It was John Lennon who said that life is what happens after you’ve already made plans. For one local woman, a healthy budget helped her embrace a life she never planned for.
The word "budget" had a major lack of appeal to Jill Durr. That was until she and her two girls needed a plan. "I decided to create a budget because of my divorce," Durr says. Before this life change, money was fine and spending was fun. Then, after the divorce, Durr said money thinned out. Inconveniently, so did her client base as a massage therapist. For a single mom trying to feed two growing girls, pay the bills, and keep the lights on, life wasn’t about to wait for money to roll in.
"I lost my home, couldn’t pay the bills some months and had to borrow money just to get through," says Durr, as she looks back on the journey. Eventually she got the strength to sit down and look at all of her debt. Then she wrote out a plan. Durr broke down her debt into monthly expenses. From there, she evaluated her income and made more cuts. This meant change. "I couldn’t keep up with the financial lifestyle that I was accustomed to after the divorce," Durr says.
One thing that remained with Durr, despite the external ebb and flow, was her value for a healthy lifestyle. "I run half marathons, do yoga and work with a trainer on a semi-regular basis. So being health conscious is second nature to me," Durr says. However, is it possible to balance a budget and feed your body in a healthy way?
At first Durr ran into a challenge. "When I started cracking down on my budget, I realized that it was harder to find inexpensively priced foods that didn’t have extra additives, partially hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, or 900 random ingredients that you can’t pronounce," Durr says.
Then she found a solution to this challenge: clean eating, when the majority of your diet consists of food in its original form. Durr describes it as, "using your ingredients in a way so that they are not completely altered from its original source," which means cutting out the high sodium frozen dinners, soda and the sugary baked goods.
Clean Eating Magazine calls clean eating a lifestyle, not a diet. So instead of letting her budget dictate her need for healthy food, Durr got creative. "I figured I could make way more homemade products for less money in the long run," she says. Now, Durr has managed to become debt free while on a budget, and still feed her family nutrient-dense food.
"My advice is to create your budget, then look at your grocery list and decide which products you can make at home, live without, and which products are seriously near and dear to your heart. After that, create a game plan and cooking schedule. Stick with it as best as you can," Durr says. Her advice is padded with grace and room for improvement because what’s the fun of trying new things without the courage to fail.
Life will happen then plans will follow.
You can follow Durr’s stories about her adventures with an 8-gallon crockpot, two extra sets of hands to help in the kitchen, and lots of groceries bought locally within her budget at her blog Operation Clean Eating.
Photographer: Neysa Ruhl
Model: Jill Durr
Location: BOOST…for meeting’s sake