Friday, August 14, 2009
Food Storage/stocked pantry = Thrifty, Frugal and a Peace of Mind
I know a lot of people do not believe in keeping a food storage fully stocked. And I understand their reasoning behind it.
You could be one of the people who think that, and I'm not going to tell you that you are wrong. We each have to decide how to best spend our household income.
A huge portion of the population of the world (Yup, not just the USA, other areas are feeling this recession even worse)are struggling just to keep up their mortgage payments or keep their electricity on. I completely understand that. I have been there and it is very scary and stressful.
When you are trying to make every penny count, stocking up on food items doesn't feel like a priority. However, I personally feel the opposite. And here is why:
First off, food is one of the very few "bills" that you can control the cost of. You can choose to spend $30.00 for dinner or $3.00 for dinner. You can't tell the electric company that tonight I choose to only spend $3.00 on my electric. You can do a few things to help lower your electric bill, but you can't decide how much you are going to really pay.
I don't do big mega grocery shopping trips. Instead I buy what I have coupons for and what is on sale that week. I stock up a little at a time. Even on weeks that we are very tight financially, I do some sort of little stock up. Say a store has cereal on sale $2.00 a box normal price $3.47. Well, for me, $2.00 a box is too high. However, I have several coupons for $1.00 off a box, so now those boxes are $1.00 each. That is about as high as I go on boxes of cereal. So, I will stock up with however many coupons I have to go along with each box. Or however much I think I can spend. It may only be $3.00 so, I get 3 boxes. Since I do this on a regular basis, I have a good amount of cereal in my food pantry.
However, if I only bought 1 box because that was all I needed to get through the week, next week when I needed another box of cereal, the cereal is no longer on sale. But, I still have a $1.00 off coupon so, I buy the same box of cereal for $2.47. I just threw away $1.47.
Here is a break down of buying 3 boxes of cereal:
Cereal Regular price - $3.47 - 3 boxes= $7.41
Sale Price - $2.00 - 3 boxes = $6.00
using coupons - 3 boxes = $3.00
Total cost for 3 weeks worth of cereal = $3.00
Total savings for 3 weeks of cereal = $4.41
So, since I used coupons and bought when on sale, I saved $4.41 which can now be paid on a bill.
I had control over how much I spent on breakfast for my family for 3 weeks. I don't have to buy any more cereal until it goes back on sale again. If I hadn't taken advantage of this and stocked up a little I would have spent more of our money for food instead of being able to pay a little extra on my bills.
And because I do this on a regular basis, I have slowly built up our food storage/pantry. So, when something comes up and we have no extra money to spend that week, we can forgo grocery shopping and pay every penny that we have to bills. And credit cards won't let you float an extra week. Instead they will charge you an additional $35.00 that month as a late fee. Not only did I throw away $35.00, I still have to buy my family cereal to get through the week.
I just used cereal as an example. It could be anything else. We need to eat, so something will need to be purchased for our breakfast. That is, if you haven't stocked up on some food items.
At the time Troy was injured at work,I had gotten our food storage up to about 3 months worth of food. Troy was in the hospital and therefore not working. If you are not working, guess what? You do not get paid. That means NO money came into the house right then and there. The whole Worker's Comp checks took months to start coming in. I had a little bit of emergency fund to help pay the bills but, not enough for ANYTHING else. I certainly couldn't afford to go out and buy some groceries let alone go out and spend money at any sort of restaurant.
Accidents like Troy getting hurt, happen out of the blue. There is no warning so your can prepare. It just happens. Maybe you only have to go for one week without any income coming in. But, what about a month without any income? 3 months without income? And so on. Are you prepared to survive that without losing everything you have? And what happens if it is an emergency like Troy being injured and he is in the hospital for weeks? You can't go out and get a job right then and there. First off, if you did, it still generally takes 2 to 3 weeks before you see a paycheck. What do you do during those 2-3 weeks? Also, an injury will cause you to incur more expenses than just your normal monthly bills. You may get reimbursed for them later, but right now you have to spend money that you really don't have. And trust me, that money starts to add up very quickly!
The one thing during that time I didn't have to worry about was food. I had a food storage in place. And I thank my lucky stars that I did! Granted, during that time I didn't have fresh veggies or fruit. I didn't buy dairy products, but I managed to have decent meals with what I had in my pantry. I also had some jugs of milk frozen, so that was taken care of.
We still racked up some debt during that time. But, it could have been worse. If I would have had to spend money on groceries, even just a little here and there, that debt would have gotten bigger.
Everyone always talks about "if an emergency should happen", will I have lived through the emergency happening. It was terrifying enough with just worrying about my husband and whether or not he would ever walk again, worrying about the rent and the bills being paid, worrying about getting the medical equipment and having it installed in order for the hospital to even release Troy. Those were all huge stressful things to deal with. I fortunately didn't have to worry about food as well.
When something like this happens to you or your loved ones, your entire world starts spinning out of control just because of the stress and worry you have to deal with. So, if you can keep yourself a little bit prepared, it will help free up some of your mental stress. You have more strength to deal with all the other things that come up. And when an emergency happens, trust me, you pull all your strength and even some you didn't know you had, just to deal and cope with everything each and every day.
That is why I am fully committed to having a stocked pantry/food storage. A little extra here and there when I am in a non-critical situation pays off huge dividends later.
I also am committed to an emergency fund. Paying off debt is vital. No doubt about it. But, I will always withhold $5.00-$20.00 and use it to increase my food storage and my emergency fund. Just like groceries, an emergency fund is also a must.
I know that a lot of people in the "financial " world will tell you to always pay your debt off first because it is costing you money every month with late fees, over limit fees, and just plain old interest. And that is absolutely true. However, if you pay a little extra on a credit card and have nothing leftover to put into your emergency fund or food storage, what happens if you fave an emergency situation like I just talked about? What if NO money is coming in at all and you suddenly have to buy an item for say $100.00? If you HAVE to have it and you have no money to buy it, you're going to charge it. It's your only option at that point. And because you have no money coming in and you don't know when you will have some money available, you will not be able to immediately pay off that $100.00 you just used your credit card for. So, that $100.00 will slowly turn into $110.00....$120.00....$130.00....etc. If you had put some money in an emergency fund, it would have only cost you the originally $100.00.
Okay, I got a little sidetracked on the Emergency fund. But, regarding Food Storage, I see it as a way to save money and keep my family fed. And as we all know, "Murphy's Law" will happen. When we are least prepared is when something will generally happen to us.
I hope that no one has to go through an emergency and learn this lesson the hard way. I hope you rethink your food storage situation and help yourself and your family be prepared.
Oh, and on a side note. If you have a nicely stocked up pantry and a family member or friend goes through an emergency, wouldn't it be nice to help them out. Even if it is supplying them with meals or groceries. You may be struggling yourself to pay your bills so, you can't afford to help out with money. You, at least, can help them with food, so they don't have to worry about feeding their family. This is something I also feel strongly about. I have been blessed with wonderful friends and a great family. They helped us out as much as they could and I always want to be in the position to return the favor!
This post is linked with these great blogs:
Finer Things in Life "Finer Things Friday" (I totally think not having to stress over feeding my family is a major "Finer" thing in life!)
Life as Mom "Frugal Friday" (Stocking up on sale items and not paying full price is always a "Frugal" thing!)
Hooked on Houses "Hooked on Fridays" ( I am SO "Hooked" on a full pantry!)
Homemaker Barbi "Family Friday"(Keeping my family fed with healthy homemade meals is one of my important jobs!)