I Spent $5 a Day for a Week – Here’s How I Made it Work

You come home from work and you’re so hungry and tired, everyone is starting to look like cartoon hot-dog versions of themselves.

You open your phone and pull up a delivery app and order from your favourite Thai restaurant – $28.75 with delivery charge. It’s a little hefty but you figure why not? (even though you ordered sushi last night and went out for brunch the day before).

The average Canadian spends over $2000 per year on just coffee.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather buy myself a nice plane ticket to Europe than have a Caramel Macchiato every day.


As a young person living in the city, I’m all about saving money, but when payday rolls around, sometimes I get a little ahead of myself. To try out some new money-saving tips and expose what I really don’t need to buy, I tried living off $25 over 5 days. And here’s what happened.

On the first day, I took everything out of my wallet – debit/credit cards, loose change, pizza coupons – and put in $25. I went to the grocery store to try and pick out some food for the week because cooking at home is infinitely cheaper (and more fun).

I bought some oatmeal, apples, canned beans, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and rice and it cost me a total of $16.28.

The second and third days were pretty easy. I biked everywhere I needed to get to since Ontario summers are beautiful (most of the time) and spent my evenings hanging with my friends at home or reading to avoid spending money going out.

On the fourth day, I ran out of conditioner (something I usually splurge on because my hair decides to be an actual tumbleweed most days). To avoid spending the big bucks, I decided to try something I’d been curious about for awhile – I lathered some coconut oil between my hands, spread it through my hair, and washed it out in the shower. My hair felt arguably just as soft and I saved a bunch by using something around my house to get the job done.

By the last day, I had $8.72 left and I almost convinced myself to spend it on a NYX lipstick that I wasn’t even super crazy about.


I realized how strong the impulse to buy was – how just being in a store with a wallet makes you feel like you need to spend it just to satisfy the urge to shop.

Ah, consumerism.

But more than that – it made me appreciate that I have the ability to participate in experiments like this. I was able to try a budget my money to save more and only spend a little less than $4 per day, but for some people, this isn’t an option – it’s just daily life. And it’s stressful.

I’d like to challenge anyone to try and live on less for even just a few days out of the week. It really makes you see what you’re spending your money on and how much of that is just unnecessary mindless purchasing that can ultimately be put towards something better.

This isn’t to say that you should feel bad if you treat yourself to something great every now and again.

It’s just about recognizing that you have the ability to do so and appreciating that.