I found the online game Spent last night and must say it is a very eye opening game. The premise of the game is that you’ve lost your job and house and are down to your last $1,000. Can you to survive on $1,000 for a month? As you play the game, you need to find a job, a place to live, buy food, and deal with everything else life throws at you. The game only takes 5-10 minutes to play, so I highly suggest you try it out. Simply click on the image below to play the game. When you are done, you can read my experience below.
How to Live on $1,000 A Month: Lessons Learned
I failed. I ended up running out of money after 12 days. I thought I was smart about my spending decisions, but life kept throwing me curveballs. I guess I could have ran away from the accident or not answered that collection call, but I just couldn’t do it – I’m too honest!
The most striking thing that I learned from playing the game is how much more costly it is to survive when you are living paycheck to paycheck. For example, in the game it asked if I wanted to buy health insurance. Many low income earners forgo insurance because of the cost. Because of this, should any issues come up, they will cost you much more money than if you were paying for health insurance each month. It sounds simple then to buy the coverage, but many cannot afford it without going without something else. There are so many choices that you need to make.
Another thing that struck me was just how little thought I put into buying certain things that area big decision for those in need. For example, the game asked me to buy sneakers for my kid. I never think about the cost of sneakers in terms of surviving month to month. I buy a high quality shoe that has a reasonable price tag, but I never have to make the decision to buy the sneakers or buy myself a jacket.
For anyone reading this post, here is my advice to anyone living close to the edge:
- Find areas where you can cut back on expenses. Buy alternatives. Learn about things that actually make you poorer. Limit your spending. You can live off of Ramen noodles for awhile. Buy non-perishables like canned vegetables that will last. Take advantage of food stamps. It may not be glamorous, but don’t worry what others think of you and be proud of who you are and where you are going.
- Make saving a priority, not something you do if there is anything left over after the fact.
- Make friends at work. If they live nearby, maybe you can carpool and cut down on gas and wear and tear on your car.
- Find a roommate. Find someone to live with to help cut down the monthly cost of rent.
- Find other income sources. You don’t necessarily need another job. With the internet, you can turn just about anything into an income. This post has a ton of ideas to get you started.
- Work on building an emergency fund. Start out with just getting the balance to $1,000. That $1,000 for the unexpected will save you from many headaches down the road.
- Save money. Find out if you can save a lot of money by changing three things in your life.
- Stay positive. Everyone experiences setbacks in life. Learn to not get down when a setback happens and instead grow and become a better person from it. Check out this video for some perspective, or this one.
Final Thoughts: How to Live on $1,000 a Month
Living on $1,000 a month is not easy. But if you are in this situation, you don’t have to settle and accept it. There are things you can do to change your circumstances, you just have to be willing to put in the effort. If you can take steps to better your situation, you will slowly begin to see changes. Use those achievements as motivation to keep pushing through and reaching your goals.
Readers, how did you fare when you played Spent?