Choosing Organic Over An iPhone

My husband I finished our Whole30 a few weeks ago. We both felt really good by the end and were sleeping well and had more energy.

We’ve continued to eat primarily whole unprocessed foods and did a few test runs with dairy and gluten to see how we feel. Gluten: my ankles swelled up for three days, I got a raging headache and felt really tired. Dairy: not bad but my ‘only ever have while pregnant’ heartburn returned.

It will be a challenge to continue to eat this way but I feel we have a good chance now that both of us are on board. And my husband has started to cook more (yeah!).

The other challenge: the price.

Our grocery bill went up almost 40%. We’re eating a mountain of fresh fruit and vegetables and the best quality eggs, meat and fish that I can find.

Is it worth the money? We think so. But it’s still hard to fathom that a tiny box of organic blueberries, a little treat we all split with our breakfast, costs us $4 USD. We could be eating homemade pancakes or boxed cereal for pennies instead.

Why is it so hard to spend money for the best quality food?

Kristen asked that question the other week and it sparked some great comments on The Frugal Girl. Well worth the read.

I’ve been reading about the ancestral health movement for a few years. After my husband read It Starts With Food we had a discussion about if we could afford to buy the best quality food available to us.

We’re lucky: we can.

Sure, we have to watch other areas of spending. We eat out even less now. That part is kind of easy: no Whole Foods salad bar on the Isle of Man. If we want to come close to eating what we eat at home we have to go to a restaurant and drop $25-$40 per person. Yikes.

But without changing our lifestyle in a dramatic way we can spend more on our food.

Spending according to your values.

Food and clothing have become cheaper and cheaper thanks to manufacturing processes and overseas labour.

See this article and infograph on NPR. I’ve highlighted a few of the differences above.

Some of this is a good thing. Lower income families can afford milk and clothes.

Some of this is a bad thing. More money available for non-essentials has changed our consuming habits. We buy more. More things that don’t last and end up in landfills.

The inexpensive boxed and processed foods that some people eat by choice, and others because it’s all they can afford, are hurting their health.

What’s your health worth?

We’ve put health near the top of our priority list. iPhones which would run as at least $200 a month? Not on the list. A bigger home that would run us another $400-$700 a month? Also not on the list. If we wanted those things we would have to reconsider this increase in spending on food.

The jump in spending on housing between 1949 and 2011 is also striking. It’s worth noting that people are buying (and renting) much bigger homes today. In 1950, the average new house was less than 1,000 square feet; in 2000, the average new house was over 2,000 square feet. – NPR What Americans Buy

Many of the commenters on Kristen’s post said that high quality food was a priority for their family and they did without a lot of other things to afford food that was local, humanely raised and organic.

Three years ago I would have said we couldn’t afford organic. Actually, I did say it to friends when the discussion came up.

Organic is a fortune.

I can’t justify the cost. We can’t afford it.

Of course, we had an expensive cable package and a whole list of other expensive non-essentials and things we couldn’t afford on our credit card bill. We were in a lot of consumer debt. Buying better quality food wasn’t a priority of mine at the time.

I didn’t see it that way of course. I thought a lot of things we spent money on were things we had to have.

This is a question of both luxury and value. It’s luxurious to have the means to buy organic. It’s also something that’s value for increasing health is debatable. I’m not inferring that if you have the means to buy organic but don’t you aren’t prioritizing your health. There are many ways to prioritize health and eating high quality food is just one debatable spoke in a big wheel of things you can do or spend on for your health.

What fascinates me is that I, and I am sure many others, often confuse not being able to afford something with not making it a priority.

I’m actually trying to use the phrase ‘we can’t afford that’ less and saying ‘it’s not a priority for us’ more.

The fact is we could afford a bigger home, a car, private school or a whole host of other things (not all of them though) if they were a priority for us. But they’re not.

If you have the luxury, how do you talk to your kids and friends about why you prioritize spending on the things you do? Do you tell people ‘we can’t afford that’ for things that your family has no interest in spending money on?

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  • Food is our luxury. I shop for clothes and shoes minimally and only out of necessity. Our house is scarcely decorated. We can afford some other luxuries (like iphones), but the top priority is food. It’s changed my health and our life and it’s a priority we want to give our daughter. We just can ever see going back, even when people balk at our grocery budget each week.

