Frugality and times of crisis

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In a nutshell: Recently due to a severe family crisis frugality has been the absolute least of my concerns and basically went completely out the window.

The past 2.5 weeks have been some of the hardest of my life. Luckily this story ends well, but it was an extremely dire situation. A very, very close family member of mine (for privacy purposes I’m not going to say who) who is elderly had a very bad fall where they suffered a small skull fracture, brain bleeding and just massively not feeling well and were taken to the hospital by the paramedics.

To say this situation was terrifying for me is a massive understatement. I had to take an emergency flight out from the east coast and was just praying for them to be alive by the time I got there. It was the longest, most anxiety filled flight of my life (but thank God for the airplane that got me there!!). My beloved was first in the ICU then moved to the regular ward…and then after 4 days blessedly released from the hospital where they were deemed medically stable and that everything should heal.

I have been here ever since helping them with everything from eating, drinking, taking medicine, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, etc and just spending time together. Essentially just trying, very very slowly to get things back to normal.

I am immensely, hugely grateful that my beloved is recovering from an extremely scary and dire health crisis. It’s an absolute miracle and blessing from God. He is so full of mercy, love and compassion for us.

During this time me and my family have been eating a lot of take out. For awhile it was nearly every main meal. And this is why– this situation was so stressful that I simply was unable to cook and feed myself or anyone else and I could barely take care of myself. I was losing weight rapidly and was getting extremely low blood sugar…so I quickly realized, if I don’t eat, somehow, I will collapse and get very ill.

I was living on food from the hospital cafeteria, and after my family member was released from the hospital, living on take out from the local grocery store and restaurants. This is one of the few times in my life where there was simply no other option. It was a true emergency and I’ve been dipping into my emergency fund to take care of the costs.

Fortunately, life around here is slowly starting to normalize. My beloved is up and walking (a miracle in itself!!!) and starting to be more independent. My gratitude to God is profound and also witnessing the miracle of the body healing itself. It’s truly amazing.

I’m starting to cook a little more and eat less take out and hopefully over the next few days I can begin tracking my expenses more carefully. I’ve missed my Food Budget Friday updates, but sometimes life intervenes. Under normal circumstances I really try to avoid eating out…but this wasn’t at all normal. Thank goodness for the cafeterias and take out places that have fed me and my family over the past two weeks!!

My prayer is simply for my family member to have a full recovery, feel great, and return to their normally very social and active life ❤

4 Benefits of Frugality

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Frugality is a fantastic tool to help you live the life you really want. It is simple and freely available to anyone.

So what is frugality? In essence it is spending your money with care and purpose and not being wasteful. It is spending your money where it really means something to you, such as on school tuition, saving for a house or healthy groceries instead of something fleeting such as an expensive take-out pizza.

Frugality as a lifestyle has many, many benefits and it continues to grow dividends (!) the more you practice it. Here are my top 4 benefits:

  1. Frugality encourages you to be more creative and resourceful and look for interesting/unique solutions to problems. Do you want to read the latest cool novel? Instead of spending $16 and buying it how about checking it out of the library. Same goes for movies and CDs- the library is one of the best sources of free entertainment and learning around! A nice bonus about the library is once you’re done you give it back and you can avoid adding clutter to your house. How about food? Before going out to eat and spending a lot of money can you eat some food you have at home instead? If you have a few basic ingredients, such as pasta, sauce and frozen veggies maybe simply buying some grated cheese will help make dinner a lot more interesting! And you will save a lot versus buying a whole meal.
  2. Frugality helps you save for the big, important things in life. I’m endlessly amazed at how easily money can slip through my fingers and that’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful to frugality. It helps me to hang on to money and save it or invest it so I can put it towards important life goals. These goals are entirely personal, they can be short term such as saving to buy a new pair of shoes or longer term such as a home or retirement. But the important thing is that the money has a purpose.
  3. Frugality and savings can help give you a safety net when life gets hard. One of my main drives to be frugal is to have a wide “safety net” of savings if something bad/tough/challenging happens in my life. Money is simply a tool, a fantastic tool that can really, really help you if you have an emergency or fall on hard times. It can give you medical care, a roof over your head and food on your plate. It doesn’t replace love but it can be very helpful.
  4. Paying off and staying out of debt. In early 2012 I was deep in debt with high interest credit cards and a car loan and really upset and freaked about by it; and I had brought it all upon myself. Around this time I was reading a lot of personal finance blogs and began to “see the light” and became determined to pay off all my debt and never, ever go into debt again (except for a mortgage). I threw every single penny I earned at my credit cards and car loan and in one year had paid off all my debts. It was one of the greatest reliefs of my life.

