Friday, December 7, 2007

How It Began

A few years ago my husband and I decided that it would be best for our marriage and our family to leave our six-figure, high-pressure career behind to start our own business. So, we saved up enough to get us through the first 18 months without a paycheck and we were sure that’s all it would take until we could support ourselves.

Excuse me while I chuckle and snort.

Since that time we've gone through some dramatic and intense changes in our way of thinking, in our marriage and family, in our thoughts and desires, in our relationship with God and ESPECIALLY in our finances.

I really thought I had been doing my best by having a grocery budget of $800 dollars a month. I was spending roughly $200 a week for the six of us to eat, keep our clothes clean, our bottoms wiped, our bodies groomed, my house scoured and fresh, entertaining friends and family, and periodically giving meals as gifts to new moms.

But necessity is the mother of invention, and our new life choices were necessitating a change in our shopping. What started as a drastic life change, soon became a thrilling beat-the-system challenge to feed our family for less. So, we instituted what seemed to be the most ridiculous grocery budget imaginable to make it through until our business could support us better….

For our family of six we were going to attempt to spend $60 a week on groceries.

I know, you’re first thought is NO-WAY! But darn it, when I set my mind to something I don’t accept failure easily. We were going to attempt to slash our grocery budget by way more than half and I knew some sacrifices were going to need to be made.


So here were our parameters:

  • Our new budget would cover food, toiletries, household cleaning supplies, entertaining and food gifts.
  • My goal dollar figure for each week would be $60.
  • We were going to have to re-evaluate what we thought were “needs”.
  • We were going to have to be creative.

When people started hearing what we were doing they wanted to know how we did it. Thus, this blog was born. It's been a steep learning curve to re-evaluate our wants from our needs but I can honestly say our life is so much simpler due to the changes we've made.

So have fun digging through the archives and follow along as we reduce our budget and get creative with the resources we have.

38 comments:

carrie said...

Just wanted you to know I'm looking forward to this, Gayle. While I don't consider myself a frugal queen by any stretch of the imagination, we do have to buy for 6 on a VERY meager budget. I thought I was keeping it down at $100 a week!

But I found I'm highly skilled at making something out of nothing. You do what you have to, I guess.

Amanda said...

I'm definitely going to follow you on this one! I would love to only spend $50.00/week on food and the only people eating in my house is my husband, son & self...I spend way too much money on groceries!

Momala said...

I just found your blog today and I am very interested in how you can spend only $50! We have a family of 6 (including 3 teens) and I have been spending over $150. My goal has been to get it down to $100. I thought that would be hard enough, but $50? I would LOVE to get it down that low.

YogaMama said...

My hubby sent me this link today, and said "she's just like you" :) LOL
I am always looking for a GREAT deal, clipping coupons, and comparing prices. Our grocery bill is about $160/week for three of us (yup... the cost of Organic food is killing me!!)
I am very curious to see if I can follow in your footsteps and save over $100 a week!!! :)

Donna said...

I am so glad I found your site--Kind of freaky--I am a homeschooling mom to 4 children and I just posted that I am attempting to spend $85 a week (right now we are buying formula, some baby food, and diapers) so I don't know if I could get it under 50 but still I know what a challenge this is for ya and I will be following you along!

Amanda said...

I've commented all over the place here today, but just wanted to say how glad I am to have stumbled in here today. Frugality is a matter very close to my heart. It was once out of necessity, but now it's for the challenge and victory. In the past, our saving has allowed us to bless others, but since it's no longer a necessity and life is consistently busy, I've gone astray. Lately, some things have come up that I would much rather give our resources to as opposed to the grocery store. Your blog has gotten me back on track. Thank you!

Jasmine's Journey said...

I am always interested in tips on saving money.

Audra said...

Most of the time I skip these types of posts because the family is small. It's nice to see someone closer to my size family attempt this (we're a family of eight). I will definitely be reading along to see if I can help us trim our expenses down. We need me, too. :)

Katie & the boys said...

