We Adopted A Dog!

Introducing Gigi!!!

I’m thrilled to introduce Genevieve the dog (aka Gigi)!! Frugal Hound 2.0, Gigiwoods, G-dog McHound Face! She’s a rescue so we’re not sure of her exact age or breed, but our vet estimates she’s 6 months old and likely to be 60-70lbs (she’s currently 40lbs). We think she’s a Plott Hound/Black & Tan Coonhound cross, but again, can’t be certain. She has snuggled right into our pack and the girls are thrilled to have a dog-sister! Despite being a puppy, she’s calm, sweet, doesn’t bark and LOVES to hike. We are so happy to welcome a new dog into our family and she seems very happy to be here. Brace yourselves for a deluge of dog fotos!

OG Frugal Hound

Longtime readers will remember our first dog, Gracie, better known as the OG Frugal Hound. She was a delightful rescued greyhound who passed away in January 2018. We grieved her deeply and she was truly our first child–we adopted her three years before our first human child was born. Gracie moved from Cambridge to the country with us, but always remained a city dog at heart. She’d pick a smooth sidewalk over our bumpy woods any day and she never liked to hike.

As a greyhound, her preferred location was snoozing beside the wood stove. While Gracie–and rescued greyhounds in general–are IDEAL city/apartment dogs, they’re not endurance animals (long hikes are out) and they have tender little paws that are at odds with our sidewalk-free rural homestead. In light of that mismatch, we knew our next dog wouldn’t be another greyhound. I think it’s important to adopt a dog that matches your lifestyle. It’s not fair to you–or the dog–to try and mold them into your lifestyle if it’s not their natural inclination.


Gracie passed away less than a month before Littlewoods was born, so there was no way we were going to adopt another dog right away. Then, we had a two-year-old and an infant. I think you can see why we didn’t adopt a dog at that point either. Then, the pandemic hit and we were confined to our home with a three-year-old and a one-year-old. Yay! We did–in a fit of pandemic-brain–consider adopting a dog during lockdown. But, due to all the other people who had the EXACT same idea, dog supply was running low. I contacted a few local rescue organizations who told me that, due to Covid, we wouldn’t be able to see a prospective dog in person before agreeing to adopt them. That wasn’t going to work for us. So, we decided to shelve Plan Dog Procurement.

Then In Walks Gigi

Fast forward to last month and here we were, minding our Vermont business, not thinking about dogs in particular when Gigi waltzed out of the woods and into our lives. Gigi showed up emaciated and covered in scratches in our friends’ yard a month ago. They (and we) tried very hard to locate her owner, but she came with no tags and no one responded to our advertisements with her photo. We took her to the vet to scan her for a microchip and she didn’t have one. Our friends kept her at their home for a few days and then planned to take her to a shelter as they already have a dog and can’t keep a second. We’d had a chance to meet Gigi and spend time with her and we knew we couldn’t let her go to a shelter. So, we brought her home! She joined our family on October 3rd and we took her to the vet for an exam, all of her shots, parasite testing, medications and microchipping. The vet determined she was too young to spay, so we’ll make an appointment for that in a few months.

The serious princesses

Gigi is a serious hiker, which is perfect since Mr. FW and I each hike daily. She goes with us on two hikes per day and I honestly think she’d do a third if given the chance! She loves being in the woods, doesn’t mind jumping over logs, isn’t bothered by the cold (at least, so far), and is happy to trot alongside us. We’re thrilled she’s part of our family!

No Halloween Expenses?

Nope! The girls wore costumes I’d gotten at a yard sale over the summer and I re-used the same decorations we use every year. We don’t get any trick-or-treaters out here in the woods, so we don’t get to buy candy for anyone! I bought a huge bag of candy the first year we lived here and… zero people showed up. I do miss that about our urban home–we used to sit out front with our next-door neighbors H & B, drink beer, chat and hand out candy for hours. We’d run out every year! Fun times.

At any rate, the MO here is trunk-or-treat and I am so thankful to everyone who brought their car to a parking lot, decorated it and handed out candy to kids in the middle of the afternoon on a day that wasn’t even actual Halloween. These people are heroes. Thank you for enabling us to trick-or-treat at a time that is not also our bedtime. And, I promise Kidwoods was happy–that’s just her “serious princess” face. As she later explained, princesses have a lot of responsibilities and therefore are indeed quite serious. The more you know…

But I Did Buy… Mommy & Me Dresses!

