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Project Minimum Wage: The Final Reflection

- Monday, February 13, 2012 1 Comment
I've had over a good week to soak in the end of Project Minimum Wage along with a fantastic Shockers road win in Omaha accompanied by three good friends as we sat in the CenturyLink Center watching thousands of fans exit the arena with many minutes left on the clock.

But a reflection on the Shockers total beat down of the Bluejays is not what's at hand, it's Project Minimum Wage.

When I last left you guys, I had $22 left for an entire Friday. After Friday and a buddy's "surprise" birthday party, I was down to zero. It was expected. I kind of knew that was going to happen. Ideally and in a perfect world, I would have liked to have a little left to save. Let's be honest though, would I have even been in this position if Lady Luck didn't come knocking on my door with bingo winnings?

I'll be the first to admit, Project Minimum Wage wasn't the closest to a real life replica of what one person goes through. With so many factors in my life, I couldn't have done it. Along with the regular bills one goes through as a homeowner, car bills, medical bills, social life, etc, no way I could have done Project Minimum Wage.

After a whole month of doing Project Minimum Wage, the first thing that came to mind was "Thank God that's over."  Many things I took for granted, I realized during January such as going out and buying a new shirt, taking someone to go see a late night showing of a movie instead of a matinee, a nice dinner at a restaurant, road trips, etc. I was also fortunate not to incur any unexpected costs one may have in a month such as a doctor's visit or car issues. Oddly enough, one of my tires blew out a few days after Project Minimum Wage was over. That would have been an unexpected cost that could have set me back.

All in all, I can't live on Minimum Wage. Don't think there's any way I could do it unless FORCED to. I had free dinners and drinks offered my way during the month; I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I accepted, sometimes I didn't. I turned down the free dinners more so than the free drinks. :)

I think through January, the people I feel more for are the families that struggle not just on minimum wage but also ones making barely above that. Take for instance the families that work on a Wal-Mart salary with a couple kids at home. Some of those kids don't have the luxuries many of us take for granted. I'm not trying to come off as "high and might" and "holier than thou" but sometimes I guess it's good to sit back and think about stuff like that. Yes, those families sometimes receive assistance from the government, church and charities but it's still a struggle for them.

Outside of all those social issues, I learned many other things such as "where a kitchen is at in a house." Sometimes one of the common things a person points out is how clean my kitchen is. Well that's because I never use it. Eating out was one of the bigger expenses I would have monthly, literally eating out multiple times a day, never bringing my lunch to work. The entire month of January and even up until this day, I have not spent a single dollar eating out for lunch. It's been stuff from home or last night's dinner that has been my lunch for the day. Through all the decades I've spent in my life eating, it never occurred to me just how easy some of the meals are to make outside of ramen noodles and mac and cheese. It's starting to make me wonder if my mom and aunt really "slaved away" in the kitchen for hours cooking the meals for me growing up. (Note: they probably did!).

Also Aldi's, what a different experience that was! Since that fateful day, I'm now the owner of a few shopping bags. One of the coolest things about Aldi's is how they charge for shopping bags. Literally all places in Wichita should do this. When I was in D.C., the Walgreen's charged 7-8 cents a bag. Loved that practice along with the shopping carts and the quarter. People should put their carts away and the quarter may help that. I've had my car scratched by a random shopping cart before; it's not fun.

I also think I'm a spending addict. There were days on Minimum Wage, I would find myself wanting to go to Wal-Mart just to look around. Is anybody else like that? During Project Minimum Wage, I've been more price conscious about what I'm spending money on. Since then, I've lowered my cable bill, cell phone bill, and working on insurance rates. is a great website for shoppers too. It shows coupons for all sorts of places. If I'm going to Best Buy, I'll check that website to see what coupons are currently available to use.

Many of my friends got onto my case about doing Project Minimum Wage but in the end, I'm glad I did. I truly learned a lot from it and hope to carry it on not just in February but further down through....well..... my entire life. Everybody should at least try something similar to it at least once. Maybe not the scaled down version of minimum wage but budget yourself at 60-70% of what you usually spend a month and see if you can do it from there.

With that said, thanks for reading along this past month and a half. I promise you Dining by the Alphabet returns soon.

And lastly, congrats to two of my friends (as well as former Guest Diner) on their newest addition to their family last week. You guys know who you are.

Project Minimum Wage: T-Minus 1 Day!

- Friday, February 3, 2012 No Comments
Days 28 and 29 boom! Gone just like that!

I started off the days with $62.

I remember stating that Wednesday was going to be a low key night for me with the Shocker game but I was too tempted to go out for the game by friends who want me to fail Project Minimum Wage. Ended up going out and only had a couple beers but I did not eat out. I made sure to eat dinner at home before going out. Probably something I wouldn't have done otherwise.

Thursday was the haircut I was supposed to postpone until next week. Figured since I had some money, I might as well get the haircut over with. Stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up some items here and there for dinner.

Final damage? It wasn't too bad. I'm now sitting here with $22 in hand. That's crazy cause 22 just happens to be my lucky number as well.

