Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ask Away!

Sometimes I get in a rut. The frugal lifestyle is becoming so normal to me that my radar on what might be interesting to YOU can git a little wonky sometimes. So here's where I'm thinking you could just tell me.

  • Have you read my blog and ever wondered about something?

  • Have you ever found yourself spending too much money in a certain situation and thought, "What would Gayle do?"

  • Are you curious about how we spend money in other areas?

  • Or are you just curious about my personal know...the one not attached to this blog?

Then leave a comment or send me an email ( and I'll answer your questions.

Oh, and I have a new article up about the actual process of shopping at The Daily News. You can go HERE to read it.


Lisa said...

Hey Gayle! I just got back from shopping and I spent about the same as I did last week....I was a little discouraged that I didn't get the total down a bit, but I'm happy my total didn't go up. I'll try again next week.

jenelljm said...

Ahh, Don't be in a rut. I love your blog. I look forward to every Monday & Tuesday & Friday , just the,menu plan monday, shopping roundup, and recipe exchange are making an awesome blog. I have had great success and wonderful ideas from those posts alone ! But I am a big snoop. I would like to see pic'of your pantry, kitchen, maybe how you store recipes, do you keep a homemaking notebook ? Anything to do with organizing and cleaning is always intresting to me ! Thanks for all you are doing. We are living on a 200 $ a month food budget which I thought would be immpossible till I found your blog !

So Not Martha said...

I'm always curious about how you manage with seems like you buy 4 rolls of toilet paper and it lasts a month! Do you have a separate budget for deoderants, toothpaste, etc....I don't see a lot of it in your grocery shopping. That's an area I'd love to hear more tips and ideas about from you!

momstheword said...

I have discovered that apparently, I am a food snob and need to get over myself.

I want to feel "comfortable" shopping at Grocery Outlet or the Liquidator's store like you do.

But I keep thinking that the food wasn't "good enough" for a regular grocery store! Silly, I know. I know it has to be "safe" or you wouldn't shop there.

So do you buy the dented cans, and also do the off-brands taste good? I buy generic and for the most part, they're fine. Any tips or advice about these stores?

Amanda said...

I have a question!

My wonderful husband and I are saving for a celebratory cruise for our 5 year wedding anniversary next year. We figured we need to cut $150 out of our already tight budget. I have tried many of the grocery shopping tips, but seem to spend about the same amount every month on food, personal care products, and household products. We don't eat out very often (maybe once a month). We are ready for some hard core savings. Any new tips and tricks to shave off that much more from our daily lives?

Diann @ The Thrifty Groove said...

Hi Gayle,

First off, I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your post. My question is, How do you schedule your day? Trying to do it all is exhausting. Do you have an actual schedule you try to kept to? Do you block out time for different things (blogging, shopping, cleaning, etc.).
Just curious :)

Anonymous said...

Great idea. I've noticed that your meals seems to be alot if not mostly meatless, how did you get your family to like mostly meatless meals, mine want meat at every meal. Also do you ever get tired of eating so frugally do you ever splurge?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about snacks for the kids. I've got two teenagers and it seems like they always have a few friends over. What do your kids munch on? Do you make up batches of cookies, cakes etc and freeze them so you have them on hand when they want a sweet snack? What about chips or salty snacks?

Michelle said...

Gayle - thanks to you, I found my first discount food store (actually, the only one in my area +30 mile radius - there are 3 different locations in my area of the same store!). Obviously, the stuff there is sort of random - this would not be the place to shop with a list, as they seem to just pick up random deals. I did get a case of 100 Handi-Snaks, which we usually avoid due to the high price, but which are nice to have around for snacks-on-the-go, lunches, trips,etc. I found myself tempted to buy things that are normally not what I would purchase, but it was hard to pass up the good deal. Do you find that? Do you plan what you are going to buy or just work with what seems to be a good deal? I know you plan your menu in advance, but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. I have more questions, I will do another post on that.

Michelle said...