    • Our grocery spend is shocking too. Particularly when we exchange it in to US dollars. When your family eats 2 small heads of organic cauliflower at $2.50 each with your dinner, instead of ¢30 of rice, the costs skyrocket. Our food prices are also quite a bit higher than mainland UK so that adds to the bill too.

  • It actually makes sense to me that housing and transportation costs have gone up so much. We have the same size/quality house that we had when we were first married 20 yrs ago, yet the payment is double what our first house was. The same goes for our truck–when we were first married a truck like ours cost around $20,000 USD, today the same truck costs around $60,000 USD and gets much worse fuel milage. Granted that truck is also a business expense and we always buy used. It’s also a necessity, not just a want. What is strange to me is that those figures say that food costs have gone down when my grocery bill has quadrupled in the past 20 yrs. We don’t buy organic but I’m trying to buy healthier foods and still the grocery bill is crazy high. We don’t really have any luxury spending at the moment other than the satellite TV bill, which we are debating dropping when we move in a month. Other than that we only buy necessities/consumables, and I only replace clothing, shoes, etc when they are worn out or outgrown in the case of my daughters.

  • Food is our priority as well. I don’t do Whole30-esque eating, but I am gluten-free whole foods diet. (We eat some dairy, beans, and buckwheat.) I can’t always get 100% organic or local, but I make it a priority to always have fruits and vegetables available for the kids. I don’t buy factory-farmed meat for both ethical and health reasons. To do that we’ve foregone smartphones and lots of other small luxuries. (Also a priority for us is good quality shoes. I buy a good deal of clothing at thrift stores, but I’ll spend money on keeping our feet healthy. Not that we own mountains of shoes, but we do have a couple of good pairs each.) It’s all about balance. We live below our means in other things so that we can afford to buy good food (and shoes, etc.).

  • Yes yes yes! I do mostly thrift store clothes for me & toys & do without lots of cute house things BUT we buy mostly organic and am trying for non GMO as well. I got into a mini argument with a friend who was telling me it “must be nice” to have organic apples….a friend who has an iphone, a big cable package, and gets regular manicures & pedicures to match her stylish clothes. Those are things that are important to her and have become habit, it had never occurred to her that she could also afford organic but she would have to switch her spending around. It was only after beating Hodgkins that I really started focusing on food this way. I always will wonder if it could have been prevented if only I had been raised with organics like I’m trying to do for my daughter.

    • Alicia, How inspiring that you beat Hodgkins!
      I often get comments about how lucky we are to get to travel so much. And we are lucky but we also don’t have a lot of things that some friends with travel envy have. I get a pedicure twice a year and do my nails myself when I remember and have time (not often!). I get my hair cut and coloured maybe three times a year. I’ve been using the same big red handbag from Mat&Nat for five years. Our home is a furnished rental and I could put some money into sprucing it up or decorating but I don’t.
      When I get into that situation of “you’re so lucky you can afford ____” I reply that I am lucky but I also try and emphasize that we make the thing a priority. You can’t have everything, right? And you wouldn’t want everything either.

  • You hit the nail on the head- my husband has trouble with the keeping up with the Jonese attitude, and always asks, how in the world can so-and-so afford this and that and we can’t? My response is always, we have different priorities. We choose to spend our extra money investing and paying off debt, not buying an expensive house, etc. He’ll usually then get comforted by the fact that in the long run, we’ll be in a secure situation, rather than digging ourselves into a hole of stuff and debt. So I guess our priorities are more about considering long term effects and investments rather than short term benefits.

    • I think retirement will be a great, and sad, equalizer on that front. People that were living large will have to continue to work because their mortgage isn’t paid off and they have consumer debt. At some point it catches up to people.
      I was always baffled at what some of my peers could afford. Then I realized some had smaller mortgages thanks to parental help or smart real estate investment, some were very savvy with their money and some were living way above their means.
      Now that we are living below our means and saving, and because we were fairly public about our debt, I don’t have a hard time being honest about what we can afford and what we prioritize. Our two big spends are travel and fairly expensive groceries.

  • Hi from Vancouver Rachel,

    I was reading the blog and noticed the comment about gluten. I just finished reading “Wheat Belly” by William Davis. It may be of interest you you.

    Be well, I think about you often and as always love reading your posts.

