Home Improvement

The homestead!

This month marks our sixth anniversary of moving to our homestead in Vermont and, coincidentally, the month we start renovation projects! When we first saw this house seven years ago, we knew there were a number of things we’d like to eventually change. But, we waited.

First we waited because we’d just moved in and I think it’s smart to live in a space for awhile before embarking on renovations. I wanted several years of data on how we use the house, what works for us, what we want to change and what we can live with.

Then we waited because we were pregnant with Littlewoods. Then we waited because we had a newborn and a two-year-old. Next up, we waited because it was a pandemic. The waiting ends now! 

In the fall, we hired an architect and designer to map out all the changes we’ve been dreaming of for seven years (our first payment to them is in December’s expense report). During the first 20 minutes of their first visit to the house, they came up with a completely different and completely better design concept than we’d managed in seven years of conversations. I am SO GLAD we hired experts!!! Our plan is to rely on our architect and designer (who also happen to be a wife and husband team) for the design and layout work and then rely on our own selves to do the labor.

Before: weird arched wall separating the living space

I am GREAT at executing simple brute labor and my husband is very good at executing more complicated brute labor, so we are optimistic. Perhaps most importantly, we both enjoy this kind of work and, with Mr. FW now retired, he has the time to project manage the whole thing. My job is to scurry around carrying tools, carting off trash bags of debris and removing nails from wood. Someone should hire me.

These home renovations/remodels are likely to take several years (at least), but we’re in no rush. Our home is comfortable and safe and there’s no urgent need to get this stuff done. But, we would like to do it now so that we can enjoy living in our home for decades and not feel the need to update it just to sell it in the distant future. 

Since we’re doing the work ourselves, since we’re still in a pandemic, since the supply chain is bananas, since materials are nowhere to be found and since we work very carefully (some might say slowly), don’t hold your breath for a big reveal anytime soon. Rather, this’ll be a slooooow drip of expenses and improvements over the coming months (years? TBD).

The Grand Plan Is To:

  1. Build a garage for the cars (we don’t have one and after six winters of cleaning snow and ice off our cars, we’re over it). Side note: our barn is a woodworking shop/tractor storage area, which isn’t constructed to hold cars; hence the need for a dedicated garage.
  2. Relocate the mud room and front door to connect to the garage via an outdoor breezeway.
  3. During: the dry wall is off!

    Move the laundry into the new mud room.

  4. Turn the erstwhile mudroom into a library nook/room.
  5. Completely redo the kitchen and change the entire layout.
  6. Add overhead lighting in the living/dining room (for some reason there’s none in this room, which makes it really dark, despite several table lamps and five strands of fairy lights).
  7. Reduce the size of the downstairs half bath to accommodate a new kitchen pantry (made possible in part by moving the laundry out of there).
  8. Replace the windows with more efficient, modern windows that don’t leak heat all winter causing actual ice to form on the interior of the glass…
  9. Paint the interior and exterior.
  10. Other miscellaneous aesthetic things.
  11. YIKES!!!

Like I said, this is going to be a long, slow remodel. This month we kicked things off by working to remove the half wall separating the living/dining room from the kitchen and family room. That’s in progress as I type and progress feels soooooo good. After living in the house for six years and not doing a single thing to the interior (not even painting or patching holes!), we are ready to go! Woohoo! Wish us luck.

Side note: a number of readers commented on the dangers/challenges of renovating an old farmhouse and, while our house looks old, it’s actually not! It was built in 1991 in an old farmhouse/victorian style. One of the reasons we bought this house is that we get the best of both worlds: antique character AND new construction!

Oh Yeah, Easter!

Brought to you by eight jelly beans

I almost forgot Easter happened last month! My bunny cake made its first post-pandemic appearance as did in-person church. Kidwoods sang with me in the choir! We had Easter dinner at a friends’ house, which is the perfect venue for the bunny cake, seeing as it is essentially TWO cakes…

I learned that four jelly beans apiece is the number required to bribe a non-combative sibling photo. Hand-me-down dresses and Easter baskets–plus gifts from the thrift store–equaled a single digit holiday expense.