So here we are on the final day of Project Minimum Wage. I do have a birthday party to go to tonight but I'm thinking I'll be able to manage it all. Unfortunately I'm betting I won't have much money left over.

On the bright side, I did bring my lunch again to work. Its spaghetti cooked inside of bread dough. Pretty interesting concept. It's very cheap to make to. Spaghetti, ground beef, spaghetti sauce and frozen dough all flattened out and then you wrap it around the spaghetti. Plus there was a nice little sale at Dillon’s. If you look online, there are sites like that show you what coupons to use at what stores to maximize savings. It's great! They do all the work for you.

One more day left all. I'll post the final day write up this weekend and then next week will be my final thoughts.

Project Minimum Wage: Days 26 and 27

- Wednesday, February 1, 2012 No Comments
I've made it through the Month of January! Due to me being out of town for three days, I have to make up for that and those three days are starting this morning. February 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Can you believe the past two days I've gone without spending a single dollar? I have $62 left to spare and looking pretty to finish out these three days. Yes, I know Bingo was definitely a deciding factor in it but sometimes life needs a little luck.

Once Friday ends, I'll probably write up a little perspective on the past month. What I've learned, what i've learned about myself, new habits, my possible new future as a chef, etc. Will I go back to my old ways of spend, spend, spend, eat out, eat out, eat out? Don't plan on it, but we'll save that for the final blog.

Moving on, tonight is the Wichita State/Missouri State game. Don't currently plan on spending money to watch it but I'm pretty easily swayed by peer pressure if it means watching the game with friends. Really could use this win, the Bears are much better than their record shows. Plus Kyle Weems is scary good.

To end this short blog, here's a quick little dessert recipe that's super easy to make. On top of that, it's super cheap! Crescent Puff Smores:

  • Crescent roll dough (the easy way is to buy it prepared from the refrigerator or freezer section)
  • A bag marshmallows
  • Melted butter
  • Chocolate chips
  • Open and unfold the crescent rolls into individual triangles.
  • Start adding ingredients (melted butter then place chocolate chips and marshmallows on top). After your crescents are unfolded, roll your crescent towards the larger side, folding the smaller side. When you get almost to the end, add one large marshmallow and sprinkle on some chocolate chips. Do this to each crescent roll.
  • Roll the crescent roll up
  • Place on baking sheet
  • Heat at 325 degrees for about 5-10 minutes.
It's like a smores inside a crescent roll. It's delicious.

Happy Dining All!

Project Minimum Wage: BINGO, The Final Weekend

- Sunday, January 29, 2012 1 Comment
The weekend started off with $49. I had only eight days lefts to go. Things were looking bleak for myself and I was hesitant that I'd be able to finish off strong and make it to Day 30 with money left to spare. I was going to have another "expensive" weekend in terms of Project Minimum Wage and was really going to have to stretch every single dollar to make it.

The weekend all started off with a night of Bingo at one of the local bingo halls in Wichita. It's a once a year thing my friends and I like to do. It's been a while and this was one of the only weekends that worked for everybody. Unfortunately it was in the middle of Project Minimum Wage. I had $20-25 budgeted for Friday. Yes, half of what I had left. Probably pretty stupid but I'm a guy and we do a lot of stupid things!

Right before we all went to bingo, I had to stop by and grab a quick dinner because I was rushing from work and didn't have dinner ready before it was time to dob some numbers. I stopped by Sonic to grab tots, burgers and a free drink thanks to a coupon. $4.

It's Time To Play The Game!
Then it was time to Bingo! The Bingo Halls in Wichita are much nicer now that they don't allow smoking. I love it. My friends and I all purchased our bingo sheets, some pulls tabs, and some extra bingo sheets in hopes of winning extra cash. All in all, I spent $22 at Bingo which was a dollar over what I had budgeted. My friend supplied me with a dobber so I didn't have to spend $1.50. It's time to bingo!

I had twelve sheets that held my future earnings at stake. Each game prizes ran from $50-75. There was one blackout game at intermission with a prize of $200 and another at the end of the night for $499. I really needed to win this. Figured the chances of winning at bingo were probably better than the lottery. Four games into the night and two of my friends already had won prizes of $50 and $25. (In Bingo if there are multiple winners, they split the prizes).

It was almost time for intermission so that mean a game of blackout for a cash prize of $200. I figured "black out" would be perfect because that's one of the things I learned in college! (just kidding!). So the MC of the night started calling out number by number. The place was extremely quiet outside of the MC. Everybody was so caught up in dobbing all of their numbers. About 55 numbers get called out and you could just feel the tension in the place. I'm kind of losing my attention and just hearing all of my friends tell me how many numbers they needed to win. We're now 60 numbers in and you can hear the "oohs" and the "aahs" in the crowd.

The 61st number is called. I19...........................  I dob my I19 and then a lady a few tables away yells: "BINGO!!!!" You hear the sadness hit the rest of the bingo players. All my friends look around at each other to show how close they were. After marking I19, I noticed I had one number left that wasn't marked, G52. People start throwing their bingo sheets away and I look up at the bingo board. WAIT.......Why is G52 lit up? WAIT....... Why isn't G52 marked on my bingo sheet? WAIT............Did I just hit a bingo?

