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Beauty Editor Tries to Live on $50 for a Week, Could You?

When I was lounging in the airport over the weekend waiting for my reassigned flight, I stumbled across an article in Women's Health about the magazine's beauty editor Polly Blitzer attempting to live on $50 for a week. The article greets readers with the headline, "The Dare: Live on $50 for a week (about seven days' worth of Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce lattes and The New York Times).

Polly says her biggest challenge was giving up expensive grooming habits like regular blowouts, manicures, and pedicures. While she was willing to swap her usual blowout for a headband, Polly wasn't willing to buy fast food. Instead, she loaded up on free samples at Whole Foods to "get gourmet on limited funds." She was able to make the most of her pantry and concocted nine meals out of these items: six cans of black beans, a box of rigatoni, a jar of Dijon, two packages of frozen peas, and one can of crushed tomatoes.

While it's tough to keep costs down when you live in a place like New York, Polly admits that she would take the $50 challenge again. She learned that she's an "unconscious spender" and doesn't have much to show for an empty wallet: "A cab ride, a pack of gum — before I know it, I've burned through a hundred bucks!" Would it be difficult for you make $50 stretch over a week's expenses?


Join The Conversation
Kat-E Kat-E 8 years
I took a MASSIVE pay cut to work my current job (and 3 months being unemployed), and while I now get to do something I actually enjoy and love coming to work, I really had to relearn how to live within my means. I was shocked one month when I realized I had actually maxed out my credit card for the first time (luckily it was a low limit to begin with). I am moving in with a roommate to save on rent, selling my car (who needs a car in San Francisco anyway?), and cooking at home a lot more. I also cancelled my cable and internet (thanks neighbors who don't have password protection - and sorry, too) and my Netflix account. The result, I hope, will save me thousands of dollars a year that I no longer make haha. Maybe I should take this challenge and see how I do :)
vvflores vvflores 8 years
it's not really that hard- just find a nice busy ethnic grocery store and shop there. the prices are always better for some reason (my grocery is armenian but i've noticed this w/ asian and hispanic markets too, just not the super super huge chain stores) and the food is always fresh b/c of high volume turnover. i even have $ leftover for wine. I can buy enough food for the week including fresh produce, a roasted chicken, and sliced cheese plus the wine for right around $30 weekly. then again, my grocery store is magical. i mean, 2 artichokes for $1??? Yeah- that almost never happens anywhere else. :) another idea? coupon clipping. $2 for a paper saves you a heck of a lot at the big stores buying specific items- I've walked out of there paying only 20-30% of my bill more than a few times.
hautepink hautepink 8 years
I'm just trying to only spend 100 bucks a week because i'm trying to pay off my credit card (only $490) in the next couple months. I'm also trying to save moola because I live with my boyfriend right now but he wants to move back to his hometown and I kinda have to stay where I'm living because of my job (such a weird situation). Anywho, i'm super ignorant to how much a spend every day..I work in a upscale mall and I work right next to a sephora, MAC, neiman marcus, tiffany & co, louis vuitton, and brand new forever 21 ( that i spend a whole paycheck at). It's hard to bring food to work because I work early in the morning, I hope I can cut down on eating at work!
ccpdm ccpdm 8 years
I think it could be done for A week but not EVERY week.
anakiya anakiya 8 years
hahaha I started this entire post thinking that I could do this. Then when all of you starting throwing stuff in I began to think that there is no way in hell I would be able to. I don't drive to work, so gas would not be a problem. I take the train and therefore have to buy a train ticket which costs a little over $200.00 a month. Then there is the metrocard which is probably about $40 per month. I am a smoker (not much, but I do buy them) Not sure how much but probably about $14.00 per week. I stopped going to Starbucks and my coffee only costs $1.75 in the cafeteria at the office (it's good coffee and lots of flavors). Then there is lunch which can cost about $5 to $7 per day...... hmmmmm the occasional magazine at the train station when I don't get the early train and have time to buy one..... hmmmm nope, I don't think I could do this. And don't tell me that I could if I quit smoking, for now it's not going to happen. XOXO
ccpdm ccpdm 8 years
It sounds like she included groceries since she cleaned out her pantry. This is doable, but not every week - you'd have to restock that pantry some time!
chatoyante chatoyante 8 years
I agree on the tea - when you buy in bulk and loose, it saves you lots of money over coffee! And it's more soothing :) We cut down to eating out once a week and when I go clothes shopping (the one vice I find hard to get rid of) I do it at thrift stores in upscale neighborhoods near me. You wouldn't believe what you can find. I picked up some sweet Banana Republic pants for $10, Lucky jeans for $3.50...many thrift stores have weekly 2-for-1 clothing sales as well. If you are selective and patient, you can dress well for pocket change.
4peachMoney 4peachMoney 8 years
With the price of gas-are you kidding me?!!! My car eats more than I do!
Shadowdamage Shadowdamage 8 years
