Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Three Dollar Challenge

Three dollars. Pocket change for most people, enough to buy a gallon of gas if you're lucky. For the people who are likely to be reading this blog, three dollars equates to three iTunes downloads, a pack of cheap cigarettes, a bottle of Mountain Dew, something along those lines. In short, three dollars, for most of us, is a diversion, a habit, an addiction at best.

For almost one tenth of Americans, three dollars is a full day's food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks in between have to be purchased on three dollars - the amount most of us would tip on a decent dinner. As seen elsewhere on the web, four Congressmen and one Governor recently underwent the Congressional Food Stamp challenge, living for one week on this thinnest of budgets. For one Congressman, the week ended poorly when his remaining food was taken by a TSA agent as he traveled. That one instance shocked me - with one person's actions, another person's entire food supply was wiped out for the remainder of the week.

It was that action that spurred me into starting this blog and challenging myself. For the month of June, I will eat and drink only things that I can afford with my three dollars a day. In addition, I will either bike, skate, or walk to my place of business every day (or if money permits, I'll take the bus, but that's less likely). Eighty eight percent of welfare recipients have an annual income that falls below the poverty line in America, and for one month, I will live as one of them. No credit cards, no white middle-class safety net that I'd be able to construct will be used - it'll just be me, my three bucks a day, and all of you guys reading along.

Tomorrow I will go grocery shopping for the first week of the challenge. I'll let you know what I buy, what I plan to make with it, and we'll evaluate how much money I have left for the month and how I plan to use it. The day after that, I start walking to work and the challenge really begins.

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