Frugal will take you far. As will jelly bean bribes. All of these expenses were grocery-related as I purchased their little gifts months ago at the thrift store and at garage sales last summer.

I Love the Free Expense Tracker from Personal Capital!

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

Tracking expenses is one of the best–and easiest–ways to get a handle on your finances. You absolutely, positively cannot make informed decisions about your money if you don’t know how you’re spending it or how much you have. If you’d like to know more about how Personal Capital works, check out my full write-up.

Without a holistic picture of how much you spend every month, there’s no way to set savings, debt repayment, or investment goals. It’s a must, folks. Personal Capital (which is free to use) is a great way for me to systematize our financial overviews since it links all of our accounts together and provides a comprehensive picture of our net worth.

If you’re not tracking your expenses in an organized fashion, you might consider trying Personal Capital (note: the Personal Capital links are affiliate links). 

Credits Cards: How We Buy Everything

We buy everything we can with credit cards because:

  1. My bunny cake! Actually, my mom’s bunny cake since she’s the one who taught me how to make it!

    It’s easier to track expenses. No guesswork over where a random $20 bill went; it all shows up in our monthly expense report from Personal Capital. I also spend less money because I KNOW I’m going to see every expense listed at the end of the month.

  2. We get rewards. Credit card rewards are a simple way to get something for nothing. Through the cards we use, we get cash back as well as hotel and airline points just for buying stuff we were going to buy anyway.
  3. We build our credit. Since we don’t have any debt, having several credit cards open for many years helps our credit scores. It’s a dirty myth that carrying a balance on your credit card helps your credit score–IT DOES NOT. Paying your cards off IN FULL every month and keeping them open for many years does help your score.

For more on my credit card strategy, check out:

Cash Back Cards to Consider

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

1) Blue Cash Preferred ® from American Express:

  • Mr. Frugalwoods, tear down this wall!

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).

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

2) Blue Cash Everyday ® from American Express:

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

3) Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card:

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

4) Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card:

  • Actual robin’s eggs in a nest I stumbled on inside Glamour Shed

    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 Capital One Entertainment purchases
  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 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.
  • The girls at our “very fancy” restaurant lunch.

If you’re interested in travel rewards, people love the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That’s $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: $56.83

Spring woods exploration

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 $2,841.50 on that card, which netted us $56.83.

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 to use a high-interest savings account. With these accounts, interest works in your favor as opposed to the interest rates on debt, which work against you.

Having money in a no or low interest savings account is a waste of resources–your money is just sitting there doing nothing. Don’t let your money be lazy! Make it work for you! And now, enjoy some explanatory math:

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

Let’s say you instead put that $5,000 into an American Express Personal Savings account, which–as of this writing–earns 0.60% in interest. In one year, your $5,000 will have increased to $5,030. That means you earned $30 just by having your money in a high-interest account.

And you didn’t have to do anything! I’m a big fan of earning money while doing nothing. I mean, is anybody not a fan of that? Apparently so, because anyone who uses a low or no interest savings account is NOT making money while doing nothing. Don’t be that person.

Be the person who earns money while sleeping. More about high-interest savings accounts, as well as the ones I recommend, here: The Best High Interest Rate Online Savings Accounts.

Yes, We Only Paid $28.03 for Cell Phone Service (for two phones)

Christmas taffeta: the obvious choice for woodland exploration

Our cell phone service line item is not a typ0 (although that certainly is). We really and truly only paid $28.09 for both of our phones (that’s $14.02 per person for those of you into division). How is such trickery possible?!? We use an MVNO!

What’s an MVNO?

Glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway: It’s a cell phone service re-seller.

MVNOs are the TJ Maxx of the cell phone service world–it’s the same service, A LOT cheaper. If you’re not using an MVNO, switching to one is an easy, slam-dunk, do-it-right-away way to save money every single month of every single year forever and ever amen.

Here are a few great MVNOs to consider:

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

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

Note: these MVNO links are affiliate links.

