It looks like I need to turn to the readers here to decide on another rule for this challenge. I have had great success in getting free food from CVS when they have emailed me coupons for $x off when you by $x amount (it is definitely worthwhile to sign up on the ,a href=””>CVS website and they send this coupons to me on a regular basis). I received another one for $5 off a $25.00 purchase.

The only problem with this is finding $20.00 worth of free stuff so that I can get the last $5 in free food. This is especially true since I have sales tax to pay on non food items. I often have to pass on these coupons because I can't get to the amount needed without spending more than what the discount is for.

Another thing I have found is that the more of my friends and family know that I can get some pretty good deals, they ask me to buy stuff for them and then pay me back. This is what happened when my sister recently needed diapers for my niece. She read about the great deal on diapers at CVS and asked me to pick up some for her and she would pay me back.

I bought the diapers (free because my sister was paying me back) and 2 tubes of toothpaste (free with Extra Bucks and coupons) which put me over the $25.00 minimum I needed to get $5.00 off so I bought a box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal and a gallon of milk (the toothpaste will be donated as I have far more than I need):

CVS purchase

While the math gets a bit complicated, I basically came out getting everything for free — I actually earned just under $1.00, but won't count it in this instance. (For those who like math, I paid $13.89 for everything. My sister paid me back $8.85 for the diapers ($6.99 + tax on the original $19.95 price) which meant I paid $5.04 out of pocket. I also used $8.00 in Extra Bucks that I had meaning that I spent a total of $13.04 for what I kept, but I received $14.00 in Extra Bucks back meaning that in the end I actually earned $0.96):

CVS receipt

CVS extra bucks

When I dropped off the diapers, I made sure to thank my sister for the free cereal and milk. She was not amused that she had actually helped me and challenged whether I should be allowed to get free food when buying things for others:

Sister's Argument: Since the stuff purchased wasn't free (she had to pay $8.85 for the diapers), the $5.00 should have gone toward reducing that cost. Someone had to pay for it so it wasn't really free even though it didn't happen to be me.

My Argument: I didn't go out seeking people to buy things so I could get free food, she came to me. I was asked to buy the diapers for her and simply figured out that by combining that with some other freebies available, I could reach the threshold for the $5.00 off coupon I had and get some free food for me as well.

So the question is, should I be able to use items that people pay me back for to help me get free food? Please let me know your opinion and feel free to comment on why you think I should or should not be able to do this. As per the new rules, I will abide by however the readers decide through the vote:

[poll id=”3″]

I am amazed at the amount of food that is all around when I actually pay attention. Now that I am always looking for possible foraging areas when I am out on my walks, I have been seeing opportunities left and right. This morning I was able to forage for some new fruit which I believe are loquats:

loquat foraging

Loquat Banana Smoothie

With the new fruit find, I had to give it a try in my morning smoothie (4 loquats, a banana, 7 ice cubes) and it turned out quite good. I will definitely be having more or these in the future for a change in taste from the blackberry banana smoothies:

loquat banana smoothie

loquat smoothie

Corn Flakes Topped with Blackberries

In the late morning, I poured myself a bowl of Corn Flakes and used up the last of the box I had on hand. I topped it with some of the blackberries I had on hand:

blackberry Corn Flakes

Peanut Butter Sandwich with Nut Clusters

It was an extremely busy afternoon because I needed to get all my work done before heading off to the late afternoon father's Day BBQ we had planned. I didn't have time to make a proper lunch, so I simply threw together a peanut butter sandwich with nut clusters as a snack to get me through the afternoon:

peanut butter nut cluster snack

BBQ Hamburger and Salad

There has been a lot of discussion between my sister and I as to whether I should be able to eat the food at family gatherings, and I have a feeling that this will be another one you will all need to decide in the future. For this gathering, there were a lot of people that heard that I was doing this challenge and couldn't believe that I was actually able to eat well on $1 a day, so they wanted me to bring food so they could see what I would be able to eat.

I ended up taking a salad (lettuce, tomato, carrot, onion and raisins), hamburger, hot dogs, half cob of corn, a lemon, a beer , hamburger toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion), nut clusters, whole wheat bread and a cup of ice cream. I also took BBQ sauce, Italian salad dressing, salt and pepper for seasonings):

BBQ ingredients

I ate the nut clusters while we were BBQing and everyone else was snacking on chips, dips and spreads. Everyone else had BBQ ribs with beans while I had a BBQ hamburger, a couple of BBQ turkey franks, BBQ corn and a salad. I had my beer and a slice of lemon to drink. While the ribs did look delicious, I think my meal stacked up pretty well to what everyone else was having:

fathers day meal

Then while everyone was having their dessert, I had my cup of ice cream. Everyone was pretty surprised at what I was able to eat and I had to keep reassuring them that I was still going to be able to eat fine for the rest of the week. There were a lot of questions about how exactly I did it and I think a few of the people there will actually give couponing a try.