My buddy to the left of me looks at the board and notices G52 was called earlier. So I dob it and throw my hand in the air and say...... BINGO?

Yes, I said it with a question mark. I was confused by it all. Did I really get a bingo? One of the employees walks over and grabs my bingo sheet, reads it off to the MC and she says: "That is a good bingo!"

I should become a professional bingo player
HOLY CRAP! I won! I won! I won! Minutes later the employee brings me over, Not One, Not Two, Not Three, Not Four, but Five twenty dollar bills! $100 cold hard cash in my pocket. As Randy Moss would say, "Straight Cash Homie!"

My investment paid off! We celebrated after with some bingo winning drinks, I only had a $5 tab. Figured I could splurge a little.

Saturday was followed by the Shocker game which I won't comment much in. I've already gained enough gray hairs over it so to sum the night up it was dinner and drinks and a Redbox movie (50/50 which is just a fantastic movie). Sunday was lunch, a free movie (Man On The Ledge, another fantastic movie), followed by an outing at a friend's house.

The weekend got a little expensive towards the end and I ended up with: $62

Don't really plan on spending much this weekend at all and ideally should have around the $50 mark by Friday when it all ends. I was saved by my bingo investment. Probably not something that would happen often if I was on minimum wage. But let's face it: making money on bingo was probably a better idea for me than making money donating plasma. I hate needles.

On to Monday!
Professional Bingo Player

Project Minimum Wage: Days 21 and 22

- Thursday, January 26, 2012 5 Comments
Wednesday and Thursday are officially in the books.

To start the days off, I had only $74 to spend until the following Friday. I managed to go Monday and Tuesday not spending a single dollar and just staying in.

My goal was to make it all the way until Friday without spending a single dollar but one necessity in life came up. Gasoline! I considered siphoning my parents gas out of their cars figuring they probably wouldn't turn me in but I realized one thing. I don't know how to do it. Then after reading how to do it, it sounded gross and like a waste of time. Due to my poor money management skills and lack of maintaining my budget, I was only able to get $25 worth of gas that should last me these next 10 days. A third of what I had left, gone, just like that.

Wednesday was Shocker game night. Instead of paying for parking, I had a friend meet me up earlier so we could get a close and free parking spot. On top of that, he purchased my dinner and drinks to make up for paying his tab. Yeah, the money would have been nice but I wasn't too caught up in it. Lesson: Never argue with friends about money. It never leads to a good thing. Just look at what happened with the whole Mike's Wine Dive scenario.

Wednesday's nights end amount: $49.

Thursday was a super chill night. Snacked on oatmeal, peanuts and minor odds and ends during the day and came home to chicken lasagna roll-ups. Even have enough leftover to take to lunch.

Final damage afters Days 21 and 22: Only $25 spend on gasoline. That's $25 for Monday-Thursday, probably some sort of record for me.

I had a couple reader comments asking what kind of foods I've been making during this whole project. Well one of my favorite meals which lasted me for three meals was "Gumbo Burgers". One of my friends gave me the recipe and it was/is/and always will be delicious. It is super simple. 
Gumbo Burgers
1.5 pounds ground beef
2 cans Campbell's Chicken Gumbo Soup
Pepper jack cheese singles
Hamburger buns

Brown ground beef and drain the fat. Bring browned beef back to heat, and add both cans of soup. Stir. On top of mixture, make a swirl shape with mustard. Stir.

Stir occasionally over medium to medium-high heat. It will simmer which is fine, just stir it every so often. Want to make sure the sauce gets thick enough, which will take 15 minutes or so.

Put a slice of cheese on each bun, pack gumbo burger mixture on top.
 That's it! I didn't put any cheese on mine, but you may like it. If you really want to save money, go grab some mustard packets somewhere! (I didn't do that though). It ends up being like a Gumbo Sloppy Joe but doesn't have that distinct gumbo taste.

So moving on, I'm down to 8 days left of this project. I have my fourth weekend coming up and those have been known to really break the bank for me. I'd really love to have some money left over to see if I could have accumulated any "savings" but it's going to be a close call.

$49. 8 days. One Person.

Stay tuned!

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Project Minimum Wage: Days 19 and 20

- Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2 Comments
Monday and Tuesday.

If it's one thing I've been learning (outside of cutting cost by not going out for lunch all the time), it's that cooking is pretty damn simple. I'm pretty sure I could get a job at any major restaurant in Wichita based off of the wealth of knowledge I've gained these past twenty days. Ok, maybe I shouldn't go that far.

I've been learning lots of new recipes, how easy some things are to make, names for cooking tools, all sorts of cool stuff they never taught me in home economics class.

After Days 19 and 20, I didn't spend a single dollar so that leaves me with $74 to take me through ten days. I SEE THE LIGHT!

If this wasn't a blog about Wichita, I would turn this into a recipe sharing blog. Cooking is actually pretty cool. And to think I've spent the past few decades relying on someone else to do it for me......... ok one day if I get married, I still may.

Ten days and counting!

Project Minimum Wage: Weekend #3 - PAY YOUR TABS!

