My Newest Experiment

This morning, on the morning radio show I listen to, Robert Schimmel, comedian and author of Cancer on $5 a Day* *(Chemo not included): How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life, was on and talking about his fight with cancer. It’s not the fighting of cancer that sparked my interest, rather the title of his book.

I’m curious if it is possible to live healthily on $5 a day, so here’s what I’m going to do to find out:

For the month of March, I am going to try to live on $5 a day or less. This doesn’t mean simply spending $5 a day; this means that the sum total of all things I consume in a day must cost less than $5. For example, one day, I may spend $20 on groceries; this is not breaking the rules as long as I only consume $5 or less of those groceries that day.

A few things to note:

  • I will be starting this experiment with whatever food I have in reserve — I have some rice, Ramen noodles, vegetarian patties, bread and the basics (flour, sugar, salt, spices, some soy milk, etc). These things will not be counted into the total because 1) I can’t remember how much of them I’ve used and 2) I don’t remember what they cost when they were purchased.
  • Reoccurring payments won’t be included — But, come tomorrow, I will list what I spend each month on things like rent, phone, debt payment, truck insurance, etc. One of my goals with this experiment is that if this is possible, the next few months I will be trying to pay off as much debt as possible.
  • Cat stuffs and gasoline won’t be included — Now, my reasoning for this is as follows: If I really needed to live on $5 a day, I would be forced to find another home for the cats (sad face). The gasoline: I will make two calculations a day, one taking into account the amount of gas I have spent and another that does not calculate gas expenditures. Gas is a necessity and I see it as overhead for making money and since I see this as overhead, it would fall into the reoccurring payments category.
  • Donations are not going to be considered — If someone wants to buy me a beer, I’m not going to say no. Same with someone wanting to buy me dinner.

I’m also not going to freak out if I accidentally spend more than $5 a day, I’ll just try to make the $5 a day average out for the week. I will be summarizing what I have spent and what I have eaten each day here as well as keeping a running daily average. I don’t think there will be a problem finding the posts, but I will tag them all with the category $5 A Day.

The experiment starts tomorrow, so I guess today is the last day I have to eat a Moe’s burrito for thirty days. 🙂

Some quick numbers on gasoline consumption
Truck City Mileage – 14 mpg
Distance to work – 5 miles
Average cost to drive to work ($3.09/gal) – 5 Mi x (1 Gal / 14 Mi) x ($3.09 / Gal) = $1.10 one way, $2.20 both ways
Number of trips to work in a month – 21 (in March)
Total cost of trips in a month – $46.20

These calculations only take into account trips to and from the office at today’s gas price of $3.09 a gallon (the station down the street from my house that I always use). This doesn’t take into account my twice a week trips to the climbing gym, my trips to the grocery store, or any other side trips.

I won’t be changing any plans, just changing the way I participate in the plans I’ve already made.

One challenge to be aware of: We are planning on taking a trip to the Red River Gorge starting the evening of March 13, and ending the evening of March 16. I will have to live very frugally the first few weeks of the month to be able to afford this trip.

So, as you can see, I have quite the challenge ahead of me. I’m looking forward to seeing if this is possible. I am going to have to make sacrifices, but that will be good for me. Ever since I was hired full-time at IU, I haven’t been doing much to save money and was doing the bare minimum to pay off debt. Tomorrow starts the month of truth and I’m looking forward to it.

Until tomorrow!
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You can answer the phone and talk anyway you choose it…

8 thoughts on “My Newest Experiment

  1. I just hope I don’t end up failing. There are a number of challenges going on this month that I hope I can overcome. I guess we’ll see in the end.

    I’d like to succeed, but if it’s just not possible, failing after giving a good effort is ok with me too.

  2. Bite me about the updating…. 😛

    Imagine if I can get this to work, I’ll be quite happy to be able to live on little to no cash each month. Think about it… $5 a day, 30 – 31 days in a month, that’s $150-$155 a month to survive on. The rest of the paycheck going to those “overhead” fees and debt… the debt should be gone in no time.

  3. Sounds like a great idea! I spend so much money on groceries/eating out monthly that is such a waste, if it works out well for you maybe you’ll inspire me to try the same!

    Also, glad you updated! 🙂

  4. Alright man! I’ve been doing the $5 a day food budget for awhile–just keep track of stuff like calories and protein, as well, so you know you’re eating healthy on it. I find I actually eat a whole lot healthier when I’m eating on the cheap than when I was living the more mainstream food budget lifestyle. My main discovery: consider sardines as a cheap food that is full of health benefits, even if you may never have eaten them much before. Also, just in case you aren’t that familiar with it, make you sure you know about complementary proteins.

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