Mrs. Frugalwoods

Submitted

Reader Suggestions for Celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving On A Budget

September to December = my favorite time of year. I’m a holiday hound. A festivity fox. A Halloween hugger. What can I say? This trifecta:
Halloween
Thanksgiving
Christmas
IS MY JAM. People are sometimes surprised at how robustly I celebrate holidays because celebrating is not inherently frugal or minimalist or simple. It’d be cheaper, easier, and require less stuff if I let October 31st, some Thursday in November (I always forget which), and December 25th roll on by.
But I protest. I say that the point of being frugal–and managing your money well–is to enable you to spend on stuff you care about. And I care about these holidays. As does my husband, as do our daughters. Well, the baby does not care yet, but she will.
Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here.
Continue reading Reader Suggestions for Celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving On A Budget at Frugalwoods.

This Month On The Homestead: A Full Woodshed, Evolving as Gardeners, Plus a Pumpkin

September 2019
As you saw in our expense report, September turned us away from summer, pushed us into fall, and forced us to reckon with the inevitability of winter.
We started the month with monochromatic green and ended in a riot of leaf colors. September makes us hustle. Dropping temperatures rob us of our languid summertime pace and Mr. Frugalwoods and I rushed from garden to kitchen to firewood, each task feeling immediate and necessary and unable to be put off.
There’s much to do before the snow flies, so we’re content to accelerate our days. We know that once we’re blanketed in white, there’ll be nothing left to do outside (other than, ya know, clear mountains of snow).
Welcome to my recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration and plenty of stupid novice moments. 
Continue reading This Month On The Homestead: A Full Woodshed, Evolving as Gardeners, Plus a Pumpkin at Frugalwoods.

A Chainsaw And Other September 2019 Expenditures

Winter is coming and every year, we spend a boatload (an actual, entire boat) of money in preparation. It might cost us less to just burn dollar bills to keep warm. This September was particularly expensive because quite a few non-annual expenses all hit at once. Expenses we incur every two years, every three years, every five years–somehow they all aligned in September 2019. So let’s get to it!
Winter Preparations = $$$$$$$ and also $
Since we live in the rural wilds of Vermont, we have a legit mandate to prepare ourselves for the snowy months ahead. Woe betides ye who does not accomplish this prep work before the snow flies. And I do mean woe.
Here’s what we spent in service of the impending snow:
1) Snow tires for two cars: $1,148.39 (an every three years expense)
It was time to buy new snow tires for both of our vehicles. 
Continue reading A Chainsaw And Other September 2019 Expenditures at Frugalwoods.

Reader Case Study: Family of Four Plans a Move from Oregon to Japan

Helen and Earl want to move to Japan! They currently live in Portland, Oregon with their two daughters and are planning to make the leap overseas in the spring of 2021. Helen would like our help thinking through the process of moving and wants to check her financial projections with us.
Case Studies are financial (and life) dilemmas that a reader of Frugalwoods sends to me requesting that Frugalwoods nation weigh in. Then, Frugalwoods nation (that’s you!), reads through their situation and provides advice, encouragement, insight, and feedback in the comments section. For an example, check out last month’s case study. Case Studies are updated by participants (at the end of the post) several months after the Case is featured. Visit this page to find links to all updated Case Studies.
I probably don’t need to say the following because you folks are the kindest, most polite commenters on the internet, but, please note that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone where we endeavor to help one another, not to condemn.
Continue reading Reader Case Study: Family of Four Plans a Move from Oregon to Japan at Frugalwoods.

How to Thrift Like a Rockstar: Plan Ahead, Buy Ahead and Focus on Depreciation

I’m a known thrifter. Unlike known grifters, this is a good thing. Since becoming Mrs. Frugalwoods, I’ve tried to buy everything second-hand. This doesn’t always work out and sometimes I choose to buy things new (such as my mattress), but on the whole, my household is awash in used goods.
Today, I want to talk about three aspects of my buying used strategy (oh yes, it’s a strategy):
Focus on things that make the most sense to buy used (using depreciation to your advantage)
Why I plan ahead and buy ahead (even though I might not end up using the stuff)
The non-monetary benefits of buying used (I started buying second-hand because it saves tons of money; I’ve continued for that reason and all the non-monetary benefits I’ve discovered)
If you’d like a primer on where and how to find used stuff (which I won’t be covering today), check out: How To Find Anything and Everything Used: A Compendium Of Frugal Treasure Hunting.
Continue reading How to Thrift Like a Rockstar: Plan Ahead, Buy Ahead and Focus on Depreciation at Frugalwoods.