- Monday, January 23, 2012 2 Comments
The third of four weekends during Project Minimum Wage has passed me by and it probably hurt the wallet more than any other of the previous weekends.

Eating out, Shocker game parking, Brad Paisley concert (which was a blast by the way), birthday parties, let's find out what the final damage was.

Friday night was the Brad Paisley concert. Decided to head up to Old Mill Tasty Shop for dinner beforehand. First time I've ever been there. The food was good, I enjoyed it. Only thing is I don't see why people rave like it's the best thing ever. Don't get me wrong, I liked my bbq brisket sandwich but love would be taking that a little too far. So purchased dinner for two. BURN!!!!

Follow that up with two beers at the concert. I wish I was making Brad Paisley money then I could have afforded more than that. And yes, let me repeat again that these tickets were purchased in December. I had planned going to this concert before. I definitely caught a lot of slack from friends for going to the concert while doing this project.......

Moving on to Saturday. Went to the Shocker game and split parking with friends. $5. Seriously, $5 for parking is almost an hour’s worth of work on minimum wage. I would have liked to do a free parking area but one of my friends was running late showing up to meet with us.......

After the game, it was a friend's birthday party. We had a group of probably 20 of us. Drinks being purchased, some shots, you know how birthday parties go..... I got by without having to buy as many drinks but at the end of the night the same friend who showed up late to save me $5 on parking walked out on a tab without knowing it. So I spotted the $20 to pay it for him at Larry Bud's so the server wouldn't be screwed. Because what's more important? Trying to salvage every dollar on Project Minimum Wage or making sure the servers at a bar you frequent often do not get stiffed? Not sure if I'll see that $20 back so we'll have to include it in the final count.

And Sunday, was pretty much burn free outside of getting lunch! I had dinner made for me so I got off scott free there. Plus I received two $2 bills to celebrate Asian New Year's. But it's lucky money so I can't spend it :(

Started Friday with $168 and woke up Monday with $74 to last me 12 days. Here's where I stand on upcoming expenses. I have gas I need which is $40. I'm going to have to get a half a tank of gas and not drive much these next 12 days. I have a haircut appointment at the end of next week. That will be pushed back a week later. I have an engagement with friends on Saturday that could possibly set me back $20. If I see my friend in time, I can get $20 back from him but I don't like haggling my friends for money.

I'm sitting on $74, possibly $94 for 12 days. Worst case scenario, I'm stuck with just $74. Then I need a half tank of gas, that's $54. Friday night puts me down to $34. It's going to be tight. I have food to probably last me the entire two weeks. It'll be sandwiches, pastas and oatmeal. I'm going to push Letter U to next week or a week later if I can't afford it.

Twelve days and counting. CAN I DO IT?!?!?!

Project Minimum Wage: Day 15

- Friday, January 20, 2012 No Comments
A quick little update folks!

Not a single dollar was spent on Thursday, hurray! That puts me still at $168 for the month and I'm halfway done. I'm a bit off pace and I expect that trend to continue as I head to Brad Paisley Friday night. Then I have plans for Saturday night. Not looking good.

I'd say, "Pray for me" but something like this isn't worth your prayers!

Might have to invest in a scratch and win ticket this weekend to get a quick but. Knowing my luck, I'd win just a dollar, have to go cash it in and feel like I have to buy another.

15 days left............... can it be done?

Project Minimum Wage: Days 13 and 14

- Wednesday, January 18, 2012 No Comments
Days 13 and 14 out the door. Started off those days with a $197 budget and once again took a huge hit after I was allotted roughly $10 per day.

Things were going fine on Day 13 with lunch and dinner all taken care of, no major expenses. Day 14 comes along, all is going well. Brought my lunch to work and planned to go see the Shocker game with a big group of friends (very nice win by the way, Toure was a beast for not just the closing minutes but the entire time).

$29 later, here I am writing this blog. And that's $29 with a $3 off coupon which I felt kind of cheap using. It's $3 but that three was a third of the day's budget almost. Paying for one other person is hard on a man's wallet making only $7.25 an hour. Pretty sure if I was making minimum wage, I wouldn't date, get married, have kids, adopt a pet, and possibly even drink. If I was making minimum wage, I probably wouldn't even be doing this blog or eating at Newport Grill, Bonefish, Chester's, etc.

So fourteen days in and I'm left with only $168. At sixteen days, that's $10.50 per day. Don't plan on spending a single dollar today because I have the Brad Paisley concert tomorrow along with a needed tank of gas within the week that'll set me back $40. I have an outing with friends within the week that will probably set me back. Things are getting tight. It sucks to know that I only have $168 for sixteen days or technically $128 because I know gas will be needed soon.


Project Minimum Wage: Day 12

- Monday, January 16, 2012 4 Comments
Another day gone.

It was tacos for dinner so that means it will be tacos for lunch on Tuesday. I didn't get to do any real shopping yesterday and found myself bored. Part of me wanted to spend money JUST to spend money. Does that mean I have an addiction? I found myself browsing through Amazon and eBay just to get my fix in but didn't purchase anything.

