April Showers Brought May Visitors

Cait and Frugal Hound
Cait and Frugal Hound

May brought us a visit from the lovely Cait of Blonde On A Budget and Sarah of Unsettle. They were rolling through Boston on their East Coast jaunt and we had them over for dinner, which was just delightful.

This was yet another time where we welcomed friends we knew through the internet only into our home and yet again, we had a fantastic time. Frugal Hound also adored meeting the ladies and was happy to pose for a few photos.

We chatted for hours and could’ve talked all night if I hadn’t started yawning (I blame the pregnancy). I am so thankful for the friends we’ve made through Frugalwoods and I wish we all lived in the same town and could get together for potlucks every week! Anyone want to move to the woods of Vermont :)?

The May Homestead Hunt

We also went homestead hunting Memorial Day weekend and were fortunate enough to look at four different properties, which is quite a lot given how slowly the market moves for the rural plots we’re interested in. Two of the four were immediate “no’s,” which we were able to ascertain thanks largely to Mr. Frugalwoods’ extensive homestead research (which you can read about in the Frugal Homestead Series).

Mr. FW hiking the land of one of the properties we looked at
Mr. FW hiking the land of one of the properties we looked at

Readers of this series will understand why we turned down one property that was positioned right next to the confluence of two streams. Beautiful, but can you say flood risk?!

The other two were serious contenders as they ticked many of our boxes. But, neither were quite “the one,” so we won’t be making an offer just yet. We’ll watch them on the market though and if their prices were to drop, we’d seriously consider either of them.

…And The Rest Of May

Other May activities included our saga with Stormzilla, finally announcing our pregnancy to the world (yay!), the realization that we’ve been living the uber frugal life for over a year, a visit to the dentist and clean bill of tooth health for Mr. FW, an appearance by me on the Martinis and Your Money podcast as I do every month (we discussed relationships and money this time!), a cook-out at our house with friends, and a weekend visit from another very good friend from college. I really love hosting people at our home!

Our commitment to staying heat and A/C free in May was tested by a few stellar 80+ degree days, but we held strong and are looking forward to the low bills to prove it. I love these months where we can get by without the use of climate control–good for the budget, good for the soul to get some fresh air.

Personal Capital: It’s How We Organize Our Expen$e$

Our grill loaded up!
Our grill loaded up!

Mr. Frugalwoods and I use Personal Capital to aggregate and consolidate our transactions from across all of our accounts. We then drop them into a spreadsheet to provide our below analysis for you fine people.

Tracking expenses is, in my opinion, the best way 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. Sounds harsh, but 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 frugal must, folks.

Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for us to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I use Personal Capital for my expense tracking.

Where’s Your Money?

One of the easiest ways to optimize your money is to use a high-interest savings account. A high-interest savings account gives you money for nothing. With these accounts, interest works in YOUR favor (as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you). Having money in a no (or low) interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:

Let’s say you have $5,000 in a savings account that earns 0% interest. In a year’s time, your $5,000 will still be… $5,000.

Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account that–as of this writing–earns 1.70% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,085.67. That means you earned $85.67 just by having your money in a high-interest account.

And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low (or no) interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person. Be the person who earns money while you sleep. Rack up the interest and prosper. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, is here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.

How To Read A Frugalwoods Expense Report

From top to bottom. I jest, you could read it bottom to top if you so desire, I’m not going to stop you. As regular readers know, we itemize every single dollar we spend (which is why there’s a line item for $2.13 this month). I do this because it’s the most honest articulation of how we allocate our resources and managed to save 71% of our take-home pay in 2014 (after maxing out our 401Ks).

Why do we save so much and spend so little? It’s all in service of our goal to reach financial independence by age 33 and move to a homestead in the woods.

Interested in how we keep costs so low? Check out How We Save 65% Annually and, if you’re up for some hardcore frugal adventuring, take my Uber Frugal Month Challenge, and see how we did one year later in How A Year Of Extreme Frugality Changed Us. If you’re curious about the common expenses missing from the below, our August 2014 Expense report has the answers (or feel free to ask in the comments).

