Monday, June 20, 2011

Frustrations with Money and Health

I'm going to write about something that's been weighing heavy on my life lately: money. I promise that I'll eventually bring it all back to my weight loss journey, but please bear with me.

Money has been at the forefront of my mind since the start of this summer. I decided that I would continue at my current job at a slightly higher rate of pay for 30 hours a week. My calculations showed that this would be fine as long as I stuck to a very, very strict budget. Things have been pretty tight. Really tight. I had to stop going to belly dance, which I love, and I've had to postpone my violin lessons. Still, I was on top of things.

Until my rent went up. Until I got sick. Last Wednesday I woke up with a dizziness I had never experienced. Long story short, I was diagnosed with an inner ear infection and spent over $120 on the doctor's vist (because I was listed as being out of network because I'm away for school) and three medications. I'm fine, but when you're on a super tight budget, that's huge! That's basically my food budget for the month. I am a crazy, crazy coupon lady, but I've been slacking. I spent Saturday night watching romantic movies--I can't help but love The Notebook--and organizing my coupons. Then, I went to Southern Savers and printed a shopping list for CVS.

I shop at CVS more than other stores for a variety of reasons, but I have two major ones right now: 1) my mom puts a bit of money on my Plus Account once a month, and my local CVS accepts Plus Account; and 2) CVS is currently doing a gas card promotion. Spend $30 on qualifying purchases, and get a $10 gas card every week! It's fantastic. It costs about $50 or $60 to drive to WV and back, so that is a huge help.

Here's where the healthy eating part takes a role. CVS doesn't have very many fresh foods; if they do, they're normally overpriced. I bought several boxes of Easy Mac (as part of the gas card promotion) yesterday. I'll brag for a minute to say that my shopping trip's retail value was $116.40, and I paid $42.69. That's a savings of over $70, or 63%! Anyway, I have to find ways to make these seemingly unhealthy foods work for me, for my new lifestyle. Tonight I had a bowl of Easy Mac. To make it at least nominally healthy, I mixed steamed broccoli into it. (If you haven't tried mac and cheese with broccoli, you really should.) Is it the most healthy choice in the world? No. Was it filling and delicious and full of a very yummy vegetable? Yes!

That's my lesson. I'm going to have to scrimp and save for now. I won't always be able to buy fresh produce, but I can find great deals and coupons for frozen veggies, which are nutritionally similar to fresh veggies or arguably even better. I've learned to make small adjustments to make a meal healthier, like adding broccoli to mac and cheese or baked potatoes. It doesn't take anything away from what I want to eat, it's still inexpensive, and I'm upping my intake of good food. Overall, it's not a bad deal.

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