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How do people have so little food money?

by (319)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 8:06 PM
Created March 27, 2013 at 1:47 PM

I've been reading the 50 dollar a week food thread and it got me wondering. For all the families and singles who are working and can't afford grass fed or much food, what do your monthly budgets look like? In addition, why doesn't everyone in such a situation apply for food stamps? I used to live in NYC and had a minimum wage job and still had 500 for food every month. I'm honestly mistified by this. Can someone explain.

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78 · April 06, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Usually that nets me a daily menu that looks something like this: 3 handfuls of a fruit or veggie for breakfast, a wildcaught sole fillet with a salad (greens mix, cucumber, green peppers etc) for lunch and another veggie stirfry (broccoli, carrots, peppers) with some salmon chunks and a glass of fruit juice for dinner. Heck, actually I could do that on $25 a week if I shop right. I'm a small female though who only aims for about 1200-1500 calories a day though.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 6:03 PM

If you owe more than $10k you definitely can do jail time. And the deposit has nothing to so with other tenants. Deposits are equity and faith payments. Also I charge what the market will bare that is agreed upon prior to the rental. A tenant walkin out on their obligations is not. Very different.

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319 · March 29, 2013 at 4:27 PM

Your just lying if your implying that a person spent time in jail because he owed you money. Assuming your in the USA. My point was you charge the deposits because people don't pay. If everyone paid and kept the place nice there would be no need for deposits. Basically, the people who always pay and keep place nice are helping to subsidize the ones who don't. Lastly, you charge what you can get just like renters pay when they "can". There's no morality to not paying same as there is no morality to raising rent business is business.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 4:10 PM

*they wouldn't need deposits and could charge lower rent* -- That's just silly. I use deposits and credit checks to understand the financial viability of my renters. I charge a higher rent because I can -- That's how I make a profit. Only once have I had to sue someone for failing to meet rent. That person spent 6 months in jail and was forced to sell of assets to repay me my lost income. Trust me, repaying the the rent and credit score are not the only bad things that can happen.

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675 · March 29, 2013 at 4:00 PM

OMG... the amorality of your comments is astounding! You believe you have the right to use other people's property w/o the agreed to payment? Does your philosophy apply to allowing yourself to "shoplift" (as long as it's from a 'big company'?) >>A landlord should not be relying on rent to pay bills.<<< Huh? Ever own rental property? When a renter skipped out on rent..it came out of my savings (kid's college fund) Ever own anything? A single guy on food stamps? I guess you believe everyone else should subsidize you life? Every time you 'free load'...someone else picks up your tab.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I'm looking through my mint at my food expenses, and we are actually well below $700 per month. We are closer to $500 per month. And that includes eating out a few times a month. $500 for an individual is kinda insane

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I'm looking through my mint at grocery bills, and we are actually well below $700 per month. We are closer to $500 per month. And that includes eating out a few times a month. $500 for an individual is kinda insane.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Paleo11111, read up on utility hypothesis, hedonic predictions of moral utility, and emotional adaptation. Once you learn how rational decisions are made, then reexamine your point of view. I am lucky to be in a situation where I can both afford and easily acquire quality food. I can feed a family of five on locally sourced organic meats and veggies for less than $700 per month. $500 per month for an individual is silly.

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41297 · March 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

You've drank too much paleo koolaid, Paleo11111, if you think you need to spend $500 to eat well.

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319 · March 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM

If you think.500 on quality food is a waste I question your priorities lol.

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10480 · March 28, 2013 at 6:57 PM

You can justify backing out of your obligations and responsibilities however you want, but ultimately that is a reflection of your character. If keeping my word to the best of my ability makes me a sheep, then BAAAAAAA.

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41297 · March 28, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Methinks you don't understand the statute of limitations on debt... nevertheless, if you think you've got $500 per month to spend on food making minimum wage, you've obviously don't have other "normal" things to you need to pay for.

