Because Eating Food is Important, Too
I apologize for the lack of posts over the last few days – I had two sets of out of town visitors this weekend, and am currently recovering from the festivities. And you know what? I spent too much money, and it’s looking like most folks I know are increasingly experiencing higher gas and food prices and having less room to blow the budget. Many people were already feeling the pinch, and by no means do I want to suggest that I only care because I’m starting to notice it in my own pocketbook – I’m just surprised by what I’m hearing from other people with ostensibly “good” jobs, and how packed my city bus now is on the way to work at the University.
In light of this, I want to suggest a couple of resources that have helped me be more frugal:
Home Ec 101 – If you have a housekeeping or cooking-related question, these ladies can answer it. Menus are posted on Mondays, and they generally keep frugality in mind. There’s a little bit of everything here – today’s post is on politely declining invitations when you can’t afford to go out – so make it a regular stop for simple, non-spendy solutions to household problems. (Can you tell that I know these ladies and adore them?)
Hillbilly Housewife – I actually learned about this site from the Home Ec 101 ladies mentioned above. It includes emergency $45 and $70 menus to feed a family of 4 for a week. In my household of 2, this really stretches the budget, even if all of the options aren’t the healthiest. Health takes a back seat to hunger, in my opinion, and you can pick and choose recipes if they don’t all suit your dietary needs. I’ve personally made the “lentil chili,” served over the HH cornbread recipe, and it was excellent. I’m definitely going to try more of the suggestions, modifying according to what I have in my fridge and need to use (such as substituting fresh onions for onion powder in the lentil recipe). HH also provides recipes for use with food boxes from…
…Angel Food Ministries – I haven’t personally tried AFM yet, but I’m seriously considering it. For $30, you get a box of food with an ~$60 retail value, and the “menu” changes every month. You would typically order and pick up your food through a nearby church, and there are no applications or qualifications in order to participate. The “menus” I’ve seen from some past months were a little heavy on some canned/processed goods, but again, this may help you get through a month. Orders typically need to be placed pretty early (a few weeks in advance), so check the website and your local AFM site for details.
Veering away from food, if you’re in the TVA service area for electricity, you can receive a free energy conservation kit if you fill out an online or paper energy audit form. The kit includes a couple of compact fluorescent light bulbs, outlet gaskets, faucet aerators, and other items and tips to help you save energy. If you’re not a TVA customer, check on whether your utility is providing a similar service. You might also be able to get on a “budget billing” program that spreads your utility costs out over the year rather than varying wildly with the seasons.
Don’t forget that some stores (such as Wal-Mart and Target) are now offering many generic prescription drugs for $4. Even if you’re like me and have a work pharmacy that offers employee discounts, you may still save by going elsewhere. [Update: nm reminds me that Kroger also has a $4 generics program, and is unionized, unlike the other two stores.] Also, if you don’t have health insurance or take a prescription drug not covered by your insurance, it pays to call around. I recently checked prices for one drug at several pharmacies, and found a $40-$50 difference in the price of a one-month supply.
Finally, don’t forget that you may be able to go to community clinics, your local health department, and/or Planned Parenthood for some of your healthcare needs.
Any other suggestions?