Overalls And Other May 2022 Expenses

My May expenses are a great illustration of why it’s so important to track your spending every single month: this was a month rife with unexpected, aberrational, one-time expenses. But by tracking, I’ll have a clear picture at the end of the year of our actual annual spending. Because weird expenses happen all the time.

Dentist

Lilacs and globe flowers from our garden!

Now that Mr. FW is early retired, we no longer have the dental insurance his employer provided. When we transitioned our health insurance over to the Affordable Care Act, we researched paying for dental insurance and the numbers didn’t pan out. It seems it’ll be less expensive for us to pay out of pocket for dental care for the four of us.

As this is our first year on the ACA–and paying out of pocket for dental care–we’re saving all of our healthcare receipts and will tally everything up to analyze our decision at the end of the year. Then, we can make an informed choice about our coverage for next year. All that to say, we spent $515 in May for both girls to get their six-month cleaning and check-up as well as x-rays for Kidwoods.

A few notes on paying out of pocket for dental care:

  1. Call around to compare prices.
    • Dentists do not all charge the same amount! I called roughly 10 different dental practices in our area to compare their prices for kids and adults (which are not the same price, I learned!).
    • I ended up staying with our kids’ pediatric dentist, not because they’re the cheapest, but because they’re considered the best in our region. I have no problem paying for quality, especially for something as important as my children’s teeth! But, I do appreciate knowing the premium I’m paying.
  2. Kidwoods planting her row in the veggie garden

    Ask if there’s a discount for paying in full at the time of service.

    • A lot of places will offer you some sort of discount if you pay in full at the time of service, as opposed to going with a payment plan or financing.
    • Our dentist does not offer this, but I did ask. Never hurts to ask.
  3. Ask if you can pay with your credit card so you’ll receive those sweet, sweet rewards points!
    • I asked our dentist if there was any penalty or extra charge for paying with a credit card and they said nope.
    • I had my checkbook ready just in case, but was delighted to pay with our cash-back rewards card.
    • Since we earn a flat 2% back on all purchases, we got $10.30 back on our dental bill. Not a lot, but not nothing!
  4. Ask for an itemized receipt.
    • Save it so you can analyze your spending at the end of the calendar year to determine if it’ll make more sense to pay for insurance.

Car Repairs

Littlewoods planting her veggies

Have I ever mentioned how much I miss our car-free urban days? The one downside to living rurally is our total and utter reliance on our cars. I don’t plan to ever move back to the city, but if I do? I’ll hop on public transit SO FAST I’ll be a blur. On the whole, it’s a small price to pay for living in what I consider paradise.

At any rate, both the Prius and the truck needed A LOT of work last month. The upside to this spending is that we use a local mechanic who hires local people, which keeps the money in our community. I have to look for the bright side, people :)!

The truck needed:

  • Front brakes
  • Annual state inspection
  • Wheel bearings/speed sensors
  • Tie rod end

The Prius needed:

  • Rear brakes: the parts were covered under the warranty from the last time we had the brakes done, so we just had to pay for the labor
  • Annual state inspection

One Used Stand-Up Paddle Board for Mrs. FW’s Adventures

I found a used hard (not inflatable) stand-up paddle board + paddle for sale, so I bought it! It was $300–which sounds really expensive–but this particular board was $1,100 new, so I guess it’s a deal. I can’t wait for the water to be warm enough for me to get out there and learn a new sport! Hold your laughter, please.

Booster Seats

Kidwoods watering in her plants

At age 6.5, Kidwoods has almost outgrown her carseat (although don’t tell her that she actually still fits… ) so we went ahead and got her a booster seat. From our research, this one is highly rated for safety at a very reasonable price point. Car seats are pretty much the only thing we buy new for our kids.

Everything else–their clothes, shoes, toys, books, puzzles, etc–come used as hand-me-downs or from yard sales. But I will always pay more for safety. So far, Kidwoods is THRILLED with this big kid seat and can even buckle herself in!

Hearing Protection

Or, “hearing toe-tection” according to Littlewoods, is a crucial part of working around our loud farm machines. Safety really is my theme today. We have bulky, over-the-head earmuff-style hearing protection, but Mr. FW wanted to try out some ear-bud style protectors that have bluetooth AND fit under his wide-brimmed sun hat. His friend, who works in a woodshop, recommended these and so far, so good (affiliate link).