The most basic formula for being frugal and saving money is: to spend less than you earn. That’s it! There is truly nothing more to it; admittedly however this is simple but not easy.

The more you can widen that gap between what you spend and earn the better (and to save the difference!). Any savings is awesome even if it’s only $5/month, but the more the better 🙂

Food budget Friday, 2/24: Health is wealth

strawberries.JPGHello lovely friends,

I am still in California visiting my mom. The past few days we’ve had beautiful sunshine and some warmth which has been very nice.

It’s been a bit of a funny week: on Tuesday night I got very ill with food poisoning and am still recovering. I think it was a bit of a perfect storm to be honest; the past week or so I hadn’t taken very good care of myself so I was already a bit run down, then I had a long plane ride out here and then the food poisoning on top of that.

I’m grateful I’m doing as well as I am. I still have muscle aches, headache and a runny nose but overall I’d say I’m 60% back to normal. I’ve been semi-fasting and I think it’s definitely helping my recovery. Yesterday all I had was water and chicken broth. Today I will probably do the same and maybe tomorrow. Pretty much I’ll keep fasting until my stomach/intestines don’t feel so weak, tired and inflamed.

Before I left I did quite a bit of stocking up on canned goods and frozen food so I’d say my food spending this week has been slightly less than usual but not dramatically so. I haven’t kept good records because of being sick and my mom’s helped out with some of the groceries. I’d say I’m about $10 under budget.

Whenever I get really sick like this it is such a strong and important reminder to me just how precious and valuable good health is. Nothing can replace feeling strong and healthy. I’m feeling more motivated than ever to heal my binge eating and take better care of myself now.

I’m praying that this passes in the next few days and I feel back to normal soon 🙂

Grocery shopping with mom

groceries.JPGHi everyone,

I’m in California for the week visiting my mom. As always I’m very happy to see her and spend time together.

On our way home from the airport yesterday we stopped to buy some groceries, which she very nicely treated me to. We went to a discount grocer so we got a pretty good deal on everything.

When I visit we are often very busy so I rely more on microwaveable foods or other foods that are very easy to prepare such as pre-washed salad greens.

In the photo is most everything we bought except for some rice, chocolate mints, garbanzo beans and green tea.

I really like frozen foods and use them a lot at home. Frozen veggies are an inexpensive and easy way to include vegetables in a meal. I also love that they are already cut and washed!

Hopefully these groceries should last me for a couple of lunches and dinners 🙂

Food budget Friday, Feb 17

carrots.JPGHi everyone! I hope you’ve had a lovely Friday.

I’m just checking in really quick with my weekly food budget update. I’m super tired tonight, it’s been a long but good week.

I went slightly over budget this week by about $4. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t more because I had fast food several times for lunch and also bought a lot of groceries.

I had a pretty tough food week with several binge episodes. I was reflecting on why I binged (mostly for the usual reasons: stress, anxiety, etc) and trying to think of what might help for the future.

What I came up with was starting to try and make some simple meal plans. I strive on organization and structure and it’s nice to have a plan in place for the day. That way the “thinking” part of what to eat has already been done. I’ve been using them the past few days and so far it’s been helping 🙂

Spending for the week:

  • 2/11: $14.79
  • 2/12: $0
  • 2/13: $17.68
  • 2/14: $13.91
  • 2/15: $31.91
  • 2/16: $16.70
  • 2/17: $9.18

Total: $104.17

My current grocery budget is $100/week. I eventually would like to reduce that to $75-85/week.