I wanted to note and marvel with Frugalwoods readers, philosophically, at how hard it was to find a company that could sell us replacement parts around here. And we live in a fairly big city! Most appliance places and big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes, etc), are more than happy to sell you a dryer but don’t have a single part for it, should something on it break. It’s far more convenient to buy a whole new dryer, which is absolutely ridiculous. What crazy times we live in!

  13. If I were you I think I would just go out and buy a new dryer. You do such a great job of being thrifty, but life is short.

    1. For us, it’s not just about saving money, it’s also about the environmental impact of buying a new appliance and trashing an old one–not something we want to do. If at all possible, we try to repair or give away old appliances (that work) so they don’t end up in a landfill. If we absolutely can’t fix the dryer, we’ll buy a new one. But it’s worth it to us–from a financial and environmental standpoint–to try to fix the things we have before we buy new.

      1. We’ve repaired and bought large appliances, and I don’t think buying new is any faster or easier than repairing.

      2. You could get a new one and someone will likely take a non working one on a free list. Looks like the broken one is causing a lot of stress.

      3. The other thing to consider is that newer appliances are way more energy efficient, so there is a point where it’s better to buy a new one. We have a heated drying rack which are inexpensive and a lifesaver for us trying to dry towels indoors in winter.

      4. being a 15-year-old dryer, more than likely there is a lot of good quality metal in there. I don’t know how folks are in your neck of the woods, but in our Philly working-class burbs, we have a developed scrapping network and practically anything heavy and metal you put an announcement on Nextdoor and someone will gladly take it from you, whether it’s a water heater, old-school dishwasher, refrigerator, etc. Heck, we had an OLD 240v ac on our back deck and a scrapper who lived in and drove down our alley came up and offered to haul it away even though it weighed over 70 lbs. We didn’t even have to post an ask for someone to take it!

        if it does indeed come down to buying a replacement, once the weather is warmer I’m sure you can get a scrapper to come for free to take away and recycle most of the metal.

  14. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for things that were once the stuff of dreams: an in-house washer & dryer and an attached garage. Living in LA, it was as much about safety as it was convenience.

    It is wonderful having close neighbors. My neighbor could let herself in to use the washer/dryer, borrow the big pot or whatever. More than once she overnighted items to me that I forgot to take on a business trip. I miss that close relationship!

  15. Years ago my drier stopped working and my dad told me it was the tensioner pulley… tensioner pulleys and drier belts are pretty cheap and I replaced mine with some help from youtube videos… and I’ve also replaced them for several friends! I always tell them they can watch youtube videos too but for some reason they want me to do it for them. 😉
    Also replaced the electric board on my washing machine… that one I diagnosed myself with help from the internet!
    Lots of small repairs that are do-able by a single woman, although my drier isn’t stackable so I’m sure that makes it easier.

    1. Sorry autocorrect, didn’t catch that. I’m a bit jealous of your life. It reminds me of the movie from the 80’s called Baby Boom. If you haven’t seen this movie you absolutely have to. It shows rural Vermont and is a lot like your life.

  16. re the dryer: i’m so, so sorry. that suuuuuuckkkks. ok–here’s my assvice. take away clothing options from the children (as we know, they are the main sources of pain when it comes to laundry. have them wear the same clothes every other day. seriously. they can pluck their clothes from the drying rack in the morning, and you can put their jammies on their beds, or whatever. i mean, you’re doing a load a day anyway, this way at least you don’t really have to put anything away. i totally do this all summer long. yes, my kids wear bedraggled clothing and look like wee vagrants. oh well. good luck. you will get through this. and yes, you can dry clothes in freezing temperatures. but IT IS NOT FUN. i speak from experience.

  17. We experienced the SAME thing with our dryer, which chose to die on Thanksgiving along with, yes, our oven (fortunately the latter at least waited til the 22-lb turkey was done, though not the rolls). You are right: No dryer parts could be found locally and waited forever for them to ship! We have a clothesline, but it mostly rained. Our neighbor was kind and we did hit the laundromat.
    I tell you, with multiple pets, too, and living in a place with little wind, the dryer is almost essential to pull dog and cat hair off laundry.

  18. We live in Brisbane so drying clothes in the wet season is often difficult. I double spun the sheets, towels and any clothes that won’t dry into a million creases and hand then in front of the fan or under the ceiling fan. Works a treat. Getting the extra water out by double spinning is the essential part

  19. Oh my goodness, yes. Appliances are now considered “disposables”, with a short life of 5 -7 years. My refrigerator needed repair about 10 years ago; at the time, the repairman confirmed my suspicion and agreed if you’re lucky enough to have working, older appliances, do your best to keep them repaired and running. So I have a 22 year-old refrigerator, washer and dryer, all repaired at least one time in their life. The repairs have certainly been cheaper than buying new — even if I bought “Energy Star winners” and figured in that cost. And some of the repair costs were a bit hefty — but cheaper in the long run. It will be a very sad day for me when I need to buy a replacement..

