Sunday, March 12, 2017

Free Food Guy is a website that announces promotional giveaways of food, such as a free coffee at a particular chain or a free burger at some other chain. You can sign up to get notified by email.

If you are so poor that you are eating regularly or periodically at soup kitchens, this would be a vastly better way to get some free food into you. Soup kitchens tend to crowd dirty, sick people together and the quality of the food tends to be low. I and my sons do all we can to avoid going to soup kitchens, and we haven't been to one since we left San Diego County nearly two years ago.

Going to soup kitchens was a great way to expose me to germs, cigarette smoke and marijuana smoke. I am allergic to marijuana and I have life threatening respiratory problems. Eateries, restaurants and other market based solutions generally serve my needs much, much better.

I use loyalty cards at some of my favorite stores to help me stretch my budget. My favorite grocery store sometimes gives away a free food item to reward card members. I absolutely check that out to see if it is a thing we can use and I have been known to grab it even if I can't use it and then just give it away.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Cost of Replacing Documents

We had all of our birth certificates replaced five years ago. At that time, a homeless services center handled it for free, including providing a temporary mailing address. We are doing this a second time out of pocket, starting with the priciest document. Here are the direct costs:

Money order: $50
Processing fee: $1
Printing: 10¢
Envelope: 15¢ plus tax, total: 16¢
Stamp: 58¢
Notary public: $15

Total: $66.84

That should probably include at least 10¢ more. I think they failed to charge me for the photocopy of the ID.

Hidden expenses: We need a mailing address and, for this item, a phone number to list. My mailing address is $15/month. I paid that today while taking care of this. I also bought a new phone today because I have not had one for two months. That cost me another $37.35.

All told, I spent $119.19 today to get this process started.

We need to do this twice more. The next two times should be substantially cheaper, in part because the $50 fee for the document is unusually high. The fee is usually closer to $25. Also, I will already have a phone.

But I wanted to list all expenses accurately while I can. If you need to do this on your own, there can be lots of little expenses that add up quickly. This list should give you some idea of what those might be.

The total cost shown here should represent a "worst case" scenario, not an optimistic one. It isn't intended to scare anyone. My hope is that it will help other homeless people avoid nasty surprises that they can ill afford.

I think it is problematic to only show a best case scenario with the lowest possible fees. Hopefully, when you add up your costs compared to mine today, you will be pleasantly surprised instead of freaking out.