$100 challenge

This week’s project was to live on a $100 budget for the entire week. Below is the “diary” of that spending, or you can read about what I learned from living on a limited budget.

Day 1 – Sunday

9:17am – The start of this week isn’t so bad. Matt is leaving today, so his parents are in town to pick him up. Luckily, we go to breakfast at Bagel Express which is cheap, and even more luckily, Matt’s parents insist on paying for my $2.25 buttered bagel and $1.79 Nesquik Chocolate Milk. One meal down and $0 spent.

11:15am – My first expense! Today is the last class of my sketch class and we have to make copies for everyone in our class. The total comes to $4.39. I should’ve written a shorter sketch, or better yet, printed it out at work on Friday.

2:47pm – I’ve felt my first discomfort from the challenge (yes, already). I only have a short break between my sketch class and an audition for an improv group, so I have to eat fast and somewhere in between the two places. McDonald’s is the only feasible option, and unfortunately it’s Manhattan so the $1 menu doesn’t really exist. Knowing I have an entire week ahead of me, I get a 4-piece nugget, small fry, and cup of water – $2.70.

2:59pm – I’m still hungry.

5:45pm – I just got back from the audition (it went OK, I should know sometime this week). I am starving. I have to make my grocery list. This is probably the most important event this entire week. Poor planning here could leave me miserable towards the end.

6:37pm – Grocery shopping is proving harder than I imagined- individual items add up very quickly. And why don’t these stores put prices on everything? If I don’t know how much it costs, I can’t put it in my cart with confidence.

6:50pm – I’m back from the grocery store and I have to eat something…anything. I elect for a granola bar before even putting away the groceries, even the frozen foods. I technically only spent $13.04, but that’s because I already had a lot of food here. But, in the spirit of this challenge, I’ve decided to total the cost of the food that I would’ve bought if I didn’t already have it (since it makes no sense to waste the food I already have by not eating it and buying it again). My new total grocery bill is $61.97… Holy crap it’s going to be a tough week.

7:55pm – I had my first meal from stuff I bought at the store – 9 chicken nuggets and a piece of bread. I feel full for the first time today.

9:45pm – I’m heading to bed to make sure I’m well rested for work tomorrow and more importantly not get hungry again tonight. My total spending for the day: $69.06.

Day 2 – Monday

8:30am – It’s a really good thing that I started waking up at 6am two weeks ago- living cheaply requires a lot of preparation. I woke up at 6am, worked out in my room at 6:30am, cooked and ate breakfast (3 eggs and a piece of toast) at 7:15am, showered, and packed a lunch for the day and was finally done by 8am. Then, as I was getting ready to leave for work, I realized the laptop bag I’ve been using, a nice leather, over-the-shoulder one, isn’t designed for carrying a lunch. So I made the switch to a backpack to make sure I could carry everything. Who knew saving money meant returning back to your high school days?

11:17am – I’m starting to get hungry- I don’t think I’ll make it to lunch. Luckily we have free pretzels here in the office- they should hold me over for now.

1:55pm – This challenge would be a heckuva lot easier if I had just decided to keep to myself for the whole week- but that’s not what I’d want to do if I really were on a strict budget. With that said, I just spent $16.96 on lunch at europa café. Why? Because a friend of mine was able to hook me up with tickets to David Letterman, and the least I could do was pay for her lunch.

2:57pm – Getting hungry again. Since I didn’t eat my packed lunch, I can grab the granola bar and have myself a snack.

3:44pm – I’m not feeling all that well (headache and a little nauseous. Is it because of something I ate? Or my altered eating schedule? Either way, I did not budget for getting sick).

4:54pm – Not eating my packed lunch has proved beneficial for the second time- I grabbed the turkey sandwich and ate it on the way to picking up tickets for the Letterman show.

8:25pm – I just had to make my first public sacrifice , which sucks. The friend that went with me to Letterman (which was pretty cool to see) asked if I wanted to grab dinner after the show. With only $13.98 In my pocket, I can’t afford to do it, so I have to politely decline.

9:35pm – I just got done eating two delicious chili dogs and watching “The Daily Show” on Hulu.com. Great meal, great entertainment.

11:15pm – It’s about time for bed and I’m not hungry at all. My total spending today was $16.96.

Day 3 – Tuesday

6:15am – I still have a bit of a headache and am feeling a little nauseous. I don’t feel like eating yet, but hopefully the Gandalf of my body will let this pass.

7:01am – Time for the breakfast of champions- store brand Frosted Flakes. It’s a nice, cheap meal, but generally doesn’t keep me very full. We’ll see how the morning goes.

10:30am – I just got done with a conference call, and I think it’s time I worked the rest of the day from home. Hopefully being in more relaxing clothing and in the comfort of my own home will help me feel better. Plus I have a lot more food choices there.

12:35pm – Seeing as how I didn’t budget for being sick, I don’t really have anything suitable to eat. The closest thing to soup I have is $.33 ramen noodles, so I had that plus two slices of buttered bread. Now it’s time to get back to work.

2:45pm – OK, so by work I meant nap off being sick for a little bit. The sad thing is that I actually feel a bit worse then when I went to sleep.

4:30pm – Finally feeling better, and thanks to a delicious peanut butter & jelly sandwich, I’m feeling full as well.

7:45pm – Woodruff is over to talk about how we want to try to get Smarty Pants up and running in New York. Unfortunately I didn’t really buy any food that was good for more than one person, so we have to run to the store. We decide to go with some hamburger helper- him paying for the hamburger and me getting the helper at $3.49.

11:15pm – I still haven’t even made it a day with spending no money. My total budget left is $10.49.

Day 4 – Wednesday

7:30am – I’ve got a pretty long day today, so I have to make sure I plan appropriately. I started the day with a bowl of cereal and just finished packing some sandwiches and snacks to hold me over through work and ComedySportz practice. I hope it’s enough because I won’t be back home till after 10pm tonight.

8:05am – My fear came to fruition this morning – my monthly subway pass expired. Fortunately I wasn’t going to include this cost in the challenge (it’s a monthly expense), but it stills requires a trip back to the apartment to grab a credit card to pay the $81. Also, in the spirit of experiencing what it would be like if I didn’t have the option to take the subway, I’m walking to work this morning. Luckily it’s a nice day, so hopefully it won’t be miserable.

8:45am – What a walk… Google says it’s 2.1 miles. On the plus side it was nice out and I got in a good morning workout. On the minus side it took me 40 minutes to do, I’m now sweaty and starving, I couldn’t read or write like I normally do on the subway, and I have a bit of a headache. I definitely couldn’t do that every morning and afternoon, especially considering tonight I have to go to the west side for practice.

9:03am – I couldn’t do it, I had to eat something. There goes the granola bar for the day.

1:07pm – After a challenging morning (my head hurt the worst it has in awhile), I’m now feeling good and full, thanks to my sliced chicken sandwich and Doritos.

3:56pm – The advantage to packing my lunch was that I was able to pack two sandwiches, the second of which I just consumed. This is supposedly the better way to eat anyway – smaller, more frequent meals.

6:04pm – Thanks to my preparation this morning, I have a chicken pot pie I can cook in the office kitchen. Throw in some left over carrots and things are going well.

10:15pm – I just got back home from improv practice and I’m glad to be back in the presence of food. Even though I had them two days ago, the chili dogs are calling my name again. Bon apetit.

11:47pm – I was finally able to make it a day without spending any money. I’m sure I’ve done this many a-time without realizing it, but when you’re away from home from 8am to 10pm, it requires some planning ahead. Still sitting at $10.49 left for the week.

Day 5 – Thursday

6:41am – I got bored of the cereal, so I went back to scrambled eggs and toast. After starting the eggs, I realized I probably should’ve waited to cook/eat them till after I worked out, but I can’t change that now. Today’s eggs were a little dry, but definitely edible.

7:35am – My worry about eating too much before working out (a weight-free routine I do in my room) was unwarranted. My worry that I’d be hungry after the workout was accurate. Luckily a handful of carrots should tide me over for awhile.

11:11am – My wish for more food came true- someone had leftover bagels after a meeting and offered them up to the rest of the office. Who would’ve thought a simple bagel with butter would be like Thanksgiving in September.

1:06pm – Thanks to the free bagel, I was able to wait a little longer till lunch- a turkey sandwich and some Doritos.

3:47pm – Snack time with Mr. Granola bar.

5:40pm – Just like yesterday, I came to work with two sandwiches. I’m not starving by any means, but rather than take the PB&J home or leave it for another day, I figure I might as well eat it right?

9:34pm – With only a couple days left, I decided it was time to bust out a long-time staple in my “cook at home” diet- pizza rolls. I have to imangine I’ve been eating the pepperoni variety since 2001.

10:12pm – I’m calling it a bit early tonight to make sure I’m back to 100%. It was another $0 day, AND no headaches–maybe I’m not allergic to being broke after all. $10.49 left for 2 days.

Day 6 – Friday

7:10am – Thanks to me forgetting about an 8am meeting I have today, I have to scarf down a small bowl of cereal, throw a sandwich in my bag, hop in the shower, and get to work. We’ll have to see if this poor planning affects my day.

10:11am – Yep, the skimpy breakfast is already leaving me hungry. Pretzels in the office to the rescue.

11:59am – I can’t hold out any longer, I have to eat lunch. Another turkey sandwich and Doritos.

3:47pm – Down goes the granola bar.

6:11pm – I made the mistake of not making a second sandwich for the afternoon, so I am absolutely starving. I decided to finally reheat the pizza from Monday, which at least makes me feel a little bit better about spending $5.50 on it.

12:35am – So I accidentally spent the last 6 hours watching the first 8 episodes of the first season of The West Wing. I had never seen the show but have had Season 1 sitting in my DVD collection for well over a year. While not the most exciting of evenings, it was relaxing and best of all free. No dollars spent today and $10.49 left for the last day of the project.

Day 7 – Saturday

8:41am – The last day of the challenge and I couldn’t be happier (or I guess maybe tomorrow when it’s over I will be). Unfortunately due to me going through my email and RSS feeds for the past hour, I have to eat a quick bowl of cereal before heading out to meet a friend to observe the taping of his weekly talk show. We all know how well a bowl of cereal lasted me yesterday…

11:15am – Luckily I threw a granola bar and sandwich in my bag before heading out the door. Nothing has really happened yet on the set, so I have some time to eat.

11:46am – I wanted to wait until later in the day to resort to the sandwich, but I can’t make it.

2:25pm – Due to some technical difficulties, they still haven’t actually taped anything yet. On a positive note, they did order pizza for everyone.

10:03pm – The good news is that heading into the evening, I had a few dollars left in the budget ($10.49 to be exact). The better news is that I spent $5.78 on cream cheese and tortilla chips, meaning I was able to make Skyline Chili Dip. The bad news is that Ohio State is not doing that well against USC.

11:41pm – With the week almost over, and the OSU vs. USC game being a blowout, I just want to get this post done and get to bed. As a “reward” for my frugal spending Wednesday through Friday, and what was supposed to be in celebration of the OSU game, I spent $5.78 today. That brings my grand total for the week to $95.29, leaving a $4.71 surplus!

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