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2018-01-16T15:18:43.616Z
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I am delighted that this month’s Reader Case Study features a subject who is older than me! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to bring you the story of Lucy, an active 57-year-old nurse with questions on her retirement and next career. Much as I love all the younguns’ I’ve featured in Case Studies, I was over the moon when I received Lucy’s email and her request to serve as a Case Study subject since there are so many positive financial lessons for all of us to embrace at any age. I’ve gotten some flack for not featuring more diversity in the Reader Case Studies, but I can only feature the people who submit studies to me. So if you consider yourself a “non-traditional” Case Study subject, please email me with your story!

Ok, ok, back to the topic at hand… Case Studies are financial and life dilemmas that a reader of Frugalwoods sends to me requesting that Frugalwoods nation weigh in.

Continue reading Reader Case Study: At Age 57, It’s Not Over Yet! at Frugalwoods.

If you’re just tuning in, this is a 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). Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst (ok, mostly the worst) moments of our first year on the homestead here.

December 2017

December blew in a fury of temperatures so cold we started to think of anything above zero as “warm.” The month began without a scrap of snow, a fact I wouldn’t believe if I hadn’t taken the photo at right on December 1. This happened last year too, so I’m starting to think of December as the demarcation between the crackle of late fall and the snow-muffle of winter.

Continue reading This Month On The Homestead: Hermit-Making Temperatures Followed By Snow at Frugalwoods.

December was a rather regular month of spending for us, which might come as a surprise since Christmas happens in December after all. But here in Frugalwoods-land, Christmas and other such events are not an excuse to spend tons of money.

We prefer to celebrate in a simplified, non-consumer-focused style that emphasizes time spent together as a family–not money spent at a mall. I’ve detailed our frugal approach to the holidays (including birthdays and anniversaries) at great length in a number of posts over the years, so I’ll refer you to the following for the nitty gritty on how we mark special occasions and events with nary a dent to our budget:

  • Reader Suggestions Of Frugal, Fun, Inexpensive, and Festive Holiday Gifts
  • Our Festive, Frugal, and Merry Holiday Traditions
  • How To Give Frugal Gifts With Joy And Generosity

As you’ll see in the below list of expenses, there’s a line item for shipping Christmas gifts because we enjoy sending gifts to our parents and siblings.

Continue reading Signed Bookplate Stamps And Other December 2017 Expenditures at Frugalwoods.

Hanukkah happened, Christmas occurred, the New Year rang in and you’re glumly thinking that all the festivities are over. How wrong you are! They’re just getting started here in Frugalwoods-land! Because today is the first day of the ultimate, the epic, the life-changing, the mind-blowing (your words, not mine… ) Uber Frugal Month Challenge!!!! Oh yes, that’s right, today is the day we begin a journey–together!–to transform our relationship with our finances and, in the process, save more money than we ever thought possible. For serious.

The Uber Frugal Month (UFM) is a 31-day Challenge during which I send you a daily email containing an action item, a mantra, a tip, and links to recommended reading, all of which are designed to help you: 1) identify your longterm goals; 2) figure out how your money is helping or hindering you in reaching those goals; 3) understand your spending; 4) learn how to save more money every month than you’d ever imagined possible.

Continue reading Your Last Chance To Join The Uber Frugal Month Challenge And Revolutionize Your Finances at Frugalwoods.

Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!

Here in Vermont we are finally and firmly entrenched in a lovely, snowy, cold winter season. Living out here on 66 acres in the middle of the woods, our lives are increasingly dictated by the seasonal shifts we experience. Given these weather-related imperatives, I try to appreciate and embrace each season’s nuanced joys. I want to wholeheartedly consume whatever’s on offer and not compare one season to the last.

There are remarkable opportunities provided by nature every month of the year and I find it liberating to delight in each new weather pattern.

Continue reading Reader Suggestions Of Frugal And Fun Winter Activities at Frugalwoods.