We don’t budget and instead live on frugal autopilot. This technique saves us the time and hassle of building a budget (we’re some lazy frugal weirdos). The caveat here is that many people find budgeting incredibly helpful and I in no way malign the budgeting process. If you operate more successfully with a budget, then budget away my friends.

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

Item/Vendor Amount Frugalwoods Musings
Mortgage & Escrow for Taxes & Insurance $2,741.01 Yep, it’s high. But, we live in a very high COL city (Cambridge, MA) and this house will be our cash-flowin’ rental after we decamp to our rural homestead.
Groceries $408.70 Makes up for the fact that we only spent $239.04 on groceries last month. I’m definitely eating more now that Babywoods is on board and so this amount is a reflection of my increased intake and my indulgence in cravings for: tomato sauce (which Mr. FW makes from scratch), chicken (I didn’t even like chicken before pregnancy!), and fruit (can’t eat enough fruit!!!). I swear I would eat tomato sauce for every meal if I could…
Home Improvement supplies $406.75 This accounts for the purchase of Stormzilla along with sundry other home improvement tools and materials. Far cheaper than paying someone else to work on our house for us!
Utilities: Electric $86.36 It’s electric! Boogie woogie woogie. You’re welcome for getting that stuck in your head :).
Houshold goods from Costco $78.68 Household supplies (including dog food). This total does not include any human food.
Utilities: Gas $74.85 This represents our bill from a month ago when we still had the heat on. Next month’s bill (which will reflect May’s usage) will be far lower.
Gasoline for Frugalwoods-mobile $58.76 Two tanks of gas for the ol’ minivan. We typically use only one tank per month, but needed two thanks to our roadtrip up to Vermont to homestead hunt.
Internet $51.29 Savvy readers will note that this is lower than normal. That’s because Mr. FW finally prevailed in his attempts to get the company to lower our bill. Hooray!
Beer $16.74 Founder’s All Day IPA 15-pack purchased from Costco.
Baby bouncer (from garage sale) $10.00 Found a fabulous baby bouncer for Babywoods at a garage sale. These things retail for about $60, so I’m quite pleased with this price.
Baby clothes (from garage sale) $10.00 This garage sale was having a “bag deal” whereby you could stuff baby clothes into a trash bag and then pay a flat price. They originally wanted $0.50 per item, but I talked them down to $10 for the whole bag, which works out to $0.17 per item…. oh that’s right, we got 53 outfits, 3 hats, and 2 blankets in that bag! I doubt we’ll ever buy any new clothes for Babywoods. Ever.
Shorts for Mr. FW (from Goodwill) $5.00 Mr. FW’s khaki shorts had basically disintegrated and so the man was in desperate need (he’s been wearing gym shorts everywhere). Found these almost brand-new North Face khaki hiking shorts for a whopping $5 at the local Goodwill. Gotta love used clothes!
Back-up and CDN for Frugalwoods.com $4.00 Gotta keep the ol’ Frugalwoods.com backed up! We’re lucky that Mr. FW is a software engineer and can manage our website himself, which keeps our blog-related expenses extremely low.
Family Dollar $2.13 Mother’s Day cards from the Dollar Store. We love our moms!
TOTAL SPENT: $3,954.27  
LESS MORTGAGE: $1,213.26

What do you think of our expenses? How was your May?

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  1. I think it’s so funny how your cravings change when you have a baby on board. For me, I couldn’t stand chicken while I was pregnant with Will (which I ate all the time before him) and instead I wanted ground beef (which I never ate) just about every day. My hubby still laughs about the time he came home and I was making a massive amount of chili-mac and asked if we were expecting dinner guests. Nope, I planned to eat most of it. 🙂 LOVE that you are a part of the podcast every month, even if you aren’t drinking. 🙂

    1. Haha–I cannot tell you how good chili-mac sounds right now! Basically all foods sound delicious to me ;). I love being on the podcast–thank you so much for having me!

  2. I could have used some tomato sauce for my Mexican rice yesterday, but sadly I was out and had to make due without. =)

    Our May wasn’t too bad. Not our most frugal, but not our most spendy, either.

