Dog’s Christmas Stocking And Other November 2022 Expenses

November is always a month of celebrations in our family! We hosted Thanksgiving for what we think is the 10th year–although there were a few years off for Covid–and Kidwoods turned seven!

My homemade Thanksgiving pies

Our expenses are always higher in November on account of these festivities and I don’t mind at all. Having the ability to spend on things that matter deeply to me is why I’m frugal. It’s why I track my spending. It’s why I interrogate my priorities and how my spending reflects them.

It’s an illustration of values-based spending:

Save on stuff that doesn’t matter–or that you can get used for a cheaper price–to enable yourself the freedom to spend on the things that matter most.

Earlier this month I wrote about how I’ve saved thousands of dollars on my kids’ wardrobes by sourcing all of their clothing second-hand. The reason I do this is because I can. Because I can outfit them in perfectly nice clothing for a FRACTION of the price. Then, when it comes time to celebrate and host family, I have the financial leeway to spend more on groceries and wine and birthday parties. My approach isn’t about depriving myself or cutting back in every single category, it’s about being strategic with how and where I spend my money.

A Christmas Stocking for A Dog

Our stockings!

One of my traditions is to decorate for Christmas the week before Thanksgiving. Don’t come after me! I LOVE CHRISTMAS decorations and I won’t stop!!! I do this, in part, so that we can get the feeling of celebrating two holidays with my husband’s family since we don’t spend Christmas with them.

As I was putting up our decor–all of which I re-use year to year–I realized something was missing. When our oldest was born, my mother-in-law bought GORGEOUS monogrammed Christmas stockings for us from Land’s End. When Littlewoods was born, she bought her a stocking as well.

This is how I found myself on the Land’s End website searching for the perfect stocking to monogram for…. the dog. I know, I know, she can’t even read, but I wanted one! So I bought it. While on there, I availed myself of a screaming deal on winter base layers for the girls and, uh, ya know… also bought a dress for myself. What can I say? It’s Christmas-y plaid!!!!!! I have a thing for Christmas-y plaid, as all holiday photos of my children amply demonstrate. 

Kidwoods’ SEVENTH Birthday!

Kidwoods requested a party to which she could invite her entire class along with a fair number of kids in other classes as well. Looking over her guest list, which she wrote herself and included such luminaries as her teacher and the principal, we realized it would be folly to try and have all these folks at our house.

The birthday girl + sisters

And so, we had her party at our town center, which has a great playground! Perfect. For a mere $50 we were able to rent out the town center, host a birthday party and come home to a clean, non-destroyed home. WORTH IT.

We served sandwiches, chips, fruit & veggies, cans of seltzer, juice boxes, cupcakes and cookies, which–combined with hosting Thanksgiving–is why our grocery budget was about $200 more than normal.

While most of her birthday presents were purchased second-hand at yard sales and thrift stores, we did buy one gift new: Qwirkle!! Our friends introduced us to this board game during our beach vacation with them earlier this fall and it is delightful! It’s kinda like Scrabble, but with colors and shapes, which means the whole family can play.

We’ve been a bit limited in whole-family games since Littlewoods can’t read yet, but Qwirkle is perfect (affiliate links)! It’s actually fun for adults to play, there’s some serious strategy involved, AND a four-year-old can totally do it. Highly recommend!!

Household supplies were also up this month on account of purchasing some birthday party paraphernalia including, but not limited to, a unicorn piñata, which I have taped back together for reuse next year.

The final birthday-related expense was $5 for a Daniel Tiger stuffy that Kidwoods bought for her sister to have on her birthday. I was so touched by this gesture of kindness that I ended up paying for Daniel and not having Kidwoods pay me back. Littlewoods was thrilled and surprised that she got to open a present too! I will definitely be doing that again.

Christmas Cards

This year’s Christmas postcard

I continued my tradition of ordering business postcards for our family Christmas cards as they are SO MUCH cheaper.