I kind of enjoy budgeting now, finding ways to pay for things more painlessly - it has its challenges but in a way the challenge is fun. Like others have said above, its learning what you "need" versus what you "want", and how easy it can be to cut corners in painless ways. As far as food goes, its cheaper if you can streamline what you make to include similar ingredients on a tight week or use up things you already have - i.e. taking a really nice bag of frozen spinach to contribute to lasagna one night and canneloni later in the week, using the leftover lasagna sheets as well as the rest of the spinach, etc. I also never buy teabags anymore, though I never splurge on QUALITY of tea I found a local vendor who sells bulk teas, including a really exceptional tippy Assam that I buy in bags loose and keep in a good quality container at home. For the price of 100 bags of mediocre tea, (which at about 2-3 cups a day, lasts a month), I get enough loose tea to last twice as long and its better quality. I also have to feed a hungry boyfriend, who is in school, so I have a trusty ricecooker. I may buy smaller quantities of meat or more expensive ingredients, but make extra rice so he can fill up on a bit more if needed - in addition, we buy really healthy, filling wholegrain and fiber breads that are suitable for breakfast, lunch, sandwiches, whatever. We cut our haircuts down to once every TWO months, though I have to admit its a bit annoying, it helps, and we don't subscribe to cable, we have a TV but play DVDs or enjoy things on the net instead. Finally, I got rid of my phone bill entirely by going to Skype, which is a word...awesome. I will say as a disclaimer that I don't have kids, and don't have to commute so I respect that those 2 things make it a lot harder!
teperry3 teperry3 8 years
$50 for frivilous things (mani/pedi/blowout, going out to eat instead of taking a lunch) that can't include groceries as well..
kathili kathili 8 years
I'll have to try this someday when I'm actually working. Right now as a college student I feel that I don't spend alot for long stretches of time, even on food...but then when I get home over break or decide to treat myself for a day, I can blow through $100-$300 easily and hardly notice.
Sugarblonde Sugarblonde 8 years
I can get by without the manicures/pedicures and everyday coffee's. I still do lunches/dinners for work though, groceries & have to fill up for gas once a week or so... hard to avoid those costs (Even with coupons).
LoveSarah LoveSarah 8 years
I have to do this, and not by choice. And it's really more like $20 a week for me. And some how I manage!
tiffanyfuchsia tiffanyfuchsia 8 years
I have to assume this doesn't include things like gas, but my guess would be that based on the part in the article about making good use of the items in the pantry, the $50 a week did include groceries. I think this would be a great thing to try doing. I'm sure I'd be amazed at how much money I could NOT spend if I put my mind to it.
candace87 candace87 8 years
People actually pay to get their hair professionally blow-dried?! I could see doing it before a special event or at least just on occasion, but weekly? Who even has the time to do that.
True-Song True-Song 8 years
If I counted alcohol as a "fixed expense," then maybe.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
My husband lost his job 4 months ago, and we are on a strict budget of about 45 per week including groceries. Its hard, you have to search out the better deals but we have survived and its been an eye opener as to how much we really spend on food or frivolous items. I havent bought one single piece of clothing, makeup, or lunch out and its made me realize how much i already have, versus what i think i "need"
verily verily 8 years
If I cut out the $20 a week for lunch, I could totally do this. I spend about $30-40 at the grocery store (including some luxury items I could do without like nice cheeses & wine) and $7 for my share of veggies from our CSA, and have few incidental expenses otherwise. I never made Starbucks a daily or even weekly routine, and I certainly don't waste my money on blowouts.
TidalWave TidalWave 8 years
I would also be curious how much extra time she had in a week as a result of not doing those frivolous activities.
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
If I didn't have to include my husband, I could live on $50 per week. It might mean eliminating a few frivolous things. I'm pretty frugal anyway so there aren't many things I do that I really think are "wastes" of money.
bsglrok132 bsglrok132 8 years
I really don't spend cash on small things like coffee, snacks, magazines, etc. It does cost quite a bit to eat well though, so that's where most of my money goes after rent and bills. I could probably eat for under $50 a week if I only bought a few things like lentils, black beans, and sweet corn. But I like variety.
BuchaBaby BuchaBaby 8 years
With exploding foodprices these days 50 bugs is not much (guess it would be about 35Euro for me). I mean i DO think about my grocery list all the time: Do i need this,is that necessary. But sometimes you want to have a little more. Luxury. So i work extra-hours and try to spend my money reasonable. We have a saying: Everyone can spend his money only one time.
gumdrops334 gumdrops334 8 years
yeah, it was probably $50 disposable income. who gets regular blowouts? I'm 20, am I too young to understand this phenomenon? I always do my own hair, unless I'm getting it cut. What a waste! I should try this though.
Smart-Living Smart-Living 8 years
deanna024- I believe the $50 was just for non-fixed expenses, so not including things like rent and other regular bills.
deanna024 deanna024 8 years
Um, I'm guessing if you factored in all expenses, she was not living for $50 a week. Take NY rent and average it out over 4 weeks a month. Way more than $50, I'm betting.
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