Counting every penny you spend can be a very daunting, depressing task. I know I have so few of those pennies, that I kind of obsess over money. Every time I have to unexpectedly spend some, my stress level winds up a notch higher. I know there are a lot of people in my position. Single parents, people who have been laid off, people with crazy mortgages, medical debt, or people who just were never able to stay ahead, for whatever reason. Here is one of the main things I do to try and quell my obsessive tendencies, and compulsive worry about money:
I HAVE A FOOD BANK ACCOUNT
What is a food bank account? It's a way for me to feel a small sense of security, even when my bank account balance has dwindled down farther than I ever thought possible. It's a partial antidote to the poisonous feelings of helplessness, and despair that a lack of money can cause. A food bank account is just a bunch of food that you've stocked up on! All you need to create your own food bank account is some storage space! My main pantry is in my laundry room. My dad set up some shelves for me in there, but really, you can store food pretty much anywhere you want. I know one woman who keeps non-perishables under her bed! Here is what I keep in my food bank account:
I keep a lot of non-perishables in my food bank account. The main ones I keep are, flour (25Lbs), sugar (10Lbs), rolled oats (10Lbs), grits (15Lbs), shelf stable soymilk (We're lactose intolerant!), cornmeal (5Lbs), dry beans, dry lentils, yeast, sugar, salt, dry milk, canned fruit, canned tuna, canned chicken, cereal,a 25Lb bag of rice, many, many boxes of pasta, preserves I canned last Summer, peanut butter, canned tomatoes (sauce, diced, stewed, crushed), canned corn, canned pumpkin, raisins, and chocolate chips.
With those ingredients, I can make a lot of meals for my family for a long time. I chose those particular items, because we like them, but also because they are all good for us (Okay, except for the sugar and chocolate chips!:P) That food would last us a long time, and it's not like we'd be dining on ramen. I think the only thing anywhere near as stressful as being too broke to buy food, would be having to feed your kids junk, and knowing how it would affect their growth and development for life.
I also stock up on some refrigerated and frozen items. The main frozen ones are: Frozen vegetables (broccoli, green beans, peas, soybeans), Eggo's (for those EXTREMELY lazy days.:P) ground beef, roasts. The refrigerated items are: Eggs, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, corn tortillas, avocados, apples, dates, celery, and carrots.
I buy other stuff too, but these are all of the foods I try to keep around in bulk. Stocking up can take some time. It takes a lot of planning for me to be able to afford everything I want to buy. I have to buy some items one week, and some the next, and then some the next. If I get an unexpected windfall, I'll often use some of it to buy extra food. I saved up $80 in gas money over Christmas break, and I used it to pad my normal grocery budget.
No one should ever have to be stressed out about having enough money to buy food. Unfortunately, many people are in that very predicament. A food bank account can really do a lot to ease stress during tight times. With a food bank account, at least you don't have to worry about being hungry.