Unless the situation is truly dire, everyone can live on less. We do it frequently when we feel we have to, after our stomachs have turned over at the sight of a recent bank statement. We subconsciously budget ourselves in ways we don’t even notice. It’s a phenomenon of common sense that kicks in to save money, and the same applies when living on two dollars a day: Find what’s cheap, plentiful, and nutritious. Things like rice, oats, and simple vegetables. If it costs twenty cents more, you can sacrifice the quality. Your shirt might be old, but it works and you don’t need a new one. Consciously we walk instead of paying for the bus. Subconsciously we go at a reasonable pace so as not to expend energy that requires greater rest and consumption. That is the impressive characteristic we humans have that so many forget when fidgeting to suppress a need to buy a second jar of Nutella. You’ll make the first one last I swear.
One curse of materialism is that we accustom ourselves to a state of excessive comfort, where every whim has at its disposal a tool or source of entertainment to satisfy. Yet anyone living in a wealthy, lavish house can tell you they still get bored. If anything, having less keeps us mentally stimulated because we find ourselves creating tricks and maneuvers to get around the things we don’t possess. This concept also reflects how a person makes a living.
“I cried because I had no shoes, until I saw a child with no feet.” – Guayasamin
I met a pleasant woman who sells fruits and vegetables out of a little make shift tent. She is hidden in a maze of apartment complexes, roughly five minutes away from the local market. By request this person remains anonymous, but what she had to say was very interesting; making an average of 15 sols a day ($6 a day) she distanced herself from the market to avoid competition. Not only that, she told me as I sat and munched on one of her bananas, but her prices and location among the neighborhood fosters relationships with the residents. Loyal customers make up her daily earnings. Sometimes it isn’t enough, she shrugged, “but that’s just how business is.” Despite her passivity, I know any business professor at my university would applaud her for her cunning.
The point is that she successfully found a way to do more with what little she had. Such forethought can be utilized by any of us who get up in the morning to do our jobs or live on two dollars a day. At work, at the grocery store, or even in our minor habits, we have the ability to live on less and be better for it. Everyone is capable of it. So the question here isn’t whether or not we can, it is how we approach those that have to, whose situations are truly dire.