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How to Eat without Spending Money

Posted: 12/31/12 10:00 AM (Modified: 12/31/12 2:51 PM)

This is a repost of something I wrote back in April, a friend reminded me of it and I thought I would bring it back for some of you today. Enjoy!

When I started couponing strategically, I was in the middle of a financial mess...ok, it was a nightmare. I was knee deep in medical bills, some of which still exist today. I was also a stay at home mom trying to make money while babysitting out of my house.

In the middle of all of that my son was very sick and life just didn't look so good. We were trying to feed my son and struggling to feed ourselves. During this time, I did not need cheap food. I needed free food.

I teach workshops on a regular basis and sometimes people walk in the door spending their last $5 just hoping to hear something that will set them free from a financial mess. If there would have been someone teaching back in the day, I would have done the same thing.

I thought I would share a couple of ways I survived those difficult months trying to get our feet back on the ground.

Everyone wants an easy way out and sometimes the only thing you can do is go through it. If I would have had an easy way out, I would not be doing what I am doing today. I needed to go through that time and learn from it. I'm not saying it is that way for everyone but sometimes pressing through is the best thing to do and many times, pressing through is the only choice you have.

{5 Ways to Eat Without Spending Money}

1. CALL Local Charities and Churches: Humbling? Yes. Embarrassing? No. Churches establish food pantries for one purpose, to feed people. You and your family count as people. If you are in need right now, call around. Even if you call a church that does not have a food pantry, ask if they know someone who does. Please understand I am talking to those who are actually 'in need.' Churches that have food pantry ministries will help you. They will help you feed your family and also get back on your feet again.

Sometimes, you just need a week's worth of free food to catch up and get things in order. Sometimes, you need a bit more time than that. This is not meant to be a life-long service to depend on, this is an emergency situation and they are there to help you.

2. Plan Around Our Matchups: A matchup is when we take your weekly sales flyer and 'match it up' with coupons available right now. This is how I fed my family for months. I only bought what was free by planning around the sales. It took strategy and a bit of time but it worked. Yes, you will pay taxes on your food but that cost was minimal compared to paying for a week's worth of groceries. You might not get to eat every single thing you 'wish' you could eat but we're talking survival here so in my mind, I was just thankful we were eating at all.

To get started, visit our Matchup page and start planning.

3. Cut Costs NOW: How much is the internet service you are paying for to read this article right now? Likely it is $30 or more. In my case, at this moment, I pay close to $200 for internet services to cover my house, my phone and a wireless card. Granted, I work online for a living however, that is a TON of money right there and sometimes you may not even realize how much you are spending. If you are sacrificing food for Facebook then it's time to cut it.

Even if you feel like you have trimmed your expenses a million times, go over it again. Maybe you need to make your own cleaners, beauty products or try cloth diapers? Did you know you can wash your hair with baking soda and water? That alone will save you $4. Keep in mind, you don't have to do this forever but if you are in a financial crisis, you have to cut costs sooner rather than later.

4. Trade for Food: Can you babysit? Can you clean a house? If you are alive and breathing then you can find a service to offer someone and trade that service for food. Yes, I am serious. Every single person on the earth wants a clean house but not all of us can afford to hire a house cleaner. Maybe you can fit an extra 2 hours in a week for someone and clean their house after you get off of work? In return, simply ask for a bag of groceries or a gift card.

 I have babysat, house-sat, cleaned cars and cleaned offices for extras like food, clothes and other things. Just think outside the box and pray for someone to walk across your path that needs a service you can offer.

5. Grow It & Hunt It: Growing your own vegetables can cost as little as $1 to start. All you really need is some good dirt and a few seeds. It is easy, cheap and practical.

By 'hunt it,' I mean, start fishing. Fishing is one of the cheapest methods of getting your own food and you can do it easily. Hit your local library to do a little research and start fishing. If you know someone who likes to fish, ask if you can tag along on their next trip!

If you really want to step outside the box, you can try foraging or freeganisim. You'll have to read up on those in depth to see if it is something you are interested in. That's about all I will mention on those two things.

Here is my biggest piece of advice...wait for it...don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Seriously. Pick yourself up off the ground, dust off your pants and move forward. That is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.

Sometimes I am floored by some of the financial situations I have walked through in the last seven years. But, I have learned that feeling sorry for myself does not help a single bit. I'm so grateful that I learned how to save money so I can stand on my two feet when these financial storms hit.

Stand strong for yourself and for your family and know this is just a season. You do not have to pitch a tent and take up residence on Broke Street, you're only passing through and blessing is heading your way!

Jan 1, 2013 10:31 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Wow. I thought I'd been through some tough times - nothing compared to not knowing where my next meal was coming from. Thank you so much for posting these really basic tips on getting food for your family! So many people need help right now and I think you're there for a reason!

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