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319 · March 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM

A landlord should not be relying on rent to pay bills. They have to recognize the risk in renting. Business is busines

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319 · March 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM

It's funny you mention morality, but the same morality isn't applied to credit card companies, with they predatory practices and high interest rates. You sound very domesticated by society. You should really start to recognize its a screw or get screwed world, AMD take atvantage when you can, because I guarantee people will and are taking advantage of you. The fact is you only owe money on your debts for a limited amount of time legally, save certain school loans. My advice is great, and there are plenty out there who agree. If you want to spend your entire life being moral, then gl.

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319 · March 28, 2013 at 12:43 PM

Whenever you rent out there is a risk of not paying. For credit cards for example, the rates are higher partially due to cover people who don't pay. Renting is similar if there was no risk for landlords they wouldn't need deposits and could charge lower rent. Agreements aren't really agreements that you will pay. It's a contract with terms and consequences. If you accept the fact that you credit score will be lowered, the only thing that can happen is you can be sued for what is owed. The responsibily is on the creditor to collect, if they can.

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10984 · March 28, 2013 at 12:41 AM

Right on Britt. Seriously though, food stamps are nice, they're on debit cards now.

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1981 · March 28, 2013 at 12:18 AM

This is how I see it, too. My grocery bill is a fraction of what it used to be, and I eat great, high-quality food. For my household of two, plus a dog who eats raw meat, we spend less than $70/week on food, plus $700 upfront for 175 lbs of bison meat, bones, fat and organs, which will last three seasons

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726 · March 27, 2013 at 7:40 PM

One way to eat healthy grass fed meat for CAFO cost is to buy pet food. As long as it's from a ranch you trust, you're merely avoiding the cost of a USDA inspection, and you're getting organ meats too.

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10480 · March 27, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Public transport? Depends on your area and that's generally only urban areas anyway. The sticks don't have trains and bus systems. And I, personally, do not live in an expensive area, but a very cheap one as it's the rural South. Don't judge Cherice for having an apartment that she is comfortable in instead of "perfect" meat. Having the "bestest food in the world" isn't everyone's priority. Stop judging people for having different priorities than you.

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10480 · March 27, 2013 at 6:13 PM

You do realize that some people like to pay their debts instead of just saying "Nyah nyah you can't make me!" because it is probably irresponsible and/or immoral not to? How would you like it if you rented a home to someone or loaned them money and they chose not to pay you so that they could buy fancy food instead, and then YOU can't afford to pay your bills anymore? I agree with Cherice. Stop it with the financial advice. No one is going to be all, "OH MY GOD, YOU'RE RIGHT, I SHOULD STOP PAYING MY BILLS AND BUY A COW INSTEAD, IT'S SO SIMPLE."

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986 · March 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Also, I'm already on IBR, I still pay $300/month for a private loan that doesn't care how much I make. ;) I'm not going to raise my baby in a bad area of the city, or in an apartment that doesn't feel like home just so we can spend more on groceries.

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986 · March 27, 2013 at 5:27 PM

You seem to put food above everything else. Paleo is just as much about mental health as it is about physical health. We COULD move to a cheaper apartment, but it would come with it's own costs: we'd have to pay for laundry and travel somewhere to do it. We'd have to hand wash dishes. People have been doing these things successfully for years, but at what point do we say, "Let's live below our standards just to buy higher quality food?" We're both healthy, and we can still argue that we eat better than 99% of the rest of America. You're taking it to extremes.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Lol, no one has to justify anything, I just read a lot of threads of people saying they can't afford grass fed, and I have yet to see that be the case, people are just prioritizing different things above their food.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 5:24 PM

You do realize depending on the state, they can't pursue you in court for those debts in as little as four years? While wages are sometimes garnished most of the time they are not. Most landlords will take extra deposits, something you can get from saving on the credit card payments.