Expense Report FAQs

  • Want to know how we manage the rest of our money? Check out How We Manage Our Money: Behind The Scenes of The Frugalwoods Family Accounts
  • Spring chicken

    Don’t you have a rental property? Yes! We own a rental property (also known as our first home) in Cambridge, MA, which I discuss here.

  • Why do I share our expenses? To give you a sense of how we spend our money in a values-based manner. Your spending will differ from ours and there’s no “one right way” to spend and no “perfect” budget.
  • Are we the most frugal frugal people on earth? Absolutely not! My hope is that by being transparent about our spending, you might gain insights into your own spending and be inspired to take proactive control of your money.
  • Wondering where to start with managing your money? Take my free, 31-day Uber Frugal Month Challenge.
  • If you’re interested in other things I love, check out Frugalwoods Recommends.
  • Why don’t you buy everything locally? We do our best to support our local community and buy as much of our food as possible directly from our farmer neighbors. Our town doesn’t have any stores, so we rely on online ordering and big box stores for necessities. The closest stores are 45 minutes away and we go there once or twice a month to stock up on what we can’t get from our neighbors or online.

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

Wondering about common expenses you don’t see listed below?

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

    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 April:

Item Amount Notes
Groceries $899.65 Yikes, inflation! This despite reducing our meat consumption to almost zero!
X-ray $317.95 Deductible for an x-ray. Nothing’s broken, thank goodness!
Restaurants $280.84 Including:

  • A ladies’ lunch out for me
  • A ladies’ dinner & drinks night out for me
  • A date lunch with my husband
  • A very special family lunch out, which the girls found AMAZING. They’ve described it as a “very fancy restaurant” at which they were able to order “macaroni and cheese and french fries and ice in our water!!!!” It’s the little things.
Preschool $280.00 For Littlewoods
Gas for cars $208.04
Home improvement supplies $202.80 And the expenses begin!
  1. 50lbs of organic oats
  2. 25lbs of dry organic chickpeas
  3. …plus some other groceries
$160.10 Bulk, raw ingredients for the win.
Fancy beer $141.75 Ooo la la!
Kindling Cracker (affiliate link) $89.99 A supposedly easier way to make kindling and–crucially–one that is supposedly easy enough for a child to use…. in particular a certain Kidwoods who is bent on doing chores.
Chicken food, grass seed, shavings for the chicken coop $87.40
Truck registration $76.00 One year of registration for our truck
Internet $72.00
Utilities: Electricity $71.65 Higher than normal this month because we didn’t make as much solar this year as we have in past years. Thus, we didn’t have enough credits banked to make it to the spring, when the sun starts shining again.

Hopefully this drops back to normal next month!

Health insurance monthly premium $52.43
CO2 swap $38.37 For our DIY hacked Sodastream system
Service for two cell phones $28.03 Thank you, cheap MVNO!
Water filter wrench (affiliate link) $27.51 Oh yeah, I almost forgot that Mr. FW replaced our old well pressure switch and cleaned and replaced the element in the whole house sediment filter, for which he needed this wrench (affiliate link).

The fun times of maintaining one’s own rural systems! Thank you, handy husband!!!

Pharmacy $22.45 Medications
Coffee Shops $13.75 Coffee date with my man
Doctor visit co-pay $10.00
Shipping $2.72 Postage
TOTAL: $3,083.43

How was your April?

Similar Posts


  1. Kindling Cracker is 100% worth it. Got it on sale 2 years ago and don’t know what life would be like without it!

    Do you have a shareable template for your budget? We currently use the free version of everydollar but my wife LOVES the side explanations you have so we can look back and see WHY we spent what we did, not just what we spent.

    Love the website! Keep up the great work and good luck with the renovations!

    1. Mother Nature also provides kindling in the form of sticks. And depending on what kind of wood you’re splitting, pieces that “break off” also make good kindling.
      Don’t forget that untreated scrap wood as you remodel for kindling.

      1. Haha, so apropos–I just tossed a bunch of untreated wood scraps from the wall into our kindling bucket! And we regularly send the girls out on stick collection duty, but we find that we still need larger kindling too.

