I am a 44 year old wife and mother with one 12 year old son. I will soon take an exam to get my certification to become an EMT. For the last year or so, I have been working part-time in a cash-only, tips-only job, while my huaband, an EMT with 10 years on the job, earns an amount of money that is certaunly not commiserate with his experience, education, track record, or committment to his job. Combined with my Disabled Veteran Payment (that's right, I wrecked both my knees in service to my country!) we make just a hair over the cut-off amount to qualify for food stamps and many other helpful government programs.
For this past year, we have been living on a shoestring. I do all I can to save money. Most of our food comes from food pantries and our clothes from thirft stores. (I didn't have time for a garden this year because of school).
So here is my conundrum:
I know the evils of shoping at Wal-mart, but what else can I do? Is Allbertsons, Kroger, or ALDI any better? Even if I shop at the local grocery, thier selection is horrible, their prices exprbatant, and the brands are all the same anyway. So who does it really serve if I go there (Except for the very rich people who own the "local" chain)?
Where can I shop for food (to fill in the gaps from the pantries), clothing, electronics, and home-improvement supplies, other than big-box retailers? What does it really matter if I do go somewhere more expensive and less convenient? There are some things that are easy to get locally (chicken food, garden supplies, and second-hand clothing) but many other things that I need are only avalable from big retailers or on line.
With a tight budget and limited options, what can I do?
(PS, please dont tell me to grow and preserve my own food. I do garden and preserve, and I did some canning this year--with canning jars bought at the local Wal-Mart! But it is almost witner time here, and I owuld like some answers as to how to feed and clothe my family NOW)