We could not manage a photo with everyone looking at the camera

In a most ridiculous fit of consumerism, I bought matching dresses for the girls and me. I offered to get one for Mr. FW but he demurred. I realized that, with a soon-to-be 7-year-old, our days of dressing alike may be fleeting! I’ve always wanted to buy matching dresses for us and kept hoping I’d magically stumble upon them at a yard sale or in a hand-me-down pile, but alas, no. Sensing that my oldest might be nearing the brink of not thinking this is “the coolest thing ever,” I seized the moment.

Kidwoods selected our dresses from a menu of options I pre-screened. She insisted that they be floor-length which is why, yes, we do kind of look like a cult. But no matter, the girls LOVE their dresses and mine fits just fine too. We’ve already worn them to church together and Kidwoods wears her to school regularly (floor-length gown to 1st grade, anyone?).

There’s A Hole in my Washing Machine…

Public service announcement to anyone buying a front-loading washing machine: make sure that the drain pump filter is easily accessible from the front of the machine. This is crucial because this is a thing from which you will need to extract baby socks, crayons, coins, acorns–just for example.

On our 12-year-old washing machine, the drain pump filter is NOT accessible from the front. So the first time we needed to clean this filter, Mr. FW had to disassemble the entire machine (which also entailed taking down the dryer, which sits on top of the washer… ). He vowed that if he ever had to do that again, he’d just cut a hole in the front of the washer. And last month, he made good on that vow. So far, so good. Washer runs just fine and the drain pump filter is now easily accessible for all future incursions. WAY cheaper than buying a new washing machine. Plus, check out our sweet cardboard cover:

Can I Talk To You?

V. attractive; v. frugal

Yes! In September I launched Private Reader Case Studies, which are an opportunity for folks to hire me for a full financial consultation. I’m also now offering hourlong video calls. You can:

  1. Hire me for a private financial consultation here.
  2. Schedule an hourlong call with me here.

To learn more about private one-on-one consultations, check this out.

I Love the Free Money Tracking Tools from Personal Capital!

I use a free online service called Personal Capital to organize our money. It tracks our spending, net worth, investments, retirement, everything.

Knowing where your money’s at is one of the easiest ways to get a handle on your finances. You 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 your finances, 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 don’t have a solid idea of where your money’s at–or how you’re spending it–consider trying Personal Capital (note: the Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

Gigi on one of her two daily hikes

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 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 offering pretty good cash back percentages. Here are a few I think are a good deal:

1) Blue Cash Preferred® Card 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 $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95. Rates and fees details here.
  • Terms apply
Trunk-or-treat family

2) Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%.
  • 1% cash back on other purchases.
  • Earn up to $250 – Here’s How: Earn up to $150 back when you shop with PayPal. Earn 20% back as a statement credit on purchases when you use your new Card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • 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.

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 Card®. 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: $73.43

Littlewoods + me on our Very Fancy Lunch Date

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 $3,671.37 on that card, which netted us $73.43.

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 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 2.35% in interest (affiliate link). In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,118. That means you earned $118 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. 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.

Yes, We Only Paid $28.24 for Cell Phone Service (for two phones)

The only thing scarier than Halloween: Not using an MVNO!!!

Our cell phone service line item is not a typ0 (although that certainly is). We really and truly only paid $28.24 for both of our phones (that’s $14.12 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–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 two 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 on what we use. Imagine that! We only pay for what we use! Will wonders ever cease. 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 and more recently, here too.
  • 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 a few times 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?

  • THRILLED princess

    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 October:

Item Amount Notes
Groceries $673.97
Ski Program $520.00 Season-long ski program for Kidwoods. All of our other ski-related expenses showed up in last month’s expense report.
Vet visit for Dog $497.78 Vet visit, shots, tests, medications and microchipping
Preschool $380.00 For Littlewoods
Gas for cars $204.91
Gigi supplies $183.98 Dog food, dog beds, dog treats, and chicken food. All from Tractor Supply, as they seem to have the best prices on these sorts of things around here.
Dentist $183.00 My six-month cleaning and exam.

We don’t have dental insurance anymore so we pay out of pocket. I’m saving all of our receipts this year to see if it’ll make sense to buy dental insurance next year.