Then I found myself watching TV and caught a McDonald's commercial. You know, McDonald's and fast food places really hit the spot and target minimum wage people. With their low cost meals and fast food convenience, it's no wonder millions and billions of people go there for lunch. But one thing that bugs me, has anybody really ever fallen in love with a McDonald's girl? I've been to McDonald's my fair share of times while in high school and college in Wichita and never ran into this situation:

Ah well.............Day 12 is officially in the books and Tuesday will mark yet another day I have yet to spend a single dollar on lunch. It's quite comforting to know I'm saving almost $4-6 a day by bringing my lunch to work every day.

$197 still intact to last me 18 more days. I totally forgot I have the Brad Paisley concert this weekend and a beer there will run me an entire day’s daily budget. I know what everybody is saying right now, “A person on minimum wage can’t afford Brad Paisley tickets.” Well they aren’t mine and they were purchased back in Mid-December.


Any Letter U suggestions anyone?

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Project Minimum Wage: Weekend #2!

- Sunday, January 15, 2012 No Comments
Days 9-11 (that felt weird typing that out) didn't go as exactly planned. I started it all off with $265 but then the weekend hit and it wasn't exactly ideal.

I knew I had a haircut this weekend which would set me back on my budget so I figured I should probably stay low key and save some money. Well it all started Friday. I was doing well and brought my lunch to work. There was a Shocker game that night I was going to (I know, I can't afford season tickets.....liberties!!!) I didn't eat before the game and I was running short on time. So I had to stop by Wendy's and spend a few bucks there. It all went down here from there.

Post-game drinks to celebrate a Shocker win. Haircut on Saturday then I splurged and purchased a videogame. $68 later, here I am today with $197 to last me three weeks (19 days). I don't think I have any big purchases ahead of me outside of gas in a week. That equals out to $10.97 for my budget. I don't plan on spending a single dollar on Monday or Tuesday.

Haven't purchased any new clothing since this whole project started. No medical bills have come up. Zero toiletries have been purchased yet. Any of those items could easily set me back. I can see why someone on minimum wage might be inclined to ring up a credit card bill.

I would end this blog with, here we are down to the final stretch but it's not even that close yet. I should have picked a month with 28 days in it for Project Minimum Wage but it’s my luck this year doesn't even have one of those months being a leap year!


Look for a Quick Hits blog update this week. It's been a while since we've had one and there have been a ton of new restaurant news I'm waiting to comment on. I think Letter U is on pace for next week at the latest. Any suggestions on that, throw them my way!

Project Minimum Wage: Day Eight. I'm Still Alive!

- Thursday, January 12, 2012 3 Comments
Day 8 is in the books and yes I'm still alive.

I left town for work for a few days so because of the extenuating circumstances; I had to take a three day hiatus from Project Minimum Wage. Because of this, I decided to extend my Project for the three days I was out. The end of the first week of February is now my new end date.

Getting back to where we left off: Monday.

The day did not start off to well. I had spaghetti and meat sauce I packed and ready to go to take with me to lunch on Friday. Please note I made this Thursday to take Friday. Well I left it at home Friday. Fast-forward to Monday, it's still sitting in the fridge. I'm thinking well since the weekend took a hit on the budget I might as well take the four day old spaghetti and meat sauce to work with me for lunch. Not a good idea. People say, spaghetti and meat sauce can still be good 3-4 days later. Try just three. The fourth day had a "freezer burn" type taste to it. You could tell it had been in the fridge for a while. Regardless, I finished it. A man's gotta eat, right?

Monday night was a BCS Championship Game watch party at a friend's house. The couple who was throwing the party was going to make the main entrees and everybody else was to bring sides. They told me not to worry about bringing anything due to my current salary restrictions. I am no charity case plus I don't like being "that guy" who doesn't bring anything to a party. So I went out and bought a veggie tray from Dillon's. Spent $10 on it which is a dollar under my per day budget.

Seriously if you wanted drama, you should have watched the Bachelor instead. LSU and Alabama was one of the most boring football games I have ever watched. I can understand watching great defenses but LSU (and not trying to take anything away from Alabama) displayed one of the most inept offenses I've ever seen. It was like a kid playing Madden on his PlayStation calling the same two or three plays over and over. Except unlike Madden, LSU wasn't scoring. It was definitely a BLEAUXOUT!


Back to Project Minimum Salary. My total after Monday is now $265 with 22 days left to go. I'm hoping Friday I don't spend a single dollar because I have a haircut on Saturday that will set me back.

Happy Minimum Waging!

Project Minimum Wage: The First Weekend

- Sunday, January 8, 2012 No Comments
Made it through the first weekend. I think I may have gone a little over-budget. Let's rehash, shall we?

Started Friday off at $307...........

Friday: I went to a little watch party for the Cotton Bowl game and ate for free! I really need to go to some sort of watch party every night. That'd really save me money. Followed that up by meeting some friends for drinks. Unfortunately that wasn't free. A few drinks and tip ran me only $8. End of Friday night.

So I ended Friday below the $300 barrier. Total: $299. Just a little off pace.