    1. Mmmm, tomato sauce on rice sounds delicious. I could seriously just eat it by itself right now…

  3. I love that you are standing against the assumption that babies should cost outrageous amounts of money. My friends and I have even agreed that we’ll happily receive used baby items for our baby showers, especially if someone finds the same thing from a registry at a second-hand store. With the amount of baby stuff already in the world, it almost seems wrong to buy a lot of new stuff (though there are exceptions). Great haggling on the clothes price, too!

    1. I love the idea of giving used baby items at baby showers–how perfect! We’re definitely committed to keeping costs low for Babywoods and, with the amount of hand-me-downs we’ve received and the stuff we’re finding at garage sales, I’m really optimistic :). Hopefully we don’t have to buy much of anything new…

  4. Yeah – pregnancy sure has some cravings – luckily yours are healthy! With my first I was addicted to fruit – fresh fruit smoothies every day, and what seemed like a pint of raspberries a day! Not cheap, but that was before we were trying to live more frugally. I read that your baby ends up preferring the foods you ate in pregnancy – and it seems true for both of my kids, so its great yours are nutritious foods!

    1. I loved milk, and now my daughter does too. You might be on to something!

      1. I’m really trying to stay focused on nutritious foods only. It really helps that I don’t want to spend the money to buy the chips I’m also craving ;)! Mr. FW keeps joking that Babywoods is going to be born looking like a tomato… I really have been eating a lot of tomatoes… Glad to hear your kiddos like the foods you ate in pregnancy! Sounds like the right first step!

  5. The tomato sauce craving is so funny. My wife had an aversion to any tomato sauce during her first pregnancy. But she loved waffles with cream cheese on them. Swore it wasn’t a craving though. Them hormones be crazy. At least you aren’t craving caviar or some other ridiculously expensive food!

    1. Oooo waffles with cream cheese sounds amazing! But I’m sort of interested in all foods right now ;). I’m definitely trying to stay on the frugal and healthy side of things, so thankfully Mr. FW can make the tomato sauce really cheaply from scratch (we’d be in trouble otherwise…).

  6. Just curious—how do you handle gifts? With three moms (well, one mom, a stepmom, and a mother-in-law) holidays like Mother’s Day can be pricey, and I think they’d be offended if they didn’t receive something. We also had three showers, one wedding, one graduation, and a birthday last month on top of Mother’s Day (so $$$). Just curious how you negotiate holidays, occasions, and gift giving while living on frugal autopilot.

    1. That’s a great question! We’re pretty frugal in the gift-giving department. For Christmas this past year, we used our Amazon.com cash back rewards points to buy gifts for our families from Amazon and we ended up spending $0. For birthdays, Mother’s Day, and other smaller occasions, we do homemade gifts–breads, pies, cookies, cakes, etc. The one major exception to the homemade gift rule for us are weddings–I like to purchase a nice gift off of the couple’s registry, but, I often am able to use a gift card to do so (I am notorious at saving gift cards for the purpose of buying gifts for other people). In this way, we give gifts, but we honestly don’t spend much at all each year.

  7. Looks like a great month overall! It was always interesting to see the different cravings Mrs. Frugal Rules had with each pregnancy. When she was pregnant with our youngest she couldn’t get enough broccoli. It was the craziest thing, but thankfully she could just walk right out to the garden and grab what she wanted. I guess there are much worse things to crave. 🙂

    1. Broccoli is a very healthy thing to crave! That’s a pretty funny one though. I just can’t seem to get enough tomato sauce! Thank goodness Mr. FW makes it from scratch for cheap–otherwise I think we’d end up spending half our budget on jars of sauce alone 😉

  8. My daughter also got all of her baby stuff and clothes used for her two toddlers. She bought used dressers and painted them. Grandma did buy her the new crib and mattress, one that can be converted into a toddler bed. But, she bought all of their toys and clothes at consignment shops. I used to buy her upscale clothes for the kids, and she told me not too. Too expensive and they grow out of it. The kids’ rooms always looked nice and they are well dressed without breaking the bank. I have much to learn from young people, and I’m not too proud to say it!

    1. Sounds like your daughter has great ideas! We’re definitely hoping to find everything we need for Babywoods either used or through hand-me-downs. So much less expensive, and, it keeps stuff out of the landfill, which is always a plus 🙂

      1. My brother and sister-in-law have 6 kids. They are awesome at being frugal. She takes the older kids toys after they outgrow them and stores them in totes in the basement. At Christmas time several of the gifts given to the younger kids are toys that are re-gifted from the older kids stash from that age range. They are little and have no clue, plus a perfectly good toy gets used again. If I had more than one kid, I definitely would have done this!

