The $15 Challenge! Day 1

22 Jun

In case you were wondering, let me remind you I no longer live in London. As much as I would love to spend a summer by the Thames, complain about the shit weather, it would be fiscally unwise for me to do so since it would be hard for me as an American to get a job–even a part-time one–with a student visa. Now I live at home and I’m trying to get to that familiar feeling.

With no job and loans to pay back, I had a talk with Julie a couple of weeks ago about what it would be like to spend less money, especially in a quite pricey place like Los Angeles. OK, Los Angeles is no London, but things like food (especially bread–watch for my rant on bread prices soon) and entertainment cost a lot. I mentioned this article I found in the Guardian a year ago about a journalist named Stuart Jeffries who was trying to spend only £10 in one week (not including bills). He succeeded. I figured me and Julie should try it out, but instead of £10, it would be adjusted to $15 (exchange rate as of June 21, 2010). Today is my first day.

RULES: The $15 challenge began today (June 21) at 6:00 a.m. PDT and will end on Monday, June 28 at 5:59 a.m. PDT. Like the original Chinese experiment that inspired Jeffries, the challenge does not include spending “on accommodation costs or other regular debits such as fuel bills, council tax, etc.” Anything else is fair game, including transport and food.


Woke up at 10 a.m., a few hours after my self-imposed 6:00 a.m. start. The reason was I woke up in the middle of the night to call some professors in the UK about my grades. Luckily I passed all the papers for the said professors. Now I can sleep easily knowing I’m doing well.

While I was tempted to get myself one of those breakfast sandwiches from Carl’s Jr., I opted to eat Muesli, which I figured would be my breakfast for the next few days. Then I’ll just get sick of it. When I was living in England, I had three options: I either skipped breakfast because I woke up at a late time, bought a pastry from the canteen or had muesli. On the weekends, it expanded to four–the last option was a full breakfast at a pub (usually at a Wetherspoons because it’s cheap).

I spent most of the morning reading the Financial Times and looking for work, but most of the jobs either didn’t interest me or I was unqualified.

Nobody cooked anything for lunch, so I settled with just making a turkey sandwich with cheese. Not bad, but I ate my mom’s leftovers from work for lunch as well since the turkey sandwich could only sustain me for so long.

For dinner, me and the family got In N Out burgers and fries, but I had to drive there myself. However, my tank was nearly empty. Luckily, my mom foot the bill for gasoline and the burgers. The burgers were delicious by the way.

As the clock approaches midnight, I start to wonder what else I won’t be able to spend for the rest of the week. Takeout is not an option, unless it’s part of a 99 cent menu. Magazines would chew up most of my restricted disposable income. I can’t drink as much or offer drinks. This must suck. But hey, I can do it.

Money spent on my own today: $0

Money still left: $15

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