One Washington a day

March 28, 2019 — by Daniel Bessonov

As soon as I rolled out of bed, headed to a local breakfast place and realized that a one-egg omelet would take me back seven George Washington's, I knew limiting my daily budget to $10 was going to be a difficult task. But, in the words of iconic rapper Lil Dicky — “What we do? We save that money!”

It was a normal Sunday morning; the birds were chirping, my 8-year-old sister was yelling and the sun was out. Yet it was also the start of a life-changing journey: my first go at the $10-a-day challenge. Throughout the past four years of high school, I had never truly tracked just how much money I spend every day. The challenge, I hoped, would force me to change my habits.

To complete the day with under $10 spent, I had to establish two simple guidelines.

  1. I can use, eat or take advantage of any already existing items or resources.

  2. Anything else? I’ll have to dish out some green.

Leaving the breakfast parlor in shame — putting my head down to avoid my hostess’s unapproving glance — I headed back to my car to drive home. I would have to figure out a new arrangement for today’s food.

My breakfast consisted of one egg, a half-eaten apple and the remnants of what was once a lava cake but could now only be characterized as a chocolate-y mound with a mix of dough, an unidentifiable type of sprinkle and some kind of crunchy food that definitely shouldn’t have been on a lava cake.

The next couple hours went rather smoothly. Electricity was a resource already available, so I was able to do homework, use my laptop and take a two-hour YouTube intermission without any problems.

But then came my second dilemma. As I was getting into my car to meet up with a couple friends for lunch, out of the corner of my eye, I saw my “low gas” indicator light up. An ideal situation for an already ideal day. Fueling up wasn’t an option, so I turned to my next best means of transportation: my ‘ol trusty bike and helmet.

Unfortunately, my friends were headed to Valley Fair, and I wasn’t about to head out on a three-hour bike endeavor across highways and bridges; this was the day’s second casualty — a missed opportunity to socialize. Still, it was nearing 4 p.m., and I had to figure out how to kill another three hours before the sun set.

Not abandoning the whole bike idea, I set out on a venture to explore my neighborhood. Contrary to my expectations, it actually turned out to be pretty fun. I discovered a park a couple miles from my house I had never seen before, befriended a squirrel after tossing it a half-eaten strawberry and got in my first leg workout in three years.

At the end of the day, as I feasted on a homemade salad consisting of leftover chicken, lettuce and some lackluster celery, I pondered the experience. Although a $10 budget robbed me of a couple hours of socialization and some normal food — I was able to concentrate, rediscover nature and most importantly, save some money.

Even more fundamentally, limiting my spending forced me to realize just how much I rely on parent-provided spending throughout the day. It may not seem like I spend a lot, but with a day’s activities, I can easily rack up bills up to $50, $60 or even $70.

Not going to lie — Lil Dicky might be onto something. It’s time to save that money, especially with college on the horizon.

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