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986 · March 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Paleo1111 - you do realize that just because debt comes off of credit reports in 7 years doesn't mean that you're not obligated to pay those debts, correct? And that for a WHOLE SEVEN YEARS you'll have poor credit? You can't get an apartment with bad credit, landlords consider you a liability. You can't purchase anything major (Car, house, etc) and depending on the debts, they WILL start to garnish your wages. Don't go handing out financial advice, ok?

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

I liked your response. A few questions though, have you looked into the income based repayment options for your student loans? http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans/income-based/calculator I'm a single guy on minimum wage, but it wasn't luck that made me able to survive on minimum wage, but getting a reasonable place, signing up for stamps, income based repayment, living along public transport, etc. Right now you seem to be paying 2000 ish on Rent, cars, gas and utilities. Seems to me you live in an expensive area that you need to drive. It's absolutely your choice to

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1974 · March 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

hmm well I guess my situation is unusual because my goal was to finish college with as little debt as possible so that I could go into the Peace Corps after graduation. I leave for Africa in 3 months and again, I am putting myself in a situation where I will not have much money and will maybe eat crapy food because of it and for the experience, it doesn't bother me. I think that since all people have different goals in life, money may be a problem for many people. I guess it comes down to priorities and achieving my goals are more important to me than my food.

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80 · March 27, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Not sure why people have to justify their food budgets to you. There's as many financial situations as there are people, and free range, organic, fair trade, unicorn safe foods aren't affordable or a priority for everyone. I know I sound a bit mean, but it's not always simple to get good food! Especially if you don't have transportation or a well paying job.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 5:04 PM

I agree everyone can make their own choices, especially for themselves. Nevertheless, I think people need to be aware that they qualify for food stamps, income based student loan repayments, or just the nature of most debt falling off your credit report after seven years and you no longer being liable for it before that sometimes. At the food, of course grass fed is better is it not?

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10480 · March 27, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Who are you to decide that THE BESTEST FOOD IN THE WORLD is what others should spend their money on, regardless of the reasons? That is their situation, and sometimes their choices. Don't judge.

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10480 · March 27, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Thank you, Cherice. This was a very nice and informative response. I, too, am in the "technically makes too much for food stamps but can't afford grass-fed even though I'm not wasting my money on hookers and blow" category. Not for debt reasons, though - I spend too much gas money travelling to my technically part-time but barely with terrible pay job and trying to fix my car. So glad my situation is changing soon.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Could you break down what you eat in a week. I'm curious how much you eat,?

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Yes kash I did. Lol. Sorry bout that.

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3422 · March 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Did you stop reading my posts after the second sentence?

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Kash. I'm asking a question, and challenging people's answers. If their answers are illogical am I being judgemental or perhaps they are living inefficiently and not really answering the question in a way that makes sense.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Again you value money over food. If 50 dollars gets you all the grass fed and organic you can eat then more power to you. Say you too out an extra 1500 a year for food. If your going to college I would hope its because you think you can use your degree to get a better job. If that doesn't work there are income based repayment options http://www.finaid.org/loans/ibr.phtml So I guess I don't know what you mean by freedom, seems like excessive worrying to me. As with benefits, you also pay into government. Stafford loans are a type of handout to since you save on interest.

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3422 · March 27, 2013 at 2:27 PM

To clarify, I don't think you *meant* to be judgmental or rude. The fact that you're thinking about it at all would make your motives helpful, I'd say.

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3422 · March 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM

There are often seemingly unimportant variables that can disqualify a person for public assistance. I agree this is a judgmental & rude post. Sure some people have a problem prioritizing. That's always a valid question when the subject arises. But applying your own experiences to a complete stranger helps no one.

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1974 · March 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM

I wasn't valuing money over food. I was valuing freedom of staying out of debt over food. To me that was worth it. Also, some people do not support taking government money and would chose to be independent. I don't think that is a decision that we should judge. $50 a week is plenty for food and does not seem unreasonable to me.