    • Hi V!! I read an excerpt of Wheat Belly in the Sun a long while back. Thanks for reminding me of it. Would like to read the whole thing.
      One of my sisters has Celiac disease so I often wondered if I could at least have a sensitivity to it. For now I’m going to stay away from it and might get tested for sensitivity or intolerance in the future.
      Thanks for keeping me in the loop. You all look well and happy and healthy!!

      • definitely recommend getting thoroughly tested for celiac as the risk is higher if you have immediate family members with it. There’s no way to tell based on symptoms alone if it’s celiac vs. an intolerance. An overwhelming majority of people with celiac disease have no idea. It’s not always dramatic digestive distress and weight loss. Also, if you avoid eating gluten you eventually won’t be able to get a good test result since it won’t be active in your system. Test now. Make it a priority 😉

  • We are the clowns of my family because we don’t have super expensive gadgets. But we have money in the bank, which is more than I can say for some of them, and our food is downright delicious (we spend 20% of our income on food).

    I will say I have moments of disbelief, though, when I see the purchases of others. I can’t for the life of me figure out how regular people have car notes. We’re at median income for the U.S. and a car note would destroy our budget. So we drive an old van. I guess we could always eat Ramen if we wanted a new car.

  • Great post! I love talking about “priorities” over “affordability.” I had a conversation with a close friend recently over a blog post I had written that included talk of paying off debts and making a lot of what we used to buy, including growing food and eating at home more. My friend (who seems to spend a lot of money on a daily basis), said that organics were too expensive and just kept asking me questions about what we make versus buy. Eventually I felt a little defensive. I told her we just stopped buying as much convenience food and that helped out our bottom line. Her last question was, “Well, do you make your own crackers?” which was said pretty derisively, like she didn’t think it was possible or reasonable. At that exact moment, my husband said loudly that dinner was ready, so I was able to change the subject and get off the phone, but she seemed almost defensive when I had nothing at all to say about her choices. It was like we were trying to make her feel bad or something, when we just have to do what is best for us. Her priority is to wander around Target every day and buy her kids every toy imaginable (sorry – I haven’t really had a chance to vent about it). That conversation really drove home the point that not living like most other people can be an unpopular decision, but it’s a priority for us.

    • People often find others choices to be a reflection on their choice. Which is kind of sad.
      PS.There’s a really easy gluten free cracker recipe on almond flour, olive or nut oil and spices. Hope to get back to making crackers for my son soon. Which I think is totally reasonable and I know is possible. :)
      PPS. Just caught some of your blog. Great stuff!!

  • Love this post. I recently took my family’s eating towards mostly grain-free and while I have managed to keep the costs fairly close to our old food budget, I have to watch it quite closely and still wish that I could spend more. When I started with this diet, I looked around the web for tips on how to save money, and it was so irritating that the usual advice was “you’ll see, you’ll save so much money not buying processed crap, you’ll have lots of money for organic meat and eggs”! This drove me nuts, because a) we weren’t buying much in the way of processed food to start with, and b) can’t we just admit that good food costs more money? I feel like the kind of discussion you’ve started here is so much more realistic and useful. I would love to have an open discussion about how much families spend on food (in $, including groceries and eating out). We spend about $600 a month for our family of three. I still struggle with feeling like this is a lot of money (what happens when we’re 4??!), but I know it isn’t. It’s just the cost of eating good food.

    On a related note about priorities (prompted by “must be nice to have organic apples”), I have heard people make this comment about wishing they could stay home to raise their kids, but not being able to get by on less than two full incomes. Every family makes their own decisions around childcare, and most of the people I know have chosen daycare. No judgment there. But, it all comes back to priorities. I admit there are lots of times I look at my friends who take nice holidays and have giant flat-screen TVs and new cars and feel intensely envious. But let’s call a spade a spade: your priority is to have a nice big house, new car(s), and expensive gadgets, and you need two incomes to afford them. So by default, you have to use outside childcare. That’s fine, that’s 100% your choice. Just don’t tell me you “just wish” you could stay home. You probably could, but it’s not a priority. Ok, end rant.

    Thanks for the great post as usual!