  9. Two properties that can be short listed, that sounds like a solid weekend adventure.
    We had a fairly expensive May, just a lot of different small things happening. Spouse’s birthday present shopping, for example.

    1. It was definitely a solid adventure :)! It’s so fun to look at properties–we just learn so much with each one we visit. Happy bday to your husband!

  10. That’s so much Babywoods stuff for $20! I was thinking this weekend about why parents still splurge on stuff for kids. It’s nearly a proven fact that kids will wear an outfit once and then out grow it and that the kid will have more fun with the box the toy comes in than the actual toy, yet parents still spend spend spend. Is it because its MY baby so the baby gets the best, or its a special occasion or the item is just so cute? I’m curious to get your perspective. It may be too soon to tell, but is there anything you’ve felt the urge to break your frugal habits to acquire for Miss Babywoods?

    1. Totally agree! We’re hoping to get everything we need for Babywoods either through hand-me-downs or used–I agree with you, I see no point in buying new things for her. These garage sale outfits, for example, at $0.17 each are a laughable fraction of what they’d cost new and, like you said, she’s going to go through 5 outfits a day so who cares! I think I actually feel more committed to being frugal now that she’s coming along because saving for the future is just that much more important to me.

  11. I love “bag sales” at garage sales! I will stuff a bag so full it could burst. I’m having a garage sale this weekend and will probably employ that strategy near the end of the day. I have so many kid’s clothes to sell – like 8 totes full!

    1. Haha, that was definitely our bag! It was redefining the definition of “full.” I really wish I could come to your garage sale–I bet you have great stuff from your girls!

  12. Pregnancy cravings are crazy. During my pregnancy, I didn’t crave a specific food…I just wanted to eat soups….all sorts of homemade soups. My husband would come home from work and I’d be chopping up all the veggies and such and he’d ask what’s for dinner and I’d tell him the soup du jour. Those wacky hormones! I also had an aversion to meat. I could handle a little mixed in my soup, but a plate of say pulled pork BBQ made my stomach turn.

    1. Oh that’s so funny! Soups! My doctor said that as long as it’s healthy, I should just go for it. So, tomato sauce here I come ;).

  13. Nice job Mr. FW on lowering the internet bill! Ours is about $40 after I called last year to lower it from almost $60. There is more competition in Cali so I had that on my side.

    1. Nicely done yourself too! That’s great! We were pretty excited to finally get it down a tad.

  14. Very few expense items this month! Very good! Your home maintenance expense just reminded me, I was just looking back at our May expenses and thinking “How the hell did I spend that much on home improvement?” Then I remembered I paid $500 for a pile of gigantic old cobblestones for our patio. We just spent a back-breaking weekend prepping the area and laying stones, so I’m not quite sure how I could’ve forgotten…

    1. Haha, it’s funny how we can block those things out… I bet your patio is looking amazing!

  15. Wow! What a deal for Babywoods at the garage sale! 🙂 Very fascinating to see that in preparation to have a baby it does not have to be an expensive endeavor. One of my colleagues has a 2 year old son, and was telling me about network in our city (via Facebook I believe) where everyone can trade, pass down, or potentially buy used baby/toddler items. She said she’s received a vast majority and passed on lots of items through there! Do you have anything like that in Cambridge as well?

    1. There’s so much great used baby stuff out there, we’re really hoping to not have to buy much of anything new! There’s a “buy nothing project” that I’m part of on Facebook here in Cambridge, which sounds like the same type of thing your colleague was talking about. I’m a huge fan of not throwing stuff out, so I’ve been happy to give away some of our stuff and am definitely scoping the list out for baby items :)!

  16. I’m continually impressed by your frugaltastic monthly expenses! Triple ‘s up ( if I had 3 thumbs!)
    So glad you are feeling better, Mrs FW. At least tomato sauce is a much healthier craving that many other things!
    If you should experience indigestion from the red sauce ( at some point), a little baking soda mixed in water is an easy, inexpensive, natural antacid. Not sure of exact water/ soda ratios.