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10984 · March 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Yea, in the US at least, she would almost certainly qualify for food stamps, among other government assistance programs. You may have qualified for them too Britt.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM

This single mom would qualify for food stamps and other benefits for her child. So to say she would be stuck with only 300 a week is a bit disingenuous. I'm not trying to be judgemental I just honestly don't understand people's budgets. In your example you chose not to take more student loans. So you were valueing money over food quality.

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166 · March 28, 2013 at 3:45 PM

I've been mulling this question over for a while and I think in many cases it just comes down to priorities. Being honest with yourself about your priorities is im my opinion essentially important to using the phrase "I can't afford..." whether it be grass fed beef or something else entirely.

If a person feels that having a new pair of shoes or a night out with friends is a higher priority for them than grass fed beef and they are honest about it, it's not our place to judge them. Even if they aren't honest, it's still not out place to judge them. we can only judge ourselves and our own actions. Someone else said living in a nicer area is a higher on their priority list. I say "Good for you! You have your priorities and you work hard to them!"

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986 · March 27, 2013 at 3:58 PM

My boyfriend and I live together and take home $3,200/month combined. Pretty average middle class income. After we've paid rent for the month ($1,125), we still have to pay for: student loan debt, utilities, a dog and 2 cats to feed, a modest car payment and insurance, gas to fuel both of our cars (necessary for us to get to work), credit card debt, medical bills (No room in the budget for health insurance), and enough to put into a savings account for the baby that we have on the way. Food? Absolutely a priority, and we do our best, but no one is making marks on our credit report every time we don't pay the right amount and on time. ;)

Contrary to popular belief, the government isn't just handing out food stamps to people. They don't care how much debt you have; if your income is above their threshold, you're not qualified. End of story. I make $1700 by myself, and even if I were to walk into an office and claim that I'm paying $1125 for rent on my own, that leaves me with $525 to pay EVERYTHING else, they'd still deny me. I make "too much".

Considering grass-fed anything where I live is well over $6/lb, let's do the math. I'm pregnant and have a large appetite. My boyfriend is also a big eater and we do better with more meat in our diets, so average about 1.25lbs of meat per day for both of us. 1.25x31 days = 38.75lbs of meat per month. $38.75lbs of meat x $6/lb = $232.50. So we'd be spending $232 on grass fed meat ALONE. NOT including the other food we want: dairy, produce, condiments, misc. If we were to eat more expensive cuts (Aka anything other than ground beef) our budget would go up.

Compare that to CAFO beef (avg. $3.20/lb) we spend only $124/month on meat.

Are you starting to see the whole picture? Did you notice that in my budget breakdown I did NOT include cable, cell phone, trips out to eat and other entertainment? We don't have these luxuries and still cannot afford to eat properly raised animals. It's not our choice, we just have bills to pay just like many other American families.

When you lived in NYC, what else were you paying for? Car payment? Insurance? Other mouths to feed? Medical debt? Credit card debt? Student loan debt? Many in my generation are starting their independent lives in debt due to misleading advice to take loans for college. I wish I could have gone back to change that, but I can't and now I'm $50,000 in the hole. Lucky you for making it on minimum wage.

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726 · March 27, 2013 at 7:40 PM

One way to eat healthy grass fed meat for CAFO cost is to buy pet food. As long as it's from a ranch you trust, you're merely avoiding the cost of a USDA inspection, and you're getting organ meats too.

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10480 · March 27, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Public transport? Depends on your area and that's generally only urban areas anyway. The sticks don't have trains and bus systems. And I, personally, do not live in an expensive area, but a very cheap one as it's the rural South. Don't judge Cherice for having an apartment that she is comfortable in instead of "perfect" meat. Having the "bestest food in the world" isn't everyone's priority. Stop judging people for having different priorities than you.

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986 · March 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Also, I'm already on IBR, I still pay $300/month for a private loan that doesn't care how much I make. ;) I'm not going to raise my baby in a bad area of the city, or in an apartment that doesn't feel like home just so we can spend more on groceries.