    2. How did you get this for $89?!? I’ve been looking at this and it’s always over $100. Now $119!

  2. I’m sure many commenters will mention this and you’ve probably already thought about it, but just in case – when doing renovations in an old house, assume lead paint is present, and take precautions! Young children are susceptible to lead poisoning, especially from the dust that be created by taking down walls. There are home lead testing kits that can be purchased at hardware stores, but I’m not sure about their reliability. The Vermont state health department will have a lead poisoning prevention program that can provide good advice about renovation projects… with this this in mind, there may be parts of projects you want to do quickly while the kids stay elsewhere and other parts that can be done slowly over time after the construction debris has been cleared away/any possible sources of lead encapsulated

    1. Hi Sarah, great point! We are VERY fortunate that our home is actually not old at all. It was built in 1991, but in an old farmhouse/victorian style. We LOVE that it’s essentially new construction–that’s one of the reasons we bought it!

      1. Oh thank goodness! The picture of Mr Frugalwoods amidst the construction debris made me nervous. But hopefully my comment may be helpful to others, and your plan of slow renovations will be fine given the age of your home 🙂

    1. I also miss seeing the pictures of Frugalhound. After these renovations would be a good time….the girls are old enough to appreciate a dog and Greyhounds are great companions.

  3. Love these posts. Brings back great memories of my childhood in Upstate NY. The stream pic IS my childhood!

  4. I highly recommend watching Farmhouse Vernacular on youtube for diy home reno advice. This young couple have a lot of amazing tips and they have redone every room in their old farmhouse from studs out. I find it’s helpful to watch other people learn the ropes as well as the pros because then you can see how things are actually challenging instead of deceptively easy looking due to experience levels.

  5. Good luck on the home Reno’s. We are in somewhat of the same position after previously owning a new build 🤦🏼‍♀️

    Can you touch base on the Vermont property? I may have missed it but I don’t see it in expense reports anymore. Is it still a rental or did you sell it?

    I love to see that you budget some meals out and coffee dates. We have a large family so the inflation is making the grocery bill higher for sure, so we are shopping at Costco for most of it in bulk.

    Also, will Mr. Frugalwoods be doing most of it on his own or will you be hiring any contractors? Sorry if I missed that part in the article, I skimmed it for now 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kel! We paid off the mortgage on our Vermont property (details here). We will hire contractors as needed for the house. For example: we’ll definitely hire out the excavation and concrete pouring for the garage. Other things (like plumbing and electrical) will depend on the specific job. Mr. FW’s done both plumbing and electrical in the past, so it’ll just depend on if we run into an unusually challenging situation.

      1. I am so silly….I meant to type the Cambridge rental! I typed Vermont on accident. I knew you paid that one off lol.

        1. I’d also like to hear about whether you paid off the mortgage on the Cambridge property and how that rental income factors into your monthly total and tax planning.

  6. Oh my ears – sorry but the “we are pregnant” phrase irks the bejesus out of me. Only one person is pregnant. Off soapbox.
    Your vehicles will thank you for a garage. Lessen the chance of mice and potential rust of more than the body. Younger daughter did not have a garage for a brief time and made the statement she’ll never live without a garage again.
    We change our whole house filter twice a year. Yes, a filter wrench is a must. As our instructions kept near said unit in the event YOU have to do it at some point in time (or work with someone other than your better half).
    Do you have a water softener – no idea if VT has hard water or not (we have extremely hard water). Will save on cleaning, fixture life, and appliance life if one does have hard water. We also have our water tested periodically – agriculture area and ahem, some folks don’t pump their septic tanks regularly (and one in particular until it backed up the SECOND TIME in their house – ugh).
    The other thing I don’t remember seeing in your expense reports is septic pumping but may have just missed it. We faithfully pump every 3 years. IF ours were to fail, no more conventional which means an outlay of at least $25K.

    1. A huge YES to regular septic pumping!!! So important to maintain our rural systems faithfully. We have ours pumped on a regular schedule as well 🙂

  7. Those kindling crackers work pretty well, though it’s hard to tell if yours will be able to be screwed down & secured well enough to a splitting log. (Some have holes in the base so you can lag bolt them down.) FWIW, I’ve found a dead blow hammer to work best with them.

