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Archive for December 28th, 2006

$1 for $5 is a good deal, right?

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

My 7-year-old nephew wants to get a pop out of the machine at the store next door. He comes racing in the house with two $5 bills crumpled in his hand.

“Do you have a dollar bill, the machine won’t take these?”

I tell him that’s because you can’t buy a pop with a $5 bill. He really wants that pop though, because his next question is, “Well, do you have two dollar bills I could trade?”

I try to explain to him that not all dollar bills are created equal and if I trade him two $1 bills for his $5 bills, he will actually lose money. But he really wants that pop. Eventually, I just give in and hand over a dollar for him and a dollar for his brother (so much for the eating on $1 idea, right?)

The whole situation reminded me of a Shel Silverstein poem:


My dad gave me a dollar
`Cause I’m his smartest son
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
`Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes — I guess he don’t know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just ‘cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the feed-seed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head —
Too proud of me to speak!

Luckily, he asked me not someone who would rip him off.

Eating on $1 a day?

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

I have been poor. In fact, I’ve pretty much perfected the art of being poor the last few years of college. But, I’ve never had to eat on $1 a day, as this guy chose to do as a month-long experiment. He kept a blog of his experiences — from hunger pains to 9 cent hot dogs — that is a pretty quick read (click on the November archive link and read top to bottom).

I know I waste a lot of money eating out or eating fast food, but mostly I do it for the social aspects anyway. The Monday/Wednesday lunch crew? The weekly Chipotle runs on Sunday after the editors meeting? Ethnic Tuesdays? The list goes on.

Although I spent much of college eating one meal a day because I didn’t have time to eat more frequently. (Seriously, I can’t even begin to count the number of times I got home after midnight and considered I hadn’t really eaten that day but decided I’d rather sleep an extra half hour than think of and prepare something to eat.) I can’t imagine forcing myself to sit down and think about how I could make that one meal each day within the budget constraints of $1. I always knew I could grab something on-campus or run to Taco Bell. That was always an option.

I also have to give him kudos for donating the difference between what he spent and his normal food budget to the food bank. That alone validates the experiment and what he learned.

In some-what related matters, I also came across this posting (What the World Eats), which has photos of several families from around the world and what I surmise to be everything in their cupboards/stockpiles. It’s insightful to see how what Americans eat compares to other families in other parts of the world.