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Feb 4, 2013
I have always struggled with this issue as lots of times I had to make a choice between eating healthy or going to the doctor or buying medication. With any health plan this is always going to be tough for those of us that live on a very small income.

My disability income is less than $500 a month. I had to go to work so I would have enough money to cover my household bills. Working is hard even though it is only three hours a day or 15 hours a week. But without my job I would be really struggling and under extreme stress.

Lots of us with fibro find it hard to work outside the home. But many times we need to do something to avoid being homeless or running up credit card bills. There are work online sites that can help you find work as a writer or someone who helps process product orders or handling billing or accounting, selling products or even making your own video channel, or even lots more jobs that you may not be aware of. Like doing surveys or product testing, and the list is endless. Mostly you need to be careful and never give out your personal information as in drivers license or social security number to anyone unless you are positive they are a legit company.

But at home where can you cut corners? Here are a few of my suggestions:
Cook more at home, as homemade foods are better for you.

Get a travel mug and take your coffee or tea to work with you instead of stopping to buy a cup.

Go to your favorite online video channel and search for easy healthy recipes that can be made fast with healthy ingredients. Search for vegan or low carb, low fat etc...

Try to figure out what you need and stock up on sales and buy other things in rotation as in when you can afford it. This applies to clothing and other products as well.

Always make a list and stick to it. Don't go shopping on a empty stomach. Because no matter what your shopping for you will end up buying some kind of food before your done.

As my grandma used to say count your pennies and if your careful you will eat well and pay your bills every month.

Now it's your turn to share what helps you survive and get by every month with the knowledge your bills are paid in full.
Great post 1sweed.

I'm lucky i am not on such a tight budget as you but ive always approached life from the same angle.

Pay the main bills first and budget sensibly for the rest.

I think my overall approach also come from my upbringing from farming and quite low income family back ground.

My grandma darned socks and cooked hearty meals with cheaper cuts of meat and packed with fresh veggies ...her saying was 'take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves!'

I read the tip about not going grocery shopping on an empty stomach years ago and realised it was true....stops you buying snacks and things you fancy and sticking to whats actually needed for meals.
Trying to find ways to save on gasoline,turning lights off.i did find christmas shopping for my daughter difficult, but necessary this month.i will struggle,but she is very important to me. I may try to find a food pantry to help out this month.
Oh wow blessings to you trenee ....i know how we instinctively put our childrens happiness first...what a wonderful mum ....i hope the food pantry can help you out through this season.
this is a favorite topic of mine.
I have always lived frugally.
Most of my life I have lived on an amount of money that puts me near or at or under what they call the "poverty line", but I have rarely felt deprived, and never have I felt poor in my life.

I don't know about other countries, but I do know that if you are smart and dedicated to living frugally in the USA you can live a good healthy high-quality life on very little, and it is not that hard.

Most people spend a lot of money on things they don't have to spend a lot...or even any! on.
So the first thing to do is to stop doing that.
In order to stop doing that you may have to change your attitude about things (notice I say "may", because I don't know what your attitude is)

I do not ever think I have to have a new (fill in the blank....anything!!) unless the one I already have cannot practically be used any longer. You don't need nineteen sweaters or 12 pairs of shoes. You don't really need any more than can b worn in a week, plus winter/summer and special occasion or workout clothes.

I do not pay to go to movies. I don't need to see first-run films as soon as they hit the theater. I wait until they are on DVD and available at the library. Free. I enjoy them every bit as much, and from the comfort of my living room couch!

I never, ever buy a book just because I want to read it. I get it from the library. Very few of them would I want to own, anyway. Then, maybe once or twice a year there is one I do want to own. I wait until I can find it used online and then I buy it.

If there is a luxury item I really really want I wait for several weeks or months or even a year. If I still want it that badly after a year, then I am allowed to buy it if I can afford it. But only if I have saved up for it. I save up for these things by never spending a quarter. If I get a quarter in change I put it in my pocket, take it home, and put it in a piggy-bank or similar thing. In a year I have enough money to get a luxury item of some sort without even noticing the money was saved up.

