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Poverty Challenge: FAQs

1 Why only a single individual? Why not include families?

When discussing the Poverty Challenge with some participants in the early planning stages, many asked if they had to include their families/children in the Poverty Challenge. Many were hesitant about wanting to do so. This only underscores how powerful and frightening the experience of poverty can be, not only for an individual, but for an entire family.

2 Why are there separate budgets for each day?

You are given the option of changing your budget on either of the days that you live on the poverty budget. You could choose to give up cable TV for the first day, and then have it the second day but give up internet at home. You could choose to take public transportation for only one day, as well.

3 Do I have to do the Poverty Budget for both days?

The Poverty Challenge is meant to be a consciousness-raising effort. If for any reason you do not feel that you can live on the poverty budget for two days, you can participate for one day. You should, however, be mindful of what you do spend for those days and reflect on the things you may take for granted that others may not be able to spend. You can still feel free to write in the journal provided.

4 I went through the budget for today and I have a negative number. Does this mean I can’t eat or spend anything?

It is very possible that you can end up with a negative number after going through the budget. If that’s the case, then you should remember the rules of the Poverty Challenge (see page 6): You should give up something, and you should try to fall into as little debt as possible. The point is that it is virtually impossible to live on this amount of money, yet, many in our community are forced to do so.

5 I have to buy food, put gas in my car, pay a bill, etc., during the Poverty Challenge and this will put me over budget today. What should I do?

You may have to go to the grocery store to get food for the challenge. If so, this should not count for the budget. What you should count, however, is the approximate cost of the meals you eat. If you choose to drive your car during the poverty challenge, if you put gas in you car during either of the days, this does not count against your budget as these costs are already pre-determined when you choose to drive your car. The same goes with paying bills. What you are keeping track of is the cost of your meals and the “extras” that you spend money on every day without thinking much about them.

6 How do I determine the approximate cost of a meal?

First of all, don’t worry if your math is not exact. The best way to determine the cost of your meals is by dividing the cost of each item you use by the amount of the item you use. For example, a loaf of bread may have cost you $2.50, let’s say there are 10 pieces of bread in the loaf. If you use two pieces of bread for a sandwich, then the cost of your bread that day is 50 cents (2.50/10 = .25 x2 = .50).

7I   bought food last week/yesterday that I am using for meals during the Poverty Challenge today. Do I count that food in my budget?

If you use any of that food for your meals during the poverty challenge, then yes, count the cost of that food.

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