They showed us that it can be done.
Living on a dollar a day, that is.
Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard showed the world that it IS possible to live on a dollar a day. With the recession causing a financial pinch for everybody, there is a need for frugal living. But this pair of Social Justice schoolteachers-slash-writers took frugality to the next level by attempting to live on a dollar a day, and ONLY a dollar a day, each.
Their adventurous experiment had them skipping the usual delights that most of us take for granted: daily gustatory pleasures like rootbeer, desserts, and eating out. Instead, they dined on the best of vegetarian fare: soy milk, refried beans, wheat gluten cutlets, and even gourmet frugal vegetarian fare like Chana Masala and Polenta.
The two Social Justice teachers not only created a stir that have made even the mainstream magazines like Time and The New York Times sit up and take notice, they’ve also managed to open the eyes of the penny-pinching public that frugality to the level of only a dollar a day is not only a doable exercise, but could also become an advocacy.
Not only was their experiment driven by the need to dramatically trim their budget, it was also one that they hoped would inspire empathy and ideas for solutions to the hunger epidemic affecting over a billion of the world\u2019s population. Along with the chronicles of their frugal food experiments, they have also posted reports and statistics about the hunger issues of today. Chris and Kerri have covered legislative issues and have supported advocacy groups for Haiti and the world hunger fund Oxfam. Indeed, theirs has been more than a journey of frugality, it has truly been a journey of social responsibility as well.
One of the most striking realizations they’ve had was their position of privilege: as people who live in America, they’ve never had to go hungry and they continue to have access to opportunities for wealth and success. And more than that, they feel that they have the responsibility to be concerned about speaking up for the underprivileged who virtually have no voice to express their plight.
Indeed, this was, for them, a journey of appreciation for what they have and a journey of coming to terms with their responsibilities as people who were blessed with more; all this was more than a journey of being able to save on food by making better grocery shopping choices.
You can take the same journey they have, too. Here are our tips for recreating the One Dollar A Day Lifestyle:
- Get a journal and list 5 things that you are thankful for, every day.
- Draw up a tighter budget for yourself, perhaps by using a money management software application.
- Start seriously thinking about donating to a cause related to hunger.
- Endeavor to live on less, but give more to the needy.
- Make conscious decisions to buy food ingredients that are cheaper, but no less flavorful.
- Work on eating out less, and learn how to cook.
- Keep a food journal, detailing how much you spend per meal.
- Work to lower the costs of your meals.
- Try to spot bargains while grocery shopping.
- Use grocery coupons to help you shave off a portion of your costs.
Not everyone can manage to voluntarily live on a dollar a day. As Chris and Kerri noted, they did have cravings, too. Sinful delights like Gianna’s Peanut Butter Bomb Vegan Cheesecake were missed. If we do take up this challenge, it’s likely that we’ll miss our favorite desserts or meals as well. We may not be able to live like this for a whole 30 days, month in and month out, but we sure can try setting aside some days out of a week to live on a budget. This could work for you overall, as dollars saved here and there do become sizable stashes of cash over time.
Then what would you do with the extra cash? You can possibly open an account with a cheap online broker and start investing, or you could save money in a top savings account. Or you may want to donate to hunger-related causes. Money saved and invested becomes a comfortable nest egg. On the other hand, money invested in worthy causes is money well spent, as well. Ready for the One Dollar A Day Lifestyle?
This guest post is by The Digerati Life, a personal finance site that writes about smart money moves from using online coupons to using no annual fee credit cards.
Image from sami73