Questions, part two:

If you don't mind sharing, how much money are you able to make off your blog and what are the best ways to make money blogging?

You have four kids and a husband - so do I (in fact, 3 boys, one girl and two of them are teenagers). I just cannot get to the $60 a week budget - admitably because I don't have to - I love a good deal, stock up on those deals and donate when I have way too much. I also think food prices will be going up a lot higher soon and want a good storage of food at reasonable prices. However, I just cannot imagine how your kids fare with the contant munchies and you must have some pickiness - some will eat this, some not - how to do you manage all of that and stay with your budget?

I have to admit, I love the nonfood recipes - laundry detergent, cleaners, bubbles, stuff like that. I am tickled when I figure out how to make something I would normally have to buy. Any ideas like that would be helpful.

I also find posts about what you have learned to do without interesting - things we think we need but really don't in the end. Or maybe you tried to live without something and turns out it is worth the expense after all.

I have to say I LOVE your blog and enjoy all your posts, so kick that rut to the curb :>)

momofgandj said...

I also wondered about your toiletries. I rarely see them in your pics. Are they included in your $60 a week? Also do you ever splurge on an item or something in particular that you want?

Mark and Jessica said...

I've noticed that some generic food tastes terrible and no matter what you do, you can't doctor it up to be palatable! When my daughter was going to the sitter's, I sent with her one small prepared spaghetti meal in a container. When the sitter opened it she said it smelled terrible. She tasted it and said it tasted awful, too! I bought another a week later to see if the first was just a bad batch, and it was disgusting as well.

Some things don't matter, but do you ever find yourself sacrificing taste for cost?

Would you ever be interested in making a standard menu plan for a family of 4 for a month?

What do you do as far as pet food?

What about utilities and other bills? Do you also conserve water and electricity?

What's your daily schedule?

What's your daily and weekly cleaning schedules?

Do you ever wish you could just give it all up and spend more and have more convenience foods?

Jami said...

I'm like "Not So Martha" - I'd like to know your philosophy on health products. Why don't you shop at a drugstore? Taking advantage of drugstore deals has made the biggest dent in my monthly bill- but maybe that's because with two teens, we go through a lot of shaving items, acne and hair products!

Staci said...

Hey Gayle! What I REALLY think you should do is a video, start to finish (from creating the shopping list from ads to following you on your shopping escapade) so we can really watch you in action! :)

Ok, ok. :) If I can't have the video I'd like to see your grocery lists and how you organize it. Is it on a spreadsheet you check off and print out or just handwritten as to exactly what you need?

Rhonda said...

How's the dog doing?

That's all i got!

Rhonda<--avid reader and pet lover...who just spent $217.50 on her dog who developed a bacteria/yeast infection in his ears. Yowza, vet bills are hard to budget for.......

Jenelle said...


I love you blog, and my favorite is "Works for Me Wednesday". I am always looking to see what I can make from scratch instead of buying and I get some great ideas from you (Peanut butter). I'd like to see more general household savings tips no necessarily related to the grocery bill. Like how do you keep your teenagers from taking 45 minute showers and running up huge water bills. Well how abuot how you get your kids on board for just about any cost cutting measure.

Thanks for such a great blog!


AngieB said...

I just want to say you are my go-to site for all things frugal. I swear by your laundry detergent recipe and the unbrella-style clothesline you suggested is the best purchase I've made in years! I get excited every time I see you have a new post up!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gayle,
I was wondering if you ever get hassled by store associates when you go shopping with clipboard and calculator in hand?

What is a typical day like in your household, like from getting up to going to bed?

What appliances do you keep on your counters for ease of cooking and baking?

Do you agree with the news about the upcoming sugar shortage? And are you stocking up?

Thanks for a great blog!
Anna aka

Becky said...

Hi Gayle I have been reading your blog for about a month and have learned many great tips. I have started menu planning all our meals and that has been a money and time saver. My question is what advice can you give for setting up a date nite with your husband without spending a lot of money. We have four kids and I am not sure the right amount to pay a babysitter and then once we do that and pay for dinner and a movie the cost is too much for our budget! I would love to hear your advice on this subject. Thank you!

