Some of you know that my sister and I bet quite a bit. One of the bets ended up with me trying to eat well on less than $1 a day. It was a rather humorous look at my terrible cooking skills and what I was willing to do in order to save money on food over a 100 day period. Our bets often end up that way.
As I was visiting and we were talking about all the traveling I have done this past year, I told her that I really hadn’t spent all that much and that I could probably live my lifestyle on a minimum wage salary. She gave me her “I don’t believe a word you’re saying” look and audibly scoffed at my claim. Thus the newest bet was born — I will try to live well on the equivalent of a minimum wage salary for an entire year. Here are the rules (as laid out by my sister)
1. I have to spend at least 40 hours a week working at my job (she was worried that I would spend all my time finding ways to trick my way through this when real people have to work 40 hours a week). This should not be an issue — I usually work far more than 40 hours a week.
2. I need to live off of $17,160 for an entire year ($8.25 x 40 hours x 52 weeks)
3. I’m not allowed to use the government or charitable organizations to reduce my costs.
4. I can’t do other activities outside the 40 hours to raise more money so that I can spend more (no equivalents of taking on a second job or odd work so that I can increase the amount I spend to over $17,000)
5. If there is any dispute as to whether I succeeded or not at the end of this challenge, a vote by the readers will determine whether I was successful or not (my sister wanted the final vote, but we all know what that would have meant…)
6. Added here: I’m not allowed to spend more than a week with the same family member or friend per month.
I want to be clear from the beginning that I know that it is virtually impossible for those that are actually trying to live on a minimum wage salary to do what I will be doing. I have a ton of advantages that the average person doesn’t that I can tap into to try to make this work. This challenge shouldn’t be seen as an attempt to show that people earning a minimum wage salary shouldn’t be complaining (they should — I believe that anyone that is working 40 hours a week should be getting a livable wage), but to show that there are some amazing things that you can do if you are willing to be creative with your finances. I hope that ultimately this will show how thinking about things differently than most people typically do can open up your imagination to be much more creative with your own finances and how making choices that you may not have considered before can have a huge financial impact.
This should be quite interesting and I’m not 100% confident that I will be able to pull it off (there are plenty of unanticipated situations that could easily ruin the challenge quite quickly, and even if everything thing goes smoothly, I don’t plan on doing any less than I would have normally so I could very well fail if I don’t really think things through), but I think it will be a challenge that will get those reading thinking about how they spend money.
While this challenge won’t officially begin until 1/1/13, I am going to go ahead and start writing about it so I can begin thinking about preparations I need to do to make this possible and lay out my thinking for all of you to see (and comment on if you’s like — believe me, suggestions will be more than welcome). I hope that you join me for this journey and all the surprise and humor it’s bound to create…
Preliminary Basic Budget
Renting or Homeless?
Car or Carless
Frequently Asked Questions
Housesitting in Arizona
Love and Hate at CVS
Day One: A Well Stocked Fridge
Day Two: Risking Death To Save Money?
Day Three: First Difficult Choice
Day Four: The Importance of Living Well
Day Five: The Grand Canyon
Day Six: I Don’t Buy Gifts for Special Occasions
Day Seven: Leaving Places in Better Shape
Day Eight: Reevaluating Habits
Day Nine: Am I A Sucker?
Day Ten: Do I Really Have To Try To Date?
Day 11: Failing to Think Creatively
Day 12 & 13: Stupid Injuries
Day 14 & 15: Two Days of Hell
Day 16: I Have A Date
Day 17: Cooking Injury
Day 18: Near Money Disaster
Day 19: What’s A “Real” Date?
Day 20: $5 Down The Drain
Day 21: Clicking Clutch and Ghost Redwoods
Day 22: Doing More Than Is Expected
Day 23 & 24: TV Panic
Day 25 & 26: Car Repair Failure & Golden Gate Bridge
Day 27: Dull Razor Blades
Day 28: Not My Best Day
Day 29: Bye-Bye $485
Day 30 & 31: I Want That
Day 32 & 33: January Review
Day 34 & 35: Winning and Losing
Day 36: Unexpected Outing
Day 37: Fuzzy Head
Day 38: Paying More For Car Maintenance
Day 39: Free Hobbies and Vitamin D
Day 40 & 41: Gaining Weight
Day 42 – 48: Lost Week
Day 49 – 120: Lost Months
Day 121: My Boring Life
(Photo courtesy of Horia Varlan)