    We are going to invest in 2 additional ceiling fans for the guest room and our son’s room. It will significant help us ward off the temptation to turn on the AC and will improve air circulation on our second floor.

    1. Love the triple thumb’s up– thank you ;)! I am really thankful to be feeling better too–many thanks for the good wishes. And, great idea on the baking soda!

  17. Nice job! Cravings are crazy. I read that it’s your body’s way of getting you what you need while morning sickness can be the opposite. Enjoy the red sauce now! I had to give it up while nursing and it was very hard for this pasta loving girl. Re chicken, I thought I’d share a recent discovery: Zaycon Fresh is a buy-in-bulk option for meats. Now that you are eating chicken, you may want to check it out. Their next event is priced at $1.69 a pound! We got a couple cases in March at $1.99 and are super pleased. Great quality (never frozen, no hormones, etc), price and convenience (it’s nice to process it all at once). We do have a separate freezer but you could always split with a friend. They do other meats too but we’ve only tried the chicken. If you’re interested, feel free to use my referral link!

    I also saw an interesting new listing here in Vt I thought I’d pass along. It’s got the rental already built!

    1. Thanks for the chicken info! Good to know! We’ll have to see how long my meat cravings last :). And, that’s a great property–thanks for the link!

  18. My cravings were popsicles, and not the frozen fruit kind either. I only wanted frozen high fructose corn syrup. My husband tried to institute a two popsicle a day rule, but he was still traveling a lot while I was pregnant, so that number may have been slightly higher when he wasn’t around.

    1. Hahah, I like the “two popsicles a day” rule. I can definitely understand why you might’ve surpassed that 😉

  19. Hi!
    Wounderful post!

    I just cant get enough of your blog! Thank you for being so thorough and sharing so much about your life. I am taking your tips to heart! I wish I could show you a pic of my greyhound, and if I see yall around Cambridge, don’t let me scare you, but I may treat our run in like I would if I met Beyoncé and Id def ask to squeeze the hound(Oh, that’s prob frightening but-Im not scary, no worries!)

    Anyway, I was reading about Joe Biden. He was saying that his father would often say: “Don’t tell me what your values are! Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value.” This quote really changed my thinking about spending and this post reminded me of the message.


    1. Hi Hannah! Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words :). And, if you do see us in Cambridge, please do say hi! We love meeting folks through Frugalwoods. For the record, Frugal Hound likes hugs so she’ll be happy for a squeeze! P.S. I want to see a photo of your greyhound too!

  20. Too funny about the chicken. I couldn’t stand the sight of chicken in the beginning….. but thennnn I ate boatloads of fried chicken towards the end. Like 3x per week at this local joint haha.

  21. May spending was still a little crazy with the still settling in. We did get the daycare down a little, thanks to Mr. FP picking up the kids earlier (we pay by the hour). Groceries still high at $635 but I am hoping to get that down a bit this month–there is still a lot in the freezer. Depressingly, Mr. FP and I both had to replace our cell phones in May. He broke his and mine just went dead. Sigh.

    Two May accomplishments: Made Big Brother two pair of shorts out of old pants (and he really needed shorts, so I saved for real) and changed out my own bike chain! (Blog posts coming soon :-).)

    Still need to make some purchases in June–the kids need good quality sandals and I need some summer work clothes. Actually, I want to make myself a skirt or two because I’ve decided I just really only like A-line and they are hard to find.

    1. That’s great you were able to get your daycare costs down–awesome! And, nicely done on the shorts and bike chain! I will be very impressed if you make a skirt–every time I try to make clothing it ends up looking like Frugal Hound made it.

      1. I’ll make sure to let you know how the skirt goes. My mother is a very accomplished seamstress–she can make things like fully lined fancy dresses–but so far the fanciest thing I’ve made on my own was a calico apron!

        You can practice sewing the same way I have been–patching Babywood’s knees. In a few year, she’ll be up and running all over that Vermont homestead making all kinds of holes in her pants, I’m sure :-).