Restaurants $149.71 Date lunches & dinners!
Household Supplies $116.77 Cannot emphasize enough how exciting these items are: toilet bowl cleaner, toilet paper, laundry detergent, a folding table (to do puzzles on!), a new kitchen trash can (a child accidentally broke the lid on the previous can while doing the chore of taking out the trash… ), etc
Littlewoods’ Fancy Lunch $90.09 Kidwoods had school on a few days that preschool didn’t and so we took Littlewoods out for a Very Fancy Lunch Date with both parents. We try to give each kid individual attention and she positively BASKED in being the only kid at lunch.
Beer, wine and liquor $89.90
Haircut for me $82.80 My pixie cut continues! I had her cut it super duper short back in March, so this was the first time I needed it cut since then. 7 months between cuts is pretty good! Although I doubt I’ll make it quite that long this time since I didn’t go as short.
Chimney Sweep $75.00 Annual expense for all your chimney safety needs.
Utilities: Internet $72.00
Matching dresses $67.97 The Mommy and Me dresses. Not too bad at $27.99 for my dress and $19.99 for each of the girls’ (affiliate link).
Fancy Hair Products $58.00 I know, I know!!! I was in a weak moment and I bought the products my hairdresser used on my hair. And… I love them. Thankfully, short hair = very little product needed per day.
BJ’s Warehouse Store Annual Membership $55.00 Continues to be worth it for the savings on groceries and household supplies.
Health Insurance $52.43 Monthly premium
Utilities: Electricity $33.04 We have solar (which I detail here); this is our monthly base price for remaining grid tied.
Local Maple Syrup $29.12 We’ve run out of the maple syrup we make! The horror! We now have to buy it from our neighbors. The bulk of this gets used in our homemade whole wheat sandwich bread.
Cell phone service for two phones $28.24 Thank you, cheap MVNO!
Pharmacy $14.77 Prescription medication co-pay
Spotify $13.77 We signed up for Spotify as we’re tired of not having music in the car. Since we have no cell reception, and pretty terrible radio reception out here, we’ve been craving jams. So now we’re jamming.

I really wish I could phonetically convey how Littlewoods says, “Simon and Garfunkel.” It’s… something.

Washing Machine Cleaner $12.70 I recently learned that you’re supposed to clean your washing machine with this stuff regularly (affiliate link). Welp. Better late than never? This may or may not be related to aforementioned drain pump filter issue…
OTC Medication $8.58 Generic Zyrtec for all your allergy-prevention needs (affiliate link).
Yeast $8.57 Yeast for our homemade sandwich bread, which we make in a bread machine bought for $5 at a yard sale three years ago (affiliate link).
TOTAL: $3,702.10

How was your October?

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  1. Congrads on your 4leged addition.
    It’s wonderful to have a dog they are the best.
    Cute Halloween time for the girls.
    Love the mom and daughter dresses. Very pretty.
    Have a great week.

  2. Can we have your whole wheat sandwich bread recipe? I’ve tried a few out and we just haven’t found the right recipe yet!

    1. Of course! Our recipe is based off of this King Arthur recipe, but I’ve modified it over the years as I find that different bread machines work differently. So, for our current garage sale bread machine :), here’s what I do:
      611 grams white whole wheat flour
      355 grams water
      37 grams olive oil
      90 grams maple syrup
      2 tsp yeast
      2 tsp salt

      I find that using a food scale to weigh by grams is both faster and more precise. And, the white whole wheat flour is crucial for us–when I use whole wheat flour, it’s like a dense brick. Thankfully, we’re able to buy white whole wheat flour in bulk from our co-op.

      Happy baking!!

        1. Mr. FW used to bake sourdough occasionally, but it doesn’t make for as good a sandwich bread, which we use for the kids’ school lunches every day. Without the maple syrup (or some people prefer honey), the whole wheat bread will not rise (ask me how I know this… 🙂 ). And, on the whole, it’s not very much syrup spread across the whole loaf. WAY less sugar than store bought bread, for example.

        1. I use a bread knife and I start by slicing the loaf in half. Then, I cut the slices from the center. I think I’ve gotten better at doing thin slices over the years. I do remember some pretty thick slices in our early days of making our own bread. Fear not! You can get them as thin as you want :). good luck!

  3. Your new puppy just added to your budget, but you know that already. On average Americans spend $1,000 or more each year on their cats and dogs and some people have more than one.

    I love dogs, cats not so much as I’m allergic, and a pet can be a great companion, but I don’t think they fit into a frugal lifestyle so much.

