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Your Frugal Guide to Coughs and Colds

The following post is from Linsey of Wise, Lille Punkin’, and The Freelance Farmer: Your Frugal Guide to Coughs and Colds

Source: Chris

It’s that time of year when everyone you know is coughing or sneezing, and the number of days missed from school and work will increase dramatically. How do you handle the coughs and colds in your family?

Get the scoop on how to keep your costs down when battling the winter illnesses that are going around:

Stock Up

Even if you have never owned a box of Kleenex, it’s a great idea to have at least 2 boxes on hand for an unexpected bug. Brand names don’t especially matter, but if you’re headed for a horrible cycle of runny noses and phlegm, you might feel it necessary to invest in a brand with lotion.  (It helps to ward off that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer look.)

Editor’s note: In our family, we save super-soft receiving blankets and burp cloths to use when coughs and colds strike. They save money and are soft on little noses!

Other staples that can comfort and aid in a time of sickness include a humidifier, nasal rinse product (like a neti pot), decongestant, cough drops or lozenges, a cough suppressant, expectorant, pain reliever, and a mucus inhibitor (like Mucinex). Just remember that the FDA doesn’t recommend using any OTC cold and flu products for children under 6.

Even if you’re all-natural and your first line of defense is natural remedies, it would be wise to have something on hand – just in case.  Many drug stores like Walgreens and CVS have great deals on these types of products that can be had for pennies when combined with a good manufacturer’s coupon. Otherwise, the generic versions of most cold staples are fairly affordable at your local dollar store, Walmart or Target.


The most affordable way to fight a killer cold is to not get one in the first place. A lack of sleep has been clearly linked to a compromised immune system, which can get you in the prime position for getting the dreaded H1N1 or other viruses.  Since rest is free, it’s one of the most budget-friendly means of warding off a nasty illness, and surely one of the quicker ways to recover, as well.

Flu Shot

The jury is out on the safety and effectiveness of flu shots (I personally don’t get one), but if you are a fan of the vaccination, it doesn’t have to break your budget.  Many insurance policies cover the flu vaccine, or you may be able to find it at your local pharmacy or grocer for around $25!

Lather Up

Much has been said about the negative effects of an overly sterile environment and the dangers of triclosan (the main antibacterial ingredient), but you may still want to look for ways to kill germs and bacteria – especially during cold and flu season.

To avoid antibacterial soaps, consider a more natural alternative.  Handmade soaps with tea tree oil as their active ingredient not only smell great, but are a natural antiseptic and antifungal, which can help stall the spread of nasty viruses and bacteria living in your home. Regular handwashing (especially among kids) can keep your annual sick days to a minimum.

My family has already experienced one horrible flu virus this year, and looking back, we didn’t spend as much to get over it as we have in the past.  By keeping the medicine cabinet stocked for 7 people, getting to bed earlier, and reminded the kids to wash up, it’s been relatively easy on the wallet – and we’re fully recovered!

What tips do you have for getting through your family’s winter cold blues without breaking the budget?

Linsey Knerl is a homeschooling mom of 5, the Community Manager for Wise, and a freelance blogger and writer. She co-authored the recent 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, and you can read more about her at Lille Punkin’ and The Freelance Farmer.