May 5, 2012

The Art of Eating

"The fact that the poor are alive is clear proof of their ability."
-Muhammad Yunus, Banker To The Poor

This summer I'm going to be working seven days a week. The first half of each week day will be spent teaching summer school and the second half will be spent learning educational pedagogy with other new teachers. On the weekends I will work fourteen hours for the hostel I'm living at to pay for my bed. The kicker is that I'm not actually being paid for any of this work (at least, not in cash), and my hours will be too erratic to let me get a waitress job at night (not like I could cram anything more into my schedule). The only real solution is to put aside some money. Unfortunately, because I've been in school, I've only been working part time and after my regular bills there really isn't much left over.

By working at the hostel at least my housing is taken care of, but I will need to eat once in a while and I'll probably need a trolly pass at $50 per month. Did I mention this will go on for three months? 90 days with no income. Sounds like a reality show. I've done the math. $450, or $5 per day, will get me a pack of mushrooms to throw in my Raman Noodles. On top of the $450 for food I'll need $150 for a trolly pass as well as another $450 just to meet my credit card payments. Looks like I'll be eating Roman Noodles sans mushrooms. That's over $1,000 I need to save and let's be realistic: that's just not going to happen. 

My solution is to bum rides from other teachers when possible or walk. Yeah, I know it's going to be hot and sticky, but that will save $150. As for food, how about this?
Yes, I recognize that I might starve on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but maybe I can shove some rolls into my purse. Instead of $5 a day, I can nurse a $2.50 beer which cuts my costs in half. I can't get around the credit card, so I'll have to put that money aside somehow. 

God, I hate being broke. Don't get me wrong, it's romantic and everything and I know money doesn't buy happiness yada yada yada, but I'd like to go a full three days without checking my bank balance or buy a buy a new pair of jeans instead of a "new to me" pair from Goodwill. On the bright side, if practice makes perfect then I'm going to be a penny pinching savant by the time I'm 30.

If you're also super broke, check out 
Broke-Ass Stuart's Goddamn Website for some ideas and a laugh.


  1. Don't forget soup kitchens, food not bombs, and other random sources of free food.

    If you have any experience at all, you might also be able to talk your way into one or two shifts a month tending bar. Even bar-backing for a night brings decent cash--enough for food, at least.

    Does the teacher program provide public transit passes? Some do.

    If you ever find yourself with a free weekend afternoon, you can always sell things to tourists, or do some busking. Though you might need a license for that...

  2. There are lots of poor people in NO. Talk to them about where to get free food. I have gotten the best advice from talking to people in line my the local church giveaway. Most big cities have food pantries. Senior Centers are a good source of info too, most giveaways are for everybody not just seniors. This link lists foodbanks by zip code

    You get all kinds of stuff and it changes every time. Bread, canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, cheese, produce and even snaks sometimes. There are always food stamps too.
    Good luck, Jay
    [I was holding out for Maine, but that's just me;)]

  3. There a a fair amount of churches and food banks in the NOLA area. The key to being and good penny pincher is remembering that even when you do have money, you need to save. I think finding a ride share to work may be a solid idea and it could be fun for you to get know some of your co-workers better. For other sources of food, you can except an offer of dinner from a random stranger everyday, or steal from other hostelers.. Good Luck

  4. I am kinda envious of the freedom of being totally broke, however at my age, I would not want to be in that situation. Enjoy it while you are young and your earning potential is not yet realized. Once you are locked into a retirement plan and are reaching an older age the freedom is gone and the security is not guaranteed!

  5. Ash, put a tip jar on your blog and many of us who like reading your blog can help support you. If you don't want to do that long-term then you could do it just for the ninety days of no income this summer. Good luck!

    1. Yes! I was looking for your donation box (or graduation present collection if you prefer).


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