  8. That cake looks suspiciously like the Rabbit from the Australian Womens Weekly Childrens Birthday Cake Book! 😉

    Oh and I second the need for a long dog to join your family again.

    1. I know, that was my first thought too!
      Perhaps the cake ‘bible’ made it to the States too.

  9. I finally switched to a Mint plan. Still in the intro stage but happy with it. My former carrier was not happy at my leaving, trying to keep me and not cooperative in my attempt to switch my old number, so I took a new number. Fortunate to have someone help me set up my new phone (old one was way outdated). A bit odd to also switch from iPhone to android, but learning more and more. Thanks so much for the tips!

  10. Just seeing it in pictures, it had looked to me as if your dishwasher was only half under the kitchen counter. If so, I’m sure you are ready to fix that situation.

    My daughter and her family are living in a house built in 1952. They have lived there for about 7 years and have started renovations. It really is a good idea to wait and see what you will need. They also hired an architect, and are soooo glad they did.

    I need to replace my windows before long. I’ll be interested to see what you choose. Good luck on your projects!

    1. You are 100% correct on the dishwasher! For some unknown reason, they didn’t install a dishwasher when they built our home in 1991, so Mr. FW installed one after we moved in. But, since we knew we were going to eventually rip out and redo the entire kitchen, we didn’t bother to put countertop all the way over the dishwasher. It’s been the perfect temporary fix and, in the new kitchen layout, the dishwasher moves to a totally different spot! I can’t wait :)!!!!

      1. You may already have a kitchen design made, but thought I would share my favorite part of our kitchen: *2* dishwashers. We live in a 100yo not huge (1800sf) house and the prior owners renovated the first floor to include an open kitchen/dining. The kitchen has a large rectangular island with the sink in the middle and flanked by a Bosch dishwasher in either side (paneling over them so they look like cupboards). It felt very anti frugal and extravagant as we often didn’t run our prior dishwasher every day. However, I am totally a convert and will include this lovely 2 dishwasher design in any future kitchen I would remodel. Truly AMAZING for rapid cleanup with a dinner party, holiday meal, weekly food prep, canning, backing, etc for our family of 5.

  11. Yay renovations & yay for handy husbands!

    I truly underestimated how much additional peace of mind I get from knowing that while my husband may be slower to do a job, the stakes are high because this is his home and he will take painstaking care to do it correctly.

    I’m sure you’re already on it – but to anyone reading about to embark on renovations.
    Pictures, pictures, more pictures and probably even a video of the before, during & after stages!
    I took a photo each day after my husband finished working on our bathroom reno and it was amazing to see how it all progressed.

    Plus pictures of any wiring changes etc you make. We have a diagram of every wall we’ve opened and how where the wires etc are so we can find easily if we ever have an issue.

    And what the heck is it with rooms with no overhead lighting? We have THREE in our 1970’s home. An office, the living room & a separate den area all with nothing! We’ve since added, but WHY!

  12. What is the cost of such renovations today? What were you quoted to do it all?

    How much “sweat equity” is involved?

    How do you even find labor in this tight market?

    And, what about inflation and lack of building supplies?

    I really don’t know any of this but am curious.

  13. Holy smokes, the color of those robin’s eggs is incredible!

    Looking forward to many renovation updates to come!

  14. I’m so happy for you and family that renovations are commencing. I can’t wait to see your updates and progress! I know how much you dislike your kitchen. But, will you have a space to hide and eat Cheetos in the new kitchen?

  15. Your girls looked SO beautiful in their Easter dresses! Love the bunny cake! Isn’t it fun to start getting out again and being social??

  16. Floor plans, I love looking at floor plans! Please, share ‘before’ and ‘expected’ plans. A diagram is worth a hundred words. Thanks!!