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $37.50
Money left to spend: $23.50 ($5.04 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $1010.90


The Beginning ::: Day 52: There Aren't Any Good Coupons


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  1. She asked you to use your coupons to buy her things at a lower price.
    If she didn’t want you able to use that as credit for free food for you, she should have gotten her own coupons and done her own shopping. Even if it meant asking you which coupons, or possibly even asking you FOR the coupons.

    Also, if you’re invited to a family buffet, where you aren’t required to bring food, then you should be able to eat for free there, and have it valid. Family is a resource that most people have, and you never once promised to give up your family and friends just to fulfill some challenge.
    (Just thought I’d toss my vote in here now.)

  2. I have to agree with the other readers here. Your sister is continually throwing roadblocks in your way. Why, I don’t know. The whole point of this is to show how someone can survive on very little money, using whatever means are available. Keep up the good work.

  3. Since she asked you, then yes. But I don’t think it should be an every day thing because that’s not realistic. I also think you should be able to eat at family gatherings. Did your sister bring all the food she consumed? It would make sense if you brought a dish (if your family does these thing potluck-style) and you incorporated that dish into your budget. What would you have brought before the challenge?

  4. Call your profit on the diapers deal:

    A. Finder’s fee

    B. Personal Shopper’s fee

    C. Gas fee

    You’ve posted before that you often share with others stuff you get for free. Therefore, sis has been benefiting all along and can’t complain that she didn’t get extra money off on her super-cheap purchase.

    Also, she didn’t give you that coupon. If she gives you the coupons, she has a right to expect to reap the benefit of the coupons–probably a %50 share.

    Third, I’ve seen where you’ve been occasionally feeding your sister’s kids with your $1 per day. Maybe only snacky foods, but still, it’s been healthy and comes right out of your minuscule budget.

    You and your sis are very competitive. I can tell sis hates to lose to you. What are the stakes of this bet? Does she have to give you a prize she can’t afford?

  5. I think you should absolutely be able to get free food by helping your sister out. She asked you to pick up the diapers, not the other way around. (Although, that’s a good idea and I might try it.) She also shouldn’t be entitled to any part of your $5 off $25 coupon. Logically, if she expected to pay $8.85 for diapers that you picked up for her, she shouldn’t be able to take $2.50 from you. Had she given you the coupon, yes, she should get the $5 benefit, but she didn’t.

    Also, a lot of people are saying that it’s unfair for you use other people’s purchases because it’s a rare event that not everyone can have, so you shouldn’t be allowed to count it. Nearly everything you’ve bought on sale isn’t an option for me, but I still think it’s fair. I don’t have a Safeway or a Lucky within 100 miles, so I can’t use the sales you show.

    If I could manage to find someone to pay me back for shopping for them so that I could get great deals, I’d definitely take advantage of it. In fact, I’m going to ask my parents about doing just that. It’ll save them the hassle of running to the store for certain things, and they’ll see me more often!

  6. As much as I usually disagree with your sister, and think she was a poor sport for initially suggesting that you didn’t win the first 30-day challenge, I have to agree with her on this one.

    My understanding of the “terms” of this bet and how they are chosen is that people everywhere (especially poor people) should be able to achieve what you’ve achieved with their own $1 a day without resorting to any unusual or unattainable resources. I don’t think the average poor person has coupon-challenged well-off relatives sending them shopping and giving up any associated discounts.

    That said, you should TOTALLY be allowed to eat people’s offerings at cookouts. All of us are occasionally invited to events with food so it’s a perfectly valid way to acquire a meal.

    Do you ever go through grocery stores and fill up on free samples?

  7. I think you’re eating pretty well. You eat a lot of fruits and veggies with good variety.
    However, if you are worried about nutrition, you could eat more whole grains. Brown rice instead of white rice and put the oatmeal back into your diet. It is better to have quick oats than instant packets and better to have whole rolled oats than quick oats. I like to put jam in my oatmeal, and a handful of nuts too.
    Have you ever tried applesauce on pancakes? I love it.
    The amount of meat you eat is alright for a truly healthy diet, although you could even eat less and still be healthy.

  8. Use this rule of thumb if you would get free food when you aren’t doing this as a challenge then yes you can, other wise no you can’t. In this situation I would respect you sister’s wishes and not do it with her money. But her logic is shot, because nothing is free for everyone someone always ends up paying for it whether it is the store or the manufacturers.

  9. If the $5 of $25 or whatever, was her coupon then the savings would be hers. if she asked you to get it for as cheap for her as you could then the savings could be hers, as it is, keep the $5.

  10. If your sister doesn’t like it, she should be using cloth diapers instead! I routinely have my son pick up groceries for me when I can’t get out, knowing full well he will be getting fuel perks on his card by buying my stuff. Even when we are together in the winter and there is less chance of me being able to use the fuel perks, I buy my stuff using his grocery card instead of mine. So actually a precedent of savings has been set here for you!!