Hello...I am so interested in this. I just emailed a large group of girlfriends from church last week asking about ideas for saving money on groceries, and shared what I knew about coupons and sales, etc. I read a great article in Woman's Day (Feb) and "How to save 1000's" and just started paging through my book called "Miserly Moms." So, for me, your post is not coincidental. Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy is great. I bought it used on ebay. It sounds like it would be perfect for you.
http://www.miserlymoms.com/
I'm searching for a really cheap copy in case you really want it!

Thanks for doing this post...!

Summer Fae said...

I would love to read about your journey. I am trying to cut back back on my grocery budget too.

I look forward to future posts.

Alex Hall said...

I have enjoyed catching up on your journey! We are very similar. I am also a homeschooling mom of 4 (all under 5). Unfortunately, 2 of mine are still in diapers, and that ups our budget quite a bit. I found, though, that after cleaning enough clothes, linens and furniture, diapers are going to stay for a while. I am trying to stick to $100 a month for everything. I'm documenting some of my finds on my blog : www.frontroyalhalls.blogspot.com

Good luck!

Lindsay said...

I love reading your blog and finding out how you are doing on your budget! I too have $50.00 budgeted and it seems to be going pretty well...only we only are a family of two and 3/4 so I am sure it is more challenging for you! Best to you and your family!

Net said...

Um, I'd have to say that you definitely have some interest here! And count me in on it! I'm sick of walking out of the grocery store with a half-filled cart and a receipt total over $100!

Rachel said...

I can't wait to read more!

CookingmamaG said...

Wow I just found your blog and I am very interested to see how you do this and what I can learn from it.

Nancy said...

I would love it if you would 'include' me on this journey! I'll cheer you on all the way and, of course, probably steal a bunch of tips and techniques to use in my grocery runs! ;)

Nancy said...

I would love it if you would 'include' me on this journey! I'll cheer you on all the way and, of course, probably steal a bunch of tips and techniques to use in my grocery runs! ;)

Amber said...

I just found your blog and thought to myself, yeah, but how many children do they have. Much to my surprise, 4, and you're a homeschooling Mom. Wow!

We currently have three boys and a fourth on the way in September. I am also a homeschooling Mom with my two oldest starting first grade. I am SO looking forward to reading through your blog and learning from your tips. I am also sending a link to my sister-in-law who is a mom to four as well, although she lives in Hawaii so the prices out there are much higher.

Joy~ said...

Hi! I'm Joy, the sister-in-law of Amber, trying to be frugal in Hawaii, wife and a mother of four young'uns.

Your Grocery Cart Challenge got me so motivated! And with your menu plans along with my sister-in-law's, how can I fail? I'm excited to see what happens. (Crock Pot meals, thank you very much.)

I like the simplicity of your menus. They look so tasty. I know my children will actually eat and not turn up their noses.

Mahalo!

kristyblack said...

I'm glad I found your blog. I'm constantly trying to get our budget under control and I'm looking forward to hearing your tips.

Shultzybabe said...

I came across your blog on Org Junkie. What a great plan! I hope you don't mind if I link to yours? If so, let me know and I'll take you off. Thanks for all these pointers!

Jana said...

Cool-Love this idea. It's amazing how much packaged food we eat for convenience and how much we snack. I spend so much money just on yogurt. I'm going to take your challenge but not tell my family. This will be fun!

I use slickdeals to shop at CVS for next to nothing so I won't need many toiletries. I think it will still be difficult though. I spent $50 today at Trader Joes alone.

Anonymous said...

I am spending close to $50 per week for ONE, plus a cat. I am trying to reduce waste and forgotten items. I try to think of it as $1 and $5 bills laying on the shelves when things go to waste.

Debra said...

Great stuff! May you be blessed as you share and help others.

Lainie Rae said...

I LOVE YOUR SITE. My friend Karly led me to it. Thanks so much to both of you. I am sending it to everyone I know.

God Bless
Lainie

The St. John Family said...