    Contrast that to my brother and his wife — in the last 15 years, they’ve replace the washer, refrigerator (twice!) oven and dishwasher (twice too!). I miss the days when quality was assumed and the goal of the manufacturer. Frugal for the win!

  20. My electric oven had the lower bake element break into 3 pieces after everything here was shutdown last winter. Where I live, even in the best of times it is hard to get anyone willing to come and fix things. So after about 6 weeks of no oven, I went online, located the part needed and watched the how to video several times and then was able to replace the broken part. Almost a year later, still working fine.NEVER in my wildest dreams did I consider repairing an appliance, but it felt very empowering to have succeeded at the repair. Did you try locating the parts from an online retailer? They may have what’s needed in stock.

  21. It is time for a new dryer. Yours is 15 years old, something else will break soon. Give yourselves some grace, spend the $400-$600 that you have in your emergency fund and you could have a functional dryer in your home tomorrow. Imagine the sanity it will restore to your family! Just like mama’s nights out this expense is WORTH it!

  22. I admire your stance on the environment (I feel the same way). That being said, I definitely would buy a new dryer! There is no way I would spend all that time (and aggravation of waiting for parts that may never arrive and have laundry hanging all over the house) – it would drive me crazy! This being said, I hope my 32-year-old Sears Kenmore dryer keeps tumbling along! Good luck!

  23. It probably was discussed at length, but all my childhood in olden Soviet Union (Russia or so) we dried laundry in wintertime outside. So, it freezes first and then it dries. And it smells gorgeous and fresh. No need what so ever to bring your undies to your friends… or to buy a new dryer – unless you really want to.

  24. The comments re: outdoor winter drying of clothes are right on target. Winter air in SW Colorado easily dries laundry. Indoor rack drying works great too, especially when you live in an arid location like I do, rack drying tempers the crackling dry air in my house. Without laundry drying in my house I often need to run a humidifier to keep from getting dry air nose bleeds.

    In many cases I look to the past for frugal ideas to use in the present. Another laundry (and therefore $ saver) is an apron. Not the tiny, flimsy kind that only covers your lap, but one you slip into that covers your clothes from neck to thighs or knees. My grandmother always wore one for cooking and cleaning. I do too. And large bibs for kids. If you keep the spaghetti off to begin with you save a wash and can get more wearings out of the clothes.

  25. Not sure if anybody has mentioned this. Blowing a fan on clothes will also help them to dry quicker when hung to dry. We figured this out while camping & it was too humid to hang out towels to dry, so we did it in our camper with a fan blowing on them. Hope this helps you.

  26. Agreeing with comments above. We have a dryer but Hardly ever Use it. I line dry or Use my racks. We are a family of four.

  27. I agree with using a fan on the clothes drying indoors. I also have a mitten dryer that sits on a heating vent. Although, I’m now back at work in person and my husband is still working from home. He took over the laundry and prefers the dryer.

  28. I’m just blown away by all these people who know you can dry clothes outside in the cold. I seriously had no idea and I’m in CO! 😀

    Had a great December, other than missing the travels to see family. Hiked some amazing local trails, mountain biked, road biked, ran, walked the dogs, and worked my tail off in a job that’s been stressful so these outdoor adventures are lifesaving!!!

  29. There’s a wait for a new appliance as well as parts. With more people at home appliance usage skyrocketed. But seriously, just buy a new dryer and ditch the stupid setup. You surely have the money. If you’re worried about landfill waste, Mr. Frugalwoods seems pretty handy. Strip it of any potentially useful parts – even nuts and bolts, and turn it into a cabinet or something for his workshop. You can also choose to purchase from a place that participates in Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) or contact them yourself.

  30. I think it was mentioned before, but you can freeze-dry clothes outside. The process is called sublimation (process of going directly from solid to gas). How cool is it to be able to say that you dry your clothes by sublimation?! Unfortunately, where I live it rains too often.

  31. Lived in New England until I was 30 and we always had a clothesline in the basement? It takes a few days for stuff to dry but works fine unless your basement is really damp for some reason. My sister has this thing that you put over the heat register for quickly drying gloves and hats and such. I wonder if that would help you to dry the tiny socks lol. I’m sure she got it from Amazon.