    1. ahh but frugality is saving on some aspects that many others spend on (such as fancy phone plans, store-bought toys and gifts) to be able to spend intentionally on others that bring joy (pets, few meals out, charities)… or at least that seems to be how most who consider themselves frugal

        1. I never think about the “cost” of our family dog. He is such a gift to our family and also a member of the family, so his expenses are just part of having an additional member of the family. He is also a really cheap therapist – one big dog snuggle and all is right in the world.

    2. Oh yes they do, especially if it is just frugality and not out and out poverty. Poverty status would be difficult for pet ownership but even that can be done perhaps with a tiny pet. The love, laughs and companionship and health benefits are all worth it.

  4. Love your haircut Liz!!! And that sweet puppy face, oh my word!!! I miss our pooch so much. We had to say goodbye in January, she was 17. You’re family is adorable. Thank you for your continued insight on frugality, it’s an inspiration.

    1. At first glance, I thought it read: I have an A-hole in my washer🤣

      On closer examination, I do appreciate the tip, though, since I think we have the same washer👍

  5. I too have that wretched washing machine, stacked under a dryer, and would love an article on how you cut the hole and what to be careful not to cut while making the hole!

    1. I’m in England and everyone has front-loading washing machines. My dryer (also front-loading) is stacked on top of the washing machine, but I fitted a cheap piece of kitchen countertop above the washing machine, and the dryer sits on top of the countertop.

      I’m a bit confused about why Mr FW cut a hole in the front. Why not pull the machine out and access the back of the machine directly? Apologies if I’m missing something.

  6. Congratulations on the frugalpup, hopefully you’ll share many more pics in future, I always loved the exploits of Frugalhound.

    Bwahahaha at the matching dresses! Not v frugal but v cute! I bought my son and I matching dinosaur fossil leggings from a little business and I always feel a bit sheepish wearing them but I do love them. rainbowsandsprinkles.co.uk if anyone else fancies them, they have amazing designs! (I’m not affiliated with them I just love that they do dinosaur and space leggings and many others!) There’s a Facebook group for preloved ones that I’m looking for the next size up for him as soon they won’t fit him!

  7. First comment? Really?

    Two questions –

    How do you fend off Personal Capital trying to contact you to ‘help’ you? Maybe you’ve been with them so long they didn’t do this when you started.

    Have you looked at https://www.usmobile.com/ as an MVNO?

  8. As a reader since way back in your Cambridge days when you first started your journey, I absolutely love your new FruGGalhound …see what I did there 😉 , cannot wait to see pics of her in various outfits that your girls put her in LOL!

  9. I too adopted a stray emaciated coonhound/plott hound mix when she was about 10 months old. She is the best dog ever.

  10. Dental insurance is only worth it at all if your dentist is in-network. After we no longer had any dental insurance from employers, I investigated and decided it wasn’t worth it for what they covered, and because our dentist we’ve had for ages was not in-network for any of them. My dentist gives a 10 or 15 percent discount if paid at the end of the visit, so I do that. YMMV

    And is that haircut price correct?

  11. Which cell service are you currently using?

    We have Mint and Cricket ($60/month x2 lines at 10GB) but have not got down to the $28 dollar mark.

    1. Try https://www.usmobile.com/shared-data-plans – 2 lines 10 gigs – $38.96 including taxes and fees, but that might vary slightly depending on what state you’re in. Runs on Verizon network, so you need a CDMA phone. At 10 gig you’re unlikely to get down to $28 if you really use that much, but US Mobile’s pooled plans let you choose how much data you buy for the pool.

  12. A note about Washing Machine Cleaner drew my attention. Could it be applicable more for to households that are not on the city water?
    We’ve had a Fisher Paykel (cannot recall its precise spelling now) washer (and dryer) for 20 years and I’ve never used or heard about the washing cleaner tablets and how they might benefit my machine. Now it got me wonder, but “if not broken, should I still supposedly “fix” it? What testing these tablets WILL cause issue afterwards?! I’ll have to ponder some more. OTOH, we also add no other chemicals except for the All fragrance-free detergent, no softeners or whatever to our machine and perhaps that helps.

    1. I’m personally skeptical of these cleaners. I run approximately one hot water bleach wash a week, and the last time the machine was serviced (a VERY long time ago under warranty and was something minor) the tech said he didn’t see any deposits to be concerned about, and there was no mold. I don’t use fabric softener, and I use unscented Charlie’s Soap powder. I’m on softened well water. Mine is a front loader, the door is left open between loads and I periodically clean all around behind the rubber seal where lint can collect.