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986 · March 27, 2013 at 5:27 PM

You seem to put food above everything else. Paleo is just as much about mental health as it is about physical health. We COULD move to a cheaper apartment, but it would come with it's own costs: we'd have to pay for laundry and travel somewhere to do it. We'd have to hand wash dishes. People have been doing these things successfully for years, but at what point do we say, "Let's live below our standards just to buy higher quality food?" We're both healthy, and we can still argue that we eat better than 99% of the rest of America. You're taking it to extremes.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 5:17 PM

I liked your response. A few questions though, have you looked into the income based repayment options for your student loans? http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans/income-based/calculator I'm a single guy on minimum wage, but it wasn't luck that made me able to survive on minimum wage, but getting a reasonable place, signing up for stamps, income based repayment, living along public transport, etc. Right now you seem to be paying 2000 ish on Rent, cars, gas and utilities. Seems to me you live in an expensive area that you need to drive. It's absolutely your choice to

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10480 · March 27, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Thank you, Cherice. This was a very nice and informative response. I, too, am in the "technically makes too much for food stamps but can't afford grass-fed even though I'm not wasting my money on hookers and blow" category. Not for debt reasons, though - I spend too much gas money travelling to my technically part-time but barely with terrible pay job and trying to fix my car. So glad my situation is changing soon.

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1974 · March 27, 2013 at 1:53 PM

$50 a week was my food budget in college.

I was a calculus TA for $100 a week and also babysat for $60 a week. I did not have time to do more than this with also trying to graduate early to avoid even more student loans.

So I lived off of $160 a week and also had to use this for car payment and insurance.

Lucky you for having 500 a month but when a single mom is working minimum wage for $300ish a week and paying rent and raising kids, how in the world do you expect her to pay $100 a week for food? This is an incredibly judgmental post.

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10984 · March 28, 2013 at 12:41 AM

Right on Britt. Seriously though, food stamps are nice, they're on debit cards now.

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1974 · March 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

hmm well I guess my situation is unusual because my goal was to finish college with as little debt as possible so that I could go into the Peace Corps after graduation. I leave for Africa in 3 months and again, I am putting myself in a situation where I will not have much money and will maybe eat crapy food because of it and for the experience, it doesn't bother me. I think that since all people have different goals in life, money may be a problem for many people. I guess it comes down to priorities and achieving my goals are more important to me than my food.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Yes kash I did. Lol. Sorry bout that.

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3422 · March 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

Did you stop reading my posts after the second sentence?

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Kash. I'm asking a question, and challenging people's answers. If their answers are illogical am I being judgemental or perhaps they are living inefficiently and not really answering the question in a way that makes sense.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Again you value money over food. If 50 dollars gets you all the grass fed and organic you can eat then more power to you. Say you too out an extra 1500 a year for food. If your going to college I would hope its because you think you can use your degree to get a better job. If that doesn't work there are income based repayment options http://www.finaid.org/loans/ibr.phtml So I guess I don't know what you mean by freedom, seems like excessive worrying to me. As with benefits, you also pay into government. Stafford loans are a type of handout to since you save on interest.

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3422 · March 27, 2013 at 2:27 PM

To clarify, I don't think you *meant* to be judgmental or rude. The fact that you're thinking about it at all would make your motives helpful, I'd say.

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3422 · March 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM

There are often seemingly unimportant variables that can disqualify a person for public assistance. I agree this is a judgmental & rude post. Sure some people have a problem prioritizing. That's always a valid question when the subject arises. But applying your own experiences to a complete stranger helps no one.

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1974 · March 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM

I wasn't valuing money over food. I was valuing freedom of staying out of debt over food. To me that was worth it. Also, some people do not support taking government money and would chose to be independent. I don't think that is a decision that we should judge. $50 a week is plenty for food and does not seem unreasonable to me.