        1. Haha, patching knees is a good point! I’m sure I’ll get lots of practice :). Do let me know how the skirt goes–I’m intrigued 🙂

  22. Mrs. T didn’t have any pregnancy cravings so I didn’t have to go for those 2 AM ice cream runs. I’m thankful. 🙂

    Definitely make sure that you intake sufficient food to keep the Baby Frugalwoods healthy.

  23. Great job staying AC-free with those temperatures. We definitely don’t miss the heat + humidity combination in the east coast! Also, kudos on finding used baby clothes on Craigslist. Our Little Man’s stuff are also all from Craigslist, Freecycle, and consignment sales. 5 months into parenthood and we have spent ~$400 (not including pregnancy/delivery related medical bills) in total. So if you’re worried about babies being expensive (I’m sure you’re not), they don’t have to be! Have an excellent and happy June 🙂

    1. $400 is fantastic! We’re aiming for as frugal an experience as possible with Babywoods, so I love hearing from others who’ve charted the frugal parenting path!

  24. Awesome job on the baby expenses. You’ve cleared out maybe 20% of the baby-related purchases for $20. Baby stuff has to be some of the easiest stuff to source for free or cheap. People go way overboard buying it new then only use it for a few months or years before it’s outgrown or no longer needed.

    On the rare occasions I attend baby showers I cringe at all this expensive brand new stuff that could have been obtained at 90-99% off retail prices for brand new or nearly brand new stuff.

    1. The used market for baby stuff seems to be awesome! I am thrilled with the stuff we’ve found at garage sales thus far. And, we’ve gotten so many hand-me-downs that I don’t think we’re going to need to buy much of anything new (fingers crossed). I’m with you–I hate the thought of how much more new costs when used is perfectly fine (and keeps stuff out of landfills to boot).

  25. How fun to meet internet friends in real life! I’m thinking I may have missed a post and need to check out this ‘Stormzilla’. We spent a little on increasing our garden size but are hoping the return in produce will outweigh the costs. We also threw a very inexpensive Birthday party for our 13-year-old. It was just what he wanted!

    1. Ooo that’s exciting you’ve expanded your garden! I’m sure you’ll reap the benefits. And, wonderful that your son was up for a simple birthday party–that’s the way to be!

  26. Love to read these monthly expense reports! Question – do you pay for water? I’m assuming yes, but I didn’t see it on the list? Mine is more than I’d like it to be but am hoping once we get our new toilet installed it will go down! Thanks guys for a great post as always 🙂

    1. Great question! We do indeed pay for water–the city bills us every three months, so that expense shows up in every third expenditures post. Congrats on the new toilet–my parents just got low-flow toilets and it’s amazing how much less water they use. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  27. I love reading your blog! As a frugal mom of 3, almost 4 year old, 2 year old, and 2 month old, I want to applaud your frugal baby preparations. But don’t get down when life gets crazy, and it will when/if you work after your baby. Things pop up. You will get home from the store and realize you forgot wipes, and you’ll have to pick some up at Walgreens because the thought of going back to the regular store makes yours head spin. These little setbacks are just minor in the long run. I am very happy for you two.

    If I may give a baby shower tip… Register for things like detergent, nursing supplies (if you are going to nurse) and other things you can or don’t want to buy used.

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Amber! And, I appreciate the advice :). Funny enough, I’ve been building our registry and so far I mostly have consumables like diaper rash cream and then nursing supplies and kitchen supplies like more glass tupperware (to hold homemade baby food) :)!

  28. Wow, I really admire how few expenses you manage to incur each month. Must make reconciling all of your accounts really simple! I just did my monthly account reconciliation and I’ve got it down to about 20 minutes now, but if I had half the transactions it would take half the time!

    1. Many thanks! Frugality really does make our lives simpler in so many ways :). I kind of love how quick it is for us to pull our expenses together. And hey, 20 minutes sounds pretty good to me!

  29. I have always thought that the ideal furnace/air conditioner/heat pump would be an electricity generator running on natural gas. You would have emergency electricity, maybe even sell some to the grid, burn half hydrogen instead of all-carbon oil, and using a heat pump for heat is more efficient than just burning something.

    1. What you are thinking of is sometimes used at the commercial and industrial level. Google “natural gas cogen” to see some working systems. Seems to be cost prohibitive on smaller scales though.

