Thursday, August 23, 2012
A few months ago, I was very ill and hospitalized for about two weeks in the ICU. Before and after I had to take time off of work because I was fighting extreme headaches and fevers. Needless to say, it did a number on my savings and I am having a really hard time catching back up. Not to mention the bill collectors from the doctors who want their money because my insurance sucks.
So here I am trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle for me and my family on a budget. There are many complications I am running into and I am stuck in trying to figure out alternatives.
1. Groceries: I have always been a relatively healthy person. I have been a vegetarian for over twenty years and have learned to find protein and balance healthy meat alternatives with whole grains and vegetables. We have recently added fish to our diets because my hemoglobin dropped dangerously low when I was sick and I am having trouble getting it back to where it should be. I don't know if the fish is helping, but at least it increases my protein intake. Unfortunately, it is very expensive. I have always shopped at Whole Foods and Coops. I steer clear of Cub and Rainbow because the majority of their vegetables are sprayed down with pesticides and preservatives. The small organic section they do have seems to keep the wilted and old vegetables that most shoppers pass over because they are more expensive. When I do try to shop there and spend literally hours reading labels as I try to find the healthier options, I end up spending just as much because they are considered premium items. I know Trader Joe's has some stuff, but not all and to be honest it just never seems to taste very good. So I easily spend $3-400 per week feeding a family of four.
2. Eating out: There's a reason McDonalds has a $1 menu - because the food is crap! Sometimes it seems that by the time I buy all my healthy organic groceries, I am spending just as much as if we went to a decent restaurant. So, while I know to quit eating out is probably the best way to save money on food, we do it occasionally, but we are trying to cut down. Again I run into the issue of the healthier the food is, the more expensive it is.
3. Activities: My son is in a lot of extracurricular activities and most of them aren't cheap. He has offered to cut down on some of them, but it breaks my heart to take him out of things that he has worked so hard getting good at. Plus he's a little on the shy side so he has trouble making friends outside of these activities. This is the last place I want to cut into.
4. Exercise, gear and races: My gym membership costs money but probably holds my sanity together. Races are usually my biggest form of motivation to keep running and training, but when I can't afford the entry fees, I can feel myself starting to slack off. In the past if I am not training for something, I find it hard to get up and run for no end. Gear is another problem because even new running shoes are expensive let alone a new bike.
I actually have a very good job and up until now has afforded me the healthy lifestyle I have become accustomed to. I am trying to find a second job to get back on my feet, but in this economy, that isn't easy. For now, I need a way to cut corners and budget more effectively without compromising our health.