I signed up for the $35 food challenge which I found out about from Corridor Kitchen, a blog I like to read.
What can I say - I feel dreadful. I person living in poverty can't just say - Opps Oh Well, I will start next week...... This is all the cash they have so that if they did that, they would starve yet another week.
In our case, most of our 'moula' this week has gone to the medical profession. Another thing that a person in poverty is unable to do.
Well I am furious! I took DD#1 to see the opthamologist. Now we were told that we would briefly see the orthoptic person first and then visit the opthamologist. So off we trott. We arrived on time for our 9:30 appointment. After much waiting, we eventually saw the orthoptic person who told us DD#1's current glasses (3mths old) are the wrong prescription and that she will need new lenses. We were told the opthamologist will check the prescription required but we also needed to have drops in her eyes, so that the opthamologist could check the health of the eyes. So we had our drops, waited the prescribed 20mins, waited some more, and a little more for good measure, then waited longer and longer. Finally we went in to see opthamologist.
The Othamologist agreed her prescription was wrong but announced that her eyes were healthy - Yippee!!! As the drops were in, her pupils were dilated so we needed to come back in a few days to check her prescription again!!! We left around 12:30 - 3 hours after arrival!!!. I was not happy.
I am so fortunate that DS#2 (ie Baby #4) is so placid and waited happily for that time.
So then we had to go back with DD#2 (ie Baby #3) and DD#1. DD#2 was to have the works, Orthoptic and opthamologist. DD#1 was to see opthamologist for this second prescription yet, while DD#2 was waiting the prescribed 20mins for the eye drops to work. Then DD #2 would been seen by the opthamologist.
But....... NO... the opthamologist who thinks their time is so much more important than everyone else's time again made us wait and wait and wait.
We arrived at 10:30 and promptly saw the orthoptic person. Then DD#2 had her drops. Then we waited and waited and waited. Finally we saw the opthamologist and left after 1:30. So I have spent 6 hours with DS#2 (baby #4) in that waiting room this week. I am furious that I had to wait so long. Why is my time any less valuable than the opthamologists time. I have 4 children, kindy pickups, school pickups and lots of other things in my life, and I don't need to waste 6 hours sitting in a doctors surgery, with hungry grizzly children. I had some snacks, but obviously I didn't expect to be there so long and over lunch time, so I didn't have enough for them.
But the point of this thread is the $35 food challenge. I ended up paying $238.18 out of my pocket, after Medicare.
Next, I had my dentist appointment. To bring you quickly up to speed, I am in the midst of having root canal treatment on my tooth. I have been going every month this year and paying about $200 out of pocket after my health fund rebate. As usual, I had to wait ages to be seen by the dentist. However this time I did come prepared with a book in hand. I was seen by the dentist and then came out and paid and had a huge shock when I needed to pay $473.25 out of pocket. I chocked!!!
So there goes more money that I wasn't expecting to outlay.
Today I took DD #1 to the glasses shop to purchase new lenses for her glasses. As her glasses were only purchased in April this year, I wasn't expecting much rebate back as I knew we had already claimed against our health fund. However I was again shocked to find out that her new lenses cost $225. That is not the frames, only the lenses.
I don't understand the whole system and am sick to death of all of the false marketing where the signs up say "complete kids glasses from $159" . Now DD#1 has a basic single focal lens in both eyes, no fancy bi-focals or transition lenses or anything. Just plain basic short sighted glasses.
SO back to our $35 food challenge. We have outlaid $936.40 on medical expenses this week alone. Plus all of my time running around and WAITING in doctors surgeries.
Next week we are off to the Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon to check on DD#1 and DD#2. To have their ears checked out. So I will be outlaying more for that.
Also next week DD#1 is booked in to see a Podiatrist to have orthotics made. I have rung up and been told the cost is $570, less our rebate from our health insurance.
Therefore our total medical bill for this fortnight is looking to be about $1500. (Thank fully we were in front on our mortgage!)
What is my point with all of this??
We are an average middle class family, living in an inner city suburb. We are struggling!!!!! We are not in poverty like people that use the Foodbank.(http://www.foodbank.org.au/).
Yes we can afford to buy health insurance.
Yes we are fortunate enough to be able to get our children the glasses and orthotics they require.
But at what expense.
We eat basic food each week - and especially this month - it is all we can afford.
The $35 food challenge, I assume is aimed at individuals. As a family of 6 that equates to $210 per week. But that is all we currently spend on food each week anyway. If this amount is to include all groceries, then we do go a little over that amount. We are spending more like $230 per week on all groceries, including cleaning products etc.
I usually try to buy as much as possible in bulk. I go to Big W to buy the biggest washing powder containers - I need to buy Omo Sensitive as my children have itchy skin from other regular washing powders, and I buy in bulk when things are on special, like when Foodland has toilet paper rolls out cheap. (the problem is we have no room to store things with so many people in a little house!)
I use Metho only on my floors and don't spend a fortune on cleaning products, and prefer to use items that are environmentally friendly, or natural products like Bi-Carb Soda and Vinegar to clean the bathrooms.
I go to Gaganis Foods and buy flour in bulk as it is much cheaper than buying it per kilo at the supermarket.
The biggest thing I find about living on a tight low budget is time.
I need time to prepare different meals and read new recipes. I need time to plan out our meals so no food is wasted and we eat what we have. With 4 small children time is the main thing I don't have. It takes time, to plan out the shopping lists and not buy things that won't last.
The $35 food challenge.
Mr S and I will donate to the Foodbank,And yes we are fortunate. We are struggling, but struggling to still provide for our children whilst meeting all their needs and to give them the best up bringing we can.
We eat bland cheap meals, which Mr S complains are repetitive and boring. We don't cook steaks or go out to restaurants (I don't mean just fancy restaurants - we don't go out to restaurants full stop, even cafes!!!). We don't buy ourselves new shoes, or new clothes. We don't ever go to the movies or see a band or a show. From what I have learnt, our food bill is only around that of people around the poverty line. So we are obviously not eating expensive foods.
But we have a beautiful family and we have managed to find the money to cover these medical costs which many other families are unable to do. So we are very fortunate.
I feel sad that I didn't have enough time this week to actively plan / blog/ cook our food according to the $35 food challenge, but I have realised that it is probably far closer to our normal week than I ever knew or expected. Our children only ever have porridge, weetbix or toast for breakfast. We buy homebrand porridge which equates to one of the cheapest breakfasts I have found, and it is often made with water and not milk to further save. To be honest, I don't know how much further we could have saved, even if I had sat down and done all the planning etc.
We grow our own vegetables and go to the local Gepps Cross Markets to buy our produce at a fraction of the cost of the major retail chains. This also means we are having healthy produce rather than pre-processed packaged foods.
Hmmmmm...... we aren't in poverty as we have health , we could afford this medical costs and we have a roof over our head, but gosh, our disposable income seems to be closer than I anticipated!!