Overalls

I have determined overalls are THE perfect outdoor summer gear for working and hiking. I don’t wear anything else. I had one pair of overalls and, after several instances of them being in the wash when I needed them, capitulated to getting a second pair. I bought another pair of these men’s overalls, as they’re cheaper than the women’s version (affiliate link). I got the old time-y train conductor print this time because why not.

One Instapot

OH, I almost forgot! The pressure cooker we bought at a thrift store five years ago finally bit the dust. Since we use it to cook dried beans all the time, we needed a replacement and…. this Instapot seemed the most logical choice (affiliate link). Hit me with your recipes!!!

I Love the Free Expense Tracker from Personal Capital!

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.

The homestead in May

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 or how much you have. 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. Personal Capital (which is free) is a great way for me 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: the Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

We buy everything we 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 also spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense listed at the end of the month.

  2. We get rewards. Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, we 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 we don’t have any debt, 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:

Cash Back Cards to Consider

If you’re now cash back curious, there are a number of cards on the market right now that offer pretty good cash back percentages. Here are a few I think are a good deal:

Littlewoods eating popcorn at the hot air balloon fest

1) Blue Cash Preferred ® from American Express:

 

  • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months.
  • $0 fee for the first year; $95 annual fee thereafter. Rates and fees details here.
  • Terms apply

2) Blue Cash Everyday ® from American Express:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations.
  • 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months.
  • No annual fee. Rates and fees details here.
  • Terms apply.

3) Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
  • $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
  • No annual fee.

4) Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card:

 

  • Unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target).
  • 1% back on all other purchases.
  • 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023.
  • $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • No annual fee.

Mulching the apple trees!

5) Chase Freedom Unlimited:

  • Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year), which is worth up to $300 cash back:
    • 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • 4.5% on dining and drugstores
    • 3% on all other purchases.
  • After your first year (or $20,000 spent), you earn:
    • 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
    • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
    • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.

6) Chase Freedom Flex:

  • 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.
  • New 5% categories each quarter.
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • No annual fee.

If you’re interested in travel rewards, people love the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, which is $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate 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, 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: $58.41

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 $2,920.31 on that card, which netted us $58.41.

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.

To see how this adds up over the course of a year, check out How I Made $712.59 With My Cash Back Credit Card.

Where’s Your Money?

Another easy way to optimize your money is with a high-interest savings account. 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, which–as of this writing–earns 0.75% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,038. That means you earned $38 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.

Yes, We Only Paid $28.03 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 $28.09 for both of our phones (that’s $14.02 per person for those of you into division). How is such trickery possible?!? We use an MVNO!

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, A LOT cheaper. If you’re not using an MVNO, switching to one is an easy, slam-dunk, do-it-right-away way to save money every single month of every single year forever and ever amen.

Here are a few great MVNOs to consider:

For more, I have a full chart of providers and their prices here: How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Bill with an MVNO: I Pay $12 a Month*

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

Note: these MVNO links are affiliate links.

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
  • Don’t you have a rental property? Yes! We own a rental property (also known as our first home) 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 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 big box stores for necessities. The closest stores are 45 minutes away and we go there once or twice 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?

  • Littlewoods planting tomatoes!

    We don’t have a mortgage because we paid it off (details here)

  • We pay bills in full the month we receive them. That’s why you won’t see monthly payments for things like car insurance or property tax. These expenses show up as the full annual (or bi-annual, etc) amount in the month we pay them
  • Here’s what we do for health insurance.
  • We don’t have any debts and we paid cash for our cars.
  • Here’s how we make charitable contributions: How We Donate To Charities Like Billionaires and also How We Make Meaningful And Tax Efficient Charitable Donations.
  • Here’s an overview of how we save for our kids’ higher education: How We Use 529 Plans To Save For College
  • We live on 66 acres in rural Vermont, so our utilities and household expenses are different from traditional urban and suburban homes:
    • 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).
    • There are, of course, costs associated with maintaining these systems (such as having our septic system pumped and inspected) and those expenses show up in the months we pay them.
    • We 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