    2. Sam – I think these cleaners (which I don’t use) are more applicable to the HE aka low water usage machines. Less water means less of it to wash away gunk.

  13. I’m jealous. I decided many years ago that it was the moral obligation for pet owners to outlive their pets. At 75 I can not guarantee that. So first I lost one cat, then the second and two years ago, I lost my dog. But no replacements coming.

    My neighbors all seem happy to walk their dogs on the street using one of those expanding leashes that go out to about 20 feet. I’ve explained to them that it is their responsibility to protect their dog from traffic and that they cannot do that with the expanding leash. They should be using a 1” x 6 foot leather leash for walking on the street; and the longer expanding leash when they are only concerned about them wandering off (like a walk in the woods or a park).

    Good luck with your pup.

    1. Howard–I so appreciate your thoughtful consideration of adopting a pet! One idea: some of my elderly friends recently adopted an elderly rescue dog, an 11-year-old Golden Retriever who needs somewhere loving to spend her final years. They are well-suited to each other and at the same stage of their lives. Just an idea :)!

      1. I had the same thought- that there are many senior pets who are often overlooked at shelters. Here in the U.K. some major rescue organisations (Dogs’ Trust is one) will cover the vet bills for pre-existing conditions.

        I remember Gracie, and her sad and sudden loss. Gigi came into your lives for a reason.
        I’m guessing she was bred to be a hunting dog, but didn’t make the grade,
        Shelters do a great job, but there’s a reason many shelters use foster parents. I’m so glad Gigi was spared that.
        Incidentally, my grand-dogs’ vet believes that spaying at around six months is fine, but again, this is the U.K. and different thoughts may prevail.

    2. Hi Howard,

      Just some thoughts — Betty White had a plan in her will for her pets for many decades because she couldn’t imagine life without pets. So, having a plan is a great option. My dad is your age. If something were to happen to him, the plan is for me to take his dog. Another great option is to be a foster parent for dogs and/or cats. The need is huge for foster parents at local no-kill shelters when they do not have room. Also, specific organizations that rescue certain dog breeds or take in animals to shelter for survivors of domestic abuse need foster dog and cat parents (sometimes even bunny foster parents!). Our friends continuously support a Corgi rescue and have a new dog in their lives about 2x a year while the dogs are waiting for adoption. I think fostering could be a win-win for you and the animals:)

  14. We let our BJ’s membership lapse each time it’s up and they start sending deals to renew for only $20/year within a few months usually. This time we went about 6 months before renewing and the current deal they sent was $20 to renew then they give you $20 to spend in store so essentially free.

  15. So happy you got a dog! My parents live on a big piece of land in the country and every dog they’ve had came to them the same way – a stray that wandered onto their property.

  16. Hi Liz, have you shared you bread recipe in the past? If not, are you open to sharing? I’m always looking for good bread recipes, especially for bread machines.

  17. Thank you for choosing a rescue dog – she looks like the perfect fit for your family (and Genevieve is our daughter’s name so it’s a goodie 🙂 ). Wondering about the credit cards, We have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (recommended by my father-in-law who has been a financial planner for 50 years). We got it under my husband’s name with myself added as someone who can use the card too. The problem is, I can’t pay it off – it only allows bills to be paid from one bank account. My husband and I run separate bank accounts (which works for us) so whenever I put something on the card I have to transfer money to him so I have paid my share and then he pays it off. I love the idea of putting all the bills I pay on there so we can earn more miles for travel. The Reserve has a big offer right now and I am considering getting it, as we have annual international travel that easily covers the $4K spend within three months. But is it worth the annual fee? Would it make more sense for me to just get another Preferred card for myself? It’s just really annoying because I like to be able to pay things off myself directly, as does my husband. My in-laws have both names on their card but that’s because they have a joint account. I always always used my debit card for everything, but am wanting to earn more rewards for travel and have regular bills and monthly expenses that could be paid off in full but also earn something for it at the same time.

    1. Your comment about the CSP card doesn’t make sense to me- My husband and I have it and make payments toward it from multiple bank accounts! I would call customer service.

    2. I suggest getting your own card and earning your own signup bonus. Or better yet, see if your DH can do a “referral” to you so he earns a few points also.

