Day 15 Update: Accepting the kindness of others

by Chris on February 15, 2011

in Frugal Living

A photo of a man helping up another hiker against the backdrop of a sunset.

Photo courtesy of rxmflickr

Today is Day 15 of the $1000 challenge.  My mission for the month of February is simple: I am trying to spend as little of my earnings as possible ($1000 or less) and detail my triumphs and trials along the way.  This month is a crash course in living a frugal lifestyle close to the federal poverty line. Hopefully, this experience will make me a better advocate for frugality on this blog and more empathetic and compassionate towards those for whom this way of life is not a novelty.  To ensure that I don’t violate the spirit of the challenge and blow all the money I’ve saved on an expedition to Antarctica, at the end of February I will donate what I have saved to charity. For those of you that are just now tuning in, here’s the link to the video where I explain some of my other motivations for taking on this challenge beyond my innate penchant for being a human lab rat.  For the last two days, I have spent $0 so there is really no update on the spending front.  So far I have spent $868 and there are 13 days left.  Just over $10 a day.

Spending $1000 a month… no sweat

A friend confided that they would be very stressed out if they were doing the $1000 challenge.  While I certainly experienced some anxiety before the challenge began, not spending any money for the month of February has been one of the least stressful elements of my life.  All I’m doing is just not spending money.  It requires no effort, just a bit of planning…. and my tip for the day…. sometimes relying on the kindness of others.

Quick tip: accept help from others!

There have been many occasions this month where the kindness of others has really come to light.  My roommate paid for our housekeeper to clean my room.  Two friends convinced me to come to dinner at a (cheap) Mexican restaurant and split the bill.  Tonight, a friend cooked dinner for me.  As simple as these gestures seem, I am often too proud to accept gifts from other people, as if somehow some part of my self-created self-sufficient identity has been challenged. But this is fiction.  I never asked for help, in most cases I just merely explained that the item or experience in question wasn’t in my budget.  But it seems the reaction that I’ve gotten is always one of interest in helping — the same joy that I’ve experienced when I’m able to help out someone else, even in a small way.  Allowing others to help me has been not only a budget saving financial practice but also a life lesson in humility.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan February 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

It’s good to hear it’s going well! It’s true, not spending money can be one of the best things for reducing stress. Spending actually stresses me.

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Chris February 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Weird but true I’ve realized this month. Sometimes it’s easier just chilling out and not spending money.

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Beth February 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Hey, relax about the whole help from others thing. You’re helping people too, just by having this website.
Beth

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Chris February 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Thanks for the kind words!

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Shawanda February 21, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Great post. I saw an article today from MSN Money that talked about how many Americans are coping with living on $330 a week (unemployment benefits). I too was tempted to embark on a challenge. But, after paying my $975 rent, I only have *counting on fingers* a little bit of money left. That’s scary!

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Chris February 22, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Shawanda,

$330 a week sounds like a luxury to me right now : ) It really does depend on what part of the country you live in as far as housing is concerned. I’m lucky that Tennessee is very low cost of living. You could do the $1500 challenge!

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MAH February 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

I really enjoyed this post and shared it with Red from Girl with a Red Balloon (http://girlwithredballoon.blogspot.com). She is having a no spend year and a recurring topic is accepting acts of generosity/kindness from others.

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The Prudent Planner February 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm

What if you made say $20 for something that you otherwise wouldn’t have in the first place, would you be able to spend this? Maybe you could do a friend a favor and recieve $20 for your work (for example if you fixed their plumbing problem or sold something to a friend from your attic at a huge discount). These acts of kindness aren’t too bad and you’d get a little to spend without tapping into your account.

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