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10984 · March 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM

Yea, in the US at least, she would almost certainly qualify for food stamps, among other government assistance programs. You may have qualified for them too Britt.

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM

This single mom would qualify for food stamps and other benefits for her child. So to say she would be stuck with only 300 a week is a bit disingenuous. I'm not trying to be judgemental I just honestly don't understand people's budgets. In your example you chose not to take more student loans. So you were valueing money over food quality.

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364 · March 27, 2013 at 8:25 PM

In college, I babysat for a few hours once a week, and whatever I made that night, usually $20-25, was my food budget for the whole week. I was by no means paleo at that point in time, but by SAD standards I actually ate pretty healthy diet... I just had to be smart about what I spent it on. Today, I doubt my fiance and I spend more than $80-100 a week on food for the two of us, and we continue to eat well. I don't think our budgets are sloppy, but we, like most people, have loans, debts and other things to pay for. I'm not going to choose to not pay back Visa, or the government for my student loans, because when you borrow money you are promising to pay it back, and I am all about making good on promises. I'm also trying to pay off debt more aggressively so that when we have kids in a few years, we have our debts (aside from a mortgage) behind us... $50 a week seems like a very reasonable food budget to me, even if someone is Paleo... if you eat a ton of grass fed beef you probably need to spend more, but that's someone's own choice. I choose to budget my money in a way I think most people would find very responsible.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM

predatory practices and high interest rates -- This may be true for you because you have no idea how to build financial freedom. I have never had predatory actions against me, and interest rates are extremely low right now.

In the US Minimum wage is $7.25 - $9.20 per hour which, after taxes, is about $1200 - $1500 per month. You remove $500 and you are left with $700 - $1000 per month to pay for rent (or God forbid mortgage), utilities, AND SAVE FOR RETIREMENT. If you are banking on social security supporting you in your old age (1) You are not putting enough into the system to get a decent return; (2) Hate to tell you, but the baby boomers are going to milk it dry for us.

Even if you qualify for SNAP, EBT at minimum wage is about $150 per month.

Nonetheless, if you are wasting $500 per month on food (which, btw, for myself, my wife and the kids and we are less than double that for 5 people) whilst on minimum wage, I would question your priorities.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I'm looking through my mint at my food expenses, and we are actually well below $700 per month. We are closer to $500 per month. And that includes eating out a few times a month. $500 for an individual is kinda insane

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I'm looking through my mint at grocery bills, and we are actually well below $700 per month. We are closer to $500 per month. And that includes eating out a few times a month. $500 for an individual is kinda insane.

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26002 · March 29, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Paleo11111, read up on utility hypothesis, hedonic predictions of moral utility, and emotional adaptation. Once you learn how rational decisions are made, then reexamine your point of view. I am lucky to be in a situation where I can both afford and easily acquire quality food. I can feed a family of five on locally sourced organic meats and veggies for less than $700 per month. $500 per month for an individual is silly.

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41297 · March 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

You've drank too much paleo koolaid, Paleo11111, if you think you need to spend $500 to eat well.

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319 · March 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM

If you think.500 on quality food is a waste I question your priorities lol.

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78 · March 27, 2013 at 3:48 PM

I don't see WHY unless you had frivolous money to blow on silly things, that you would spend more than $50 a week on food. IMO, that's ridiculous. $50 a week gets me wildcaught fish and a good selection of organic veggies/fruit (or a boatload of conventional produce)---so much so that I end up with too much leftover.

Seems to me that unless you're eating and drinking only the finest most over-the-top things that $50 a week is both doable, satisfies your nutritional needs and keeps money free for other things, like paying down debts, savings, etc. OR hell, wiggle room for fun things or emergency expenses or...