      Maybe (?) you can only attach one check account to your Chase account. Doesn’t seem right, but okay. However, you can definitely set up that credit card as a bill in more than one checking accounts and pay from there. So have your bank “push” money to Chase rather than having Chase “pull” from a checking account.

  18. Not sure if it’s still an option, but we were able to get spotify and hulu bundled together for $10 a month. We use spotify all the time, hulu not as much, but I look at it as a freebie.

  19. Your description of Littlewood’s attempt to say “Simon and Garfunkle” reminds me of my youngest, who would ask Alexa to play “Jurrasic Park by Weird Al Yank-a-bank” 🙂

  20. If you do a little research online, baking soda and vinegar can be used instead when your machine requires an Affresh cleaning. I have not noticed a difference with this change and have done it for about a year.

  21. Congratulations on the new pup, she sounds great!
    Does she tend to chase deer, or do you know yet? I live in a city but the park where I hike has lots of deer, and a few off-leash dogs have been gored by deer during rutting season (this time of year). The deer are usually peaceful but get violent this time of year, and my dog tends to run after deer so I keep her on-leash through late fall and early winter! If your dog doesn’t chase deer, or has excellent recall, don’t worry about it. 🙂

    1. She is still on-leash with us at all times! We hope to get to a place in her training where she can be off-leash in the woods, but we’re not there yet.

      1. Scent hounds are hard to train not to run off. That’s probably how she ended with you in the first place. We have always owned scent hounds and just keep them on a leash for safety sake.

        1. I, too, am worried she’s going to roam. But she sure is cute. Best of luck. Bet the girls are very excited to have a dog.

          1. Yeah, she is leashed all the time with us right now. We have an appointment with a dog trainer next week to see about the feasibility of having her off-leash… so, TBD! With our former sight hound (the greyhound), she could never be let off leash either, so we’re very familiar with this routine.

  22. I recently left a comment on your article ‘Help us find the next Frugalmobile’ from June of 2014 (what, is this guy an idiot?!), a lengthy missive that will never see the light of day. So I just wanted to say the following.
    1) You and Mr. F’s (personally I’d give him an F+) writings are quite entertaining and informative.
    2) Love the pictures of your property, house, nature, activities, selves, all of it.
    3) Your girls are adorable!
    Glad to see you got Gigi, your Gigirls will love her (oh they already do!). We had Norm the Ninety-five Pound German Shepherd, would run and hike everywhere with you, best dog ever! Then Sandy the Golden Retriever, so good and gentle with a baby crawling all over her haha. Good ol’ dogs.
    Keep frugalin’ it up out in them woods!

  23. The Plott hound is the state dog of North Carolina. We rescued a mutt and ordered a dog DNA test on Amazon just for fun. It’s nice to learn the dog genealogy. That hound should love running all over your farm. It’s going to be a happy hound!

    1. We also did the wisdom DNA test. The 79 dollar test was good for us and found out her makeup. Everyone thought she had beagle but no, she was half chi, 14% Boston terrior (which I knew there was a breed that I could see but could not identify), 6 percent mini dachsund, 12 percent minipin and several small percentages of big and small breeds. It also tells you of any particular breed disease or other breed issue she may have. Well worth the money.

  24. Congrats on getting a dog! How awesome that a compatible one just walked into your life. I was surprised at first that it wasn’t a greyhound, but your explanation makes total sense. A great city dog may not do well in the country, and vice versa.

    When you’re an animal person, pets can bring such a good return of enjoyment for the money. My cats add some to my budget, especially when we travel, but I get so much laughter and cuddling that I consider it a bargain.

    1. I think some commenters could use a refresher from your About page: “We focus on spending money only when it adds value and joy to our lives. ”

      Some purchases aren’t super frugal, but who cares? The point of values-based spending (and early retirement in general) is to enjoy your life. You don’t “have” to buy craft beer, but if you really enjoy it and it fits within your budget, why not? Frugality doesn’t have to mean cutting every last dime out of your discretionary spending.

  25. Love that your new hound walked into your lives. I have adopted many dogs in my life and the ones that just ‘showed up’ have always been special. Looking forward to reading more about her adventures.
    Your husband’s washing machine alteration is brilliant. Too many other people faced with the same situation would have wastefully purchased another machine and disposed of a perfectly good one. Good on you!

