1) Healthy Food: Yes, I shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and farmers markets. You can find me in this regard with the rest of the educated middle class in Stuff White People Like. I shop at these places because of the fresh produce, natural products, and especially for the atmosphere (in the case of the farmers market). I’m planning on writing a blog entry about how Whole Foods can actually be cheaper than a “regular” grocery store, so I’ll leave my rant for a future time. I have a budget for food, but I don’t spend it on packaged foods like Cheetos or pop tarts at Safeway. Instead, I buy fresh, natural foods at the three places I mentioned above. I’ve managed to stay in my budget of $140 every month for groceries.
2) The Doctor: I still see all of the normal medical professionals that I saw before becoming more frugal. The only place I have let this slide is in my chiropractic care. Now that I have a new job and better insurance, I’m going to find a chiropractor and see if my neck has gotten any worse over the past two years.
3) Seeing My Family: Plane tickets to Des Moines aren’t cheap. But not seeing my family isn’t an option. I’ve started budgeting these flights into my “Yearly Savings,” which I’ll describe in more detail some other time. The short story is that I have a budget for travel to Iowa, but I still look for deals. Recently on kayak.com I found a direct, roundtrip ticket from Reagan National to Des Moines for under $300! That NEVER happens! I pounced on it. I’m well within my budget for the year and now I’ll have more leeway when I purchase my ticket home for Christmas.