I like postcards because:

  • Their smaller size means they’re less expensive
  • If you select “business” postcards, they’re a fraction of the price of regular “holiday” postcards
  • You can still do full-color on both sides of the card
  • Postcard stamps are cheaper than regular stamps
  • They come with the return address already printed
  • You don’t have to buy envelopes

I’ve been using this hack for the last 8 years and it’s still going strong! I ordered from my old standby, VistaPrint, and spent $52–including shipping–on 150 full-color postcards. I actually got myself in gear this year to order on Black Friday, which meant I was able to take advantage of a sale they were running. I’ve got to remember to order on that day every year!

Join a UFM Mastermind Group

My new dress and the girls in their new ski base layers. Plus my decorative Christmas trumpet…

There’s a BRAND NEW way to participate in my January Uber Frugal Month (UFM) Challenge: join a Mastermind Group!!!! These groups are your chance to meet (on video) with me and some other frugal folks once a week for 5 weeks starting in January! Read more here; sign-up to join here.

Sign-up For The UFM to Win…. A PRIZE!

I’m giving away three prizes to three folks who sign-up for the FREE January Uber Frugal Month:

Prize #1: A one-on-one basic financial consultation with me, AKA a private reader case study ($1,500 value!).

Prize #2: A spot in a UFM Mastermind Group ($300 value!).

Prize #3: A photo of my dog with a nametag on her head with your name written on it by my seven-year-old. You think I’m kidding? This kid LOVES putting nametags on this dog’s head (priceless value!).

To enter, sign-up for the Uber Frugal Month in the box below. I’ll choose three winners via random number generator on Monday, December 19th. If you’ve already signed up for the January 2023 UFM, you’re already entered in the drawing!

Can I Talk To You?

Yes! In September I launched Private Reader Case Studies, which are an opportunity for folks to hire me for a full financial consultation. I also now offer 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.

Our halls are DECKED!

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

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:

Portrait of a dog the day before Thanksgiving

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

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.

Happy holidays from us! Our family pic, taken impromptu by a friend at a party

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.

Littlewoods: THRILLED that she got to open a gift too

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: $55.60

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 $2,780.18 on that card, which netted us $55.60.

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.

The birthday girl requested we wear our matching dresses for her party

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 3% in interest (affiliate link). In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,150. That means you earned $150 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)

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?

Last year’s Christmas postcard

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

  • 2018 Christmas Postcard

    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?

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

  • 2014 PRE-CHILDREN postcard

    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 November:

Item Amount Notes
Groceries $810.64 Roughly $200 more than normal due to:

  • Hosting Thanksgiving
  • Kidwoods’ Birthday Party

Money very well spent!

Truck repairs $740.76 Ugh car repairs. The truck needed front struts, an oil change and its annual state inspection. Very thankful for our local mechanic who charges a lot less than a dealership!
Studded Snow Tires for the Outback $687.01 We bought four 225/65/R17 Nokian Nordman 5 studded snow tires for the Subaru Outback. Careful readers will recall that we bought used snow tires and rims over the summer. But, our intention was always to use the used rims and buy new snow tires. Can’t put a price on safety and security during ice and snow season. Or, I guess you can and it’s $687.01…
Beer, wine and alcohol $299.24 Much higher than normal on account of hosting Thanksgiving.
Gas for cars $269.85
Dog and Chicken Food $181.67
Restaurants $159.25 Dates with my husband!
Dog Training $150.00 We took Gigi to a dog trainer for a few sessions, which were great!
Chickens $142.00 6 whole, frozen, free-range chickens from our farmer neighbors
The Dog Stocking + human clothing $127.87 It’s possible I had a bit too much fun on the Land’s End website… I REGRET NOTHING
Preschool $120.00 For Littlewoods
Household supplies $104.66 Higher than normal on account of buying some supplies for the birthday party
Bulk food order $98.18 50lbs white whole wheat flour and 25lbs of organic oats, ordered through our local co-op’s bulk food ordering
The Thanksgiving Turkey (+ some maple syrup) $81.00 Free range, fresh turkey raised by our farmer neighbors. It was DELICIOUS.
Internet $72.00
Health insurance $52.43
Christmas cards + shipping $52.00 150 full-color postcards from VistaPrint
Town Center Rental $50.00 For Kidwoods’ 7th birthday party
The Vermont Almanac $37.10 A standby in our house every year
Smart plugs and smart lights $35.73 I’m obsessed with these smart plugs as they mean I can turn on ALL of our Christmas lights with ONE button! I’m in heaven.

