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Need Money for Groceries? Here Are 4 Tips to Help You Out
You need food. But food costs money. Here are some tips about that problem.
Hunger is a problem. So are predatory loans.
40 million people, including 12 million children, struggle with hunger in the United States, and not all are eligible for government assistance.
While food is a basic need, it can be difficult to secure enough food for your family on a limited income. And when gaps in income or other financial emergencies arise, many people turn to short-term no credit check loans like payday loans or cash advances to put food on the table.
But these risky, high-interest loans can drive borrowers into a debt spiral, making it even more difficult to afford food later on. Once you’re caught in a debt trap, extra money goes towards interest payments, not towards healthier food.
Speaks of healthy food, here’s an interesting fact: Did you know there are more payday lending storefronts in the U.S. than McDonald’s restaurants? If you’ve ever run out of money for food, you might have considered visiting either of these establishments—maybe both!
But just like subsisting solely on fast food will negatively impact your health, relying on costly no credit checks loans will cause undue harm to your financial health. (There are many different kinds of no credit check loans, for all the details check out the OppU Ultimate Guide to No Credit Check Loans.)
If you or your family are hungry, there are better options available.
1. Budget and buy strategically.
Setting a budget for food is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll have enough to go around. Compare what you spend with the official USDA Food Plans to see if you might be able to cut costs.
Buy house brands, shop for sale items, and buy in bulk when you can. You should also be strategic about what you buy; get foods that are whole grain or high in protein, which will fill you up without breaking the bank.
Check out this list of 35 foods to eat when you’re broke or these 5 home-cooked meals that are cheaper than McDonald’s.
2. Apply for assistance.
If you’re struggling to cover the cost of food, you should check to see if you’re eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in your state. For states without online applications, you’ll need to visit your local SNAP office.
If you qualify, you’ll get a card that can be used at authorized food retailers to help you purchase groceries. You can use this pre-screening tool to check your eligibility.
It can take up to 30 days to receive your benefits, so if hunger is a problem for your family right now, you might also consider another option in the meantime. You should also look into other programs that may defray other costs, such as rent assistance.
3. Visit a local food pantry or soup kitchen.
Charities, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations can help families who are struggling to buy food. 4.3 billion meals each year are distributed each year through the Feeding America network of food banks.
You can also find other local food pantries through this resource. Hours vary by location, but you’ll likely find a place to get a meal soon.
4. Start building an emergency fund.
In the long-term, the best thing you can do is start setting money aside for an emergency fund. Unlike retirement savings—which you generally shouldn’t touch—emergency funds are designed to be easily accessible for whenever a financial shortfall or unexpected bill rears its ugly head.
A well-stocked emergency fund will set you on the path towards a healthier financial future. Aim for $1,000 dollars to start, but don’t stop there! The more money you have tucked away, the greater your ability to weather any financial storm.