Don't pay for exercise classes, a gym membership, or things like that. Get a few DVDs and exercise at home. More convenient, more private, and costs about 1% as much as the classes and memberships cost!

I eat very healthily, but I buy almost everything on sale. and I don't think I have to have everything organic. It doesn't really make a difference to your health. If organic only costs a little more, I buy it or if it is on sale. Otherwise, I don't get organic.

Grocery shopping I always, always have a list and unless it is an amazing sale I do NOT get anything that is not on the list. I may not get what is on the list, even, if a certain item costs more than usual. I watch the trends and know when meat is coming on sale and stock up. All the sales go in cycles.

I make all my own cards for people. I make a lot of the gifts, too. If I buy something for someone it is usually from a thrift store, but is carefully chosen to be something they will really like. Of course, I fix it up if needed, make sure it is very clean and looks good. No one has ever minded it came from a thrift store. (and if someone does mind, write them off your gift list!!)

I make my own dog food a lot of the time and it is cheaper per pound than good quality store bought food.

I never say "Oh, I saved money here, so I can splurge there". That is defeatist thinking that gets you in debt. If you save money somewhere, save that money! Do that enough, and you will be able to get something big or go on vacation after a couple of years.

Never, ever go into debt for something you don't absolutely have to have right now. And that is very few things! Maybe you really need a new used car because yours died. But..... If you have been saving money, and you need a new used car, you may have enough saved up just to buy one without getting it on time and paying interest. If you have to buy something on time make the largest payments you ;ossibly can, dedicate yourself to paying it off fast, and it will save you a lot of money.

If you don't have the money in the bank to buy something, and you don't have to have it now, don't buy it. Pay off the credit card every single month. that way, you are using their money for free for a month. the other way you are paying them high interest on everything you buy.

I avoid paying for anything I don't have to pay for. I don't need recycling to be picked up at my house. I take it to the recycling center myself, saving a lot each month.

You have to get rid of any instant gratification tendencies you have and learn to wait for things. Usually in a few months you won't want that thing so much and you won't have wasted money on it.

You have to look at everything you spend money on in a month and figure out what you are paying for that you could get free instead. Or don't need to have at all!

My best friend and I used to go out to one movie in the theater per year. Only one. always in the summer. That way, it was a big treat we looked forward to and it made it special. You can do this with kids, too. And you don't need to spend a fortune on cheap unhealthy popcorn, either. Have a healthy snack that everyone loves waiting for you when you get home and it prolongs the special time.

You also have to make all of this a habit, and take joy in it, not something that you do to deprive yourself.
If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and clothes to wear all the time you are in the top 7% of richest people in the world. If you have those things, plus any money at all in the back, you are in the top 5%.

Really, most people in developed countries like the USA are so much richer and more privileged than they think they are. Be grateful.
Enjoy your frugal lifestyle knowing that most of the people in the world would give anything to have even a very small percentage of what you have.

All you really need is a lot less thank you think it is.
Great topic indeed!

Last 2 years I was lucky enough to find jobs I could do from work, but knowing it could end any day, I went on frugal, or let's be totally cool about it ' a minimalist' lifestyle. LOL

I've been on a whole food plant based diet for many years, so home cooked meals have been my reality for very long. Cooking actually became a passion of mine. One thing I changed is to buy almost all my basics in bulk (rice, beans, legumes, oatmeal etc), order them online when they have good deals. This eliminates me leaving the house and carrying heavy stuff. Win win win!

A few years ago, I took out all of my clothing from all over the house, and did the 'does this give me joy, or will it go to a donation basket or a 'home rag' basket' A life with cats means the need for lots of rags and sweaters turned into blankets :) I was shocked to see how much clothing I had, so made the decision right there to no longer buy anything unless I really really really need it.

