Healthy food and a healthy bank balance: you can have both
Many people battling debt turn to junk food in order to cut their grocery bill. But it is possible to have both a healthy fridge and healthy bank balance.
Have you ever had to make a decision between healthy food and junk food because of the price? Many families do each day, having to feed their children sub-par meals in order to pay bills and debts on time.
When we speak to adults with children – mums especially – they often tell us they will go without any food at all in order to feed their children. In a country like Britain, where even in these austere times we’re much more fortunate than other nations, this is something that should never happen.
The Guardian recently featured a couple from Bristol who found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to buying food. Despite having young children, the cost of eating healthily meant they had to limit the amount they ate on a weekly basis.
We’d never expect anyone to sacrifice good food in order to pay their debts. If anything, we prioritise food above every other living cost. Sadly, many clients have already restricted their food budget to unsustainable levels by the time they contact us.
Food for thought
You may have noticed that the big weekly shop is steadily creeping up and up in price. Even the basics are getting more expensive, and there might not be much change from a £10 note when you buy some fruit.
Back in September, it was reported that the price of food has increased by 37% since 2007 - and could go up by another 40% over the next decade. Indeed, some reports have suggested the annual food bill for the average family will rise to £4,000 by 2022, from the £2,766 we spent in 2006.
There’s a way around this, even if you’re in debt. We asked our Facebook page followers – including those who are on a debt management plan with us - what their normal shop looks like, and the answers were surprisingly mixed, considering their tight budgets.
A good number of respondents said that eating healthily on the cheap is a doddle as long as you’re smart about it. Cooking vegetables in batches of stew and soup then tidying them away in the freezer can give your healthy diet a bit more longevity. One respondent said she halved her shopping bills this way.
What we hear
We talk to thousands of clients every day and it’s sad to report that some expect to survive on a few pounds a week for food because they want to pay their bills; some of our callers leave nothing in their budget whatsoever for food.
Obviously this is unsustainable and one of our jobs as debt advisors is to get them to refocus on providing for themselves and their families first. One of the ways we do this is by asking them this: as food affects your health, how can you go chip away at your debts if you’re home ill due to a lack of nutrients?
Paying off debt is a marathon
We understand that our clients want to be out of debt as quickly as possible but no one can fix their debt problems overnight. Slow and steady wins the race, after all. That makes it even more important to keep healthy and earn the money to get free of debt.
We never want to hear another parent tell us they’ve gone without food in order to feed their children. This is wrong on so many levels, and something that we as a charity refuse to let happen if we can help it.
If you’re throwing what should be food money at your debts every month you know that it can’t go on forever. Get in touch with us and we’ll work out a budget and a repayment plan to help you put your debts on a diet.
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