Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
Several of you have written to ask about Rita, the reader who wrote to me as she was facing unemployment. I emailed her, and she wrote back with this:
“Thank-you for checking in on me. I think about all of my blog family members everyday but unfortunately only have regular Internet access by phone and no laptop to cart to the local coffee shop. I am in the middle of my graduate program, still struggling financially, and have some big decisions to make in the near future.
Please let everyone know how much I care for them and I hope to post in the near future.”
I saw the picture of your groceries and wondered if you’ve ever considered how to handle the plastic waste that goes through your household. Do you plan to in the future?
Well, I do try to minimize the amount of plastic waste I bring into my house from the grocery store. I try to buy fairly unprocessed foods since they tend to have less packaging, and I make a lot of my food from scratch (main dishes plus things like granola, yogurt, and bread). I also buy my chicken at a local store that lets me bring my own glass container and I bring reusable bags with me whenever I shop.
I try to buy a fair amount of my produce without packaging, but there are some things that don’t come unpackaged (like strawberries, grapes, and grape tomatoes). So, I recycle the clamshells that those come in, and in the summer, I freeze and can local produce to use during the winter.
If I had unlimited funds and the right stores in my area, I’m sure I could further reduce the plastic waste that my groceries produce. But I’m trying to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, so I do what I can with the resources that I have.
I saw that you’re working on keeping your email inbox clean. I struggle a lot with that and would love to hear any advice you have.
Well, this is a bit like the blind leading the blind, because I’ve only just started to get the hang of this recently! But here are a few things that have helped me. I use gmail, but all of my gmail addresses are routed to one Microsoft Outlook inbox. This way I can delete whatever I want, knowing that the emails can all be found on the webmail site if necessary.
1. Create folders to file emails that need to be kept.
I have a folder for recipes, one for Q&A submissions, one for blog information, and so on. This is a great way to rid your inbox of those emails that you don’t need right now but that you’ll want to refer to in the future.
2. If you can respond to something in 2 minutes or less, do it right away.
These sorts of emails used to clutter up my inbox, but now I try to take care of them promptly.
I inadvertently end up on a lot of mailing lists, and many of them really just clutter up my life. So every now and again, I’ve been going on a mad unsubscribing spree.
4. Aim for white space in your inbox by the end of the day.
For some reason, just knowing that I’m shooting for the white space helps me to deal with some of the more time-consuming emails that I’d tend to procrastinate on otherwise.
5. Keep up with the deleting.
If I don’t ruthlessly delete unnecessary emails every time I check my email, important emails end up getting lost in the midst of the unimportant ones and then I feel too overwhelmed to dig through the mess.
I was looking at your picture from right after Zoe was born and it made me wonder how you handled homeschooling with very small kids. I have a 5 yo, 3.5 yo, 2 yo and 2 month old. Needless to say, sticking to a schedule is difficult. However, I feel quite convicted to homeschool and my kids enjoy it, even the 2 yo. Any tips or suggestions for this chapter of life would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your blog. It’s a daily inspiration!
That is a bit of a tough stage to navigate! Probably my best tip is to try to do schoolwork when the littlest ones are napping. When Joshua was in kindergarten, Sonia was a baby (she hung out with us while we did school if she was awake) and Lisey still napped.
When Lisey was in kindergarten, Sonia was a toddler and Zoe was a baby. We did school in the afternoons while Sonia napped, and if Zoe wasn’t sleeping, I’d hold her or put her in the Bumbo seat or something like that.
I’m a morning person so I really prefer to get a jump on school right away. But I definitely found that trying to do school with four children awake wasn’t a super great idea.
The age spread of your children is fairly similar to that of mine, so I can say from experience that it does get a little easier to do this as the kids get older. The schoolwork gets more complicated, of course, but once your younger two are ready for school, your older two should be able to do quite a bit of their work independently, and that will save your sanity.
Readers, if any of you have advice to share on these topics, please chime in!
Today’s 365 post: I love how trees don’t care what you put in their way.
Joshua’s 365 post: You’ve heard of a K-car, right?