$100 Challenge

How much do you spend in a week?  $300?  $500?  $1,000?  It adds up fast.  Don’t count your fixed expenses:  rent, utilities, insurance.  One week, seven days, how much do you spend?  Those $6 pitstops at Starbucks and $4 you-call-its at happy hour can really do some damage.  Recently we gave ourselves a challenge.  Perhaps you read about it on Facebook, perhaps not, the 3000-baht challenge.  You see, we are living in Thailand, and 3000 baht is roughly $100.  I know what you are thinking, everything in Thailand is dirt cheap, so that would be super easy.  But we had a catch, not to give up our lifestyle:  and that includes massages at least twice a week.  I want you to do it, too.  The $100 challenge starts now!  Oh, side note:  Cheerios are like $17 a box here, so not everything is cheap!  

First, I’ll give you our challenge results as a guideline.  Then, I’ll set some rules for you.  I want you to do this, I NEED you to do this.  Now, I know what you are thinking.  “I have three kids, no chance.”  Don’t worry, I’ll give you some allowances in my rules section.  But first, our results:

During our first week in Thailand we spent 6000 baht, which is $200.  Week two saw us spend not a whole lot less, coming in at 5500 baht, or $184.  So what happened in week three, our challenge week?  We cut our expenses in HALF, and didn’t sacrifice much at all.  For the sake of the rest of this, I’ll use dollars instead of bahts.  After all, this isn’t a math quiz.  I don’t want you having to divide every single number by 30…so I’ll do the tedious work for you.  We have 12 categories of expenses here, and I’ll list them as follows:  {Week 1, Week 2, Week 3}.  Remember, week 3 was challenge week.


  1. Massages:  {$63, $44, $29}
  2. Breakfast Out:  {$18, $14, $11}
  3. Lunch Out:  {$25, $6, $0}
  4. Dinner Out:  {$21, $25, $15}
  5. Take Away:  {$12, $4, $8}
  6. Drinks Out:  {$5, $2, $3}
  7. Market:  {$19, $10, $10}
  8. Grocery:  {$23, $48, $9}
  9. Taxi:  {$0, $16, $0}
  10. Ice Cream:  {$4, $5, $3}
  11. Supplies:  {$5, $6, $7}
  12. Laundry:  {$5, $4, $5}
  13. TOTALS:  {$200, $184, $100}


Take away is food that we get at the Rompho market that is already cooked.  Usually these are pork skewers and chicken wings.  We eat these the next day for lunch or dinner.  It’s actually cheaper than its non-cooked counterparts at the grocery store.  

Market refers to fruit and vegetables from the open air market.  Grocery is obviously groceries from the grocery store, and supplies are separate.  Although we get supplies from the grocery store, I like to separate our food costs.  


Those were our first three weeks here, and notice that we met our goal of $100 (exactly) for week three.  HALF of what we spent during week one.  Now, I want you to do the same.  And you can!  Because I promise you don’t get massages as often as we do, else you would already be broke!

So, onto your rules.  I want you to spend $100 or less in one week.  Now, don’t cheat and spend $500 at the grocery store the day before you start, hunker down like a hermit, and never go out.  No, no, no!  I don’t want that, so please don’t.  I want you to live your normal life, but with minor adjustments.  No Starbucks, drink the free coffee when you get to work.  That’ll save you $35 a week!  Steer clear of alcohol for a week, unless you have some wine handy at home.  Go ahead and use what you have, but for one week, controlled frugality.  You can do it, I know it.  Alright, so you have a few rugrats running around.  I’ll let you slide and add $30 per child.  There were only two of us this time, so $50 each.  

An expense that you have that we don’t:  gasoline.  Don’t count it toward your $100.  Else you will probably have to stop going to work.  What I want is for you to not sacrifice (much) and spend less.  That means, eat at home, cook together, entertain together.  Have a game night at home instead of going to the movies.  Grab the $6 rotisserie chicken and veggies instead of three value meals at McDonalds.  It’s cold in the States now, make a pot of chili or soup that will last a few days!  Anything.  Don’t skip meals, but don’t overspend.  Just for a week, you can do it!  We did!  We even kept our massages, well, some of them.

If you think $100 is too little, how about just cutting in half.  If you spend $400 a week, try to spend $200.  You don’t have to copy us.  Just set yourself a challenge, it’s actually a little fun, and if you make it, reward yourself.  After all, you will have saved a bit of money and you deserve a treat.  Fretting about summer vacation?  Do this challenge three or four times before summer and set your savings aside for the vacation that you want, see you in Thailand.              


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