Think strategic philanthropy is just for billionaires? Heck no! It’s for everyone who gives away money. We’re all some strategic bosses with our spending, savings, and investments–charitable giving is absolutely no different. Today we’re going to discuss opportunities to maximize your philanthropic impact, support charities you believe in, and ultimately, make wise financial decisions that’ll benefit others–in other words, how to donate like a billionaire! What could be better? Cookies maybe, although I did eat a lot of cookies while writing this, so maybe that brings it full circle?

Philanthropic giving is something Mr. Frugalwoods and I consider central to our philosophy on money and one reason why we feel called to manage our finances so prudently. Plus, before becoming a full-time writer, I worked for ten years as a fundraiser for a number of different nonprofit organizations in Cambridge, MA, New York, NY, and Washington, DC.

Suffice it to say, between raising money for charities and now writing about money for a living, I think about charitable giving a lot!

Continue reading How We Donate To Charities Like Billionaires at Frugalwoods.

If you’re just tuning in, this is a 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). Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst (ok, mostly the worst) moments of our first year on the homestead here.

November 2017

Snow fell for the first time this month, reminding us of the winter season’s edge we’re teetering upon. A powdered sugar dusting coated our world for a few days in early November, before it melted off in deference to the true harbingers of this season: dead and dried leaves.

Stick season set in once again after nature did a test run of snow and we returned to that ambiguous state of bare trees and muddy ground that could be spring or could be fall, with no indication of which is correct other than the calendar.

Continue reading This Month On The Homestead: Trail Building 101 And A Second Birthday Party at Frugalwoods.

We’re headed across the pond for this month’s Reader Case Study as we delve into university lecturers Betty and David’s query on whether or not to buy a home in an expensive area near London, England. 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.

I also provide updates from our Case Study subjects at the bottom of each Case Study several weeks/months after their story is featured. To see what past Case Study participants have decided to do, check out the Case Study section and scroll to the bottom of the individual posts.

P.S. Another way to get support on your financial journey is to participate in my free Uber Frugal Month Challenge, which we’re taking as a group in January 2018!

Continue reading Reader Case Study: Londoners Wonder About Buying A Property at Frugalwoods.

You guys! Get excited! It’s happening again… the January Uber Frugal Month Group Challenge (UFM) is BACK! Like an attack! (but a good sort of attack). I cannot possibly think of a better way to kick off 2018 than with a month of extreme frugality!! I know you’re totally hooked by the incredibly tempting words “extreme frugality.”

However, the Uber Frugal Month is so much more than a mere money-saving challenge. Yes, you will save more money (I can almost guarantee this) and yes, over 21,200 people have already taken the Challenge and saved THOUSANDS of dollars and yes, the Challenge has enabled people to pay off debt, save towards financial independence, and put themselves in a more stable financial position than they’d ever imagined. But that’s just for starters.

The Uber Frugal Month Challenge transforms how you think about money and ultimately, transforms your relationship with spending, saving, and financial planning.

Continue reading Transform Your Life: Join The January Uber Frugal Month Group Challenge at Frugalwoods.

November epitomized large unexpected expenses and semi-annual (or simply annual) expenses lining up and hitting us all at once. It was, as they say, one of those months. But we don’t sweat it because our overarching approach is to live frugally every month so that unexpected or infrequent expenses aren’t a burden. By not spending our money frivolously or out of alignment with our goals, we can always rest assured that pricier months aren’t a hardship. Lifelong frugality is, ultimately, a way to make your life easier and to ensure you never have to worry about money. So what’d we spend on this month?

Rural Life

I keep meaning to write an entire tome dedicated to this topic–and I will!–but, what I will say briefly is that the early years of living rurally (after living urban-ly) are extremely expensive. The start-up costs of getting our homestead outfitted and equipped continue to pile up, which fortunately, is exactly what we anticipated.

Continue reading Tractor Pallet Forks And Other November 2017 Expenditures at Frugalwoods.