Also got these smart light strips to replace our aging fairy lights, which are burning out after seven years of continuous use (affiliate links).

What can I say, I love warm and cozy lighting!!

Utilities: Electricity $31.52
Cell phone service for two phones $28.24 Thank you, cheap MVNO!
Qwirkle game $26.49 Highly recommend Qwirkle for all-ages family fun (affiliate link).
Non-stick skillet $26.45 I make scrambled eggs for myself for lunch everyday and so I got this little nonstick skillet for my own personal egg usage (affiliate link).
Doctor visit co-pay $20.00
Spotify subscription $13.77
Dog License $13.00 Dog is now officially registered with the town
Daniel Tiger Stuffy $5.00 Awwww
TOTAL: $4,435.86

How was your November?

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49 Responses

  1. James W Day says:

    Christmas cards! We’ve gone from 60 to 18 nowadays. Folks just stopped sending.. but we still participate in this archaic holiday tradition with gusto. I tried to add two friends this year and they bluntly said No more. GOSH! Scrooges! Love the postcard alternative.

    • Jennifer says:

      I noticed that I received far fewer holiday cards this year, and some of my friends even posted on social networks about “opting out” of this tradition this year. We spend a lot of money to keep the tradition going (haven’t tried postcards yet!), but I’m wondering if I need to dispense with it and try something like a digital card instead. It would be more environmentally friendly.

  2. Marie says:

    Love the dog stocking and don’t blame you one bit. It will last for years and will match the rest of the family. Now if you can just be lucky enough to find a shed deer antler in the woods – dogs love to chew them and it would make the perfect stocking stuffer for Gigi.

  3. JD says:

    I used to send out 50 or more cards every Christmas, but older family has passed away, friends and many younger relatives don’t exchange cards anymore or never did, so these days I just send out around 12. However, a family member used to be a card installer at store card racks for a greeting card company, and she gave me about 8 boxes of nice cards that were destined to be thrown out. I still haven’t used them all up. All I pay is postage, therefore..

    Side note: I never realized until this relative went to work for said card company that the companies often throw away the unsold cards, stationary, items with dates (like diaries), ornaments, etc., when they change the displays in stores that sell their products. For a while, team supervisors had the discretion to donate the unsold cards and items to nursing home residents for them to use, to groups sending cards to overseas military, or something similar. Employees were allowed to keep a few of the unsold things for their own use. But: a few years ago, they were told to stop donating and keeping anything, and to trash everything they removed. So wasteful! I don’t know the rule now, since my relative has retired, but I hope they have returned to donating.

    I got the Lands End stockings for my kids when they were small, and they still have them. They are pretty and they certainly hold up – my oldest is 40 and her stocking looks great. I hope your dog appreciates hers. What will you put in it?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a shame they throw all that stuff out! Elementary schools would also love that kind of stuff–at least, I know ours would! Glad to hear your Land’s End stocking is holding up. They are gorgeous! Santa Paws plans to bring Gigi some toys and bones :).

  4. Karianne says:

    I FINALLY convinced my husband to make the jump to mintmobile, thank you for helping me finally convince him 🙂 Even with their most expensive unlimited plan, we are saving over $100 from our last cell phone bill, with much better customer service and literally no cons so far. This line item has bugged me every month of our marriage, so thank you!! Of course our daycare expense coincidentally and unavoidably went up by more than this in the last month, so the grind to find more space in the budget continues…

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      WOOHOO!!!! I’m with you–MVNOs are one of the absolute easiest ways to save money… every month! Way to go!

  5. Katy says:

    Thank you so much for the business postcard idea! I have basically stopped with Christmas cards, despite my college friend group being so good about them. I always wanted to send postcards but they were either hard to find or expensive. I never thought to look at the business section of these sites!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Business section for the win! Sometimes it’s called “Marketing Postcards,” and either way, they usually have plenty of relatively bland backgrounds that you can make your own.

