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A Day in the $1.50 Life

By Joe Sandler

Young Ambassador for Opportunity member Joe Sandler Lived Below the Line last year. He recounts his experience here. Join Opportunity supporters and Young Ambassadors like Joe in Living Below the Line for Opportunity April 29-May 3 2013. Spend less than $1.50 a day on food and drink in honor of the 1.4 billion people who survive on less than $1.50 a day every day. Live Below the Line so that others can rise above it.

A Day in the $1.50 LifeA Day in the $1.50 LifeA Day in the $1.50 LifeUnofficially, it is the first day that I am attempting to “Live below the Line,” or survive on less than $1.50 of sustenance a day. (I made an attempt earlier this week, but failed since I had to attend a business lunch, which was obviously above $1.50.) I have already begun to realize how difficult it is to live in a way so many people in the developing world are forced to live.

8:30am:

Starving. What to have for breakfast? I was really craving a bowl of flax granola but unfortunately a bowl (without milk) is $.67 which puts me over my $.50 ration for breakfast. Attempt 2: how about eggs? Well it is doable, but all I can have is 1 egg and half a piece of toast (1 egg is $.25 and ½ slice of Beckman’s Sourdough bread is $.14, so my total is $.39). Can I afford some coffee? Obviously not my usual Americano at Starbucks, but if I take some of the roast I have at home, one serving comes out to $.40…still a little too rich for my blood. I guess it is just water with breakfast. On Track!

10:30am:

Starving again but can’t think of anything that is inexpensive enough to stay on budget. Count down to lunch begins. On Track!

12:30pm:

Ramen is an easy and inexpensive meal so I go there; at least I will get my full serving worth of sodium. Total is $.33, so not only on track but under budget!

3:00pm:

Typically I would have a mid-afternoon snack but I want to save my remaining $.78 for the day and hold out for dinner. On Track!

6:30pm:

As I brainstorm dinner, I go back to eggs so that I can get some protein. Since rice is also inexpensive I decide to go for some fried rice. One egg + some jasmine rice + some sautéed onion & broccoli and I should still be under budget at $.63, which would give me a remaining $.15 for a few chocolate chips for dessert. As I start to fill this out though, I realize I forgot to calculate the condiments; specifically $.21 in olive oil (expensive), $.12 in soy sauce, and $.04 in Sriracha Hot Sauce. My success has turned to failure as I realized that all together I spent $1.78; $.28 over budget…not to mention that dessert is now out of the picture. Failure!

Attempting to live on $1.50 was a shocking experience. While I failed, I was still amazed I was able to stay even close to the target. I was even more saddened though, when I realized how many people go to bed hungry every night. This experience has helped me realize how lucky we are to have the means, but also how important it is for all of us to make a concerted effort to help eradicate poverty so that someday all people will not go to bed hungry and malnourished. My hope is that someday everyone will be able to live on more than $1.50 a day.

You can Live Below the Line for Opportunity this year. Learn more and register at https://www.livebelowtheline.com/us-opportunity.

Joe Sandler is a consultant with The Alexander Group and a founding member of the YAO-San Francisco chapter.

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