Saturday started and I went to Letter T with a handful of friends. That blog will follow. I spent only $8 with the use of a little creativity. You'll read how later. Then afterwards, it was the Shocker game. We met up with a big group of friends at Jersey's to watch us pull out another road win, this time against Southern Illinois. Go Shox! One of our great friends, Bud, actually covered a group of friend's tabs. I got off easy. I know some of you would consider this "cheating" but hey, I could have watched this at home. Besides, I only had two drinks during the game. And with the company at Jersey's, I couldn't pass up. Couldn't really afford to go out after that so that was the end of that.

Saturday put me back on pace a little. Total: $291.

Sunday for breakfast it was the usual eggs, bacon and bread that was purchased earlier. Score! Groceries came in handy finally! For lunch it was leftover pizza from the Cotton Bowl watch party. Score! Free lunch. Then it was time to splurge a little. There was a coupon for $4 off two entrees at Red Lobster. It's literally been over a year since I last went. After dinner was over, my wallet was out $16. Decided to call it a night there.

Final weekend total: $275. I have 23 days left of this. That means I can only spend an average of $11.95 per day. Tomorrow, it's no eating out whatsoever or spending a single dime.

If it's one thing I learned over the weekend, it's that I love to spend randomly. Had I not been on a budget, I may have purchased a round of shots for friends, or gone out more over the weekend. I can't look at the Sunday ads because one, it's an urge to spend money on items I don't need and two, I'd have to buy a paper.

One week down for Project Minimum Wage and roughly three to go. After this weekend, I'm beginning to think I might not be able to do it. Guess I'll find out at the days continue.


Be on the lookout for a Special Dining By The Alphabet Letter T. I tried something I have never done for any letter. Something new and something fresh. Stay tuned.

It's 11:37 pm and I should probably go to bed, I didn't proofread this blog and I'm sure there are errors. I can't afford a proofreader on my budget so deal with it!

Project Minimum Wage: Day Five: A Return To Aldi's

- Friday, January 6, 2012 1 Comment
Day Four Gone. Let Day Five Begin

After my rookie experience at Aldi's, I decided to go back and give it another try. So right after work, I made the quick drive over. Parked in my exact same spot from the day before. Grabbed my Wal-Mart plastic sack and stuffed it in my pocket.

As I'm walking in, an older guy even offers me his cart he was going to put up! I politely say no, thank him and walk inside. I'm finally in the "in-crowd" at Aldi's! For dinner, it's spaghetti. I already have sauce, meat and noodles at home. My goal for Aldi's is to make it in and out with crescent rolls and garlic bread in hand.

In about ten minutes, I have my rolls and bread. I spent 9 of those minutes just walking up and down the aisles pricing everything in my head. Make my way to checkout, give the cashier my two items and get my total: $3 and change. (FYI if you use your debit/credit card, you have to type in your pin). During the whole checkout time, I was observing all the cashiers. They were all extremely nice to all the customers AND they are quick with the scanning. One cashier scanned an entire grocery cart of food in minutes. If only AVI servers were that quick with serving food..........

Day four also marked my brother's birthday. I texted him happy birthday and check to see if he was doing anything. My siblings and I all usually get each other birthday gifts and I'm going to have to figure something out. I am "balling on a budget" and will likely just give him cash once I see him next. Then I have my nephew's birthday this weekend. Fortunately I "cheated" and purchased his gift last month. I don't want a kid to have to be affected by my project minimum wage and get a crappy gift. Like I said at the beginning, I am taking certain liberties with this project.

But seriously, say you live in a family of four or six and not making much money. The kids would have to come first for gifts so I'm sure there are many couples who don't even get each other gifts because they put their kids first and secondly to save money.

On top of all this, I'm out of light bulbs at home. I try to stick to energy efficient light bulbs at home but they are pretty costly compared to the $1 package of four light bulbs you can buy. Being energy efficient isn't exactly cheap. It's kind of an oxymoron. You have to spend money to save money. I'm just going to stick it out through this month and if I have to live in darkness so be it.

So my current budget after dinner is $307 that needs to last through January. The first weekend is coming up in Project Minimum Wage. If I'm lucky my friends won't be doing anything so I can stay in and save money. For sure I won't be going out to the bars to watch the Cotton Bowl tonight.


Schedule for this weekend is Letter T where I'll be trying something new. It'll still be in my Project Minimum Wage budget. I just have to be a little creative!

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Happy Dining All!

Project Minimum Wage: Day Four: The Aldi's Experience

- Thursday, January 5, 2012 6 Comments
Day Three is in the books!

Just to rehash I started the day at $323.

My plan was to go to Aldi's after work at the recommendation of many folks through Twitter and Facebook. I haven't been to Aldi's since high school, picking up food for a food drive.

I arrived there after work. I'm walking in to the store and as I'm about to walk in, I see an older lady pushing a cart to the front as she just unloaded her groceries. She looked like she was getting cold so I walked over to her to grab the cart for her and take it back. You know, be the Good Samaritan. As I get ready to grab the cart, she says to me, "You can't have it sir". I'm a bit flabbergasted. I tell her, "Its ok, I can take it back for you." She gives me this awkward look and says, "I need my quarter back."