  26. First of all, my husband and I spent a week camping in Vermont in October – gorgeous!!! You are lucky people! I finally gave up on my front loader-no matter what I did—it smells! Then water started gushing out of the soap dispenser every third load flooding the basement. The repair man thought I was crazy until I sent him a video. The price to fix (maybe?) was $200! I am now a happy owner of a top loader with agitator-and no nasty smells!

  27. I sense a slight loosening of the budget with the addition of a dog, mommy and me dresses, and out-of-character hair product purchases and I love that you are unafraid to purchase what brings you and your family joy and saving where the items/service doesn’t. It’s all about the balance and you model that so well to us and your family! Hope you all have a great holiday season.

  28. Welcome to the country way of acquiring pets:) I was counting up and over the last twenty years we’ve acquired eight pets in this fashion, and re-homed two more that didn’t fit into the family well. Sad thing is I think most of ours were dumped. Some people!

  29. So happy to hear about the adoption of Genevieve! I remember your post when Frugal Hound died-it was so heartfelt that I shed a tear or two when I read it. We lost our girl (a black Lab rescue) on 1/1/21. I really want another dog, but I just retired and we are making up for 2 years of lost travel time. My goal in the new year is to try to find out about reputable pet sitters in our area- or to hold off until my not quite 1 year old grandson is old enough for us to have my son and DIL dog-sit occasionally.

  30. We have the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express. I use it at the grocery store and at gas stations. We also earn 3% in rewards on the first $6,000 of eligible U.S. online retail purchases. They added that when they added the increased gas purchase reward.

  31. So glad you kept Gigi. All children should have a dog to love on. She looks like a very sweet pup. 6 months is a great age too. We rescued a 7 month old in the midst of covid and she is awesome. Best move we could have made. My husband said he didn’t think I wanted a puppy again, and I assured him she was far from a puppy. She is now a bit older and calmer which we are glad of. She has learned our routines and is a very valuable part of our lives.

  32. Congratulations on adopting Gigi! Three months ago I adopted a purebred Golden Retriever puppy (about a year old) who was abandoned in a park. We did all of the screening you did to see if he was merely lost, and when no one claimed him we joyfully did. He has brought so much love into our home, which Gigi clearly has for you. Our boy loves Costco’s dry and wet dog food, and our vets give it 5 stars for nutrition. The price is excellent compared with the competition. Congrats again; Gigi sounds and looks like such a wonderful girl!

  33. Welcome Gigi!! I have been hoping for you all to get a dog for a while now. I am so glad you found one that fits in your family so well. I look forward to pictures!
    Also, I love the serious princess. They do indeed have a lot of things on their minds.

  34. Finally, another dog! Congratulations!

    A dog like that could even turn out to be protective of the girls, which is what you would want should a coyote decide to walk up on them. And of course, she will be such a great companion to them all the time. Not every dog is a good fit in a family, but from the looks of it, I believe Gigi will be perfect.

    The dresses are cute, and I totally get wearing a full-length dress to pre-school. Naturally, one wishes to look one’s best!

  35. What are you using for Spotify in the car? The device they sell for that, or your phone(s?) How does that work with little/no cell signal? Just download a bunch of albums?

  36. Congratulations on the new hound! Gigi will have the best life! To clean a washing machine our repair guy told us to use an all in one dishwasher tablet placed in the drum and set on the tub clean cycle. I’m based in England so only have front load machines. So far so good!

  37. Congratulations on your new addition to the family! As a longtime owner of a rescued female Bloodhound/Coonhound, I’m glad to hear that you’re keeping Gigi leashed while hiking, and working with her on training. We learned the hard way that, even with training, we could NEVER trust ours to stay with us when off leash. A hounds instinct to hunt and track is strong and ours got away from us and lost more than once in the woods in our early trial and error days with her. Very loving and sweet natured but not an easy dog to manage.

  38. Love that you guys now have Gigi and she has your family! On the cardboard washer cover…maybe Mr. FW has a friend with a 3D printer?

  39. I noticed your hair in the picture looking really good. A cut and products!! Makes sense and really can make the difference.

    Also way to go with the mommy and me dresses!! I feel like that’s your version of “luxury” that you’re always talking about. Your little girls will remember!!

    1. THANK YOU for noticing my hair ;). I really love the short cut and I have to say, these products are really working for me….

