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how to eat healthy on a budget

When it comes to the matter of eating healthy food, a lot of people have developed this knee-jerk reaction where they throw down a flag and declare out loud that it is just way too expensive to eat healthy, organic food these days! Well, I am going to do my best to explain to you why I believe this way of thinking is silly and tell you what I believe you can do to overcome this seemingly impossible dichotomy of eating healthy on a budget.

Why I believe the bulk of the population feels that healthy food is too expensive:

I believe that the main reason people bitch and moan about the high cost of healthy food is because they have a completely inverted value system. I used to be one of these people so trust me, I know! Typically people like this live in a place that is eating up more than 35% of their take home pay and drive around vehicles which eat up roughly 30%. The remaining 35% is usually blown on things like: restaurants, entertainment and cheap boxed or canned foods from their local big league supermarket.

People who live like this are usually the first to complain about having to pay an extra dollar or two for organic produce while they arrogantly stand there with a $5.00 cup of coffee, a $2.00 can of soda, a $6.00 pack of cigarettes or a $17.00 case of beer sitting in their cart...

Does anybody see the problem here? People are complaining about having to pay an extra dollar or two for the "healthy" stuff (which will in turn make them healthy), yet they won't bat an eyelash when it comes to blowing $2.00-$5.00 for a drink? Like I said before, we have a major values inversion happening here.

The individuals who gripe about "overpriced" produce are typically people who overextend themselves and live a lifestyle that is beyond their means. Again, how do I know this? I was one of them! Rather than making the adult decision to scale back on my living/lifestyle expenses and invest more of my money into eating a healthier diet, I just complained about it.

For those of you who find this offensive: I sincerely do apologize, but I am not sorry. I apologize that it took having to read this article for you to realize that your ability to budget effectively is simply not up to par. If it makes you feel any better though; when I first learned this lesson I was damn-near homeless and getting assistance from my brother (who was on food stamps) in order to just survive from week-to-week. So take a deep breath, punch a pillow if you have to, suck it up and lets fix this.

Getting your values in order:

This part is really all up to you. Why? Because I can't possibly sit down with each and every one of you and help you figure out what you might need to cut out in order to make up for your current lack of grocery money.

I can however give you some examples of things my wife and I have decided to get rid of so that we can afford to spend more of our money on the things that truly matter to us and make us healthy and happy (i.e. delicious, healthy food).

Gosh, where to start? Throughout our relationship and well into our marriage, my wife and I have been on a seemingly never-ending cycle of downsizing the amount of financial obligations we have so that we can spend more of our money on whatever the hell we want. For starters: we live happily in a small studio apartment right now so that we don't throw our money away on stupid space to house useless junk in. We believe in living a very simplistic and minimalist lifestyle. Together we decided that all we really "need" right now is just a place to eat, sleep, shower and shit.

Living in such a small space yielded a lot of unexpected advantages and has actually been tremendously beneficial for us. By living in a studio we are sort of forced to make as much use out of our tiny space as humanly possible -- and it has actually been quite fun coming up with new ideas on how to do it. It has also forced us to constantly take inventory of the stuff we have accumulated and determine right away whether or not that particular item is necessary for us to keep -- unlike some who have so much space that things inevitably wind up getting tossed in a corner or on a shelf to be forgotten.

Other things that we have decided are unnecessary expenses are things like cable television. Instead of paying 50 plus dollars per month just to sit on our butts and get bigger, we now only spend $8 per month to have Netflix. Since we only watch maybe one hour of television per day at best, this has worked out very well for us. Also, instead of driving around all the time we occasionally decide that we aren't going to drive for a few days per week when it's nice out and we walk instead.

When it comes to things like our cell phone bill, I have done extensive homework and found a couple of loopholes that allow us to get the most service for our buck while also saving 25% off of every phone bill.

And finally; when it comes to our grocery budget, just because we have extra money to spend from our careful financial planning does not mean we go on a spree every time we hit the supermarket. As a family, we believe that how you do anything is how you do everything. That being said, we allow our frugalness to flow into our grocery buying habits as well. We shop at discount stores like Aldi for most of our basic food staples and toiletries, and then we drive to the big league grocery store down the road (Meijer in our case) for things like: organic produce, almond milk, organic cereals, etc. While we are there, we do our best to take full advantage of any specials they have going on and we are incredibly mindful of how much we are spending so that we don't go over our budget.

Now that it's summer and farmer's markets are going to open up we certainly will be upping our budget and springing for the higher quality local foods that you find there -- but we still have fun and try to be as frugal as we can be. What's fun about farmer's markets is you can sometimes barter or finagle your way into a really great deal once you get to know the people you are buying from week after week.

Final Thoughts

The main idea I want you to take away from this article is that you have all the control when it comes to what you spend your money on. Do you really want to be the kind of person who spends more money on your home, car and entertainment than you do on your health and well-being? These are serious questions you need to ask yourself and answer honestly. If after all of this you find that your budget is a little (or a lot) out of balance, stay calm and just take it one step at a time.

If you need some help, feel free to read my previous article on how to take control of your money.

Spend some time figuring out the unnecessary expenditures that exist in your life today and then figure out what you can do to get rid of them so that you can spend more of your hard earned money on the things that truly matter to you.

Remember, how you do anything is how you do everything. Set a good example now and watch it flow into every area of your life.


Corey Barton


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