    • I’m also baffled how people make the switch to grain-free, whole foods and organic/pastured raised fruit, veggies, meats, eggs without it costing a lot more. We didn’t buy a lot of packaged items to begin with.
      I read Michelle of a lot and would guess that her family of four is spending upwards of $2000/month. They’re in a seafood CSA, veggies CSA, all pastured meat and eggs and shop at Whole Foods a lot. They also eat out at some specialty restaurants and have to order a double entree because they don’t eat grains.
      If you’re eating food that isn’t made and tended by machines – eggs from caged hens, beef from cows raised in a pen on a diet of gummy bears and ice cream sprinkles (no joke) – you’re going to pay for it.
      We get comments about our luxuries too. On the one hand I can say that we are really fortunate for the job my husband has. We can do/have things that we just couldn’t back in Vancouver like have one parent not work and travel quite a bit.
      On the other hand, we certainly don’t have everything. We make choices and we don’t buy much. I really like our apartment but it’s modest compared to what a lot of our peers have. We’re the only family we know over here that doesn’t have at least one car.

      • I, too, was dumbfounded by friends’ ability to afford high quality grassfed, pasture-raised beef and pork, as well as venison. When I asked where they got their food, I discovered that, in almost every case, they each had at least one relative who farmed, ranched (is that a word?), and/or hunted, so they got their quality food free or very cheap. How I wish I had been raised by ranchers instead of a preacher!

  • I have been shopping in Tesco lately, and even though online shopping is practical, I wholehearteadly come to hate it!
    I end up spending more on worse quality of groceries. This Friday I will get my car, and then I’ll return to my old routine of shopping at the greengrocers for my fruit and veg and visiting the butchers’ for meat, the seaside fishmonger for fish. No, I cannot afford organic. But once I buy local and cook from fresh ingredients, I am happy.
    We have also stopped buying bread, instead, we bake our own. It it healthier, tastes nicer and even works out cheaper. Eating organic may be more expensive, but shopping locally and eating healthily does not necessarily cost more.

    • Apple – I would be thrilled if a green grocer was an option over here. It’s not. :( Not a lot of choice on the island.
      I will say that if we had a car I would have more and could drive 30 mins once a week to a very small farmers market. I could get local kale, turnips, onions and potatoes for most of the year. I thought about taking the bus but it would be such a long journey and on a weekday when I should be working.
      Well done on the bread baking. My brother and his wife bake all their own bread. The taste is incredible.

    • I also find a lot of the food in the British Isles to be of much higher quality than you would get in North America at a regular grocery store. The eggs are great quality and a lot of the meat is pasture raised. It seems to me that farming over here isn’t quite as industrialized as it is in North America.

      • There were plans for a ‘US style mega dairy’ but apparently they have been put on hold ( Yey!
        Several supermarkets (well, the posh ones at least-M&S and Waitrose) use only free range eggs.

        I’ve found a local farmer’s market where I can get milk from a herd of Jersey cows that is ‘raw’- unpasturised and unhomogenised. Yummy! It is about twice the price of supermarket stuff, but because I know I can’t just pop to the shop and get more, I use it more sparingly, and thus it does not cost double what we used to spend on milk over all. Same with the meat (local, not necessarily organic) that I can get there too.

        I’m finding that changing my food habits is a gradual process- feel that dairy is sorted, the rest needs work!

  • I absolutely agree with the sentiment here that it is personal priorities that make the difference. We, too, don’t have the same priorities as others seem to have and so can afford some things that mean we are considered “top of the range”. That includes Macs, iPad and iPhones – I am a little tired of seeing/hearing the iPhone put down as in your title. It depends what your priorities are, where you live and what kind of deal you have. For us in Switzerland where there is a very high percentage of iPhones and excellent networks, we don’t pay over the odds for this supposed luxury. In return we keep our electronics for longer and have less fuss with them than when we had regular (and usually cheaper) electronics, so it’s worth it to us. They are our tools of work – but now also of play and that is fine with us. In return, we have a smaller, simpler house than is usual or aspired to here, and we don’t have fancy cars, either, nor do we have expensive sound systems or glamourous hobbies: we often laugh because on paper we have 2 houses, 2 cars, a boat and a horse which all makes us sound like “posh” folk, but our tiny day-sailer and my pony aren’t quite the snob niveau of yachts and racehorses, alongside the battered old cars that get us from A-B (not my husband’s colleagues BMW/Merc/Audi etc.) and the small, 250yr old house enables me the luxury of sharing a small holiday home with my mom… Because we have stopped leisure shopping, we can afford both to eat out at nice restaurants and buy organic wholefoods, but then they are easily available everywhere here. Many Swiss never actually made it to the processed diets common elsewhere!