It’s holiday time, which for many of us means it’s holiday card time, which for many of us means it’s holiday photo-taking time! Who doesn’t relish the thought of matching reindeer sweaters, antlers on dogs, and babies doing everything but smiling at the camera?! Fun, right??? I actually do love taking our annual holiday photo (although I’m pretty sure the rest of my family does not share this sentiment… ) and making our annual holiday postcard to mail to family and friends. Do you know how much I spend on this photo every year? Exactly zero dollars. And today, you are in luck, because I will tell you how.

As you likely already know, based on how frequently I write about the holidays (I’M OBSESSED), my frugal philosophy is not to skip the holidays or nix the greeting cards. Rather, I’m a proponent of frugalizing, simplifying, and otherwise finding hacks for creating warm, loving holidays for a fraction of the cost.

Continue reading How I Take My Own Holiday Family Photos (And Make Them Look Good!) at Frugalwoods.

The glorious Thanksgiving season is upon us and, to all of my US readers, I hope you have a wonderfully festive week. Even if you’re not celebrating T-day this week, keep reading because I’m convinced that Thanksgiving is, in fact, the perfect frugal holiday. I mean, the whole day is centered around a cornerstone of successful frugality: cooking at home! Unlike nearly every other holiday we mark throughout the year, there’s essentially nothing to buy for Thanksgiving except for food. How great, and tasty, is that!

The Food

I mean, we can’t talk about Thanksgiving without discussing the food, am I right? When I hear backlash against this holiday’s meal to the effect that it encourages gluttony and overconsumption, I must heartily disagree! What I think Thanksgiving encourages are: LEFTOVERS! Quite possibly the greatest aspect of Thanksgiving are the massive quantities of leftover foodstuffs.

Leftovers are a linchpin of frugality and smart, efficient cooking in general.

Continue reading No Turkey, No Problem! How We Celebrate Thanksgiving Our Way at Frugalwoods.

Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!

It’s holiday time! Also known as my excuse to write about the holidays with fervor and spam you with photos of Frugal Hound dressed up as Santa Clause, a reindeer, an elf, and… oh that poor dog. Much as we all love the holidays (OR MAYBE IT’S JUST ME), there’s a sneaky penchant for them to become expensive, stressful, and overpriced. To which I say: they don’t have to be. I promise.

We’re going to focus on holiday gift-giving today and the overarching theme I want to highlight is that the holidays are as expensive and as stressful as you make them.

Continue reading Reader Suggestions Of Frugal, Fun, Inexpensive, and Festive Holiday Gifts at Frugalwoods.

Have you ever wondered about the life and finances of the Park Rangers you see staffing America’s most dazzling natural resources? Well, wonder no more as this month’s Reader Case Study addresses the questions of two real life Rangers on how best to allocate their savings now that they’re debt free (hooray!). 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.

I also provide updates from our Case Study subjects at the bottom of each Case Study several weeks/months after their story is featured. To see what past Case Study participants have decided to do, check out the Case Study section and scroll to the bottom of the individual posts.

Continue reading Reader Case Study: National Park Rangers Figuring Out Finances at Frugalwoods.

If you’re just tuning in, this is a 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). Check out last month’s installment here and enjoy the best and worst (ok, mostly the worst) moments of our first year on the homestead here.

October 2017

October is, without a doubt, leaf month. Gone are the monochromatic, dewy greens–all replaced by the wildfire hues of fall. Even our blackberry bush leaves turned a burnt amber in solidarity with their taller brethren.

Peak leaf–when nature’s colors are at their zenith–took place the first weekend of October. The hills of our little town were punctuated by flaming reds, yellows, and oranges that jutted ostentatiously among the effervescent green pines.

Continue reading This Month On The Homestead: Apple Cider and Pumpkins at Frugalwoods.

In October we went on what was our last airplane trip ever. For the rest of our lives. Ok I jest, but the mere thought of traveling with both a toddler and an infant sends me into near-paralytic spasms of stress. So I think it’s safe to say we won’t be traveling for awhile after Babywoods #2 makes her debut this February ;).