  30. Are you planning a post on childcare and how that expense will impact your homestead time line (if at all)? I’m curious how maternity leave / paternity leave/ nanny or whatnot will work out. It doesn’t sound like one of you can work the early shift and the other late to avoid childcare. Or will one of you become a stay at home parent?

    Sorry, I’m super nosy! But I know you guys plan everything, so there has to be a time line in place.

    1. I love the questions and you’re totally beating me to the punch ;)! Fear not, we’ll be outlining our plans on this front before too long. We’ve been planning on (and spreadsheeting for) Babywoods for 2 years now, so she’s very much a part of the homestead plan. And, our timeline to early retirement (fall 2017) is unlikely to change–if anything, it would actually accelerate.

    1. Oh neat! Ours has been a great performer for several years now, and is holding up great. I love that burnt orange color one!

      1. If you take care of a Weber kettle, they will last longer than you will! (Hope that’s not too morbid). The yellow and red one in the photo are from from the 70’s, and since this photo was taken, I’ve acquired a turquoise colored one that is from 1959! Older than my mother!

  31. It was great to meet you both and of course Frugal Hound 🙂 Thank you for the lovely evening. Hope your trip to Vermont went well!

    1. It was so wonderful to meet you too, Sarah! So glad we were able to have you two over :). Hoping to see you at FinCon… 😉

  32. How fun you got to meet new friends IRL! So when people come to meet you, do you reveal your real names I assuming? Or still anonymous? Yes, I think of these things.

    Overall, May got a little pricey. I can say this money was spent mostly on experiences rather than material items though! ILs came for a 6 day visit which bumped up the food and gas $ for entertaining (I do nicer cooking than my one bowl curries when I have guests). Two fun trips: husband did a guys running trip in Zion which included some hotels and eating out $ (there was snow, so no camping). Husband and I did a nice trip to the desert just this weekend with running and biking. Luckily the camping was free and amazing because the gas was for 600 miles. Had to pay for 3 nights of pet hotel though. Totally worth it! The trip was perfect. Running races are about to start, so gas will be routinely higher due to heading to these races and also for general summer fun time road trips. Let summer begin!

    1. Haha, yes we definitely reveal our real names when we meet people in person (and we let them see our faces too 😉 ). Although that would be pretty hardcore if we didn’t…. hahah.

      Sounds like you had an super fun month! Nice!

  33. FWs,

    Consistent, as always. Would expect no less! 🙂

    Looks like I saved a little more than 60% last month. And that was with paying a good chunk of travel expenses related to attending the Berkshire annual meeting. Not too shabby. Hoping to improve a bit more as the year stretches on.

    Keep it up!

    Best regards.

    1. That is the amount we spent this month minus our mortgage payment. I like to break that out so that we can keep a close eye on our spending since our mortgage payment is the same every month.

  34. Although baby stuff can really add up, there are so many ways to save. It sounds like you’ve already mastered this! 🙂

    I was thrilled when I learned that pregnant women’s bodies don’t absorb (not sure if that’s the right term) cholesterol like non-pregnant women’s bodies do. I took that as license to indulge my ice cream cravings!

    1. Wait–we don’t absorb cholesterol when we’re pregnant?? Somebody bring me a platter of cupcakes ;)!!!

  35. yay on the great deal on baby clothes! We have bought some new, but we were also fortunate enough to get a ton of hand me downs.

    Re: clothes, we’ve found we don’t need as many as people suggest. 10 onesies, 10 pairs of pants, and 3 pairs of jammies keep us just fine for an entire week, especially since we’re willing to do laundry more often as needed. I’ve found, for us, footie jammies and onesies are all we usually put on our kid. We put on tshirts and such just because they came as hand-me-downs, but I love the protected belly aspect of onesies. She’s also got some dresses and such, but, again, we mostly wear them because people got them for us.

    Keep ridin’ that frugal train to babyhood!