At this point I'm confused at what is going on. She then points at this quarter attached to her cart. It then clicks in my head; you have to use a quarter to use a cart at Aldi's. I probably looked like the biggest cheapskate trying to grab her cart. I have no quarters on me, so I get no cart.

I go inside and start browsing the aisles. Don't think there was one brand name I've heard of outside of the ramen noodles. I grab a box of crackers along the way and keep browsing the aisles. Then I see people with all these boxes. I'm confused as to what's going on. Then it hits me again, everybody is bringing in their own plastic bags and boxes. Ahhhh people bring in their own items to bag their groceries with. Around this time, I think people are starting to look at me like a lost puppy. I put my box of crackers back and leave Aldi's. I was not prepared for the shopping experience that is Aldi's. Hop in my car and drive to Dillon's to pick up stuff for dinner.

Maybe next time on a trip to Aldi's, I'll be more prepared and not trying to steal an older lady's quarter from her.

Dinner for last night was grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato bisque soup along with lactose pills.

$323 is now down to $316 but that included a box of knock off grape nuts cereal to change up my daily oatmeal breakfast.

On to day four...........


If you go to the "Features and Odds & Ends" link at the top of this page, that section will list every Project Minimum Wage Blog I will be writing in case you get behind or would like to go back and read old ones.

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Project Minimum Wage: Day Three

- Wednesday, January 4, 2012 2 Comments
Day Two Over.

One thing I've learned is that for cheap entertainment "Redbox is your best friend." With that said, I finally saw "The Help". Not sure I would have watched this otherwise but my god; this is the best movie I've seen in all of 2011 if not longer.

Yesterday's biggest purchase was gasoline. It was a hard pill to swallow to see $40 go out like that. That put me down to $331. I'm already into day three and have spent nearly $100 of my budget.

For dinner yesterday, it was rice, asparagus and tuna. That dropped me down to $324. Then take into account "The Help", I'm at $323.

Something I'm seriously considering for this month: dropping cable and my DVR. Its two things I haven't been able to live without but I don't need NFL Redzone anymore. All the NFL games I can watch on regular TV or at a friend's house because people who live on minimum have friends. Other TV shows I could always watch online. That would save me $60 which would be prorated to whatever. I'll have to make my decision after the Evansville game tonight.

Been trying to think of other ways to cut costs. I was called a clown sometimes in school so I wonder if anybody would hire me as a clown at their kid's birthday parties this month.

I still have to do some real grocery shopping instead of going to the store on a daily basis when I figure out what I want for lunch or dinner.

I can really feel the burn right now in my wallet. Ugh......


If you go to the "Features and Odds & Ends" link at the top of this page, that section will list every Project Minimum Wage Blog I will be writing in case you get behind or would like to go back and read old ones.

Project Minimum Wage: Day Two

- Tuesday, January 3, 2012 1 Comment
Entering into Day Two of Project Minimum Salary and I'm starting to wonder whether this is worth it. Just looking at my calendar for the month of January and I'm already starting to count how much each event may cost me and what that leaves me for the rest of the month.

Yesterday for lunch, it was breakfast: eggs, biscuits and bacon. For dinner, I broke down and had CiCi's. That will be the only time during the week I eat out. It just started getting late and I was so hungry from not gorging myself with food at lunch. At least I'll have breakfast food to cook another time and the comfort in knowing I may have helped CiCI's afford to live another day.

Currently down to $371 out of the $380 allotment I have. This morning it will be oatmeal for breakfast. Exciting. That's likely what it will be for most days; at least that's high in fiber, right?

The worst part of today is I'm going to likely need to put gas in my car. That's going to take a huge hit out of the money I have along with still needing to purchase groceries for the week (hopefully two weeks).

I've thought of some ways to try and get by: go to hotels after work, tell them I'm staying there and get free drinks at their bar downstairs. Stop by the Kansas Star Casino and put everything I have on black to double it up. Sit at the corner of 21st and Rock and beg for money. Get a fake ID for each day of the month with a different birthday listed so I can get a free meal each day.

I'm going to pass on those ideas in the meantime unless times call for desperate measures. Let's see how Day Two goes before all that........

If you go to the "Features and Odds & Ends" link at the top of this page, that section will list every Project Minimum Wage Blog I will be writing in case you get behind or would like to go back and read old ones.

This blog marks my 100th blog on I'd love to go celebrate over a bottle of wine or something. Box wine for dinner?

Project Minimum Wage Starts Today

- Monday, January 2, 2012 No Comments
Here we go, Project Minimum Wage starts today. Can I live for a month on a minimum wage salary?

For the basics, check out the original blog: Project Minimum Wage Blog

I'll have to be honest with everyone, I totally intended this to start on January 1st but the Mall and Target had some crazy New Year's sales going on and I just had to go buy, buy, buy. So here we are on January 2nd.

