Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Far Can You Get on $10?

This is how far... Today I took my $10 and headed out (on foot so there was no transportation expense) to see how much I could buy. Here's what I got:
  • Birthday card for a friend in Japan $0.54
  • Overseas stamp for said birthday card $0.98
  • My favorite Trail mix $1
  • One pound of pasta $1
  • One can of pasta sauce $1
  • Box of Special K Cereal $2
  • One banana $0.26
  • One candy bar $0.34
  • Five hours of ice skating $2.50

For a grand total of $9.62. The remaining change will go into my change jar.

I needed to get the card because my friend's birthday is next week (so technically I am late doing this because it will take at least a week to get to her). And the stamp is important to actually get the card to Japan. While I was at the Dollar Store getting the card, I picked up the pasta and sauce so that I can make a pasta bake tonight for dinner. I also get my trail mix from the Dollar Store because it is both cheap and has all of the stuff I like in it (dates, soy nuts, etc) and since I will do the marathon this weekend, the trail mix is necessary as this is what I usually eat when I am walking. Hubby asked me to pick up dessert for him so he gets cereal, something he actually likes to have for dessert in the evenings. The cereal was on sale with an in-store coupon. The candy bar was also on sale with an in-store coupon and even though I rarely ever buy candy, it looked good (and like a cheap treat because at the time I was craving a Starbucks which would have taken nearly half of my $10). I was also hungry this morning and the banana looked good (and cheap as well; I looked at the strawberries but one pound was $2.50 so bananas were a better value). Finally, I was looking at our local newspaper online this morning to find out what was happening in the community and saw that every Wednesday at the local ice skating rink, you can pay for skate rental and skate for free. For FIVE hours from noon to 5pm. Wow. While I only skated for about 45 minutes--I didn't want to get blisters because of the marathon--I still think that is an exceptional value. The rink was full of parents of kids who got out of school early today and had the same idea.

So this challenge shows that you can actually get pretty far on $10 in an average American city. I would have liked to buy a pound of frozen vegetables to add to the pasta but I didn't have the extra dollar to do so. It made me think about people who really only have $10 to buy food for themselves and/or their family and how they would have to make choices between the kind of food they buy whereas many people just toss whatever they want in their cart without needing to make hard choices. I also thought about the lady over at Less Is Enough who did a $1 a day for food for a month challenge. When you are just starting off on a challenge you have to make choices but as she showed during her project, you can use your money to buy more than enough for one meal, thus having leftovers (which we will definitely have with the pasta) so some of this money from today's project will actually feed us lunch for the next couple of days.

Overall this was an excellent lesson in stretching my money AND in making choices that would give me the best bang for my buck.


  1. This is a great experiment. How long will you continue it? I was thinking though, could you have sent your friend a free e-card and explained to her the nature of the experiment? You have got to get creative when living off of $10. And initially as I was reading, I was wondering how did you get a box of Special K for so cheap? But, the in-store coupon explained it.

  2. I just tried the $10 experiment for a day. Next week will be a no spend week challenge so we will see how that goes. I would have done an ecard except the lady is in her mid 80s and doesn't do email (or English for that matter so I need to write everything out clearly for her in Japanese). And you are right about carrying cash (comment on previous post)...I kept looking at my dwindling change wondering if I would even have enough for skating because with cash, when it's gone, it's gone!