Last week I was in the mall for the first time in months. Walking past all these clothing shops I always had to visit for so many years, and now having no interest in them whatsoever was such a liberating feeling! I felt in charge, not brainwashed by a greedy capitalistic system. Not only did it allow me to save money/not waste resources, but also save my energy and time for the more important things like sitting down in the sun, enjoying a day out, being in the moment.

My biggest frustration is that many budget supermarkets who have the best fruit & veggie sales do not deliver home. (I don't drive). So I use my large, very cool (not!) shopper with wheels to go to these places whenever I can. It takes a lot of energy (so I take lots of breaks), and I will end up aching for hours if not for days, but the bargains are worth it (and the whole experience is very gratifying because I was able to do it on my own!)

I guess, it comes with age and a life with chronic illness, but I also no longer really care what others think of me. So me walking around with my decade of sweatpants, old yet the comfiest sneakers, and my very attractive shopper - I really do not care what people think.

I also see this (forced) frugal life as an incredible blessing in disguise. So much is wasted by society, so much taken for granted. Now I take my cup of tea along to the park, sit on a free bench in the sun and have stray cats/dogs come sit with me - while people 50 metres away have to pay 10 x more for the same cup of tea and fight for a spot in the winter sun in a cafe (no furry friendships included)!
Brilliant vicky....the world is so caught up in a plastico fantastico version of what happiness is....of whats needed to be happy.

One thing about chronic illness ...both the physical and emotional impact is it makes us look at what is important and what is very superficial.
Wow, Sunkacola. I am really impressed for quite a few years I didn't have to pinch pinch pennies so much. Now I am retired and my income doesn't go up but everything else does! So now, later in life I am determined to learn to budget. I fall off the budget wagon every once in a while but I am doing a lot better.
Vicky, you are is so liberating not to be a part of the Consumer Machine. I Highly recommend it to everyone; even if a person is rich they can benefit greatly by getting off that train.

Karen, it just takes practice. And, at first, it takes discipline, if you are not used to doing it. I was raised tht way so have never had to discipline myself, it just comes naturally. I save money and keep it to cover unexpected expenses, so if some emergency comes up, it may be a big worry for other reasons, but at least I know that I can probably pay for it without going into debt. I had a friend who had to let her dog die because she couldn't pay for treatment, and that breaks my heart. It would never happen to me. (It wouldn't have happened to her either if I had known about it at the time...I would have loaned her money)

This is a topic I am very interested in, so please forgive me my long posts. I hope that some of it helps someone. I am a professional organizer. I go into people's homes all the time and help them to organize their Too Much Stuff. They always, without exception, have too much stuff, or they wouldn't need me. And they are anxious and overwhelmed and feel bad about themselves because they have clutter and mess and they can't find things they need so they end up with 6 things when one would do because they "lost" the ones they had in the mess. Then they have to pay someone like me to come help them find their things and sort them out.

None of this would happen if people did not buy too much in the first place.

I have lived in a third world country where there was no running water or electricity or even walls on the house. And I would recommend to everyone that they go and do that. (I know not everyone can do that). What happens is that you find out you don't need at least 90% of what you had, and you feel free and easy and much more relaxed. Every single one of my clients feels freer and more comfortable after they get rid of a bunch of stuff and change how they are doing things.
Thank you Sunkacola for the encouragement. I am trying and I am doing better.
Hey there Vickythecat, I would love for you to share some of your whole food plant based diet with us. I am kind of moving in that direction trying to weed out my food allergies and yet to have a healthy diet. The hardest thing to give up is the sweets, but there are so many vegan to a degree snack recipes online that really taste good which makes that part easy as well.

If anyone is interested we could start a recipe spot down at bottom of forum. Thank you all for added comments and I hope to see many more.
Hey there Vickythecat, I would love for you to share some of your whole food plant based diet with us.

