What would you do with five dollars?

September 15 2013

I have never been very good at telling stories: I fumble, I slur words, I backtrack. But here I am, winning the chance to write an email to the world, so here is my story:I am living on five dollars a day for reweave (google it!).

It all started as a way to fundraise. Donate $1,000 and I’ll live on five dollars a day for a month.

What does it mean, exactly? There is no right or wrong way to do this experiment, but I set up rules so I could stay on track. This challenge goes beyond food; transportation, entertainment, and even a new toothbrush are being taken into account.

The rules are as follows:

I will not go into "debt" with friends (ie. having them pay for something and then I pay them back on October 1st).
If I accept something for free it either needs to be donated by an organization, offered for free to everyone, or it needs to be something I would have received for free even prior to this experiment.
Rent is not being included in this experiment because that would negatively affect my roommates, and that would be kind of scummy of me.

I know my monthly t-pass was $43 and I use the MBTA at least twice a day, five times a week. There are 20 workdays in September (excludes Labor day), so I pay approximately one dollar per bus/t ride. That leaves me with about $3 for food for the rest of the day. (If I walk home from work then I have $4.00!)

Food is a bit trickier. Eating at a restaurant has been of the question.
I've been saving my receipts and found that if I "charge" myself per serving, I can keep track of how much I spend and how much I eat.

For example: If I buy a container of oatmeal for $4.99 and there are 15 cups, I know that each 1/2 cup serving costs me 19 cents - that’s how much I will "charge" myself for breakfast.

My usually breakfast is oatmeal. Lunch = good ol’ PB&J. Dinner = Eggs and frozen veggies, sometimes pasta if I’m feeling adventurous (and by that I mean its harder to measure). I’ll throw a banana or a glass of milk in the mix for added nutrients.

At first glance it seems I am eating a well-rounded diet, however my body is already feeling the effects of transitioning from an organic diet to “the cheap stuff”. Also, the average person eats two or three times the recommended serving size, meaning that I am getting sufficiently less vegetable and fruit servings by measuring it out than by eating until I am full.

I have been seeing the effects in my sleep, my skin, my hair, and especially my weight. I have been keeping track of my caloric intake to ensure than I am eating a healthy amount, but eating more than 1,600 calories is a struggle.

People are not meant to live and eat on $5 a day. I repeat: human beings are NOT meant to live and eat on $5 a day. Think of the people who are forced to live on less.

Am I happy I am doing this experiment? Yes, and honestly, I would recommend that everyone do it for even just a week. It makes me think about the value of a dollar, the value of a serving, and the value of a meal.

What would you do with five dollars?

Yakira Levy
[email protected]
Boston, MA

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