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Family Spends $100 For One Month

Saving Inspiration: Family Spends $100 For One Month

Inspiring stories can be found in the most surprising places, and this one comes from the October issue of Reader's Digest. Like many Americans, the Hochman family (Ruth, David, and four-year old Sebastian) realized they were being weighed down by pointless expenses, but instead of consuming as usual the family formed a drastic plan.

They'd have $100 for 30 days, to be used for what they call essential items like fresh fruit and milk, and of course they'd continue to pay the mortgage, utilities, and preschool tuition. Everything else, including parking, gas, and Internet, were off-limits. Find out how the Hochmans learned to live lean when you


Habitual spending is a hard habit to break, but the Hochmans were adamant about sticking to the plan. When their shower clogged they pirated the neighbor's Internet and found a solution that worked on; David entertained Sebastian by taking him to Costco for the free samples; they used Skype for free phone calls, the public library for DVDs and books, and Freecycle or Craigslist for free stuff.

During the last week of the experiment, Ruth and David volunteered at a local charity that serves food to people in need in a restaurant setting. This final experience made them realize how much they really have, and how much other people live without every day.

How do you think your household would do with this (almost) no-spend month?


Join The Conversation
chatabox chatabox 8 years
On Oprah, they had families that cut the cost of living too...I'm trying but I not there just yet
jenious jenious 8 years
It would be quite uncomfortable, but I could do it.
hockeygirl08 hockeygirl08 8 years
I have a question. I live on very little. I've cut out a lot of stuff I really don't need. The thing I just can't do is use coupons. I have coupons for stuff like detergent and stuff but it just seems like I end up buying things I don't need just because I have a coupon. Also, I live alone and I'm single. I never need to use the "buy two" coupons. Do you know how long it would take me to use 2 big containers of laundry detergent? Forever. I don't have the space to store all of it either. I'd be open to suggestions on how to spend less, how to use coupons, etc. Keeping in mind that I shop at Wal Mart for my food, clothes, etc. and I buy the WalMart brand. I don't buy name brands if I can help it. I save a lot that way. Any other suggestions?
True-Song True-Song 8 years
That is crazy. I always think I am broke, but then I know that I have lived on much less. Not sure I could spend just $100 for the month, but I'd be curious to try maybe $200.
vunder vunder 8 years
It's an interesting exercise but do austerity measures really improve your overall financial education that much in the long run. I sort of think of my budget as like dieting: I eat enough to live, I eat enough to enjoy, I try to be creative without going overboard, I consider my splurges very carefully, I try to distinguish between wants and needs and try not to get into bad habits. Costco for free samples seems a little gross. When we were kids, my dad would take us to the airport to watch planes for fun (might not be as easy to watch them now). Parks.
Asche Asche 8 years
For those of you who are relentlessly criticizing: Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the family ASKED their neighbors if they could use their connection?
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 8 years
One word: coupons. I went to the grocery store last week and spent $35.00 for this week's groceries - and that included toilet paper and laundry detergent, fruit, bread, milk, all of the staples. Next week won't be as much because I won't have to buy the TP or the detergent. Those together were $15 (after coupons). So - $100/month is totally doable... you just have to want to do it. I definitely spend over a hundred, but maybe I'll try to do next month under $100 - that could be interesting! Me, I do it for fun :) I compete against myself to see how much I can save each week with coupons and sales and try to outdo myself by clever meal planning. I don't have to do it, but I choose to do it because a)as mentioned before, it's fun (it's cool if you wanna call me a nerd now) and b)someday I may HAVE to do it and at least I'll know how.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
My mom always said that there's a big difference between being thrifty and being stingy, and I think this experiment definitely proves it.
jnj213 jnj213 8 years
caterpillargirl- where did you shop/ what kind of meals did you eat to do this? Food is always so expensive especially things like milk, coffee, never mind trying to buy organic produce. Groceries are probably where most of my money goes after rent, utilities.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
It can be done, definitely. There are alot of things that can be gone without.
proudmom proudmom 8 years
I'd like to focus on the positive aspects of this story: looking for creative solutions to spend less, including finding all a free public library has to offer. I am encouraged by this couples volunteering & ultimately appreciating what they do have rather than complaining about what they don't have. Hopefully they can also learn it is possible to find solutions to problems without having to use what is not theirs.
Lilavati Lilavati 8 years
It's important to note that some people leave an open wireless on purpose for those who need it.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i think that knowing how reliant i am on internet, i would probably have to find myself a seat at the local starbucks cause that's one expense that i can't really live without...but i think that i could do ok with it. i don't really spend money on things that aren't necessities right now anyway. i 'm assuming that my metrocard would be an acceptable expense since i really do live too far from work to walk.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
I know people do it all the time (and I've been guilty), but it's COMPLETELY unacceptable to me to justify stealing a service someone else legitimately paid for because YOU didn't want to spend that money.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
My husband is out of work right now, so its just one paycheck for everything. we of course pay all of our bills, and We have a budget of 120 per month for food (including breakfast and lunches) and Gas. There is 0$ for anything "extra" like new clothes, makeup, Movies, DVD's, Lunches out... We have been doing this for 4 months now and we have gotten so good at it that we say all the time "if we had two paychecks and stuck to this we could save so much money" but of course I miss sometimes going out and buying those "extras" I think we will find a happy medium when things are better. AND we arent eating crap either, its all well balanced meals.
Colleeninator Colleeninator 8 years
Super uncool. Most of the things they did, they used OTHER PEOPLE'S internet for. That's bad juju. Using the internet really CAN save you quite a bit of money, time and all sorts of hassle, so it really is worth paying for it. As a college student, internet is basically a necessity for me, but it's amazing how much money the internet can help you save.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
There was an article recently in Real Simple magazine (I think) where a man tried to go an entire week without spending any money (with similar exceptions). And he found that he was able to do it, but only by severely mooching off other people ala this family pirating an internet connection (which I'm assuming they also needed for those "free" Skype calls). Something about this just utterly feels like cheating. You aren't getting by without spending money. You are spending other people's money and feeling superior about it.
beram1220 beram1220 8 years
People who don't put passwords on their internet can't complain about it being pirated. If you can figure out how to connect to wireless, you can figure out how to put a password on it - it's not that difficult.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
Pirating the, THAT'S ethical. We have a wireless network in our house and our neighbors at our old apartment complex used to try to hop on it. We had to encrypt it so people couldn't steal it anymore. Seriously, if you want the internet that bad and don't want to pay for it, go to the library. I don't think I could go a month on only $100. I eat too many fresh foods that I have to buy weekly...produce, eggs, milk, etc. I probably spend something like $200 a month on groceries alone.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 8 years
Wow me and my fiance wouldn't be able to go a month and only spend 100$ on non living expense things. It's awesome they were able to do it but I'm sure once the month was over, they were digging out the credit cards.
gabiushka gabiushka 8 years
'They pirated the neighbor's Internet and found a solution that worked on' They could have skipped saying that, or maybe they could have gone to the public library...
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