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
Car repairs $1,910.66 For the Prius and the truck. See notes above.
Groceries $689.02
Dentist x 2 $515.00 Out of pocket payment for both girls, plus x-rays for Kidwoods.
Preschool $380.00 For Littlewoods
Gasoline for cars $348.63 YIKES, GAS PRICES!!!
Stand-up paddle board and paddle $300.00 To facilitate yet another way for me to look ridiculous in public.
Restaurants $257.91 Lunch dates with my husband while the kids are in school!
Two booster carseats $190.74 Two booster seats for Kidwoods. 
Household supplies $134.29 The thrilling miscellany of life: toilet paper, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, vitamins, craft supplies, toothpaste, sunscreen, etc.
Gas for farm equipment $122.86 10 gallons of ethanol-free gas and 10 gallons of off-road diesel
Hearing protection $104.94 Hearing protection bluetooth ear buds (affiliate link).
Instapot $103.88 We got this one and so far, so good (affiliate link).
Hardware store stuffs $87.94 Magnetic sweeper, bottle jack, wire stripper, hose clamps, etc…
Internet $72.00 The Internet
Health insurance monthly premium $52.43
Overalls $49.99 Overalls for me! (affiliate link)
Beer and wine $43.92
Medications $40.14 Pharmacy co-pays
Doctor visit co-pay $37.81
Home Phone $30.00 Six months of VOIP home phone service.
Utilities: Electric $29.79 We have solar (which I detail here); this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Cell phone service for two phones $28.03 Thank you, cheap MVNO!
Thrift store $24.97
Replacement brush heads for the kids’ electric toothbrushes. $21.15 Kids replacement toothbrush heads (affiliate link).
One kid sunhat $15.33 Whoops, I totally lied. Sometimes I DO buy kids stuff new. Kidwoods needed a new sunhat and selected this one (affiliate link).
Coffee Shops $15.06 Coffee dates!
Garden hose repair parts  $13.77 Several of our hoses have met with sharp implements over the years and require medical attention. Hose repair parts to the rescue (affiliate link).
12v DC circuit breaker $8.43 12v DC circuit breaker for the kids’ play car–purchased used years ago–and driven around our yard with ultimate glee (affiliate link).
Superglue $7.41 Superglue: for all of life’s little cracks (affiliate link).
Scissors $7.20 Scissors: for all of life’s loose ends (affiliate link).
TOTAL: $5,643.30

How was your May?

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62 Responses

  1. Mary LeLoo says:

    Automobile brakes are spelled like this, not breaks. If you need a proof reader, I am available.

    • Julie says:

      Also they are called Instant Pots not Instapot

    • Caroline says:

      I too am a proof reader by trade. Something I have learnt in my years of proofing is that unless someone asks, they really, really do not want your thoughts on how they could be doing better, especially publicly. As far as I can ascertain, Liz is not remotely easily offended, but it reads really badly to be calling out the smallest of errors on a public forum. I say this as a person who has left restaurants on account of errors on the menu or signage, so I get the impulse, but it comes off as nit-picking and unnecessary.

      • Mildred says:

        Agree that these “errors” are very minor. I think it’s all about how one calls them out. Boy, as a writer, it is so easy to misspell common words, especially homonyms like brake and break.
        (And Caroline, not to be snotty: I’d make it “learned,” not “learnt.” ha.
        Carry on, Liz.

        • Quincy says:

          Haha! Mildred, you rock.

        • Becky says:

          Learnt is common usage in much of the English-speaking world.

          • Mildred says:

            Becky, that’s interesting. Sounds archaic to me. I looked it up, and you are right: Brits use it. But in American journalism I think it would be changed.
            I admit it grates, too, when I hear friends say ‘amongst’ instead of ‘among.’

      • Lareesa says:

        Agreed Caroline! As a former editor and proofreader I have learned to keep my mouth shut most of the time 🤣 unless people ask, a small grammar error can be let go. It’s not hurting anyone lol

  2. Layla says:

    Do I remember correctly that you’re in Vermont? Let me give you a tip: health insurance is gonna probably go up a lot next year, especially for folks in the ACA marketplace. I also don’t know where you live exactly but if you live near Barre, there’s a clinic that offers free dental cleanings for all. Worth checking out!

    • HLM says:

      Not exactly free :). I live in the area:

      People’s Health & Wellness Clinic provides health care for people who are uninsured or underinsured, and can’t afford to pay for needed care, including high deductibles.

      You are eligible for our services if you:

      Don’t have health insurance (including Medicaid and Medicare), or
      Your health insurance has a high deductible (greater than 7.5% of your household income), or
      Your health insurance doesn’t pay for certain services, such as oral health care, massage therapy, counseling, etc., and
      Your household income is less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level – proof of income is required.

  3. A says:

    We have the same booster seats!

  4. Shannon says:

    Every time I have ever tried to cook dried beans in the instapot, they have turned out either gummy, half cooked, or both. What’s your secret?

    • wendy says:

      Make sure you are using enough water and time.For one pound of beans make sure the water is at least 1-2″ above the beans and cook for about 50 minutes.

