I would be lying if I said I didn’t wake up with a bit of a hangover (I figured I should let 2012 go out big even if I was celebrating alone while house sitting). I have been pleasantly surprised at the way that things have developed for the first day of this minimum wage challenge which should help me a bit more in saving the first week.
One of the extra benefits of house sitting is that the people often (but not always) say that I’m welcome to eat anything I want while there. That was the case this time, and even better, the fridge is full of perishables and leftovers (see photo above). The owners made a specific request that I eat as many of them as possible. This is a fantastic bonus because it should greatly reduce my food costs which can often be much higher when I’m far from home and I’m not able to get the deals I would normally be able to on food.
Personally, I’m pretty conservative when offered free food. I could easily eat a ton without much thought, but usually restrict the amount I eat so as not to take advantage of the situation. My basic rule is that all perishable food is fair game and can be consumed since much of it won’t last and would be thrown away if I don’t eat it. Other food I will use to compliment the perishable food, but use sparingly.
If I’m only house sitting for a week, this means I can usually get by without buying anything else. For longer house sitting gigs, I will usually go to the store to supplement what they have on hand. It looks like I will be able to pull through this first week without having to spend anything (or at the most, very little) on food. Add to that no housing costs and I should come out of this first week in pretty good shape for the challenge unless something truly unexpected happens.
The main part of the challenge is that not only should I live on a minimum wage, but I should also live well. Even with a slight headache from the bubbly from the night before, I didn’t want to waste a nice day sitting indoors all day. After taking the dog for a morning walk, I decided to take advantage of the use of a free car while house sitting and made a short trip to see Montezuma Castle National Monument:
Montezuma Castle, a 20 room building some 100 feet above the valley floor, is actually greatly misnamed. The early settlers in the area made the assumption that the ruins were Aztec, but it was actually built over 700 years ago (well before Montezuma’s time) by the ancestors of today’s Puebleon people.
I managed to not spend anything on food by simply taking snacks of some fruit and granola from the house for lunch. There was no cost to get in to see the monument since I have a national parks pass which allowed me to get in for free. So on day one of this challenge, I managed to get through the day without spending a penny while getting to see an incredible place which is pretty much the best start that could be expected. While I realize that not all days will go quite this smoothly, it’s definitely nice to begin the New Year on the right foot.
Next article: Day Two: Risking Death to Save Money?