The Philanthropy and Economy of a $1.50 Day
How much do you spend every day? Between gas, food, drinks and entertainment, the total for most Americans hits double digits seven days a week, 365 days a year. A Starbucks coffee here, a Whopper Jr. there and the daily ride to work can easily put you at $20.
Even a more frugal individual tends to have an excessive day-to-day expense from the world’s perspective.
In an effort to raise awareness about the world’s poverty, an initiative called Live Below the Line was started. This effort challenges participants to live on a daily food and drink budget of $1.50 a day – the amount individuals living in “extreme poverty” are reported to live on.
The effort has its own philanthropic value with 50,000 Facebook users spreading the word about a global problem. But participating is the challenge can also have economic benefits.
Budgeting your money for savings requires some trimming and tightening of your finances. Dropping down to a $1.50 a day is an expense massacre. You virtually have to eliminate all daily costs that aren’t utterly essential.
According to Bundle.com, people in the U.S. spend an average of $552 on food and drinks every month. That breaks down to about $18.40 a day. Shaving that number down to $1.50 may sound impossible, but it isn’t.
You may not be able to stick with those restrictions everyday year-round, but you can attempt to see what a less fortunate segment of the world lives like for five days. And if you can dedicate a fraction of your year to this practice, the reward may be more than you ever expected.
If you chose to live on $1.50 one day a week for a whole year, - using the U.S. average as an example – you could shave almost $1000 off your annual food and drink expense. Guaranteed there is something in your life, be it credit card debt or a flat screen, that would be more beneficial than have a $20 a day food habit.
Food on a Fixed $7.50 Limit
It sounds all well and good to talk about, but if you are spending the average $18.40 a day or more, this process is going to be a tough adjustment. The coffee you love, you can’t have. Breakfast lunch and dinner all have to be home prepared unless you can survive on one order of Jack in the Box tacos a day.
Yes, you may have to trade your granola and yogurt for a boiled egg. And no, a bean burrito isn’t as glamorous as a Chipotle bowl. If you can make the sacrifice though, you’ll not only be participating in bringing awareness to a good cause, but you’ll be pocketing some extra cash as well.
With a limit of $7.50 for your 5-day grocery budget, the options are limited, but available. A few items can last a week, if you choose carefully.
- ½ dozen eggs: $1.00
- 2 gallons of water: $2.00
- 1 tomato: $0.67
- Generic spaghetti: $0.77
- Can of black beans: $0.74
- 5 flour tortillas: $1.64
- 2 potatoes: $0.68
It may not be fine French cuisine, but it is certainly possible to live off of these items. A boiled egg in the morning, a bean burrito or baked potato for lunch and pasta pomodoro for dinner can sustain a human being. And there are a ton of other combinations that can add up to $7.50 as well.
Whether you’re a PB&J person or need meat, there is a way to rework your meals as long as you’re creative or satisfied with repeat servings. A well-used coupon could even get you up to the standards you’re used to.
It would be an obtuse assumption to say $1.50 days are impossible when 1.4 billion people survive on just that. But if incentive is needed beyond charitable participation, know that you are also likely to save some dollar bills.