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How Low-Income Families can Avoid High Regular Healthcare Costs

Updated on December 10, 2014
Marilynn Dawson profile image

Born-again Christian single mother of two grown kids. PC Tech, and Author of 18+ books in the non-fiction, personal/spiritual growth genres

Avoiding the High Cost of Health care
Avoiding the High Cost of Health care

Budget Evaluation

How much would you say you spend on meals out or ordered in in a month?

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Sample Household Financial Budget Sheet

Odd Jobs
Total Income
Total Expenses
Taken from "Mom's Little Black Book: Godly Advice for the High School Graduate" available on NOTE: This household financial budget is very basic.

Introduction to Low-Income Health Versus Finances

Take a brief moment to read the above news article byHelen Branswell, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:16AM EDT.

Low-income families facing higher medical health care costs, can lower their yearly medical expenses by shopping wisely at the grocery store, cutting junk food purchases by 90% or greater, cutting meals out or ordered in by 90% or greater, and avoiding any definition of smoking and drinking habits.

Low-income families face many challenges that the middle and upper classes consider merely frustrating inconveniences. Paying rent and bills, buying healthy groceries in sufficient quantities to both feed the family and not break the bank, and attempts to stay out of or successfully manage debt loads, are all felt more acutely by low-income families than those with higher incomes.

Infographic of the Week: America’s Sugar Addiction (creative commons license at bottom of graphic)
Infographic of the Week: America’s Sugar Addiction (creative commons license at bottom of graphic) | Source

How Shopping Habits Affect Health

When it comes to maintaining the health of the individual family members, the low-income shopper must do some hard evaluations of what is absolutely necessary in their kids' lunches, their husband's lunches, home-based snacks, etc. Cookies, twinkies, Tim Horton coffee every morning, chips, chocolate-covered power bars, and others are not a necessary part of daily nutritional intake. They may be fun, but both unnecessary and detrimental to the long-term health of the person ingesting them. If a family member insists they need their coffee and can't live without it, seriously consider that their adrenal system may already be compromised, leading to a wide array of potential health side effects ranging from lethargy and foggy-headedness in the morning to increased allergies, hormonal disorders, and more.

If a family member is continually coming down with every cold and flu bug out there, consider cutting out regular cane sugar from their diet and replace it with unpastuerized honey. There is a definite cost difference there that needs to be offset by also getting rid of the sugary treats from the grocery list. Bugs and viruses LOVE sugar! Your body needs a certain amount, but the refined nature of cane sugar means that your body very well might be getting far too much of it and you are lowering your immune system. The amount of sugar in a handful of easter candy will lower your immune system for up to 6 hours after intake. So if you or a family member is always snacking on oreo cookies, chocolate bars, granola bars (believe it or not), gum, and other candy high in regular sugar content, your immune system is not getting a chance to bounce back and you will become susceptible to health problems requiring more expensive care such as perscriptions for antibiotics.

Other Ingredients that can Negatively Affect Your Family's Health

Other food ingredients that can affect your health are artificial sweeteners such as Splenda and Aspertame under it's various "official" names, MSG under it's various "official" names, and preservatives. To avoid their effects on your family's health, it is important to examine what you already buy and why. For example, if you buy hamburger helper to get hamburger into your macaroni, stop buying the pre-packaged stuff and save yourself money by buying bulk macaroni, a family-pack of hamburger that you'll divide into 8 meal-sized chunks before freezing, and brown one chunk in the frying pan while cooking your pasta. Mix those together with a bit of onion, garlic, and your favourite herb and spice and put it on the table that way. Adjusting your cooking may be required to get away from purchasing pre-packaged, chemical-laden food products. Figuring out how much you use for a given meal-type and then buying it in bulk will generally save money on the monthly grocery bill.

Environmental Health Situations

What you eat, how you buy and prepare it, and how often you eat it has a huge bearing on the over-all health of your low-income family! Other factors to keep in mind relate to adequate, regular sleep for the various ages in your home, proper personal hygiene habits, and taking stock of the environments you choose to put yourself or your children into. Second-hand smoke for example, will harm everyone's lungs, young and old alike. So living with, near, or visiting a smoker is not a good idea for the health of a low-income family. Smoking itself is a sizeable drain on the low-income budget and should be cut out as quickly as possible not only for health reasons, but wise financial management as well. Alcoholic intake is also not a wise financial expense in the low-income household, no matter if it's wine, spirits, hard liquor, or 5% beer.

Deliberately entering environments where others are ill all the time is not good for your own family either, because viruses and bugs travel via sneezes, coughs, and touch. Researchers are getting increasingly amazed at how long viruses can live on hard surfaces. Learning how to handle family illnesses in a manner that reduces spread at home is also wise both for family health and the pocketbook.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is public domain
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is public domain

Sample Grocery Budget Sheet

Number of items
Toilet Paper Soap Laundry Det.
Budget Total
Taken from "Mom's Little Black Book: Godly Advice for the High School Graduate" available on This sample is not comprehensive!


As one who has lived in the low-income bracket most of her life, this author has quite a bit of experience planning family finances to spread across groceries, bills, transportation and rent. It isn't easy. The bare basics don't look exciting. But it is workable if you have a wise shopper in the family and are willing to learn how to live within your means.

Any readers in the Okanagan region are welcome to go on an educational shopping trip with me. Just send me a message.

© 2014 Marilynn Dawson


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    • Marilynn Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Marilynn Dawson 

      5 years ago

      Thanks so much CyberShelley!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 

      5 years ago

      Lots of tremendous ideas here, especially about the colds and flu! Up, interesting and useful


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