    • I know, Mel, I do refer to iPhones a lot in a negative light. I appreciate you pointing this out – they are not evil. Rather they are useful tools that most people use wisely to enjoy their life and make tasks easier. I’ve made note :)

  • Because of deteriorating health issues i now live on UK benefits and i live below the poverty line. Food really is a luxury. I do not own a TV, an iPhone, a fancy mobile of any kind and i do not drive and therefore do not own a car. Yet i changed my diet. I now eat less but better quality food. I try to buy organic if i can, cannot always afford it but i do my best. I no longer buy meat, it is yet another luxury i cannot afford, it as been replaced with beans, pulses, cheese and eggs. I now make most of my own bread. I make my own muesli. My food bill has dropped by about half. It comes down to, what are you prepared to do to have better health.

    • I know someone who has radically changed her diet to improve her health- and it seems to be working for her. Unfortunately it usually seems to take a health crisis for people to prioritise food and taking time to make food in order to get better health.

    • I think that is brilliant of you, Beverley – food is a really difficult subject for many in the UK on benefits or very low incomes. I wish more people would do what you’ve done! I was recently really shocked to walk through an English supermarket, as was my daughter, who has just moved there and is having to find proper food on a low budget…

  • I appreciated this post. My wife has chronic illness and a really hard time being a primary caregiver to our daughter, and so we’ve decided to try to have both of us at home, with me the primary caregiver, and both of us seeking work from home as writers or through instructing online courses for universities.

    Our priorities are: 1. Being together 2. Not leaving a parent stranded at home and hating their life 3. Living a peaceful, minimally stressed life 4. Living minimally so that we can manage #1 and #2 and #3.

    In our parent’s minds, it’s so obvious that I should get a high-paying work-out-of-the-home job so that we can “afford” to pay for a nanny so that my wife doesn’t end up saddled with untenable childcare responsibilities. But it turns out that we can raise our daughter together, from home, and avoid that kind of cost, if we’re just willing to be extremely thrifty. We don’t eat out. We don’t travel much. We don’t buy new clothes. But we spend a lot of time together, and my wife isn’t pushed to her physical limit, and I’m kinda digging being a stay-at-home dad. Most of the time. Sometimes I want to smash my head into the wall.

    If my wife didn’t have health problems, we probably wouldn’t have bothered to seek such an alternative route. But I think our limitations as a family have actually helped us to refine our priorities in ways that are really helping us to figure out what things make us happy, and what things we can let go of.

    We’ve calculated that in order to live the minimal life we want that allows us to buy a tiny house (less than 600-800 square feet) in an inexpensive area and to hit all of the priorities listed above, we need to bring in something around $25,000 per year. Certainly we’d like to make a little more than that, because then we could go out to eat every once in a while. But foregoing a lot of pleasures like seeing movies in theaters is okay with us if we are managing to hit our big priorities.

    On a side note, it’s so interesting to me how many people list food as their luxury item. It seems to be not just a majority, but something close to like 90 or 95%. When we can bump our income up significantly beyond our rock-bottom income level, we’ll probably consider it too. But in the meantime, we try to spend less than $150/month on groceries. It means a lot of beans and rice, and fruits and veggies. If we didn’t skimp (as healthfully as we can) on food, unfortunately, we’d be unlikely to realize our other bigger goals, short of me publishing a best-selling novel or something. It’s amazing how something as fundamental as food can cost you $2000 per year, or ten times that, depending on your prioritization.

  • Great article! We’ve been eating Paleo & organic for about a year and a half. Most people think we are food snobs. The challenges we face are- potlucks are hard. Eating at someone’s house is hard. But we feel healthy and no one in our household is overweight and we rarely do to the Dr. We have cut out a lot in order to spend the money on the highest quality food. I’d rather drive older vehicles and not own a huge home.

  • Organic food is a priority in our family and has been for the past two years. I’m in remission from Hodgkins Lymphoma and doctors also found I had Wolf Parkinson’s White syndrome when I was pregnant with our second child. I’m only thirty three years old, I felt like I wanted to do as much as I can to protect my future health by eating healthily. We’re a vegetarian family, but I’m experimenting with cutting out dairy to get rid of the chronic fatigue I was feeling for years after my cancer treatment (which I has when I was 21 years old). So far, the dairy free or minimal dairy is helping with my tiredness. I miss pizza though. And cheese on crackers! I’m trying to cut down on the amount of wheat I eat too. And then I find myself thinking, ‘what can I eat?!’ It’s tough making diet changes long term I think.

