My Living on Less challenge started today.
Since I woke up late and still craving for sleep, I wasn’t able to prepare my assigned breakfast. Good thing that I don’t eat much for breakfast. Coffee and a slice of bread with peanut butter or a slice of cheese (or both, my favorite!) is usually enough to start-up my appetite and wake up my senses.
When I got to work and I had plenty of free time, that’s when I started working on the 3-day budget. I figured that planning ahead would save me the time and energy for the next three days. Based on past dieting experience, my mood worsens on the third day, so better to plan while my head and mood are still intact.
With a limited budget of 46PHP (Philippine Peso) a day (that’s dollar for you), my options were limited. Very limited. There’s probably a lot of options for budget breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my average budget for a meal is 15PHP which isn’t even enough for transportation. I initially wanted to include transportation in the budget, but given my daily load of work, I could easily snap in hunger. I work with children, so patience definitely should be a virtue. So despite my willingness to sacrifice, I can’t really sacrifice my work that easily, especially children are also on the line (my weak spot).
Anyway, here’s a sample of the budget I made for today:
- 2 pcs of local bread (4.00)
- Kopiko 3-in-1 coffee (6.00)
- 1 banana (5.00)
- Lucky Me instant pansit canton
- Fita crackers (7.00) Family Mart
- 1 pc. banana (5.00)
- Payless instant Mami (6.25)
- small boiled egg (5.00)
47.25 PHP (over 1.25 php)
When I made the first draft for this budget, I had to take out one item from my breakfast because the total was 49.00 PHP. That surely made my jaw drop. I mean, I’m not a heavy breakfast eater, but I wanted to prepare for the small meals of the day, but yeah, 46 PHP is just too limiting.
Moreover, I had to redo my entire 3-day budget which I finished in the morning because I found out the instant noodles I ate for lunch was 2 PHP higher than the price I indicated. Even when I checked the local groceries later on, that brand’s cheapest now is probably around 8 PHP.Good thing I found a cheaper instant noodles which is only 6.25 PHP, so I decided to replace all the Lucky Me in my budget plan with this, and I though the soup could also help me feel fuller since it’s liquid.
I fortunately also chanced upon a small store that sells Fita biscuits (9 pcs/pack) for 6 PHP instead of 7 PHP which is the price in Family Mart. Actually, 7-11 sells it for 8 PHP, so I’ve found a gem of a stone in my neighborhood! There are small bakeries around my house which sells large-sized sweet bread for 5 PHP only, so that’s of course included in my plan.
I considered including half an order of rice that can be bought from small eateries, but that’s about 6/7 PHP. Also, as I normally eat more rice than a dish, eating a small amount of rice would just awaken my cravings, so better to stay away from it.
While going home from my mini-grocery for the next two days of the challenge, the majestic smell of crispy brown, deep fried chicken being sold on an intersection of our street was alluring. If this was a normal day, I would’ve asked my mom to cook me fried chicken the next day, or I could’ve pulled out my wallet to munch on one. But I was a poor worker today, right? I could only be invited and tortured by my favorite food in the world, but I cannot possess it.
I swear, I had the bitterest smile while walking away from that stall.
Then I realized something.
It’s only day one, but this challenge is already providing me with so much of what I need to learn about reality.
I did a diet early this year which also lasted for three days. There’s a program and I just had to follow it. The food in quantity was much smaller than what I usually consumed. It’s a diet program, but I didn’t do it to lose weight. It was more of the challenge to prove to myself that I am in control of my mind and my urges. If I lose weight, then that’s a big bonus.
The diet was a bit difficult the second and third day and I could’ve quit midway. I don’t think anybody was expecting me to finish it, given my renowned appetite, but I finished it anyway. Part of that motivation was that I wanted to prove them wrong, though I didn’t have to.
In this Living On Less challenge, the people whom I’m trying to understand with their struggle on food have no choice whatsoever. EVERY DAY IS A CHALLENGE. If you’re a person trying to live with this very limited budget until payday, everyday in your life, there’s no “I quit this challenge” button. You will walk away from that fried chicken every time, defeated.
If you go over-budget, you have to get some from your money the next day or borrow from others. And of course borrowed money is still not your money. You still have to give it back, then you’re still left with nothing in the end.
It was a depressing realization. It is depressing. To think that there are people everyday living in this condition, it is a cruel life.
On the other hand, with the right mindset, attitude towards one’s given condition, and wise shopping, this budget is manageable and bearable. Though with the “luxury” I’ve apparently been blessed with in my entire middle-class status, I just wish our poor brothers and sisters can have a chance at them too.