Do you want fries with that?

A Social Experiment of One continued

Yesterday was day one of my $126 a month grocery budget. As anticipated for the most part it was easy. I spent $0.00 on food. I ate three healthy meals out of my pantry and resisted the urge to swing through a coffee stand on my way to work.

On the way home from work I was given a couple topics to mull over. I’m asthmatic and between a small cold from a couple weeks ago and the wild swings in weather (60 degrees yesterday and negative 15 degrees windchill today, for example) my asthma, normally under control, had been flaring up. Not too bad for the most part, but yesterday I was miserable. Go to Urgent Care miserable.

The first topic it brought to mind was unrelated to a grocery budget, but related to living in poverty. It was irritating, but not financially devastating, to pay $110 to see the nurse practitioner and receive a nebulizer treatment. The $12 for a prescription was no big either. This was a reminder, though, I have advantages over a SNAP recipient. I have discretionary income. One of the people featured in the book $2.00 a Day:Living on Almost Nothing in America is an asthmatic. She was getting back on her feet through a temporary housing subsidy and having found a job at a cleaning service in Chicago. Everything was looking up for her and her children until the cleaning company switched from cleaning offices after hours to cleaning foreclosed homes that had been abandoned. These homes often had been damaged by vandals, had no water source, and no electricity. She was cleaning these homes in the dead of a Chicago winter. Chicago winters are brutally cold. Like me, her asthma was triggered by her conditions. Unlike me she was unable to seek help. She began missing days of work with no sick leave, and when she returned to work her hours were cut as punishment. Eventually she had moved from a 30+ hour a week job to a 5 hour a week job. She couldn’t casually swing by a local Urgent Care on her way home from work. Her minimum wage job barely covered her and her family’s expenses.

The second topic brought to mind was something I had mentioned in yesterday’s post. I don’t have the stress of knowing when my SNAP money for the month is spent that’s it. I have the ability to supplement with my income. Stopping by Urgent Care made it a late evening for me. I have a long commute in the evening and did not complete my Urgent Care Visit and prescription pickup until after 7:30. I normally would swing through a drive through or Kroger’s Deli to grab a quick meal. Neither of which is covered by SNAP. And, if it was that would be $6-$8 out of my $126 for the month. My dog, of course, prefers the drive through as I share my french fries with him. But, I resisted temptation. And though I have no way to communicate this with him he will not be getting fries with that, at least not through this month.

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2 thoughts on “Do you want fries with that?

    • I’m interested to see, too. I’m very aware of the advantages I have over the typical SNAP recipient, and especially over the ones in extreme poverty. It’s why I’m considering doing this exercise for two months rather than one – it will allow my pantry to deplete. And, even though I’ve been on SNAP before I didn’t keep track of how I stayed on budget and still ate healthy. I just know I was able to do it and it called upon my life skills to do it.

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