  40. So happy for your whole family and for Gigi. She found the best family!!!! Pets are a value add in my book. 💗Worth every penny spent on their care. In fact, their love and mental health contributions could never be paid back.
    Wishing Gigi a long, healthy life with her people. She was the right pup at the right time.

  41. The stray dog, that isn’t claimed by anyone, that you then take in, is just the best dog. Have fun! I loved my dog, who showed up like yours, for almost 15 years.

  42. Does Gigi even know how lucky she is!!!! What a great story and they do find us….what a gift. She is beautiful. Looking forward to the stories and pictures.

  43. I’m so happy to see you got another dog! I have been reading along for ages and I was so sad for you when you list Frugalhound Gracie. I hope Gigi brings lots of happiness to your family – she’s adorable!

  44. Congratulations on getting a dog again! We also had a female coonhound, Lucy, who looked remarkably similar to Gigi. She also entered our lives when our kids were young, as a rescue. She was an even tempered, sweet dog who remembered everyone she ever met and only barked at strangers (and animals) until she was introduced. She had 2 speeds: exploring/moving or sleeping. She LOVED walks and was quite hardy until she was old. One thing that we couldn’t do was to take her off leash. She was great and listened 99% of the time, but that one percent was too risky. She would go kilometres away (following her nose) and we had a hard time finding her (luckily she had a collar with our phone number). She was not street smart and would trot into the road. We ended up fencing the yard for her. Also, she could open most doors/cupboards because she was absolutely food crazy and they were in her way. She absolutely LOVED LIFE (and lunch 😉

  45. We got what we believe is a plott hound mixed with some other hound from the shelter last winter. She didn’t bark for the first month but since has found her voice, haha. But she doesn’t bark constantly, thankfully. Hounds are special. She’s extremely smart and routine driven which helps with training but she’s a hound: she steals food and we’d never trust her off the leash. We found a “shock” collar to be very helpful. It has three settings and we almost exclusively use the beep or the vibrate. The shock is reserved for training her not to jump the fence (which she doesn’t do anymore). An electric fence was recommended by a plott hound breeder I contacted but we went with a collar instead. Hounds are runners.

  46. Cute dog.
    I am very jealous of the prices of your allergy medication. Here I can get 10 tablets for CHF 8 and have to go to the pharmacy every 10 days or I can go to the doctor every month to get a pack of 30 for CHF 21. And that’s only because our doctor is allowed to sell medication directly. Most doctors are not allowed to do this.

  47. I just want to say – you look so *happy* in all of your recent photos, and I am so happy for you / so happy to see it. Also a big thanks for talking openly and honestly about your experience with post partum anxiety and depression, therapy and Zoloft!

  48. I actually am surprised by the price of your vet visit. A routine wellness check with shots costs me about 130. of course tests and medication would mean more, but still, I thought yours was high!

  49. Congrats again on the new addition. I have no doubt she’s in for the best life exploring your woods with your family!
    One thing I wanted to mention, while Gracie may have been a city hound, there are plenty of greyhounds who make great hiking companions. My first two hiked as many as 14 miles in Shenandoah National Park in a given day with me, we backpacked in and out of primitive cabins, and they also loved to tent camp (they make excellent warmers on a cold night). By the time my third came along I wasn’t in such great shape, but we still took frequent hikes of up to 6 miles.
    Before I stopped working with my rescue group I fostered over 60 greyhounds and while some would definitely not make great hiking companions, many would. I just wouldn’t want anyone to rule them out completely based on that, though these days they’re harder to come by anyway. 🙁

    1. Thank you for sharing that! Gracie was definitely of the “I’d rather be napping” club, but it’s wonderful to hear you had so many hiking greyhounds!!

  50. Your Spotify bill seems high…If you use any streaming services (HBO or Hulu I know bundle), you might be able to bundle for a cheaper price. But yes!! Spotify is fantastic! I would say apple music is better for offline streaming, but Spotify’s music recommendations are unmatched.

  51. Question! I applied for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card – I have had it now since 11/4/22 and haven’t made a payment on it yet. My original plan was to pay in full each month at the end of the month, but I can see on the Statement that the period will be closing 12/4/22. I’m assuming that 12/4/22 might be when the statement credit will be applied? Should I wait for that date? Or pay at the end of this month on 11/30/22? First time credit card user here =)

  52. Thank you for adopting Gigi. She is a lucky canine to step into the void left by the original frugal hound and sounds like just what the family needed as well. They give us so much more than they take.

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