Minimum Wage Challenge, Personal Finance

Well Stocked Fridge: Day 1

stocked fridge

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

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.

Today’s Spending

Food: $0.00
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00

Total Spending

Food: $0.00
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00

Next article: Day Two: Risking Death to Save Money?

14 thoughts on “Well Stocked Fridge: Day 1

  1. It didn’t cost you “nothing,” unless the family you’re house-sitting for is also covering the cost of the gas you’re using in the car for the week.

    We often take gas into account when we do “staycations” because we’re usually using more gas than during a normal week. So if we take a daytrip that’s 60 miles away (120 miles roundtrip), we have to think about the extra 3 or 4 gallons of gas that we’re using (and at $3 to $4 a gallon, that adds up quickly).

  2. Seems like a great day and a great start to the new year! Do you refill gas for those you house sit for, or is that considered part of the payment for the job as well?

  3. While your challenge results are great, I’m even more impressed with the castle up in the air. To think these guys did this with no electric tools, no trucks or cranes, etc. is simply amazing! They didn’t have any fast food places to go for lunch or a cool drink in the middle of their working day. They didn’t go home in the evening and plop down in front of cable TV to relax after a hard day. They lived such a different life than we do and we could learn much from the people that did these things.

  4. Good question. I feel that with the generosity of letting me use the car, the proper thing is to always leave the tank full.

  5. I am attempting a No Spend month during January that I actually started just after Christmas because the fridge was full of leftovers and I was avoiding the Boxing Day sales (Boxing Day is what we call December 26th in Canada).

    I thought that my no spend month was going to be all about not shopping and, my big vice, fast food takeout. I can see in your blog that I have not planned any fun in my month and I will be missing a lot if I am at home, with the lights turned low and wearing a toque so I can keep the furnace turned down.

  6. You were very close to the city where we live. Glad you had a chance to visit the “castle” and enjoyed it.

  7. Canuck here too!
    I personally hate cold weather and winter in general. Not ideal when living in this part of the world. My son is giddy with all the snowboarding he’s doing during the school bread, I’m decidedly less thrilled. We gave him a ski pass for Christmas, and he bought his own gear last year during end of season sales. We live close to the hill and if he won’t make it home for a meal he packs one. Other than the gas to drive there, his entire winter of boarding is free from this point onward.

    Every year I tell myself to get out and enjoy winter somehow, and not just hide indoors and pray for spring. I should go for a walk in the snow at the very least. Tourists pay to come here just to see what I’m so happy avoiding. The winter is still young and I may actually go for a walk in the snowy woods near our home at some point, but for now I’m jamming logs on the fire and curling up with the pile of books I’ve been meaning to read. Maybe if I tell myself I’m not avoiding winter, but doing a severe spending reduction I’ll feel less guilty?

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