  17. Hi Frugalwoods, another great post!
    I have just become aware of SERIES I US TREASURY BONDS, and everyone looking for a safe investment should be aware they exist.
    They seem to be a fantastic introduction to investing.
    They are an attempt to help the little guy get a break, and are tied to inflation (CPI), and have been around since the early 1990’s
    Why & How?
    Well there’s the interest rate, adjusted May 1 and Nov 1. Currently it is 9.62%, yes, that’s right 9.62%!
    Plus they are U.S. Treasury Bonds and are as low risk as any investment can be.
    Plus they are tax-free at the state level.
    They can be purchased for as little as $25.
    The maximum purchase is $10K/year/person.
    But they must be held for 1 year and withdrawals after 5 years have no penalty. Otherwise you would be charged 3 months interest.
    So while $5K in the AMEX Personal Savings yields $30/ year
    $5K in Treasury I Series Bonds currently yields $481, how cool is that?!!
    I realize you probably know all about these bonds, but on the outside chance you don’t – i hope this is good news.
    Check the details at Treasury Direct.Gov.
    Otherwise, i love the cake and i love remodeling.
    But please get Mr. F. (and Mrs F. also), some safety glasses that fit over the prescription glasses, and then become a safety ” Not See ” – get him to wear them.

  18. Just a little thought—your girls are so lucky to have a dad like Nate! Their future partners have big shoes to fill 🙂

    1. If not, Nate will be carpenter daddy. Our SILs are both handy but don’t have the hands on knowledge/experience for the more complex projects (especially in a 100+ year old house). SILs help and gain knowledge/skill, daughters do clean-up and supply runs.
      So note to Liz, your cell phone is your friend at the big box/hardware store. Texting a picture to ensure you’ve got the right item is a huge time (and money) saver. One would be amazed at how many different types of caulk exist and I am not talking colors.

    2. I think Nate should start teaching his girls remodeling. Let them watch him from a safe distance. Explain what he is doing. Let them be a part of it. Amazing what those little brains retain and takes the fear and unknowns out of it when they see a wall opened up and transformed from an arch to a straight top and how it was done. They might be able to teach their future spouses a thing or two. I was always outside with dad doing things. Loved getting my hands dirty. Still to this day I love being outside hammering, shoveling, digging far more than inside doing housework and I am 70 years old and so glad I can still do those things. My mother was the same way. She used to plow the fields with a horse and plow, walking behind it and always outside doing projects as an adult and was the last of 10 children to pass away and she was the 3rd oldest. Something to be said for hard physical work!

    3. they could be skilled at the things Nate is skilled at though, couldn’t they? Obviously brute strength is not likely to be as great in the girls, but otherwise, they could possibly do reno work, right?

  19. Those are exciting and very do-able sounding plans! We just replaced all the leaky, broken windows in our house with new triple glazed windows that are aluminium clad timber European tilt and turn ones – cannot recommend highly enough. Which is good because they were obscenely expensive with a very long lead time! Very straightforward to install yourself (if heavy) but getting the flashing/waterproofing right around the outside involves a few steps and a bit of patience to plan out.

  20. This post makes me laugh 🙂 My youngest daughter says she has never lived in a house that wasn’t being remodeled. She’s 30! My husband was a remodeling contractor for 20 years and is always working on something! Now he’s working on her remodeling projects! And building a playhouse for our grand-daughter. We had to talk him out of putting in electricity and running water. He almost always hires out the major electrical and plumbing. His motto is “with plumbing you get wet and with electrical you die”. Better and cheaper to have those done professionally. Have fun!

    1. Somewhat agree on plumbing but the two rules of plumbing are excrement runs down hill and keep your fingers out of your mouth.

  21. We also waited a couple years before remodeling our kitchen. We live in south Florida and the old cabinets were flamingo orange. I don’t think I could have lived with them for 7 or 8 years plus the countertops were awful typical 1978 style and worn out. We followed the same layout, as our home is small and laid out well. We have since changed the countertops again from corian which was the rage in early 2000 to granite, we lived with the corian for about 18 years. Cost in 2000 was under 10000 including appliances. We waited on the bathrooms for 10 years until they were 30 years old and desperately in need. So glad we did because styles change in tiles, faucets, etc so our home looks more up to date than if we had done all of it at one time. I know how excited people are to change everything right away but it is truly better to do it a little at a time and live with the changes before moving on to the next change. Would love to see all of the changes that you make as you go along and the reasons that you made the changes like leaky windows, etc. Your home is beautiful and perfect size, if I remember right at around 2000 square feet. I read that a home should have 500 square feet per person living there plus the basement is extra. Do you plan to finish it also?

