COLUMBUS – Social media and the Internet make a person’s image seem important, but with money tight, some Ohioans can’t live the lifestyles they want and still pay the bills.

Blogger at Mama Gone Thrifting! LaTashia Perry wants to help. Perry has four kids and one on the way, and she explains it is possible to enjoy some of the finer things without spending a lot of cash.

Life can’t be all work and no play, she says, and recommends setting a budget to determine what’s left once the bills are paid. And instead of figuring out what to spend, try considering how to save.

“That’s what we get caught up in is thinking we have to spend, spend, spend,” says Perry. “But it’s more about planning. Plan ahead and you can save yourself a ton of money and still enjoy life.”

Some of her biggest savings comes from thrift stores, where Perry says she buys items at 80 to 90 percent of the price they would sell for in mall shops.

Food is another major way to cut costs, through not eating out and planning meals to avoid waste. Perry explains the money saved can then be put towards other special purchases or experiences.

When it comes to Goodwill and other second-hand stores, Perry says shoppers can find quality items with the price tags still attached.

“You have people that buy clothes then they get them home and decide they don’t them,” says Perry. “You get some people who will wear something once or twice and then they lose weight or gain weight. I get tons of things barely used or brand new.”

With a family of her size, Perry faces a monthly grocery store bill that’s as much as a car payment. But she says buying in bulk helps her family stretch meals and food dollars.

“Chicken and noodles that feeds six of us for about three days,” she says. “You get your big pack of noodles, and then you get your chicken breast, I then add cream of mushroom and that’s everything for about maybe $25.”

A Gallop poll released last year found most Americans believe a minimum of $58,000 a year is needed for a family of four to get by in their community, more than double the federal poverty level.

Second-hand stores often carry designer brands at a fraction of the price. stores often carry designer brands at a fraction of the price.

By Mary Kuhlman

Ohio News Connection