  6. Sharon says:

    I love these monthly roundups! A couple questions this month…. I too use Vistaprint for many things. Your Christmas postcards…did the $52 include stamps or was postage included in another category?
    Also, $23 for an organic frozen local chicken seems a bit high (speaking as a farm wife). Is this correct?
    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Great questions!
      1) The $52 was just for the cards. The postage to send them out was purchased in December, so that’ll show up in next month’s report. I had some postcard stamps leftover from last year, so I think we only needed to buy like ~70 stamps, which at $0.44 per stamp is likely in the neighborhood of $30. Yet another reason why I love postcards–cheaper postage!
      2) That is the cost of the chickens, although it’s very possible there were some other farm stand purchases that snuck in there.. maple syrup, veggies, etc. But we love supporting our neighbors and the meat is SO GOOD. I’m happy to pay more in order to eat hyper local.

  7. Sarah says:

    The Lands End stockings are beautiful (as is your dress)! We’ve had some of our LE stockings for 20+ years and it’s so easy to add a “matching” stocking as the family evolves. We’ve also purchased one for the dog-> I regret nothing

  8. Joyce says:

    Love all your tips and ideas for cash back cards and I use them too. I shop at Whole Foods for basics like organic veggies and fruits and meats now that farms in CT have closed for winter. I earn 5 % back with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa. So that makes shopping there more affordable. With our Thanksgiving haul including the turkey, we earned 45 dollars back which paid for my turkey.

  9. Joyce says:

    Not bad, for items I would have bought anyway! Also we dropped the holiday card ritual. I don’t think folks appreciate it anymore. A call or a hello text is what I do now to most family and friends.

  10. AJ says:

    Ohhh I have another perfect whole family game recommendation – any of the Laurence King Publishing bingo sets. We have bird bingo, but there’s lots of other options to choose from; dinosaur, bug, cat, dog, ocean animals, etc. The whole family has played this together, including my 3 year old and my 96 year old Grandmother with dementia. It’s really easy to match up the pictures if you can’t read and it has enough cards for everyone at a large family gathering to be able to join in. It’s a hit in my house. Bonus -it’s also one of my favorite gifts to give at kid birthday parties.

  11. It’s really cool that we get to watch your family grow up. 🙂 I’ve never met you in person, but I realized while reading this that I “met” Kidwoods before she was born, and now she’s seven! How fast time goes. It’s a tribute to you the way you open your lives to us and make us feel like family.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. Ann lee s says:

    Sorry everyone the dress is Sold Out! Love the dress, went directly to lands end but none left! Sadness. And flannel too! Smart fruglers would have shopped early, 🙀☹️😬

  13. Kristine says:

    We also love our personalized stockings and they are already full of goodies. Ours were actually a Christmas gift from the year we were married. My stepsister ordered them for us. 🙂

  14. E says:

    Just came here to say your hair is looking fab!! Happy holidays

  15. Jen says:

    I love that Littlewoods bought a gift for her sister on her own birthday, and that you reinforced that behavior by paying for it. LOVE!

    The postcards are a great hack! Definitely doing that next year.

  16. Meira Bear says:

    Hah, when I saw the chickens listed, it took me a minute to understand whether these were live additions to the coop or…well, “frozen” tipped me off, but I had to read it twice!

  17. Anne Bachner says:

    I am a family childcare provider and have some other game choices that are great family games. Anything by Peaceable Kingdom- most of the games are cooperative so there is no winner or loser. You all have to work together against some challenge and is great for the 3-8 age group. We also love a game called Too Many Monkeys by Gamewright. It involves putting a group of monkeys in order from 1-6 with some silly twists and turns along the way. Gamewright is also a great company for fun family games. I have found many of these at second hand children’s shops in great condition!

  18. Cyndi says:

    When my sister and I were little, we always got one “good sister” gift on the other one’s birthday. I only have 1 child, but if I did have 2, I would have kept up that tradition. It’s hard for little ones to look on while someone else gets a bunch of gifts 🙂

    • LongTime Frugal says:

      And that is how the kiddos ended up with two of every Barbie/Barbie’s friend/relatives until the time the kiddos got too old. Another perk of being the only grandchildren on one side.

  19. Thom says:

    Feliz Navidad, Felices Fiestas y Saludos Temporada, as we say out here in the land of Manana!

