How the Flu Saved Me Money

How the Flu Saved Me Money - picture of sick woman in bed blowing her nose

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Over the last two weeks, at least one person in this house has been sick every single day.  It started with my three-year-old; she came home from daycare and said that she didn’t feel good enough to go to gymnastics.  My little girl is never sick and rarely slows down, so I knew right then and there that something was seriously wrong.  

Unfortunately, she went from bad to worse in the span of just a few hours. One minute she was puking in a mini trash can and the next she was yelling, “I’m fine!”  And she didn’t eat for an entire day.  I absolutely hate seeing my babies sick.

But it didn’t end with her.  Early this week, my five-year-old also said she wasn’t feeling well.  A hurt tummy quickly turned to the flu for her too, and she was out for the count.  Since I took care of both of them, it didn’t take me long to get the flu either, which really sucked.  I never get sick. 

And since I’m self-employed and don’t have any sick days to speak of, I just go ahead and work through it.  So for the last week, I’ve been plugging away at my laptop and trying not to puke, all while playing doctor to whichever child happens to be sick and laying on the floor by my feet that day.  Good times.

How the Flu Saved Me Money

Having a house full of sick people is awful, but it sure has been nice on our bank account.  I was monitoring our monthly spending last night when I realized that we have only spent $210 of our $500 monthly grocery budget.  In a normal month, I’m usually trying to figure out how I can make our budget stretch at this point.

And our other spending has basically been nonexistent.  Why?  Because we haven’t really gone anywhere.  With the kids and adults in this house all sick at different times, we have spent all of our waking hours indoors.  And when you don’t go anywhere, it’s easy to save money!  In our monthly zero-sum budget, I set aside $200 for gas and miscellaneous spending.  Guess how much we have spent this month – only $27!

The bad news is, I have almost no groceries at this point.  And we’re also out of our flu superfoods – things like crackers, Sprite, and bread.  So I’m going to have to venture out in the cold, cold weather one of these days, whether I want to or not.

I’m Ready for Spring

The bottom line: I’m more than ready for Spring.  I’ve got some serious cabin fever over here, and I’m ready to feel the warm sun on my shoulders and hear the sweet sounds of birds chirping and the neighbors mowing their grass.  And I’m ready for the neighborhood pool to open.  Is that too much to ask?  I don’t care what Puxatony Phil says – I am O-VER-IT.

I like saving money on groceries, but in this case, the savings just aren’t worth it.

Have you been sick yet this year?  Do you spend less money during winter?

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  1. Hope your child is now well, Holly. Thank God I haven’t gotten sick yet this year and I wouldn’t like to because of the medicine costs.

  2. A house full of sick people doesn’t sound like much fun at all. I hope you’re all fight fit again now.

    Re: Grocery Shopping – might be a good time to check out online ordering and home delivery. You might even be able make it pay! 🙂


  3. Illness usually ends up as a budget buster for us – Mr PoP is all too happy to swipe his credit card when sick if there’s a chance he’ll feel better from whatever he’s buying!

    Hope everyone is feeling better now. The flu this year was awful!

  4. I hope you are all on the mend! It’s great to save money, but not when the reason you are saving money is because you’re too sick to leave the house! Hope the rest of the month sees healthier people at your house.

  5. The weather in Japan has been awful and I think I’m speaking for all of Japan saying we can’t wait for Spring to get here. I also can’t wait to see those Cherry Blossoms bloom. Its so funny that because everyone was sick saved you money this month, only a PF Blogger would have even notice this….Lol. I hope everyone gets back to normal and feels better.

    1. Winter weather cuts down on my hiking but, since the cost of that is basically zilch, staying indoors doesn’t really cut down on my spending. And I counter cabin fever with indoor no-cost activities like pc game playing, dvd movie watching, blogging and reading so being “trapped indoors” is also budget neutral for me.