We’ve traveled quite a bit with Babywoods #1 and she’s an excellent little plane rider (loves the flight safety card and in-flight magazine far more than the games, books, and toys I judiciously cram into our carry-on backpack), but it’s still quite a process to coordinate, pack, plan, and then execute plane travel with a small person. That being said, we greatly enjoyed our October trip to North Carolina to visit Mr. Frugalwoods’ parents, sister, aunt, and uncle!

Then we REALLY enjoyed the part where we left Babywoods with her grandparents for a few days while Mr.

Continue reading Fire Extinguishers And Other October 2017 Expenditures at Frugalwoods.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life for a long time. A very long time, in fact. I worked for a decade in a career that I thought was my calling, only to realize after about eight of those ten years that I’d made the wrong choice. Whoops. I didn’t dislike the work I did as a communications and fundraising manager at nonprofit organizations, but I very much disliked the schedule and routine of working in a cubicle for pre-ordained hours every week.

Plus, I learned I’m happier working on my own for myself and on my own projects. But I didn’t start out knowing this. I went through a winding journey of spending money, changing jobs, and moving no less than five times in ten years to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

One of the pivotal aspects of successful extreme frugality—which is what I practice and preach—is knowing what you want out of life and committing to that vision with ferocity.

Continue reading How I Figured Out What I Want To Do With My Life (And How You Can Too!) at Frugalwoods.

Our sweet Frugal Hound, who is now eight years old, had her annual veterinary visit last month–her first as a “senior canine”–which reminded me of all the ways in which we care for our girl frugally. It is, without a doubt, more expensive to have a pet than to not have a pet (same goes for children… ) but it doesn’t have to cost anywhere near the astronomical sums I hear thrown around. Like every other aspect of our lives, Frugal Hound’s care is, well, frugalized. Side note: I love writing about my beloved Frugal Hound, so if you’re looking for even more on this furry topic, please enjoy:

  • Our Approach To Affordable, Responsible Dog Care
  • Frugal Hound’s 10 Tips For A Simpler, Happier, More Frugal Life
  • Weekly Woot & Grumble: To Swap A Hound
  • Frugal Hound Costs $930.35 Annually
  • Weekly Woot & Grumble: Frugal Hound All Around!

Continue reading Frugal Pet Ownership Starts Before You Even Get A Pet at Frugalwoods.

You know how I always talk about the fact that we cook at home every night? Well, I think it’s time for me to come clean: we actually don’t. But don’t panic, we’re not getting takeout or going out to eat. I promise! Not to mention the fact that exactly zero restaurants deliver to our rural home… Rather, we have a hack we’d like to share.

And I say “we” because, as most of you know, Mr. Frugalwoods is our sole home cook. My chief contributions to cooking are that: 1) I eat it and; 2) I write about it. See? I’m so helpful! I dabble in the odd baked good, including baking our sandwich bread every week (although I cheat and use a hand-me-down bread machine, so I’m not sure that really counts for much… ). Otherwise, food prep is solely the domain of my husband. So really, this hack is his, but since this is my blog, I get to make it sound like it was my idea.

Continue reading The Dirty Secret Behind How We Cook At Home at Frugalwoods.

I wrote a book! In keeping with my theme lately of not burying the lead, I figured I’d just go ahead and get it out there. I’m thrilled to finally share this news because my book has been a long time coming. I started this journey when I was pregnant with Babywoods 1 and the book will publish after Babywoods 2 is born! And what a wonderful journey it has been.

Writing is my passion, it’s one of the things that brings profound happiness into my life, and I feel unendingly grateful that I get to do it for a living. I’ve always–truly, always–wanted to write a book and the fact that it finally happened is the realization of a major life goal and a childhood dream. Doesn’t hurt that it’s on my very favorite topic: frugality and financial independence! The book is called Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living and it’ll be published by HarperCollins on March 6, 2018.

Continue reading Announcing My Book, “Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living” at Frugalwoods.