Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Price of Being Sick

Anyone else ready for this week to be over?  After my little adventure to the ER, I've been fighting with a cough and sinus ickies.  I am so ready to just sleep this stuff away!  

There are a lot of costs associated with being sick.  Most people are troubled by the expected ones: how much you lose if you miss a day of work unpaid, co-pays for office visits, or the price of medication.

But there's a mountain of incidental costs that are often overlooked, partially because being sick is unexpected and you're often too tired to notice or care about your bank account. 

These purchases tend to be small and seemingly insignificant, but when you stack them up together or you don't have much wiggle room in your budget, they can be a problem.

Extra Food Purchases
We all have our comfort foods when we're sick.  Mine are 7-Up or ginger ale, goldfish crackers, toast with cinnamon sugar, and Lipton chicken noodle soup (just broth and noodles).  This week, jello was added to this list because that's literally all my stomach would accept.

Problem is, we rarely have these foods in stock.  That meant an extra trip to the grocery store after we'd already gotten groceries.

Cost: $13

Medicine and Supplies
After the stomach flu, I was prescribed an anti-nausea medication.  To chase away my cough, we got a humidifer and Alkaseltzer. 

Cost: $9 for anti-nausea, $7 for cold relief, $16 for humidifer ($30 total)

Wasted Food
One of the risks with doing all from-scratch cooking is that sometimes you don't feel like cooking.  That would definitely be the case in point this week as both of us are under the weather (Mike has something cold-like too). 

While we try to be good about our food use, several things have gone to waste, including a pound of beef, an avocado, two pomogranetes, half a bag of lettuce, and some bread.

Possible cost: $10

Kerfuffled Meal Planning
Though I'm still learning how to do it efficiently, meal planning is big at our place.  I often do a supper that has leftovers for lunch the next day and if it doesn't, I budgeted time to whip up pasta or eggs the night before. 

Well, in a week like this, neither one of us has really touched the oven.  Meals at night haven't been an issue, as we've been using boxed risotto mixes or bags of frozen veggie/pasta blends to pick away at.

It's lunch for me that has been lacking.  One day I simply drove home for toast and sugar.  Yesterday I took myself out for soup at Panera.  Unsure what I will do today and tomorrow. 

At any rate, this kind of meal uncertainly leaves me open to unnecessary spending, whether it's buying a meal out or using gas to fetch something from home.

Possible cost: $8 at Panera, $5 in gas ($13)

Adding It Up
Without any outrageous purchases, I've already spent over $65 this week without much thought! 

I haven't found many good ways to counter this situation, other than to keep some of these things on hand always.  

Just remember how easy it is to lose track of your budget when something catches you off your guard!  

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