      Now… if I could come up with even more ideas than I already have on how to heat our house frugally, THAT would certainly have an effect on my (winter) spending. 😀

  6. We all take health for granted. My kids are young adults, but I spent many days home with them, especially my youngest who had constant ear infections, etc. My middle son has a chronic illness and my entire life is spent in a state of low level anxiety, having a less than healthy child is one of life’s miseries. But anyway, regardless of illness, the winter months are low spend months for us because we live in an awful climate and I hardly venture out . Sometimes I am home 2 or 3 days straight. No gas, no eating out, no shopping. Usually my only forced outings are to go grocery shopping. Come spring, I plan a lot of travel!

  7. I\’ve gotten sick once this year, luckily it wasn\’t the flu. My Dad did get the flu though and he too was down for the count.

    I am focusing my attention on daylight savings which is just a little more than a month away. Once we hit that, spring is right around the corner!

  8. Hope everyone is feeling better. Yes we’ve had our round of being sick this winter, never fun. I think if you live in an area where you have true winter freezing temps/ snow etc you do tend to save money because as you simply put your are not out spending money.

  9. Hope you get well soon Holly. I have been sick myself twice this year already. It\’s that time of the year.

  10. I hope everyone feels better soon! It seems like it has been a tough winter and everyone has gotten sick! When I was in the hospital last month, it was amazing how life just stopped and I didn’t spend money on anything for a couple weeks. Of course, when I get the hospital bill that will be a different story 🙂

  11. Awwhhh! I hope you and the kids get well soon. Let’s also hope Greg doesn’t get it as well :-).

  12. I’ve never thought of the flu as a money saving tactic, but it’s generally a great way to lose those stubborn 5 pounds that seem to hang around. Not that I’d recommend flu for either cause, but you have to take the positives where you can!

  13. Sorry y’all caught the flu. I work at a hospital and it has been a bad year for it 🙁
    On the spending, too sick to go any where definitely saves money except at the drug store when you will pay any thing to feel better.
    We are in that locale that has had 7 ft of snow in the past month, and not Alaska argh! So with 8 snow days and kids stick here, they are eating up my food budget with boredom. Nothing is open, state had been shut down 50% off the past month so hard to keep them busy so they eat. Summer our food budget drops.

  14. Sorry y’all have been down with the flu Holly. We haven’t had the flu, but we’ve had some sort of nasty cold run its course through the house and on the second wave of it now. I thought winter was finally over for us a few weeks back – it was in the 50s and 60s, but then we got slapped back down into winter and haven’t seen anything above 20 for the past few weeks – I’m ready for it to be over!

  15. Yikes I’m sure a houseful of sick is not fun. I don’t remember if it was a money saver for me since it’s been (knock on wood) several years since I had that kind of flu, but I do know a cold can cost me more.

  16. I’m over it too, let’s end winter! It might take some hard work and a little time, but I think we can do it!

    Sorry to hear you’ve all been sick, that sucks! We were only sick for a weekend here and our budget was tested (I definitely didn’t want to cook).

    It’s awesome that your flu saved you some money.

    I’m not looking forward to the Little Miss having her first case of the flu. She’s only thrown up once and that was just her sticking her fingers down her throat to see that happens (she’s not the brightest bulb),.

  17. Gah – everyone is sick! My spouse, a few coworkers and one of the coworkers that I drive to work with… I am terrified that my turn is next.
    Congrats on not spending any money. Sometimes I find that being sick means we spend more money, on OTC drugs and extra food, after we’ve purchased groceries for the week already.

  18. Maybe Amazon can mail you guys some crackers and whatnot. 🙂

    I hope you and the little ones feel better.

  19. I actually have a post coming up about how much being sick has cost me, haha. I’ve been sick since the end of January with a sinus infection and I am so freakin over it. I have barely left the house, which is good for keeping spending down, but not so good for my sanity! ha.

  20. That’s terrible, I can’t imagine having the flu, taking care of two kids, AND working! But on the bright side, you’re saving money haha. I had the flu once and it completely knocked me out for a week.