This is wonderful! Just found your blog and I am very interested in catching up!

Cyndy said...

Well, yes, I just found your blog...I'm very challenged right now to drastically reduce our grocery budget. I'm looking forward to catching up on your posts!

Rides the whirlwinds and directs the Storms said...

I am so glad I found your blog I have a family of 8 and I try to keep my grocery spending down to 150.00 a week I am looking forward to following.

Pam said...

I just learned of your blog and challenge today over at Cozy Comforts. I find it intriguing and YES I'll follow you closely!

Natty's Mommy said...

I'll be following as well. I'm a full time mom, full time teacher, full time student (until December). We have a 1 yr. old daughter and baby on the way. We are constantly trying to figure out creative ways to slash our budget.

~Dawn said...

I will definitely be following your blog; I am also a homeschooling mom of four kids (girls). Our biggest problem is that my 1 year old and soy and milk allergies so we have to buy some "specialty" foods (almond and rice milk). We also strive to eat organic and dye/preservative free. Our current grocery cost is about 400-500 a month!

Our goals are to subsist partially off of our own gardening to save money. We've also started making our own laundry detergent; I highly suggest that!

You can visit me at lifeonabudget.blogspot.com and educationoflittlewomen.blogspot.com

Kate said...

THANK-YOU!!! I'll be watching you closely. It was my goal to pare our grocery store budget from a whopping "I have no idea what I spend a month" to $300 per month. We are only a family of 4, this should be completely doable!!!

Debtfreejourney said...

I have written on your site before, but never had time to read the "beginnings" of the Grocery Cart Challenge. I love it! We are also a family of 6 (which includes 3 teens and an 11-year-old). I do make a menu plan, but my problem is that I don't already check the things I have in my pantry and freezer, so things stock up and become outdated. You made me think again about the importance of checking what I already have on hand, to add to that, so I am not wasting the things I have already bought on sale. This is great motivation! Thank you!

DEBT FREE JOURNEY
debtfreethroughchristwhostrengthensme.blogspot.com

heather said...

I have recently ddeicded that i can make great meals that everyone likeds for a family of 5 with what i have on hand and i have realized i can spend 50-60 a week and still get a whole week of meals!! qand we recnelty decided no more eating out as a family for awhile! then we will try to come up with a good alottment of time to eat out it cost 20-30dolalrs for us to eat even at fast food so i couuld go to aldis and get honeslty a skimpy but a weeks worth of food ! so we have not gone out and i will tell you my imagniation has been working on new ideas in the kitchen to stay frugal and im loving it!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Gayle,

I was sent your blog by my sister who has been very successful in following your guidelines. I'm excited to get started but am skeptical because I prefer to feed at least my 2 children organic foods. Which are rather expensive. Any thoughts on eating organic on a budget or at least MSG and chemical free?
Thank you
~K

Gayle said...

K,

So glad to "meet" you. ; )

The cheapest organic produce around is the kind you grow yourself. You can start by doing a few pots of herbs, greens, or turn a small flower bed into a mini garden. If that's not a doable thing for you, then my personal choice would be to allow myself to buy the more expensive produce and get creative in other areas. Maybe have a few meatless nights to offset the expense or make more from scratch than you normally would. Also remember that $60 a week is what worked for me and our personal choices. You might have a different number than we do and that's just fine.

You'll know when you've exhausted your creativity and reached the lowest budget you can without compromising the values that your family holds regarding food.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Let me just say Gayle is amazing. Yes, there are times she goes over her $60 budget but I love the way she keeps everything balanced and feeds her family better foods.
I think these are things every family should strive for rather than so worried about if you go over your $60 budget by a bit, focus on better foods. Gayle you do an amazing job feeding your family I know your hubby is proud!

Anonymous said...

The difference to with your blog Gayle is so many of the other blogs you can tell the person that writes the blog thinks that they know everything. Your blog you are such a great person, you come off as I tried this and it worked , I tried that and it did not! So cool of you!
It makes the entire blog way more worth reading.