Inspired by Elon Musk's commitment to eating hot dogs for a month (link to article), I thought i'd test my limits on spending an average of less than $10 a day on food for a year. Note that this included eating out, beer, snacks, buying friends/family meals and anything in between that involved eating. Although eating hot dogs everyday sounds like heaven, I also had to consider my nutritional needs of being a professional athlete running 100+ mile weeks.
I know you all are probably thinking to yourselves, but why? Just pay the extra two bucks and get that cheeseburger made for you. If you can't already tell, I'm addicted to numbers and excel. So naturally I try to compute and apply numbers to everything. In the case of saving money, let's assume you put the money into your retirement fund and achieve the average stock market return of 7% a year and take your savings out after 40 years. If your penny pinching saved you $10 a day on food, your total savings for the year would be $365*10=$3,650.00. After 40 years of compounding interest, this amount would equal $54,656.77. That's enough to fund your new spending diet for $54,656.77/$3,650=14.97 years after retirement. #Math
Where did I begin?
I started with what I needed from a nutritional standpoint veggies, carbs, fruits, et cetera and determined what the minimum cost could potentially be for each. For all of you project managers, I took the minimum viable product (MVP) on what I needed to operate from a sustenance perspective and the rest was nice to have money to spend on myself. Without a doubt, my budget was quickly gobbled up by fruits and vegetables as there were no cost cutting strategies around this (Gardening for me consists of growing weeds and killing plants). With whatever remaining budget I had, I began meal planning for the most bang for my buck. Here is what a typical day looked like for me:
Tuna Casserole was a go-to for me as it met my 4 to 1 carbs to protein ratio for recovery and it was cheap and surprisingly palatable (don't deny it till you try it!).
How did my year turn out?
Tips and Tricks
Sum it up already!
Saving money doesn’t have to equate to eating unhealthy or being a recluse, it involves proactive planning and being deliberate in not eating out when you don't have to. Over the course of a year, I met my financial goal while meeting my athletic goal of qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials. How do you like them apples?