  21. I hope you and your family feel better! I’m so ready for spring too! This winter is just crazy.

  22. Ben Luthi says:

    We’ve spent barely anything this month thanks to our little guy making an appearance February 1 🙂

  23. This is exactly what we went through right after Christmas and it didn’t end until mid-January. I had minor surgery and my husband was supposed to be around to help tend to me, except he got the flu and I ended up taking care of him! Then both Lauren and Taylor caught it. It was ugly and I sympathize with what you’re going through. Hope everyone is back on their feet soon!

  24. On really cold days here we spend less money because it\’s such an effort to go anywhere and sometimes the roads aren\’t safe to drive. This usually means a quiet night in which is always cheaper and sometimes more fun than going out

  25. We got the flu last year. Unfortunately, we had it at the same time, so we had to kind of take care of each other. We did at least get in immediately and got some Tamiflu.

    I missed 3 days of work, which sucks because I’m a contract employee. No sick days here, either.

    But we did spend a lot less on food, especially because we eat too much convenience food. So we had a small surplus at the end of the month. Weird benefit, but given the horror of the flu, I’ll take what I can get.

  26. Hope you guys are feeling better. I can see how the flu saves you money. Whenever I am sick I typically would just sleep and not eat a whole lot of food. So it makes sense why your grocery bill is much lower than anticipated.

  27. Oh boy that sounds like a miserable experience and not worth the savings at all. I hope you all feel better even if it means spending a bit more money.

  28. Mini Maroon #2 went round and round with a fever for almost a week, meaning we went round and round with day care about her staying home vs. going to school. A quick round of antibiotics and she’s a whole new baby!

    We haven’t been sick much lately, but during Mini #1’s first year, I was sick on several different occasions. I wasn’t great about tracking spending then (ooops!) so I can’t relate to how it helped our bottom line. But I can tell you that I was at my skinniest ever after multiple bouts of not eating for several days!

    Hope everyone in the house is on the mend. It’s seriously no fun to be sick…

  29. Leave it to a true financial nerd to see the financial upside with having the flu! 🙂 I had the fun experience last year of “sharing” a case of strep throat (which I haven’t had in over 20 year) with my 4 year old daughter. Somehow my husband escaped from that one!

  30. I’m sooooo with you on this Holly! I’m ready for Spring already. It’s supposed to be record breaking cold here in the northeast. Today, my car door froze and I pulled on it harder and it broke off…wtf? Other than that I do think we spend less in the winter…too cold to go out!

  31. Hope you and your girls feel back to 100% soon!! I was sick a couple of weeks ago and because I work from home there’s not too much of an excuse for not getting something done! I’ve also spent a lot less this month because it’s been freezing cold so I haven’t wanted to go into the garage, much less out and about! I really HATE winter but I will say, we tend to spend a lot less because we’re bumming around the house a lot more. Silver lining? 🙂

  32. I completely sympathize with you. Before last month, I hadn’t been sick in over 2 years. YEARS! Not a single sniffle or anything, and then the past month and a half my entire family and I have been sick 3 different times (finishing out the 3rd round right now). I’m so completely over sickness and winter too!

  33. Feel better!! Chicken soup with jalapeno, fresh garlic, and ginger will kill (after the puking stage). I hate the end of winter flu season. Luckily I am in the tropics right now. But I’m heading back to Denver-and tons of snow on Wednesday. Luckily, I love winter clothes.

  34. That sounds rough, I hope you guys all feel better soon! The first week I moved here to Houston (last month) I got a cold, which turned into bronchitis and vomiting from so much coughing… Not fun, especially as I was in a brand new job, and staying as a guest with my brother in law. And they have two little ones. I tried so hard to stay away so as to not get them sick, while not seeming ungrateful or antisocial. Yeah… It was rough. But! As soon as I was smart enough to see a doctor and get prescription meds, I felt better almost immediately. I don’t know why I don’t always go to the doctor on day 1!

  35. Oh man, I’m sorry. That stinks! We’ve also had bouts with illness, plus a ton of snow days, this month. It has saved us a bunch of money in commuting costs because my husband has to work from home those days. Unfortunately, it also means I’m on childcare duty and I don’t get paid time off. It’s so hard to juggle work and family on a snow or sick day!

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