    I have often thought that this would be a great way for someone to help make ends meet by getting groceries for seniors etc. and using the catalinas, fuel perks, etc. for yourself. When you are poor as long as it is legal, do what you can to get by.

  11. I can’t believe that you went to a BBQ and was expected to bring your own food. It sounds like you could have made a dish to pass — salad. But that is a strange way to invite someone to a picnic, “OH, by the way bring your own food”. It isn’t like you are going to friends to eat all the time and your sister is certainly sounding like a spoilsport about all this. I hope she is nicer in real life than she is coming off on paper.

  12. 1. I’m in the camp of she asked you!
    2. Give her the option of the price she wants to pay. The $19.99 for the big box of diapers or the $8.85 coupon price?
    I don’t remember exactly your challenge statement but I think you’re trying to help out other people as well. So if others can benefit on your purchases and you still are maitaining $1 a day, then why not?
    After hearing about the Father’s day cookout, here is an additional challenge:
    Could you host a party as well while maintainng the $1 a day? (if you do, I would suggest your sister and her family being your first guest)
    There are starting to get too many rules for this challenge IMO.

  13. OK now I’m really starting to wonder what is the deal with your sister? Why is she being so negative about this and not being positive and supporting you? Rules, schmules. It’s your own project and I think you’ve already proven your point in the first 31 days. You do whatever you want after that. If you are trying to emulate a very poor person to a degree, then I imagine that a poor person would know one or two people who would look to you to score good deals for them, and would consider the free food a form of payment for your trouble AND THEY WOULD BE HAPPY TO DO SO. But that’s just me 🙂

  14. Your sister got a great deal on the diapers, and she didn’t have to pick them up herself and didn’t have to pay a delivery charge. In exchange for not charging her a delivery fee you got store discount. Sounds like a win-win situation for both you and your sister. Yes, so long as you’re not ripping anyone off, you should be allowed to get free food in exchange for buying things for others.

  15. Your sister is a mean b**** plus sponging off your meager foodstuffs – she needs to keep herself and her cute girl out of your food o/w she owes you FULL RETAIL VALUE for that food, never mind b****ing about your savings from the diapers. The picnic is just mean. And if she IS buying diapers that means she has two kids, she needs to stop there. Jeez.

  16. I love loquats, although the hassle of having to peel them and pit them is a bit of a drawback…and the pits are fairly large so that you end up with a pretty small amount of fruit. But I LOVE how they taste…can’t think of any other fruit that really compares. Never thought of doing a smoothie with them, perhaps I will try that!

  17. Dude, not to be disrespectful but your sister is a dick!! She keeps trying to change the rules to be more and more restrictive! She got her Huggies, what difference is it to her how you got them for her? Not like you stole them ya know. Ask her today are there any more rule changes? No? Fine, then everything else YOU can think of to do is fair game. Please keep sharing all your ideas, the more ideas you have and try the more ideas we readers will have.

  18. I voted no on this one. I agree, your sister is a sore loser. However, in this case, when all is said and done, you purchased the diapers with her money and used your own savings techniques. If it had been your money and you gave the diapers to your sister, then my vote would have been YES.

    Also, for the record…food at gatherings are OK to include.

  19. The opportunities for making money off buying things for someone else probably won’t come up too often, but of course it’s ok when it does. I buy stuff for work like toilet paper and hand soap. I use manufacturer coupons that I have clipped and save them money, but if there are other rewards like ECB’s or RR’s or free items because I used a $5/$25 coupon, then those are mine guilt free. I’m using my time and gas money plus finding the best bargain for them that I can.

  20. Yes you can eat at family or friends gatherings! One thing that buying with coupons does for me, is offer up lots of items I can take when I go to events like this. Usually if I’m going to a BBQ I just make something that I was able to get for free… I even have a friend who loves it when I bring her a hostess gift,cuz it’s almost always a big bottle of body wash or laundry soap. haha

  21. Yes, you should be able to count that. It was something that came into your life that you took advantage of to get groceries for free and it should count.

    Conceivably, others who need to live on a tight budget could offer to do some shopping for others in order to reap the rewards. It’s a win-win.

    Your sister continues to demonstrate that she is a sore loser. Tell her so.

  22. Oh, and eating at family events should also be allowed since you are also bringing enough food for your own meal. By doing so, you have proved that you have afforded your own meal. Any extra food you get is fair game.

    This is also a situation that others on a tight budget may come across and it would be foolish to pass up free food AS LONG AS you have also brought food for yourself or to share. This might be a good place to contribute a bit of that extra stuff you are donating to the food banks. In other words, you bring a few boxes of cereal for your relatives who would otherwise have to buy cereal, and you eat some of their food or take a doggie bag home in return.

    Barter is fair. And in a real situation of hardship, as I said, a person would be foolish to pass up food offered by relatives. In your case, you had to prove you were complying with the challenge, which you did by bringing your own meal.

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