Let me preface this entire Project by saying, it's not going to be a true to life scenario. I'm taking some liberties due to certain scenarios in my life. For example, I'm leaving town for work for a few days so I may just take a break this project and extend Project Minimum Wage for the days I'm gone. In no way am I trying to make it sound like life is going to be very rough or act like I'm doing the real deal. I'm doing the best I can to imitate what life is going to be like while at the same time maintaining the life I'm living. And lastly, I know there are differences in my math for rent, insurance, taxes, etc. Many people have made suggestions on what would be best to do so like I said, just trying to do my best.

I've given myself a budget of $380 to live off of for this month (it was $420 but I took off $40 for cell phone). Expenses such as toiletries, food, entertainment, medical emergencies, clothes, etc will have to be within the $380 budget. I'm interested to see what I have left at the end and see what I'm able to save a month. Because think about it. At $380 a month, can one even have any sort of savings with that?

I'll try to keep a daily blog on this going. In between, I'll be doing some food blogs in between. I've been to a few restaurants during the Christmas and New Year's break to give me some stuff to write about to keep it fresh. Letter T will be mixed in as well. So be on the lookout for blogs on Ciao, AVI, Charlie's Pizza Taco and more.

Getting my shopping list ready for Wal-Mart. $380, can I do this? We'll see.

Project Minimum Wage Starts January 1st

- Thursday, December 8, 2011 7 Comments
Sorry guys, I'm pushing Letter Q one more day. It's been completed and I just need to write the blog up for it. Expect that this week!

After my whole Project Vegetarian which just lasted one week and I'll admit wasn't the best thing ever, I've decided what to do next. Traveling to Puerto Rico and Cancun, I was able to see a lot of poverty stricken areas. I always asked myself, "How do these people get by? What do they do for money?" Then you come back to Wichita and you can sometimes see the same thing. People working on minimum wage jobs and probably scratching and clawing to get by. Is it possible? How hard is it?

Now if I was loaded and retired, this is a Project that would be more feasible but something I'm going to try in the month of January is a little something something I call Project Minimum Wage.

How hard is it in Wichita to live on a Minimum Wage Salary? More importantly, can I do it? Cause I'm certainly going to try. Minimum wage in Wichita, KS is $7.25. There are 31 days in January so that equals out to roughly $1,200 one would earn before taxes and everything. Right now in my daily life, I could not live off of that especially when you take into account general expenses like housing, insurance, daily cost of living, eating out for this blog, etc.

So there are certain liberties I'll have to take into consideration while doing this whole project in the month of January. I live in a house but I'm going to pretend I have an apartment I pay for. A low end Apartment in Wichita can run around $300 that would include trash and water. My electricity bills are higher than an apartment so I'm just going to say an average electricity bill is $50. So there's $350 right there.

Then you take out taxes and at a $1200 salary from what I've been able to find out is about 15-20% so we'll just say $200. After apartment, electricity and taxes we're down to $650 for a month.

For the sake of the project, we're going to save I don't have a car payment. I just drive a car with bad gas mileage which in fact my SUV has so it helps with the project at hand. I'll have to cover gas when I need it out of my now $650 budget. Say I get health insurance through my employer at $100 a month. Then my auto insurance is $30 a month. That $650 figure drops to $520 just like that.

What about cable and internet? $100 Boom. (I need cable and internet!) Down to $420.

Can I live off of $420 in a month? Remember this isn't including the cost of gas, food, recreation, haircuts, savings, clothes, toiletries, etc. And what about unexpected costs like healthcare and stuff? I may just have to man it up.

Any toiletries I currently have, I get to use for January along with clothes and food currently in my house. The food is scarce enough and I will try to keep it at the same levels until the new month.

People who have heard of this adventure I'm about to go on always ask "Why are you doing this?" Well my first response is "I don't know." I just do things to do things with no rhyme or reason. Then I start to think about it and it's something I have wondered about. How do people do it? Maybe it'll give me a better appreciation for what I have in life. Not to take things for granted. I'll be honest, some people think it's kind of stupid what I'm doing and yeah there might be a level of stupidity to it all but if I made a list of the Top 10 Stupid Things I've Ever Done...... This would not even crack the Top 30.

Everything I do will be on a $420 budget. I hope my friends don't plan any sudden road trips, casino stops or invite me every day to stop by a bar to watch a game. If so, I might have to buy some Old Milwaukee's Best to sneak in the bar with me.

What about my Shocker season tickets? I'm going to pretend I won those in a radio contest. Not giving that up!

No help from the government either. I'm not going to "pretend" to get food stamps or anything. Just all off of a minimum wage salary. Although if I start to run slowly, donating plasma could be tempting. But I hate needles, so that's out of the question.

How about free meals and such? Well if I get a free meal, I'm going to consider it a free meal. Trust me though I'm not going to make constant stops by my parents or beg my friends to buy me a drink or a meal. I won't actively go out and look for that. If they do offer me one though.................

So that means I have roughly three weeks to live it up in a life of luxury. Come January 1st, it all changes for 31 days. It'd be better if I was retired, that way I could really do this project right and go get an apartment and see if I could truly do this. But for now, we're going to take some liberties into this.

I'll keep a daily journal and post it here when it's all ready to go so you guys can follow along.

Can it be done? One month on a minimum wage salary in Wichita, KS?


Until then be on the lookout for Letter Q coming out very soon.

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