  • I forgot to say, we’re also in the process of buying a tiny house (558 sq ft for a family of four). A couple of reasons for this is to keep monthly expenditure down so I can be a stay home mum &we can afford to eat healthily too. I know our size home is considered small in the UK and really small compared to houses in the USA but we can’t wait to embrace downsizing from our current large rental.

  • We spend what I feel is a LOT on groceries. I make a lot from scratch, buying mostly ingredients verses ready-made stuff. I buy organic when I can. Trying to go with the “5 ingredients or less” on foods that I do buy packaged, like crackers. And I must be able to pronounce what is in it!

    I love your question about what to say when you can afford something, but just don’t want to. I struggle with this with my kids regarding toys. They are always asking for toys. I tell them we don’t get things outside of birthdays and Christmas. I am just old-fashioned like that I guess. That is how I grew up. And, I wouldn’t call us minimalists, but I do try to be mindful about buying things that we simply just don’t need or don’t need more of. I want them to understand that just because we CAN afford it, doesn’t mean that should buy it. I try to use the tradeoff example of doing activities/going places verses having/buying things. It works most of the time.

    And to me, buying organic or about more than just health for our own bodies. I do feel it’s healthier (no, I don’t want a side of GMO or pesticides with my apples, thank you) but also healthier for the planet/soil/air and the people working with those foods (many fruit pickers get sprayed while they are picking!).

  • OK… so I TOTALLY agree about the priorities thing, but I freely admit that I am a schizophrenic shopper when it comes to the question of organic or not. The thing is… all of these phrases: “organic” “free range” “cage free” “grass fed” etc. turn into marketing slogans and end up not meaning very much.

    I mean, if buying organic was some sort of guarantee that I was getting higher quality food, grown without pesticides, in a humane manner that was good for the planet, then it would be an easier question for me. Unfortunately, “organic” doesn’t always mean those things are true. Check out this post for some eye opening tidbits:

    Soooo… I’m left feeling completely torn. Should I buy the $4/pound organic grapes or stick with the $.77/pound conventional ones? If I really knew what the difference was this might be an easier question to answer. So this week I caved and bought the conventional grapes… and then last night I could swear that they made my tongue feel funny – and got all paranoid about pesticides. AAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!

    If I really felt like the “cage free” eggs were from happier chickens, then perhaps I’d be willing to pay $6/dozen instead of $.88. But I’ve heard absolute horror stories about “cage free” chickens who often live in crowded horrible conditions and end up worse off than chickens kept in cages. And then there are stories about “grass fed” cows being fed things like corn husks, soy hulls and spent brewery grain. What’s a guilt ridden, pesticide paranoid, health-freak, animal lover to do?

    Does anybody else wrestle with these questions? I’d love to know how people resolve all these unknowns…

    • Are there any welfare certification schemes in the US? In the UK there is RSPCA freedom food, which has to meet certain welfare standards to get the label. (Not necessarily kept in ‘perfect’ conditions, but at least there is a minimum standard).
      Also, free range here has a legal definition- hens must have a certain amount of indoor and outdoor space per bird. They are still not living ‘natural’ lifestyles (still crowded) but they can behave much more naturally (flapping wings, scratching in the dirt etc).

      I suppose the only way of being totally happy/informed about the conditions animals and birds are kept in would be to buy from individual farms and see the conditions for yourself (not that practical!) I keep a few hens in the garden as pets and for eggs, so I know they are fairly cheerful!

    • Agree with all the points above about priorities- I know someone who ‘has ‘ to work rather than stay at home with child- admittedly, housing etc is expensive here, as are most things…but I do think that it would be possible if that was the true priority, albeit with a radical lifestyle change. No problem with going back to work, but perhaps it would be better to say ‘actually, I don’t want to give up work because I love it’.