My Frugal, Healthy, Easy $1.15 Quinoa Lunch Recipe

My Quinoa Lunch has been described as rice-n-beans 2.0. And for good reason. Four years ago, I brought you our epically frugal rice-n-beans recipe, which is what we used to eat for lunch.
Over time, Mr. Frugalwoods and I grew tired of the rice-n-beans routine and craved something novel. We’ve eaten many a thing for lunch over the years and will surely continue our culinary explorations in the future.
For now, I’ve landed on a winner–Quinoa Lunch–which combines the three core principles that guide my life:
Healthy
Easy to do
Inexpensive
I was going to say that these are the three tenets of our food philosophy, but I actually think this trifecta applies to everything we do. So today, join me as we venture into the land of Quinoa Lunch.
I’m going to put the recipe right here because I HATE (yes, actually loathe) when I have to scroll for nine years before finding the freaking ingredients.
Continue reading My Frugal, Healthy, Easy $1.15 Quinoa Lunch Recipe at Frugalwoods.

Toxic Positivity and What I Thought Having Kids Would Be Like (versus what it’s actually like)

Before having kids, I knew a lot about parenting. I’d look at tantruming toddlers in grocery stores and scoff to my husband, “how can they LET their child scream like that? In public?” Now that I have kids, I don’t even notice when other people’s kids are ripping ears of corn off the produce section display like feral raccoons. I’m thankful it’s not my kids and I’m also in solidarity that it could be/has been/will be my children.
We went to the county fair with the kids last week and, at one point, they were both in the grass, squabbling over the (identical) peanut butter sandwiches I’d packed. Nearby, another mom with two toddlers was juggling their demands to both ride in the baby backpack at the same time. We locked eyes and laughed. “Why do we even bother leaving the house?” I joked.
Continue reading Toxic Positivity and What I Thought Having Kids Would Be Like (versus what it’s actually like) at Frugalwoods.

How My $279 Amazon Mattress Is Holding Up After Seven Years

Oh yes, it’s Internet Mattress time. I bought this king-sized mattress from Amazon for $279 back in September 2012 and on this, the month of its seventh anniversary, I bring you a progress report.
In summary:
Internet Mattress is still going strong
I would buy it again, which means I recommend it
It’s still under $300 (currently $289 for the king size)
Before buying this thing, I assumed that mattresses are expensive. That there’s no way to circumvent paying five figures for a bed that’ll last longer than a year or two. How wrong I was. How jaded by advertising I’d become. And how glad I am to be proven wrong.
Note: I bought this mattress with my own money and (unfortunately) no one paid me to write this review. The links to mattresses are affiliate links, which means if you also score a deal on an Internet Mattress, Amazon will pay the Frugalwoods Family a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you.
Continue reading How My $279 Amazon Mattress Is Holding Up After Seven Years at Frugalwoods.

This Month On The Homestead: Vegetables, Turkeys, a Ground Hog, and Tractor Maintenance

August 2019
This series has been on hiatus the last few months because I’ve struggled with what to write. I am not a real homesteader. At least, not in the sense that folks expect when they hear the word “homesteader.” It evokes an antebellum existence of no electricity or running water, of growing and raising all of one’s food, of an internet-less, canning jar-laden life.
I want to tell you about our month on our homestead, but I’m in a bind because I think you think I’m a much more competent homesteader than I am. In truth, I’m mediocre. Subpar. I don’t knit. I don’t make soap from scratch. I don’t weave the wool of my hand-shorn sheep on a loom I built from trees I harvested with an artisanal ax. I don’t even have any sheep. Or a loom. Or an artisanal ax.
But I love the 66 acres we live on and I love the mediocre homesteading I squeeze in.
Continue reading This Month On The Homestead: Vegetables, Turkeys, a Ground Hog, and Tractor Maintenance at Frugalwoods.

My Frugal Cell Phone Service Trick: How I Pay $10.65 A Month

I used to pay $81 a month for my cell phone service. Now, I pay $10.65 a month.
It’s rare that there’s one weird trick to saving money. Usually, saving entails hard work and sacrifice.
Today, I bring you an exception. Today, I bring you a way to save money every month that’s easy and painless. Today, I introduce you to the world of MVNOs. I know, you’ve been thinking about your Moonbeam Vector Newt Options for years now. Just wondering when I’d finally let you in on my secret extraterrestrial newt colony.
Today’s your lucky day. It’s even luckier because MVNO actually stands for mobile virtual network operator.
What’s An MVNO?
An MVNO is a wireless service reseller. MVNOs resell brand name wireless services (such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc) at dirt cheap rates. This is not a hoax. Nor is it a gimmick, which is what I assumed before I tried it myself.
Continue reading My Frugal Cell Phone Service Trick: How I Pay $10.65 A Month at Frugalwoods.