I know these things are bad, but what can I do?

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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)

Erin at WitsEnd's picture
Erin at WitsEnd
Nov. 4, 2013 11:39 pm


Maybe your local Veterans Administration can offer some ideas. Here's a list of organizations that help vets.


You are certainly not alone in your plight. It may be of little comfort to know that the legions falling into poverty is increasing in numbers.


Combad57's picture
May. 29, 2012 12:50 pm

Wal-Mart is no differant from any other large box store. Shop there and save money. FYI their fresh fruit and veggies arent all that great.

Jun. 7, 2011 5:41 am

You can get a lot of the same things in both, but the more expensive shops raise their prices on common goods so that the more expensive items are still more expensive but not as expensive as they would be if they were being sold independently by the producer of the goods (who have limited or no ability to market their goods in the first place). If you had Grocery Outlet as an option you would be helping to defray the costs incurred by excess production which is necessary to ensure an adequate supply to the market. You are thereby increasing the ability of the market to distribute goods. So you are doing nothing wrong. It is up to the employees of WalMart to organize a union if they so choose, that is not your responsibility.

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

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