      • Jean says:

        I use 1 pound great northern beans, 8 cups water. Pressurize and cook on high for 50 minutes. Natural release x 10 minutes, then quick release. Set pot on sauté and mash up some of the beans, maybe a fourth of them or less and let it cook a few minutes to thicken and become creamy. Website spendwithpennys has great recipes, some regular, some instant pot and some crockpot. Blackeyed peas take 55 min.

    • Leslie says:

      I have had good luck with beans in the Instant Pot (I love waggishly calling it instapot though).

    • Jacqueline Boston says:

      I have a cooking chart with times and water for categories of food. It is a big help. by looking it up for you I just realized it is magnetic to stick right on the pot! good deed rewarded instantly.

      M G Q USA Instant Pot Magnetic Cheat Sheet Set – Pressure Cooker Quick Reference Guide Magnets – Clear and Easy Cooking Time and Liquid Ratio Instructions- Instant Pot Accessories
      $8.99

  5. Patricia Marie Christie says:

    Great post! You have lots of good information. Thank you!

  6. Nora S. says:

    Damn tie rods! Every time I turn around mine need to be repaired (or something in that neighborhood).

  7. Jackie says:

    The paddle board will be great fun (my friend lives on a lake and paddles most days and her kids [now teens] love it also). I passed on my wetsuit from my scuba days and she uses it when the water/weather is cooler to stay warm. She hasn’t fallen in – but it helps keep her warm when she gets wet or if it’s windy. Maybe keep your eye out when thrifting – just clean it well. Thanks for the update – and yes, yikes to gas prices 🙂

  8. Julie says:

    Paddle boarding sounds like so much fun!

    Do you have dentists in your area that do family memberships? I looked into it when we were deciding whether or not to get dental insurance. Some places have it where you pay a yearly fee and you get your cleanings and X-rays included and then discounts on fillings and other work.

    • Leah says:

      Yes, I was going to suggest this! Our dentist does this.

    • Kristine says:

      I do this. Our dentist was not covered under my new insurance when I switched jobs, and when I priced it out, I was either going to pay insurance $200 for the year and have to move dentists or could pay my current dentist $200 for the year and have the cleanings and X-rays included and still get a discount for any needed fillings, etc. Definitely a no brainer!

  9. Virginia Dugan says:

    Another great, funny, and inspirational article. I adore your perspective on life & it’s challenges. The good, bad & ugly. Keep them coming!

  10. Amy says:

    Ahh, an InstantPot! I just finished cleaning mine after making this pasta for dinner (an easy comfort meal—I love cooking a brainless, one-pot pasta meal in this thing): https://www.melskitchencafe.com/instant-pot-creamy-baked-ziti/

    I also love to cook rice in this thing. It comes out perfectly fluffy every time, I don’t have to babysit it on the stove OR have the added expense of buying a rice cooker and the conundrum of where to put it. I buy 20 lb bags of Royal basmati rice (so fragrant, so delicious) for about $18, which is worth it to me—long grain rice like basmati or jasmine do really well in the InstantPot.

    If you want a fun island cuisine night, may I suggest this InstantPot coconut rice:
    https://www.pressurecookrecipes.com/instant-pot-coconut-rice/#recipe

    (If you want it really coconut-y, add a whole can of coconut milk or coconut cream instead of the suggested half cup, and add a little more rice to compensate—I know “a little bit” isn’t an exact measurement, but the recipe is pretty forgiving. Also works with basmati rice! And you can leave this in the InstantPot until you’re ready to eat—it’ll be warm and not mushy. Yay!)

    And pair it with this jerk chicken, made in an oven or on the grill (oh my word, it’s ridiculously good):
    https://www.thespicehouse.com/blogs/recipes/jamaican-jerk-marinade-recipe

    Hard-boiled eggs, beef stew, pork shoulder, sweet potato chili, homemade chicken stock/bone broth: this thing can handle it. Obviously, I’m a fan girl.

    Happy eating!

  11. Iris says:

    I agree with your assessment of dental insurance. Employer plans are usually worth it, what you can buy yourself seems to be very expensive for what you get, and isn’t worth it in any year without a major expense.

    You didn’t mention Ting as an MVNO. Have you switched? I’m currently on USMobile.

    • Alan says:

      We are currently using Ting for two lines at $25 each for our plan. That total of $50/month is still a lot better than our previous plan with a VERy expensive mainline company. (I blame Mrs. Frugalwoods for us making this switch! 🙂

  12. Sue says:

    This was chock-full of information! And inspiration! Thanks =)

  13. Cece says:

    Wow, people can be so rude. Thanks so much for putting this together every month, It’s fascinating!

