How I Lived on Less Than $10 a Day for a Month

When speaking to many clients who live “paycheck to paycheck” I had a thought before the end of 2017 to create a challenge for myself to live as they do for some time. I know in order to be empathic one does not need to go through a client's specific situation but I became rather curious what it is like having to count literally every penny spent.

How does this affect one's relationships, thoughts about current circumstances and lastly, the future? I speak on these subjects because the more I speak with clients who are going through a financial hardship or are simply not running a surplus each month these sentiments toward the aforementioned areas of life seem to be rather bleak.


These are the rules of my $60 a week challenge. Now named <10 Challenge.

  1. Only cash may be used for all purchases that are not already on automatic payment of some sort (internet, mortgage)
  2. If there is something that comes up that is unforeseen I must respond to these unexpected expenses in the way that someone who lives paycheck to paycheck would do. Simply put, I have to deal with it with the $60 a week I have, no credit cards.
  3. Each transaction will be recorded and at the end of each week I will reconcile the money I have spent with the amount of money I have left (in my wallet)


Week One Review

Here's how the week turned out:

1/1 — Groceries $35.56          ||| Begining of week 60

1/4 — Fuel $15                        ||| Less expenses: 70.78

1/6 — Groceries $20.22           ||| Surplus/Deficit: -10.78

Wow. All I have to say is WOW. This living paycheck to paycheck and extremely fixed and tight income is FAR more difficult than I expected. Each expense listed above was completely necessary. I learned that I needed to think twice before putting certain things in my grocery cart. I eliminated some things I really enjoy but are not necessary including orange juice, lays potato chips, avocados and of course candy. That last one is really killing me (not really). Needless to say, my typical gal who checks me out (at the register) after my grocery shopping looked at me perplexed as I did not have the cart full as is my normal practice. I could feel she wanted to ask me if everything was okay but she refrained. Well, the one benefit of having fewer groceries is I only had to take one trip from the car to my house. That's a benefit, right?


During my first week, I went out for a coffee with a friend and simply brought a serving of lemon tea in my own tumbler and I did not find this too odd. I have become accustomed to always buying something when going out but this is not always necessary. And in my case, I simply did “not have” the money thanks to the challenge to myself.

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This first week has opened my eyes to the fact having limited funds and no access to a credit card can bring IMMENSE stress. Although this is an experiment I felt apprehension doing math in my head realizing I was not going to be able to afford my beloved orange juice. A small thing indeed and I can only imagine how that same feeling of anxiety one may feel about their rent, car payment or even utilities!

Well, on to week two to see what else I learn.

Have you ever lived on only cash for a time? Have you taken the <10 (Less than 10) challenge? What have you learned? I'd love to hear what other's experience in doing something like has been.

Always Moving Forward,

||| Max

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