  20. Rebecca says:

    Loved Qwirkle! Spot It is another good one for littles (and to take in the car). Keep your eyes open for Ticket to Ride – also a super fun one (best for later elementary school age).

  21. Terri says:

    Just wanted to pop in to say I love your haircut! Also keep spreading your financial wisdom.

  22. Kristin Jacobs says:

    I miss “This Month on The Homestead” posts. As a suburbanite I enjoy playing voyeur on the homesteading activities throughout the seasons. We only get snippets of life on the homestead in your monthly financial posts (which I also enjoy). Can they make a comeback in 2023, maybe even on a quarterly basis? Did I miss an announcement about them ending?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh yeah! There wasn’t any formal ending of “This Month on The Homestead,” I think it just started to feel repetitive from year to year. But, you’re right that they could make a comeback in 2023! We’ve learned A LOT in our 7 years of living here (AKA we’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years 😉 ). Good to know that folks miss them!!

  23. Jess says:

    Quirkle is also a hit on our house. Two other game recommendations we have for the preliterate set are sushi go/ sushi go party and outfoxed (bonus, outfoxed is a collaborative game so everyone wins or loses together (

  24. Teresa Bezanson says:

    As someone with 4 rescue dogs, OF COURSE Gigi deserves a stocking! Always.

  25. B says:

    I love how Kidwoods wanted to get her sister a present. I also love your dress! I am glad I am not the only one who has a stocking for their dog and calls our dog’s the children’s dog brother. It was lovely seeing your family cards through the years. I have children the same ages as yours and it’s lovely to read about your children, although aren’t they growing up fast! Thank you for what you do! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Merry Christmas to you too! And yes, Gigi is definitely the dog sister ;). Helps that she’s a puppy and acts kind of like a toddler…

  26. KP says:

    I just realized I don’t think we’ve heard anything about your chickens for a long time. What happens to them in the winters in VT, or do you no longer have them?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      The chickens are alive and well :). They went through the winter just fine last year and are doing great this year too. All of our hens are cold-hardy breeds, meaning they’re not bothered too much by the cold. For the wintertime, we put plexiglass over the coop windows so that they don’t get drafts. And, they have a heated plate under their water container so that it doesn’t freeze. Other than that, they just chicken around. I shovel away snow so that they can scratch around outside the coop too.

  27. SKP says:

    What do you feed your dog?

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      We are feeding her what the vet recommended, which is Purina Pro Plan Puppy supplemented with some wet food since she is/was underweight when we rescued her. We’ll have to see what the vet recommends when she ages out of the puppy food. We get it at Tractor Supply as they seem to have the best price on chicken and dog food in our area.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    I love this blog post! Then again I love all of your posts – so positive, fun, kind and full of interesting ideas. You’re are an excellent writer with a wonderful comedic perspective. Thank you!

    On a side note – your internet fee never seems to go up. Mine does with a certain amount of regularity. Could you comment on this subject. Thanks in advance. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for your kind words–I really appreciate it! We have but one internet option out here and, thankfully, it’s fiber optic. The price has remained steady for years now–fingers crossed it continues!

    • Emily says:

      If you like your current internet, it’s still a good idea to look at all options every year or two. You can get prices online and then call up your current provider and tell them you’re thinking about switching due to increases and see if there are any specials or rate discounts. I did this for years with internet and always made sure to set a reminder in my calendar for whenever the special rate was ending (sometimes it’s annoyingly every 3-6 months) so I could either call again or switch providers. Once I got my existing internet for 50% off for a year just by calling- the answer is always no if you don’t ask. Happy deal hunting!

  29. KaLynn says:

    I love the Daniel Tiger gift story. As you aptly said in a previous post, All Hail Daniel Tiger LOL. My daughter has one DT shirt and every time she takes it off asks us to wash it asap.

  30. Catherine says:

    I send just a few cards. Our budget is going good. Our Christmas budget was under Woohoo. The snow is so beautiful very jealous. I live outside Charlotte NC

  31. Anyone else notice the denim dress git handed down to little sis, in the christmas fotos no less. Would expect nothing less. 🙂

  32. Johannah says:

    Are you still doing your own maple syrup? I thought I read a post a few years ago?

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