  14. Sarah says:

    Medicaid for kids generally covers dental care. My guess would be you’d need a new dentist since most that work with mainly private insurance don’t accept Medicaid Dental. But with looking around a bit, we’ve always had success in finding a good Medicaid dentist for our kids

    • Leigh says:

      Medicaid is income and asset restricted. I’m guessing that Liz and family won’t qualify.

      • Tara says:

        Depends on the state. In PA all kids can get on chip, but if you’re above the income threshold you pay the max premium, which is better coverage that is much more affordable than an equivalent ACA plan in PA. I had to get Chip for my son when I was at a job that didn’t subsidize dependent’s health insurance (and I clearly explained that was why I was leaving in the HR exit interview as no job is worth keeping without subsidized family health insurance if you have kids)

  15. Dianne says:

    Always enjoy your monthly expense reports. How did you get your groceries bill so low with prices almost doubling? Great job, Mr FW. I dislike spending money for car repairs, but “breaks” are a necessity. Upkeep on older cars is important. Because we’ve kept up with repairs and maintenance, we are still driving a 09 Mazda and 03 Dodge Truck. I haven’t tried cooking in an “InstaPot” yet. The cost is prohibitive now to purchase one. Thanks again for all your information. Well appreciated.

  16. Haylie says:

    Hi Liz,

    I hope you have fun on your new paddle board and I think it’s awesome so are going to try out a new sport!

    Here is my May numbers:
    Family of 4 in Vancouver, Canada

    Groceries 1038- food only/ +company in May
    Cell phones 100- 3 lines
    Gifts 62- Mothers Day
    Professional fee- 532 – thinking of unretiring!
    Kids fees/activities 16
    Housewares 65 bowls, carpet
    Internet 116
    Heat 152- unusually cold May
    Landscape 56 new palm tree
    Maintenance 120 carpet cleaner
    Transport 162 gas, public transit, parking
    Restaurant/cafe 91
    Personal 60 hair dye, pet, multivitamins/ other
    Clothes 22- 2 pairs kid shoes

    Total 2710

  17. Alys says:

    Love to SUP! We all have to spend more than we should on our first board (mine was a heavy, yet highly rated board before I went to inflatables). You can get cheaper new inflatables than $300, and mine has held up for several years. Not sure how your health insurance can be so cheap, especially for a family, and then the dental isn’t worthwhile. You might want to check on that. I have paid for the yearly package deal my dentist offers (essentially 2 cleanings/year for 1 price plus discounts on additional work) and when I needed a crown (prior to ACA) it was a lifesaver, but my dental is breakeven for the ACA vs. his yearly package deal UNLESS we have major dental issues, then ACA is best. But I evaluate year-to-year, and there is a wait period for dental other than cleaning for the ACA.

  18. Ohoho, the BEST way to make hardboiled eggs is with an Instapot! Pop a dozen eggs into the pot with enough water to cover the bottom. Set it to “Steam” for 2 minutes and go boogie while it does its thing. Hit the “Quick Release” when it beeps at you that it’s done, then use tongs to dump those bad boys in an ice water bath. Perfect boiled eggs, every time. Not once have I gotten the Gray Yolk of Doom with this method and have happily scarfed down on eggs seemingly prepared by Michelin chefs and/or culinary angels. Happy cooking!

  19. MaryP says:

    If you like yogurt, it is really easy to make in the Instant Pot. I do cold start. Add ultrapasturized milk (I use Fairlife), 1/4 cup yogurt (be sure it has active cultures and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk (optional, only if you like it lightly sweetened). Whisk to mix thoroughly, cover and press yogurt button to culture. It needs to culture at least 8 hours and can go as long as 24 hours. I usually culture mine overnight. When done, refrigerate without stirring until chilled (to keep it from separating). It is as thick or thicker than Greek yogurt without straining. I portion mine out into 4 ounce canning jars after it is chilled to make it easy to grab the perfect sized portion with minimal mess.

  20. Mary H says:

    Would love to read a post about your paddle boarding experiences! I’ve been wanting to try it for a while and would love to hear from another beginner!

  21. Shelley says:

    Thank you Liz. I always enjoy your newsletters!
    I’m in Canada as well. So much more expensive here for food. We did get cheap cell phone plans – Shaw Cable $0 no data, chatr $16.50 250mb, public Mobile $25 500mb. Thank you for encouraging us to switch plans

  22. Ash says:

    I bought booster seats at target for $20. They worked great. They looked exactly like the ones you got. MAYBE not as much padding but they were comfy and we used them for 3 years.