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78 · April 06, 2013 at 9:07 PM

Usually that nets me a daily menu that looks something like this: 3 handfuls of a fruit or veggie for breakfast, a wildcaught sole fillet with a salad (greens mix, cucumber, green peppers etc) for lunch and another veggie stirfry (broccoli, carrots, peppers) with some salmon chunks and a glass of fruit juice for dinner. Heck, actually I could do that on $25 a week if I shop right. I'm a small female though who only aims for about 1200-1500 calories a day though.

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1981 · March 28, 2013 at 12:18 AM

This is how I see it, too. My grocery bill is a fraction of what it used to be, and I eat great, high-quality food. For my household of two, plus a dog who eats raw meat, we spend less than $70/week on food, plus $700 upfront for 175 lbs of bison meat, bones, fat and organs, which will last three seasons

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319 · March 27, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Could you break down what you eat in a week. I'm curious how much you eat,?

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45 · June 15, 2013 at 2:50 AM

What everyone's said about planning and prioritizing is true, to a point.

I'm single and my living situation includes a small fridge shared between four 20-30 year old males. The freezer section is very small. That makes it difficult to buy in higher quantities which drive the price down. I honestly have to go shopping at least twice a week.

As well, I don't live in a very metropolitan area. The closest Whole Foods is hours away, as well as the closest Trader Joe's. Every other place that has grass-fed beef sells it at a huge premium that I simply can't justify with my budget.

I could make the drive to get grass-fed beef, but to make up for the time and gas money, I'd have to buy in bigger quantities, which I don't have the space to store.

Obviously, if I was more dedicated, I could overcome these things, but at what cost? At some point the returns are definitely diminishing.

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15385 · March 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM

FWIW I didn't find the original post to be judgmental but as others noted, it is just a matter of priorities. For me personally, high quality food is a very high priority. When my wife and I go over our budget we don't seriously consider cutting back significantly on food expenses. We are not eating foie gras and prime rib every day but I'm also not willing to eat hot dogs and Cheetos. Fortunately we can make ends meet by cutting back in other areas but we spend a lot on food.

At one point in my life I was very broke, earning $9/hr working 20-30 hours per week (while in school) and supporting myself completely which meant paying rent, utilities, car, gas, etc. In those days I literally figured out the maximum number of calories per dollar and didn't really care about food quality. I am not sure what my food budget was but probably something like $25-35 per week. I would take whatever free food handouts came around, for example my mother worked for a food distributor and once a month they would clean out their freezers and I'd get a 20 pound box of stale frozen pizza or something, and then eat frozen pizza every day for a month. When you're hungry enough you'll eat anything. It was a good day when I had more than one meal so the idea of eating organic or grass-fed anything was completely foreign.

These days we support a family of four and I'm about 100% Paleo and the family is about 50-75%. We need on average 1.5 pounds of meat or seafood for dinner (as my kids get bigger it's getting closer to 2.0 pounds) which usually runs maybe $8-20. Vegetables, potatoes, etc. are a few more dollars, add a little more for fats like oil and butter, and optional luxury items like nuts, cheese, wine and chocolate add a few more dollars. So dinner at home might run $15-30, which is $450-900 per month just for dinners, without eating out. When times are tight we are on the low end of this but have a hard time pushing it lower because we're just not willing to sacrifice the food quality. We would rather buy second hand clothes for the kids and go on a "staycation" rather than eat cheap food, but that is just us. A couple of years ago we bought a half grass-fed steer for about $5.50/pound so that gave us a source of relatively cheap meat for a year.

If I had less money and more time I would grow more fruits and vegetables and can them which would provide essentially free vegetables and would allow us to eat the ultimate in local and seasonal produce. But growing enough for a family of four is pretty time consuming. I would also like to keep chickens for eggs but that isn't an option where I live.

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41297 · March 28, 2013 at 5:01 PM

I'm on a < $50 a week right now. I've cut all outside expenses, everything goes to rent, insurance, utilities and food. And even then I'm not making ends meet... partially my fault, but meh... I'll survive without defaulting on loans and debt (because someday I'll want to own something, use credit, be a normal person...)

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