I did it guys. 31 Days. 1 Paycheck. $10.32/Day. In New York City.
Wow, my first 1 Paycheck Challenge was pretty stressful! I lived on a budget of $10.32/Day, strictly on cash so I can keep accurate tabs on what I was spending and what I had left for the month.
To recap, I started off the month with 2 envelopes:
- Fees Envelope (Yoga/Laundry): $90
- Spending Envelope (Food/Purchases): $320
My total cash for the month was $410. I came to this number after crunching how much I spend in a month with all of my concrete living costs (such as rent, wifi, Netflix, gym membership, electricity, etc.), and subtracting that from the value of my paycheck.
Before I go any further though, I just wanted to say,
thank you all so much for the outpouring of support on my last entry, both on this blog and elsewhere.
You guys helped to make this just “another thing in the life of Hiro,”
and it’s great to know that my problems that cause endless financial/physical/emotional headaches
can possibly be an avenue for educating people about chronic illnesses.
Just as I have been doing for the past 5 years with AVMs and Brain Injury,
I hope I’ll be able to spread information and resources about Rheumatoid Arthritis/Autoimmune Disorders.
If you missed it: Why I’m Taking a Chemo Drug #ButYouDon’tLookSick
There are 2 fees I pay for services on a regular basis: Yoga Classes and Laundry. I have the laundromat down the street do my laundry for me, which goes for anywhere between $10~22/load, depending on how many pounds of clothes I unload on them (yes, I’ve gone up to 25lbs of clothes…).
My Yoga Classes are $5 or $8 a session, depending on whether I take the class at work or at my local yoga studio. I guesstimated that I would spend $60 for laundry, and $30 for yoga.
In reality, I spent $24 for yoga (pretty close!), and around $45 for laundry, which adds up to around $69. I have a $20 bill left, so I guess It was +/- few dollars (I somehow misplaced my 2nd load of laundry’s price, and that was a 20+lb load, so it was probably a few more dollars than what I’ve calculated.
Fees Envelope Left Over: $20
Initially, I was going to further divide the Spending Envelope into $50 for Purchases and $270 for Food, but after a day or so, I realized that was too much categorization. There was no point in further dividing, because most of my money was spent on food every month anyways, and I inherently don’t purchase too many things.
So if I happened to want to buy something, I’ll just budget it out with the whole of “Spending Budget,” rather than have a separate budget for it.
Living on $10.32 a day in New York City was a stressful idea. In most areas of the US, I think $10 might be plenty of money to get yourself fed. But here, there’s really nothing you can get for under $10 as a meal, unless you order at a Halal Cart.
To prepare for a night out or a planned lunch with a coworker, I had to plan in advance, and “save up” the $10 from previous few days so I can pay for the food. And with all my medical stresses, sometimes I was inclined to #TreatMyself.
Otherwise, I ate whatever the office had, or brought lunch, and ate through some of my stock food for dinner. It’s really a good way to start using up some of the stock food that might be getting a little older, and need to be consumed. Also, my Decluttering Journey was actually pretty helpful, because I “unearthed” some food stuff that were hiding in places/out of sight, which I was able to eat instead of having to buy duplicates.
I did cheat once, because my boyfriend brought me some groceries (like milk), which I’m still drinking now, and fed me. My old roommate also sent me a huge amount of ginger-related-stuff, so I’m drinking ginger in warm water every day (to help with inflammation, hopefully).
Still, I managed to end up with a surplus of $105.61 out of $320 at the end of the month. Which means I spent around $215 for food and purchases for the whole month of August.
I guess you can survive pretty well on a tight budget in New York!
I kept a record of every spending in my journal.
Spending Envelope Left Over: $105.61
— Hiro in LA ✈️ (@nishimurahiroko) August 21, 2017
Other Cash Flow
I get paid on the 15th and the last day of the month, so as of August 30th (when this screenshot was taken), the direct deposit had not hit my account yet. My goal was for the Cash Flow (Earned – Spent) to be $0 at the end of August, because I’d have spent only as much as I earned this month.
The money that left my account accounted for stuff that come directly out of my bank/credit card (such as my Netflix and gym subscriptions, as well as my utility bills), and includes my rent. This value also includes the $410 in cash I withdrew from the ATM at the beginning of the month to use as my spending/fees money.
According to Mint, my Cash Flow for August was -$779.
Wait… Did I over spent by $779? Nope!
On the 15th of every month (to coincide with my 1st paycheck of the month), $50 goes out to my Savings Account, and $750 goes out to my Investment Portfolio. These “savings” would have been part of my 2nd paycheck for this month, as I was planning on living on just my 1st paycheck.