  23. Juli says:

    Wanted to clarify that every healthcare plan is an ACA plan. The law affects every policy. I think what you mean is that you purchased your insurance through an exchange.

  24. Hilogene in Az says:

    Hi, bought an instant pot five years ago…did small stuff with it until we found this guy…wonderful recipes and a website with videos. Anyway, his recipes are fantastic and now we use the instant pot for more than rice, beans and potatoes 😉

    https://www.amazon.com/Step-Step-Instant-Pot-Cookbook/dp/0316460834/ref=asc_df_0316460834/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=459685515341&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14991982261407834268&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9030077&hvtargid=pla-902496646508&psc=1

  25. KathyE says:

    Awesome & Easy Instant Pot Chicken Chili recipe – https://www.thereciperebel.com/instant-pot-white-chicken-chili/

  26. Shannon says:

    We have the same Instant Pot and have had good luck, especially after (finally) figuring out you can turn down the temperature on the saute function. Whoops! For Instant Pot black beans that are cooked through but not super soft, and that aren’t too salty to use in other dishes with salt, we like 2 cups of dried black beans to 4-5 cups of water, plus 1/2 onion (cut into quarters), 1.5 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp salt on high pressure for 33 minutes. You can let the natural release do its thing or manually open the valve – there’s not a huge difference as far as I can tell. Happy multi-function cooking!

  27. B says:

    I love how you are trying a new sport. As a fellow mum and being 36 I think this is really inspiring. You are a wonderful role model to your girls. I also love how you have dates with your husband.

  28. Sandy Moore says:

    A really great way to save even more on your dental bills for the smaller stuff like Xrays and dental cleanings is to utilize a Community College or Dental Assisting School. My local CC has wonderful Dental Assisting & Dental Hygiene Programs. Most students recruit their friends and family to learn on and many colleges will service folks in the community for a small fee. You can utilize other trade schools for discounted services like; Massage schools, beauty colleges, culinary schools. You can even find graphic design or fashion design students who would help you take on small projects so they can build their portfolios.

  29. Sherry says:

    Thank you for another great post! I appreciate the time and effort that you put into these posts and I always look forward to seeing them!

  30. Cindy in the South says:

    My grocery bill has almost tripled… sigh. I think you are doing well to keep yours that low.

  31. Celeste says:

    Great post per usual! Happy June! TY so much for the MVNO info, I switched 2 years ago after reading your posts and will never go back. Just paid $80 for another year of Mint, 4GB/mo, after getting a sweet referral credit that knocked $100 off my bill. Insanity. TY Liz!

  32. Quincy says:

    Liz- your life looks so lovely. Thank you for sharing!

    I have a SUP and I absolutely adore it. It is so nice to get out on the water and just disconnect. I am sure you will enjoy it too! Have fun with your new toy!

    -Quincy

  33. Amy says:

    I am also paying out of pocket for dental. For adult children I found out that one of the things that our dentist does is not do procedures or services that insurance companies won’t cover. (Yes even though we are paying out of pocket.) For example, panoramic x-rays, fluoride treatments, spacers, etc.

  34. Stephanie says:

    I highly recommend that you get a steam diverter for your instant pot. I didn’t have one at first for my instant pot & had steam going up the front of my overhead cabinets when I did a quick release & it raised the grain on the door & damaged it. Extra pot inserts are also a good thing to purchase .If you plan to use a smaller pot inside then a silicon sling is another good purchase. All of these can be found on Amazon. When not using your instant pot then don’t lock the lid down on it, it helps hold smells inside, especially if you’ve cooked something with a strong smell to it. Don’t forget to clean the catch container located on the back of the instant pot, especially if you’ve made pasta & did a quick release.

  35. Jess says:

    Stand up paddle boarding is so much fun and with your background in skiing/yoga you might be better than you think! The trick is to start on your knees and then stand up in a lunge

  36. Taylor says:

    Very interesting!

  37. CindyV says:

    I love making Indian food in my Instant Pot – here are a few favorites:
    Chicken Tikka Masala – https://twosleevers.com/chicken-tikka-masala/
    Butter Chicken – https://twosleevers.com/instant-pot-butter-chicken/
    Chicken Biryani – https://twosleevers.com/pressure-cooker-chicken-biryani/

    And there are a bunch of great bean recipes using the instant pot on beanrecipes.com (just search on Instant Pot and they come right up)

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