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“My spatula broke and I need to buy a new one (pauses; frowns). Is that OK with you?” -Mr. Frugalwoods

“Oh the blue spatula? Sad (pauses; frowns for empathy)! Yes of course, get yourself a new one.” -Mrs. Frugalwoods

This is a verbatim transcript of a conversation I had with my husband a few weeks ago. I know you’re riveted with jealousy over how exciting our lives are. As the cook of our household, Mr. FW sometimes requires new kitchen utensils and, yes, we discuss each one (along with everything else we buy).

This conversation might seem ridiculous or overboard or, frankly, dull; although hey! we did discuss the color of the spatula, so more intrigue there! However, this exchange is a perfect example of how my husband and I communicate about our money and the shared responsibility we have for ensuring that our finances are in order.

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We’re headed to Brooklyn, NY this month to talk future plans with a young couple and their two-month-old infant. The FrugalBrooklyns, as they’d like to be called, are loving their new roles as parents and, while they enjoy life in the Big Apple, are plotting a cross-country move to Los Angeles, CA.

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.

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We’re headed to Brooklyn, NY this month to talk future plans with a young couple and their two-month-old infant. The FrugalBrooklyns, as they’d like to be called, are loving their new roles as parents and, while they enjoy life in the Big Apple, are plotting a cross-country move to Los Angeles, CA.

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.

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Remember a few months ago when Mr. Frugalwoods, Babywoods, our friends, and I harvested all of our apples, pressed them into cider, and popped the cider into glass carboys to ferment? Well, the time has arrived to keg this cider up! These past few months our relatively massive quantity of cider has been fermenting away down in our (now clutter-free) basement and we posit it’s just about time to begin imbibing.

This month we purchased the necessary equipment to bring to fruition this final step in the homemade cider process: a keg, C02, a regulator, and tubing. Look for a full rundown of this jolly wintertime homestead activity (which we haven’t actually done yet and might end in disaster… ) in an upcoming installment of This Month On The Homestead. If we end up with carbonated vinegar and not hard apple cider, we’ll just mark that down as another lesson learned here on the Frugalwoods homestead of “we have no idea what we’re doing out here.” Funny how long that list is getting…

Buy It All USED

You will not be surprised to hear that we purchased our cider keg used online, further illustrating my longstanding rant that just about everything in life can be bought on the used market for tremendously less than new stuff.

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Remember a few months ago when Mr. Frugalwoods, Babywoods, our friends, and I harvested all of our apples, pressed them into cider, and popped the cider into glass carboys to ferment? Well, the time has arrived to keg this cider up! These past few months our relatively massive quantity of cider has been fermenting away down in our (now clutter-free) basement and we posit it’s just about time to begin imbibing.

This month we purchased the necessary equipment to bring to fruition this final step in the homemade cider process: a keg, C02, a regulator, and tubing. Look for a full rundown of this jolly wintertime homestead activity (which we haven’t actually done yet and might end in disaster… ) in an upcoming installment of This Month On The Homestead. If we end up with carbonated vinegar and not hard apple cider, we’ll just mark that down as another lesson learned here on the Frugalwoods homestead of “we have no idea what we’re doing out here.” Funny how long that list is getting…

Buy It All USED

You will not be surprised to hear that we purchased our cider keg used online, further illustrating my longstanding rant that just about everything in life can be bought on the used market for tremendously less than new stuff.

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“It must be so much cheaper for you to live in the country!” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this in the year and a half since Mr. Frugalwoods, Babywoods, and I made the move from ultra-urban Cambridge, MA to ultra-rural central Vermont. The thing is, it’s not true. Or at least, it’s not entirely true and it’s not true yet.

Why Did We Move To The Woods?

We didn’t make this move in order to save money and we didn’t make this move in pursuit of a lower cost of living. We moved out here to our 66-acre homestead because we wanted to. Because we wanted a slower pace of life, a life surrounded by nature, and the time and the space to pursue our hobbies and interests.

It’s our supposition that–in the long run–living rurally will be less expensive than living smack in the middle of a city, but there’s a long, slow slog of start-up costs before any savings can be realized.

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I didn’t want to write this post. Or more accurately, I didn’t want to have to ever write this post. I am sad to share that Frugal Hound died unexpectedly last week. We are grieving and still reeling from how quickly she left us, but I felt it was important to let all of you know about her passing since she was such an integral part of Frugalwoods and of our family.

The Blessing And The Curse Of A Sudden Death

Last Monday, Mr. Frugalwoods and I were awakened early in the morning to the sound of things being knocked over downstairs. We rushed down to find Frugal Hound struggling across the floor, without the use of her hind legs. She’d had a stroke or seizure that rendered her mostly paralyzed. We laid her down on her bed and tried to get her to relax.

Her breathing was labored and it was soon clear that she’d lost control of her body and its functions.

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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!

Families do not always agree. Understatement of the year, perhaps? It’s true, sometimes our blood relatives are profoundly out of step with our own personal expectations and world views. But, they’re family. For quick clarification, today we’re discussing our relationships with our extended families, not our immediate families. If you’re in search of advice on how to get on the same page with your partner/spouse, then check out this post: Reader Suggestions On: How To Convince Your Husband Or Wife To Be Frugal.

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I reorganized our house. And by “reorganized,” I mean I went through every single closet, drawer, cabinet, and shelf, and every single t-shirt, shampoo bottle, and Christmas decoration that we own. And by “house,” I mean all of it: from the front hall to the basement to the new baby’s room, I systematically deconstructed every single inch of our living space. Even the guest bathroom, which, as it turned out, was harboring a most random panoply of unused toiletries, a humidifier, and a hairdryer I’d forgotten I owned.

This entire process took me an embarrassingly long stretch of time–I didn’t keep close track, but I’d say four or five months. Of course my work wasn’t constant, but rather, as all my work is, sporadic and crammed into naptime and preschool time and the ten minutes I can grab at any given moment during my hectically joyful days of parenting a two-year-old, being pregnant, managing a homestead, launching my book, and writing Frugalwoods.

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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.

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