  32. This happened to my mom and I a few years ago except it was BOTH our washer and dryer. We had an unfortunate incident that resulted in our basement having to be partly gutted, in the process the gutters messed up our washer and dryer connection. It finally got it fixed after 3 months of trekking to the laundromat.

  33. When we had to get a new dryer, we turned the drum of the old dryer into a raised garden bed. Of course, we turn everything into raised garden beds. When our town went to garbage cans provided by the disposal company, we gathered garbage cans from our neighborhood and now plant tomatoes in them. We are in our late 60s and love to garden, but it’s getting harder to get on my knees for garden upkeep. We have an old water trough that we plant lettuce in, old apple boxes hold green onions. All these eclectic “planters” are in our back acre behind the house . No neighbors behind us, just the water tower property, so no one actually sees them, unless we show them.

  34. We live in an apartment and line-dry clothes inside all the time. We have installed a retractable double clothes line in the living room and a fan above. The clothes dry overnight. We hang all the clothes on hangers so that there is maximum surface area exposed to the circulating air, which makes the clothes dry very fast.

    You could do something similar in your basement, i.e. installing clothes lines and a ceiling fan. The fan does not take that much elictricity, and you will have dry laundry overnight or maximum after 24 hours. This way your living room will stay uncluttered.

  35. After reading through your budget, I’m in the process of switching our cell service to Ting. I can’t believe how inexpensive it is, I feel like I’ve been robbed for 15 years! I also started listening to your book again, I need a frugal kick in the pants after 2020.

  36. I rigged up clotheslines in front of my woodburner. I screwed loops into the wall and tied the hooks to the end of the clothesline rope. I can put them up when I need them and take them down when I don’t. The rope was from the dollar store and the hooks/loops were about a dollar also. When my kids were small and I had a lot of laundry I would wash their clothes after their baths in the evenings and hang them to dry overnight. In the morning they were taken down, folded, and put away. That way I did not have clothes hanging up all day.

  37. When I moved into my (frugal) condo in the sticks, I decided I didn’t need a dryer, and could use that space for a dishwasher instead. Good move. I dry my clothes on lines, but overall humidity in my home ended up too high in the winter. I solved that problem with a dessicant dehumidifier ($200). I just put it in the same room as the drying clothes, and it dries stuff out nice and quickly. It also sucks out all the other extra moisture in my home, as needed. That would be a good option for drying. clothes in the basement. I am super happy without a dryer.

  38. I have these hangers with clips for drying socks and underwear: I use them inside, hung on my drying racks or on a bar over my washing machine and they’re still going strong seven years after I got them (the plastic might break down if you leave them outside in the sun). They make it really easy to dry all those small things without taking up much space.

  39. We can certainly empathize with your dryer woes. We moved during the pandemic and did not have a gas dryer, nor did the local appliance store. With lead times approaching the two month mark, we bought a ninja spin dryer on Amazon. It gets our close around 90% dry (lots of small loads through it) and then we finish them off on the drying racks. Cuts drying time down significantly and now that we have our dryer, we still use it for especially saturated clothes or things we wish to hang dry.

  40. Good luck with the dryer repairs. If in the end you need a new dryer, consider Speed Queen a brand that has higher reliability, longer warranties and simpler features than most dryers. We just bought one and have been happy with it.

  41. Sorry about your dryer woes! but have to thank you for reminding ourselves to be grateful for the things we tend to take for granted. Quite liked the idea of festive statement cards.

  42. Your setup looks like that of mine and many of my neighbors’ here in China!
    Dryers are not commonly used, but stuff dries faster in the winter when I can hang it in the vicinity of the heater (never ON, of course! #FIREHAZARD).

    I live in the southeast near Hangzhou, where rainy springs can actually make it harder to dry clothes when it is warmer!

    Fun to see your adaptations. Just know you’re not alone–well over a billion people do it just like that! (Drying racks and clotheslines are found in most homes.)

  43. About Santa…did you know that he doesn’t wrap presents that he leaves at our house? He is too busy to wrap the gifts and so he just leaves them here for us to enjoy. Also, he is quite happy to take back to the North Pole some no longer played with toys…to refurbish and give to other good little boys and girls next year. Which is why sometimes the gifts are not new in box. We love our recycling Santa who chooses to not use gift wrap. 😉

  44. Have you ever heard of a “drying tripod?” You might check it out on amazon – it seriously changed my life. It holds an entire load of laundry, doesn’t take up much space, and in my personal experience the laundry dries more quickly than it does on a drying rack. In fact, I quit using my dryer completely after I got one of these many years ago, and I still use it to this day. I even sold my dryer after it sat unused for 11 years!

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