    1. No offense, but that is probably the most American thing I’ve heard in a while and it made me chuckle. (500 sqft per person.) We are a family of six living in 914 sqft house plus a basement. The kids are young and the basement is a lifesaver. And yes, I want to move in the next two years or so. But we lived overseas for a few years and it was not uncommon for our friends to live in a three bedroom apartment: one room for the younger couple and their one or two kids, one room for his parents, and one room for her parents. Or three couples sharing an apartment. We Americans have a very different concept of “personal space.” 🙂

    2. I bet the person who wrote the 500 square foot per person thing was somehow invested in selling big houses! Or justifying their own choices…. I’m in the UK and feel much happier in a smaller home with few possessions. We had to move to a bungalow because of sudden disability and it feels way too big, even after three years there.

  22. Renovations: We always do all the grunt work and labor.. demos, painting ,cleaning . Even the plaster & lath repairs on our old 140 year old Victorian.
    We only hire pros for plumbing and electricity. We went room to room as our ‘construction zones’. Turn on the radio and do it!

  23. Having a laundry room next to the bedrooms is one of my dreams. Some day.
    Good luck to you!

  24. Might be too late for you to see this but we are reno partners! Currently 3/4 of the way done with our major reno of the kitchen and primary bedroom with en suite expansion. It’s much more difficult living in a renovation than I had assumed. Having done it with small kids around way back in the early 2000’s, I thought it would be easier now. But, the dust kept getting to me and having to wear shoes around everywhere was *such* a drag!
    Just try to make plans to get away from the house on occasion so you can keep your mental health strong. Not just a hike but a nice, clean area to visit.

    Also, since you have the option while planning ahead, consider putting in radiant heat in your garage. It doesn’t have to keep it warm but above freezing might be nice!

    Have fun!!

  25. If you could point me in a good direction for a bulk tank, we have been itching to hack our soda stream for awhile now- and I would love to just piggyback off your research since I know we are in the same area 🙂

  26. I bought my house ten years ago. It came with no kitchen cabinets (they had been stolen out of the house, along with the sink and the toilet, hence why the house was so cheap. A toilet and sink were installed right before I bought it, but no cabinets..) I have paid off the house a couple of years ago, but I still don’t have kitchen cabinets because I have not decided on what color….lol. Some of us work at a snail’s pace.

  27. I love your bunny cake so much and your girls are super cute!

    I practiced an extra frugal fight against inflation in April… here it is for a family of 4 + dog in a Single family detached home in Vancouver, Canada. We are FIRED.

    Groceries 384- (quarter monthly average 582)
    Cell phones 100 (3 lines)
    Diapers 7 (146 count pull-ups)
    Baby supplies 3
    Natural gas heating 146
    Internet high speed 116
    Hydro energy 96 (bill for 2 months)
    Landscaping 13
    Toilet paper 11
    Clothing 151- used kids rain gear/3 pairs kids shoes
    Transport 149 (fuel 103, public transport 42, parking 4)
    Restaurant/cafe 144
    Personal care 62
    Pet food 54
    Kids activities 74
    TOTAL= $1510

  28. Did Mr. Frugalwoods ever get his Ham Radio license? I remember you mentioned that some time ago. A DMR radio is under $200 and can be used with a Tech License, for worldwide communication.

    1. Yeah, he’s actually had an active Ham license since high school! And we have a radio-thingy too!

  29. Your girls don’t look so little anymore in the restaurant photo! Where has the time gone? Excited for your renovations!

  30. Late to the game in commenting on your post. I “save” them til I can sit down & enjoy!

    I would love to hear about you’re prioritizing your home projects. Are you picking the most annoying thing first? Or starting with the easier things to get some quick wins. Maybe you can highlight this in your monthly column about your activities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *