Living on Pennies a Day

How it came to be that I had to make $1.83 stretch for ten days is not relevant. I suppose it may the more interesting topic, but I beg you to understand that this occurred through no fault of my own no poor planning, no reckless spending elsewhere.

Nonetheless, $1.83 it was, and the forced experiment began with ten days to my next payday.

How many foolish times I’d seen a dime on the floor and walked right past. Or I’d round up an already generous gratuity an additional eighty-five cents. I thought the concept of being nickel-and-dimed to death was an antiquated one, something only the older generation could relate to, having lived when nickels were the equivalent of today’s dollars.

But in the midst of my desperate poverty, I was elated to find a quarter underneath the seat of my car. (No, I wasn’t looking for errant French fries. I wasn’t that desperate yet.)

The first trick to surviving ten days on $1.83 is to become creative with the food staples sitting around the house. I never knew I had such a way with making meals out of seemingly nothing.

If one is very careful to spread the Goobers PB&J a bit thinner than usual, one can nearly double the life of the jar. And speaking of which, Goobers isn’t just for bread anymore. It goes great on hamburger buns (especially when there are no hamburgers to put on said buns), hot dog buns, even the saltine crackers you get for free at Wendy’s.

Spaghetti sauce is a great thing. It’s cheap, it’s healthy, it has lipolipids or whatever those things are that are supposed to be good for us. And when you mix 4 parts sauce to 1 part water, you’ve gotten an additional 2o% life out of a jar. When cooking the pasta to go with the sauce, give it an extra 2 or 3 minutes in the water to plump it up more, thus requiring less actual product to make a meal. This stretches the box of spaghetti some.

Bottled water is a luxury. I’ve learned the art of finding good tap water (my office) and recycling those bottles to keep an ongoing supply of drink. (I’d never dream of drinking the tap water of Martinsburg, West Virginia awful!)

Hot dog chili sauce doesn’t have to be saved for hot dogs. One can of the stuff can make a nice, hot lunch. If you’ve exhausted the hot dog buns by use of Goober’s, cut a hot dog or two into the bowl for an extra treat. If you have enough hot dogs.

And now a word about friends

God bless people like roommates. A roommate can be a very good cook and generous with his provisions. Luckily, during this trying time, my roommate treated me to several scrumptious dinners leg of lamb one night, pork steaks another night, roast chicken a third. And scrumptious is an understatement. Roger is a killer cook he should open a restaurant!

Then there are the friends one has been generous with in the past. Got a pastor who you regularly treat for lunch? Invite him to lunch but let him know it’s his turn to pay the bill. This works especially well if he’s handsomely salaried and has attempted, unsuccessfully, to pay for lunch several times prior. (Hint: go to Wendy’s where you can score a handful of saltine crackers for free.)

Are you doing a favor for someone at work? Lightly say, I’m happy to turn this around for you in an hour. But it’ll cost ya some pop tarts from the vending machine. Chuckle. Then act surprised when he brings them to you. Oh, hey, I was just kidding. But thanks! Voila! There’s a meal.

This next hint is a bit embarrassing, but what the hay. If this author’s stature hasn’t diminished in your eyes by now, you’re blind. Okay, here’s what ya do. Look around your home for unopened store purchases. Wal-Mart is perfect for this. I found a package of pillowcases and some razor blades I hadn’t opened. I took them back to Wal-Mart and scored a gift card with $6.41! That bought more Goobers, a loaf of bread, a can of spaghetti sauce and spaghetti noodles. 3 dinners and 4 lunches!

Oh, when you’re down to your very own $1.83, forget about driving anywhere. The car is history. Save the last quarter tank of gas for an emergency. Walking isn’t all that bad.

Lastly, the best thing about making $1.83 stretch is the weight loss. Halfway into my ordeal, it felt like I’d lost ten pounds. This is a great way to start a diet and get over the most tempting first few days. One certainly can’t sneak a bowl of ice cream or a pack of Reese’s peanut butter cups when all one has is $1.83.

Six days into the experiment, I’d spent a bit of the $1.83. My “cash on hand” I was down to .71 cents. Then I found a quarter in a dresser drawer. This increased my total net worth by 33%!

Since that stretch of ten days, I haven’t had to duplicate the effort. However, I am a believer in God’s perfect provision. And last night I found 70 cents in change in the parking lot. For some reason, God thinks I’m going to need this 70 cents. Here we go again…