Katy said...

I'd love to know how you simply run your budget in general, not just your food budget! Do you get paid weekly, monthly... how do you manage your bills?

Danielsen5 said...

You now have a dog, but I have yet to see dog food on your weekly shopping post. How do you budget pet supplies in?

Blessings, Beth Ann

gina said...

I'm with organizational pics and toiletries budgets! Those are big ones for me.

MCJ said...

Hi, Gayle. Your blog is wonderful. It is the first one I read when I log on each day!

When I review your menu each week, and then your shopping purchases, I often wonder about two things....1) are your dinners filling enough for you and your husband, along with those four kids?!, and 2) sometimes I don't see a lot of fruit or meat purchased. I wonder if you and your family would like to have more fruit as part of your diet, and while I know meat is not a primary ingredient in many of your meals I wonder if more would be better for a family of six.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What fun, an invite to be snoopy!

How do you do gifts? Do you have a set amount for gifts and/or do you make any? What do you use or buy for wrapping paper and cards to cut down expenses in the gift giving area? This question applies to both family and friends.

Snacks is a good one. I have cut way down on the convenient snack items and my family thinks I'm staving them to death!

I loved seeing how you decorated on the cheap (it looked awesome), I would love to see more thrifty decorating in your home.

Also pics of your yard. Do you have a high maintenance yard, how do you cut down on the cost of plants and flowers, if you happen to do that kind of thing in your yard.

Any type of organizing makes my heart thump with joy. Love to see how you organize in your home.

Sorry for the long list. You did ask! :)


Anonymous said...

Hey Lil' Sis,

Why don't you do something on home remodeling using habitat and other rebuilding material outlets. It may be nice to share this with your readers.

Anonymous said...

Please show more pictures of the inside of your fridge/freezer! I almost fainted the first time I saw it and determined to empty mine out after that. That was some incentive!! I want to be a week to week shopper but find I'm a bit of a hoarder, wanting to be prepared for whatever comes along - including unexpected dinner company or a horde of teenage kids. Don't you panic once in a while when you see all that white space?
Thanks for all your fantastic tips - you're an inspiration for many I'm sure!

Colleen said...

I do have a few questions but I will tell you what kind of grocery person I am. I do have a win-co and a grocery outlet a couple towns over but the gas it takes to get to those stores costs more than I would be saving, know what I mean? So I end up making a general shopping list, things I would usually use to make our weekly meals but nothing according to a menu plan. Or at least not as specific of a menu plan as you make. I have a cupboard full of canned goods, mainly veggies with some rice and pasta, and I have a freezer full, meat and fruit and baby food (yay for making your own baby food! Now that is a money saving trick). Usually it's just my hubby, my 9-month old son and I but a couple times a week we have family who eats with us.

I guess one of my questions has already been asked, why so little meat? We usually have a meat and 2 veggies for dinner, no starch so the meat plays a huge part of our dinner.

And my other question is could you do something like what you do with way less starches? I buy a loaf of bread a month and probably a pound of potatoes and a box or two of pasta a month. But that's it, we don't really eat breakfast, the baby does but hubby and I don't. Though we have lunch it's usually leftovers from the night before.

I'm a work at home mom for now but I am about to lose my job (company is downsizing) and I'm going to have to budget in day care as well as all our other bills. I'm a little freaked out by it and if I could cut some out of our grocery bill it would help lots.

Anonymous said...

My question comes from a struggling point of view. We are frugal on everything to the point of few extras, no vacations, etc.

Due to circumstances I have little energy to do the basics and not much more. From what I read on some blogs I should keep pushing and going and I'll be successful some day with a huge bank account and enough for retirement. Yeah, right. I don't have that hope due to our personal situation. I doubt I ever really will. Yes, I have faith in God, but I'm realistic too.