Gosh, I wish I was more of a recipe type of person, but honestly, I just put things together and blend them all with lots of herbs. I'll put whatever veggies I have in the house in the pan, then decide whether to eat them with potatoes, pasta/noddles or rice. Then I decide which cuisine I want to go towards; so it can be Italian, Thai, Indonesian, Mexican etc. with the herbs I use.

A recent staple of mine for breakfast/lunch is oatmeal with lots of nuts & berries, cinnamon (maple syrup or agave nectar, if I could afford to buy some, very expensive here), and always a banana. That keeps me full for a long time. I also often make some extra and eat it as dessert in the evenings.

I cut out oil for the most part. I used to use vegetable oil when starting to cook my veggies (often starting with onions & garlic), now I completely skip that part. Was quite surprised to see that it makes NO difference in taste. The taste of olive oil in salads is another thing, I am now using less oil in my salads. (I also add all kinds of beans, barley, lentils in my salads.)

And lots of fruits. I love apples, bananas and whatever fruits are in season. (thus affordable).

I wouldn't worry about a sweet treat here and there. Food should make us feel good inside and out. It is not only fuel for our body, but also for our soul. I don't buy expensive super foods either (you don't need them anyway.) I do take B12 supplements/injections, and sometimes vitamin D, and all my blood levels are perfect.

Watching recipe videos online is great - am currently addicted to them!. So yes, adding a new thread on recipes sounds like a good idea. :)
Oh wow blessings to you trenee ....i know how we instinctively put our childrens happiness first...what a wonderful mum ....i hope the food pantry can help you out through this season.

Thank you sooo much!i have been eating mostly salads with dark leafy greens like kale,and they make all kinds of mixes of good greens.they do cost more,but they are much better for you than iceberg lettuce.some have dried cran berries and pumpkin seeds.i like to sprinkle sunflower seeds(unsalted and raw).my physical therapist urged me to add enough meat the size of my hand because of my muscle loss (from laying as still as possible for so many years due to the pain and not being treated for it)i sill have good days and then very bad days,but i can tell you my new healthy eating habits have taken off 40+ pounds i gained last winter eating sweets.i do cheat sometimes,but not that often.i am more comfortable without the fat,now i just need to get some muscle tone switching to a physical therapist that is closer to save on very excited though,because my daughter is coming to visit with her boyfriend on sunday to help me decorate for this Christmas. Im going to cook for them and im a tad nervous because i dont usually cook being just me here.thank you for your nice so glad i found this forum.y'll are great really.makes me feel not so alone and you have helped me more than you know!,😁
trenee you sound lovely and i hope you enjoy the weekend with your daughter and boyfriend. Maybe an idea to keep the food fairly simple so as not to put too much pressure on yourself and just enjoy the company and tree decorating.

What an amazing weight loss and accomplishment with fibro too. I wish you much success with the physio.

Merry Christmas to you.
Wow, Sunkacola. I am really impressed for quite a few years I didn't have to pinch pinch pennies so much. Now I am retired and my income doesn't go up but everything else does! So now, later in life I am determined to learn to budget. I fall off the budget wagon every once in a while but I am doing a lot better.

I know exactly whst you mean.when i got on disability they only went back 10 years,and 5 of that i was in school,so i don't make much.i moved and im not as tempted to eat fast food
I also donated my tv and stereo to avoid the advertisements.that way i'm more in control of buying what i need.sometimes i miss it,but now im not just laying on the couch and being brainwashed by comercials.when i was healthy i worked in nice clothing stores and i do love designer clothing,but my life is very different now and i have learned to accept mom is pretty generous and updates my wordrobe.i also have accumulated alot when i was working and for a while people would give me clothing.i need to go through it all and donate what doesnt suit me anymore.its tough to do just my basic house chores though,so maybe i can get someone to help me with that,someday.i dont get many visitors though and i hate to bother loved ones with my physical needs.theres always some guilt in asking for far as the$thing im getting a $20 dollar raise this january,but they will probably cut my small $100 in ebt food money.its very frustrating.
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