    1. I’m feeling the same way about the onesies and footie jammies–I think she’s going to be wearing those 99% of the time! We’ve been so lucky in how many hand-me-downs we’ve gotten of those comfy outfits. And, we’ve received some adorable dresses too, which I’m sure we’ll use in photos :). I mean, I am going to have to pose her with Frugal Hound 😉

  36. We eat tons of tomato sauce (spaghetti sauce) here, too! I’ve started making it in bulk to really cut down on the costs. I found on a clearance rack, one of those electric turkey roasters for $9, which is essentially a 17 quart crock pot. Then I buy the tomatoes in restaurant-sized cans from Costco and cook about 12 quarts at a time. Also, if you let the whole thing simmer for a good 24 hours, you really don’t need any sugar…the tomatoes’ acid breaks down and becomes sweet, so it’s also healthier! Then put them in quart containers or ziplocks and freeze, or quart jars to can. A quart of sauce is just about perfect for a pound of pasta.

    I think I’ll go get one from the freezer for dinner tonight! 🙂

    1. We buy those restaurant-sized cans of tomatoes from Costco too! Can’t beat the price! And, I agree, we don’t put sugar in our sauce either–no need. Embarrassingly enough, we don’t even need to freeze our sauce right now because I eat so much in a week…. :). My ratio of sauce to pasta is probably about 3 to 1… haha.

  37. Ahhh, so sorry I missed this fun mention and pic! It was so awesome to finally meet you guys + Frugal Hound – made the trip that much better that we could meet friends along the way. Can’t wait to see you again at FinCon. 🙂

  38. Just recently had a baby ourselves, Jr. is 9 months old now. Pro-tip make friends with someone who also just had a baby a few months older than yours (same sex is even better) and then convince them to give you all their hand-me-downs. It has been a solid win for us! I don’t think we have spent a single wooden nickel on clothes for our baby…. actually I take that back I bought him one really cute outfit for Christmas because the kid can only be a baby santa claus once and I plan on taunting him for the rest of his life with the photos. Also Craigslist and garage sales is super awesome for used kids toys. Check out the Bumbo if you haven’t already, it’s way better (and cheaper) than a traditional high-chair, travels well and cleans easily. Love the updates!

    1. Congrats on your baby!! We are really fortunate that we’ve already received a ton of hand-me-downs for Babywoods–it’s amazing what people want to give away. Also, I totally agree with the baby Santa purchasing decision 😉

  39. Obviously you have a high income. What can you say to encourage those of us who don’t? When you make so much less, the margin is so much less, …. I love your blog and congrats on the pregnancy!

    1. Hi Bonnie–we are indeed very fortunate to have a good income now, but we didn’t always. For us, being aggressive about managing our careers was just as important as being super frugal. We focus on every dollar we spend and try to frugalize every aspect of our lives. For us, it’s more about what we spend than what we make. You’re absolutely right that the margin is so much less when you make less. If you haven’t already read them, you might enjoy my posts on extreme frugality: Uber Frugal Month: Challenge Yourself and How We Save 65% Annually. I wish you all the best and feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

  40. Our basic expenses are similar to yours, but every month something seems to come up. This month my computer died, next month I have to renew my passport etc. Maybe I have just had a slew of bad luck, but wondering where these fall in your expenses? Also, do you use any kind of phone?

    Love the blog but I feel like I get off track with crushed cell phones and fried computers!

    1. Ahh, yes, gotta love those unexpected expenses ;). For us, those just fall into the expenses for the month in which they hit. In other words, we don’t smooth out expenses or take on payment plans–we just pay them in full on the months when they occur. Surprise expenses crop up for us too, so our focus is just on keeping our regular, expected expenses as low as possible so that the bumps in the road don’t impact our bottom line too terribly much. This month, for example, the $406 in home improvement supplies was all relatively unanticipated–all related to issues that cropped up that we needed to fix around the house. So we won’t have that expense next month, but there’ll probably be something else :). Best of luck to you and don’t despair!

      1. Whoops–forgot to reply to your question about phones. We don’t have a landline and both of our cell phones are paid for by our employers.

    1. We don’t have a landline and our employers pay for our cellphones, so we definitely luck out in that department!

  41. Question for you. I have two young girls and they love cheerleading and ballet…. and it’s breaking the bank. Oh, and I’m a single mom. How do you plan on handling extra expenses like that? Just say no or put some away monthly for when those have to be paid? It’s SO tough with young kids and childcare, sports, bday parties… I’m worn out!

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