Do you have times like this and how do you deal with them? Especially when it seems hopeless when you are doing your very best. It's one thing to be frugal for a period of time, it's another thing to do it your entire life and with limited physical abilities. I would really like to read more posts on personal struggles with frugality.

Sometimes I feel very alone with all of this.

Trena said...

I read your blog frequently but don't usually comment but I figure I should just to say that I really enjoy your great frugal ideas and I get so many great recipes.

My question is do you have a list of go-to recipes that you rotate? Or do you just randomly choose? If you have a system for choosing your meal plan ideas, I'd love to hear about that.

Thanks Gayle!

Wendy said...

I enjoy seeing all of your great grocery finds, but I can't find any grocery liquidators in my area. Bummer. So, in that respect, I do get discouraged sometimes that I'm not able shop as cheaply as you are.

BUT, I do love how you shop only for what you need for the week. I try to keep that my goal as I make my list each week. Also, I usually do my shopping all in one day if at all possible. I've almost eliminated the 'in between' trips to the grocery, and staying out of the stores means I don't spend as much. And I also use coupons to stock up when things are super cheap.

If you're looking for something to add to your blog, I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to know how your family saves money in all other areas. We're a homeschooling family with 4 kids too (11 down to 3), so I really pay attention to your advice!! Thanks so much for your faithfulness to your readers!!

Jean said...

Jenelljm said: But I am a big snoop. I would like to see pic'of your pantry, kitchen, maybe how you store recipes, do you keep a homemaking notebook ? Anything to do with organizing and cleaning is always intresting to me !

Oh, me, too, Gayle! Would esp[ecially enjoy pix of your pantry and kitchen.

Your blog is perfect as it is - would never have known you are in a rut if you hadn't said.

Faerie Mom said...

DO you ever feel just completely overwhelmed? And what do you do to revitalize yourself when this happens? How do you keep on keepin on?

I would also love to know what your cleaning schedule is like, etc.

Trena said...

I thought of another question: how do you handle your kids' friend's birthday parties?

Also, how long have you been doing the grocery cart challenge (not necessarily the blog but the actual system you use)...and how hard was the transition to your current system?

And finally my last question (am I allowed to have this many?) I try to meal plan and shop once a week and when life is normal I can do it, but then busyness or unexpected events take place and I'm just doing good to get dinner on the table, how do you never fall off the wagon and manage to blog each week? You are so consistent...are you like this in all areas of your life? (Chocolate consumption, not included)

Michelle in TN said...

In case you're still accepting comments here...

I really like the thought of freezing breads, muffins, cookies, etc. to have for my sons' snacks (or entire freezer meals for that matter). One of the things I'm annoyed with is what to use to store these items in the freezer. I'd love a tutorial about what you store, how you store it, instructions on using items from the freezer, etc. Because of their cost and disposable nature, I'm trying to get away from freezer bags and instead use some more permanent form of storage (like reusable plastic containers). And too, I tried freezing yeast bread after its second rise, somehow collapsed on me. I'd love to hear how you use your freezer!

Keep up the good work Gayle, you've been a tremendous inspiration to so many of us!!

wacque said...

I just found your blog and it is such an encouragement. You may have already addressed this in your blog but I'd love to know what you do for lunches? I seem to get sooooo stumped and I am a bit bored with sandwiches everyday.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gayle,
I have two questions.
About 20 years ago I stopped gardening and canning. I married a man sho claimed that you could buy the stuff cheaper already canned in the store.
This year we put in a garden and ended up with 20 lbs of fresh tuna that was ready to be canned.
So I dragged myself to the store and bought jars. This was after trying to get jars on Craigslist and thrift stores. Who by the way were more expensive than new.
I borrowed a pressure cooker and will be canning.
One: Is it really cheaper to can your own vegetables?
Two: Is it REALLY cheaper to grow your own vegies. We do not have a well.
Love ya

Honey said...

I would love to hear more about how your day goes including homeschooling. I am now homeschooling 5 (four of whom do not read yet). So anything to do with scheduling is helpful. I love this blog-it's saved in my favorites and I look at it a few times a week.