For those of you who might be fighting the first round of back-to-school cold season, here are some Captain Cheap-endorsed frugal cold busters:
Drink Tea - Or Even Better, Make Your Own
One of the best things I know to do when I'm sick is make up a pan of ginger tea. All you need is an inch or so of fresh ginger root and a saucepan of water. Boil for about 20 minutes; toss out any pieces of ginger that are left behind, and drink. Ginger has been shown to improve your immune system, works as an anti-inflammatory, and can also calm an upset stomach. I've gotten a piece of ginger root for as little as $.30 before, and it got me through an entire winter!
Whether you're drinking homemade ginger tea or tea made from a box you got at the store, you can add in some honey and lemon juice if you've got a few extra cents to spare.
DIY Steam Treatment
This is a big favorite of my parents, and it is absolutely free if your water is covered in your rent. Simply close your bathroom windows (if you have any), keep your fan off, turn on your shower to hot, and close the door. Sit in the bathroom for ten or fifteen minutes -- the steam will help relieve sinus pressure almost immediately.
Another option is to boil a pot of hot water on your stove and put your face above the steam, breathing it in.
Clear Out Your Sinuses With What's In Your Cupboards
Sometimes when you're sick, all you want is to be able to breathe through your nose for a few precious minutes. You can make this happen yourself by eating spicy or acidic food that is already in your cupboard - taking a shot of apple cider vinegar, eating a dab of horseradish, or adding sriracha sauce to something you're eating.
Stock Up on Soup in Advance with Coupons and Sales
Sure, the benefits of chicken soup are mostly psychological, but so what? Even if you're tricking yourself into feeling better, you're still feeling better. Besides, when you're sick, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking, and canned soup can be a quick fix. You can get pre-made soup relatively cheaply if you stock up when it's on sale or when you have coupons. Here's the website for Campbell's direct manufacturer's coupons and promotions, and you can get Progresso coupons by signing up as a member (it's free) on eatbetteramerica.com.
Invest in a Hanky.
At only around a dollar or so, a handkerchief is a much cheaper alternative to buying boxes and boxes of Kleenex. They're also better for the planet. Added bonus: Other people might think you're rockin' a retro style by carrying one.
That's it for now, readers... stay frugal -- and healthy!