      My priorities are my hobby of hose riding, and things that I feel are good for my health- swimming, yoga, good food…not that I always manage to be strict with myself about things that don’t fall into these categories :)

  • I am almost (since I’m writing it here :)) embarrassed to admit that we are spending 10.5% of our income on groceries. Just did the math as I have never done so before…and I recently upped that from an apparent 7.9%. WOW!!!! I buy healthy overall but it doesn’t include the majority of our meat as we purchase farm raised and a half to a whole at a time. And, we end up spending a considerable amount on outside food which would contribute to not so great overall eating…..not even close to a good equation…And, I am sitting here wondering why I feel like crap! I guess I know what I need to be doing this week. Thanks for the spark under my bum!

  • I stumbled upon your blog today and have been reading it for over an hour now. You have lots of great ideas and inspirations! I would looove to get rid of some things, but my husband is not on board with my ideas (I’ve been talking about ‘minimalizing’ for several months now). Its not fair for me to just throw out his stuff; we need to be in agreement with a lifestyle change. How did you first motivate your husband to start considering doing without some things? Anyone else have any ideas, books, websites, etc?

  • As I read all of your comments, I’m feel so disheartened. Not because I cannot afford organic meat and produce, but because I don’t want to stop eating junk!! I’m a skilled cook and we are fortunate enough to have plenty of money to spend on food, but I just cannot bring myself to eat healthy food. We regularly eat Cheetos, Coke, white bread, Oreos, processed cheese food, etc… Don’t forget that when many people say that they can’t afford organic it isn’t because they don’t have the money for it, they just might not want to eat healthy in the first place. The processed food industry is in the business of getting you hooked on their products so that you will continue to buy them, and even though I know better, I still find myself drawn to the junk and find myself unsatisfied by healthier choices.

    • Guess you’ll have to get dangerously sick first before it becomes important. Hope not though. Seems to be the usual way though.

  • “I’m actually trying to use the phrase ‘we can’t afford that’ less and saying ‘it’s not a priority for us’ more.”

    Thanks Rachel. I’ll be using that!

  • The healthy food thing has been a big deal in my household for several years now. It’s difficult because we kind of can’t afford it (no iPhones for us, LOL!), but I see it as a priority. I try to choose foods with good nutritional value for each dollar spent, and see it as an investment in our future health. You can’t buy back your health! And in the long run, it really should save money, by preventing a lot of chronic conditions that are caused by bad diet. I really hate how the cheap processed so-called food makes it look like we could eat cheaper (the grocery budget is always perceived as being flexible because of that). Like healthy food is only for the rich, or I am being spoiled or indulgent by buying healthy foods. That’s so backwards! It should be that people think you’re being spoiled or indulgent by buying a lot of unhealthy, unnecessary food items. It’s a strange modern phenomenon, I must say.

  • This is a huge issue in my own personal thoughts: where does our money go and what is priority spending? I’m in the position where I do not run the household budget, though I am responsible for the spending we do on groceries and clothing. Because I know we have a limited income (single income and we are considered below the poverty line), I work hard to make those two areas maximum quality and minimum expenditure. I do tell my children, “We can’t buy that because it’s too expensive. We can’t afford it.” However, my care of the grocery budget is incongruous with certain things. My husband stops for coffee at a drive-through coffee shop every morning. I have no problem with this because he works hard to provide and this is a small indulgence for him. We also have cable TV. Again, it’s a luxury mainly used by my husband for sports watching. I’m sure some people see this and think it’s crazy that I’m wearing the same pair of boots for the last five years, but that is where we have put our priorities.

  • My husband and I had to focus very seriously on our priorities when he lost his job. When you have to cut your budget to the bone, it quickly becomes apparent what’s really important to you. I feel the same way about budgeting time. I do a lot of crafts, and people often tell me they’d love to learn to knit or whatever, but they don’t have time. But I *make* time for this stuff because it’s important to me, and I don’t have time for some things are important to other people. We all prioritize, whether we’re doing it consciously or not.

  • Great post! We’re in the same boat too – our two young daughters have allergy issues which led us to discover all kinds of scary facts about modern food and modern illnesses. Ever since we’ve gone Paleo, it’s certainly a more expensive way of living, but if you don’t prioritize health as #1, then you’re nuts! We buy in bulk (whole hog, 1/4 cow, etc) and find online deals (coconut products, olive oil, etc) to try to curb costs, but it’s still made us change our spending habits. We ditched cable (in lieu of Roku / Hulu / Netflix – it’s great!), but have still managed to keep our iPhones. Luckily we’re big Dave Ramsey fans too, so being out of debt before all of this happened gave us a lot of freedom!

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