If I take into account the $800 that went into my savings/investments, I am actually at around +$21 from the paycheck.
So, Did You Suffer?
Stress wise, yes. It was pretty stressful, because I was bound by the numbers. And having restrictions make things really stressful for me.
But in actuality, not really. I went out a dozen times for dinner or lunch, whether with friends, coworkers, or just even getting myself a halal cart dinner or that horrible Chinese food take out (2 whole meals because I was really craving both noodles and the veggie dish).
My best friend came over to visit for a weekend, so we ate out a lot, and indulged ourselves in bubble tea as well. I honestly feel like I stressed out about this a lot more than I had to, and had made it needlessly difficult for myself. I only purchased one thing (a $4 pill case for my ever-growing number of pills I take daily), and the rest of the money was spent on food.
I set myself a budget of $320, and ended up with a surplus of $105.61. That’s another few decent meals I could’ve had, if I wanted to just break even!
AND with the $21 I had left over from the paycheck after I’d taken out all of my expenses, along with the $20 left over from my laundry and yoga budget, I could have spent another $146.61 to break even with my paycheck.
To put that into perspective, that’s almost 70% of all the money I spent all last month on food and purchases.
There was absolutely no reason for me to stress out at all!
Budgeting on Mint
So generally, I rely on my budget app, Mint. I have a pretty nitty-gritty budget on there, which includes everything from “Coffee Shops,” “Groceries,” “Restaurants,” “Gym,” “Sports,” “Public Transportation,” “Financial,” “Laundry,” “Shopping,” and “Rent.”
Something I am thinking about, after this month-long challenge, is that perhaps I should simplify it a bit, especially in terms of Food related things. Do I really need to break apart that I will spend $10 for Coffee Shops, $120 for Groceries, and $200 for Restaurants every month? Why not just have a general budget of $330 for all foods?
While I’m talking about Minimalism, I might seriously take a look at Minimalizing my Budget too.
Will You be Continuing the Challenge?
No, probably not. I might do it once every few months, though, just as a “Detox.” However, after crunching my numbers, it seems as though I already do save almost a paycheck every month (whether it be keeping it in my checking account, putting into savings, or transferring to my investment portfolio), so I might just be sustainable at a perpetual #1PaycheckChallenge mode (but minus the stress!).
Another thing that made me very nervous in August was the climbing cost of medical bills in the past few months, because of my Chronic Pain and diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (I just made a blog post about it last week).
Between June, July, and August, I have spent enough money on my medical bills to have reached my deductible in my HDHP (High Deductible Health Plan). From now on, until I reach $3500 out of pocket for this year, I’ll be paying for 20% of the bill, instead of 100%.
Thankfully, at this point, I have not overshot my HSA balance. However, I am anticipating overshooting by hundreds of dollars in September, as I have an outstanding medical bill of $800 (from my first rheumatologist appointment), and will be seeing the rheumatologist again today as well as my primary care doctor next week (at which point she will be doing more specialized tests to see if I may have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome).
Because the system does not allow me to “front load” my HSA account (aka: dump all the money into the HSA now, as opposed to $200/paycheck up to end of December), I am going to have to spend money from my actual bank account, and reimburse myself later.
Where’s the $$$?
So what did I spend the surplus from last month’s budgeting on? A haircut!
It was the first haircut I had since moving to NYC 3 years ago in the city (I always just went back home and went to the same hairstylist I’ve had since elementary school), so it was pretty stressful and expensive, but I’m glad I finally did it. I’ve been wanting to chop my hair off for years, but never had the courage to do it, because as straight as my hair looks, it’s pretty finicky.
I’m hoping that it’ll lessen the speed at which I’m losing hair from the chemo drug (and I’m just naturally inclined to lose a lot of hair every day), because it’s lighter, and it’s not pulling as much on my follicles.
Now I have to style it every time I wash it, and worry about how it’s flipping (my hair has bad tendency to flip in weird ways), but it takes so much less work to wash it, and it doesn’t get in the way like it used to. The bangs are annoying, but I think I’ll figure out how to manage them soon.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with the “extra” I have in my bank from the other pay check (that didn’t go into my savings or investment portfolio automatically), but I have a vague feeling it’s going to be needed soon for my upcoming medical fees.
So, did you partake in the #1PaycheckChallenge, or any iterations of it? What did you think?
If not, do you think you’d try something, even if it’s for a week or just a few weeks?
Do you have any Challenge you think I should try next?