One PhD student attempts to live on $15 dollars for 1 week. Results = Win.
In our modern society, financial resources are arguably limited. Currently, there is no experimental study on the minimum amount of money one needs to live healthfully. Fortunately, universities are unknowingly conducting naturalistic experiments to address this point on a daily basis: However, the results from these experiments are presently unknown, as most PhD students do not document their current standard of living.
To address this question, of what constitutes the bare minimum, the author entered into a self-contract in which he would spend no more than $15 a week on food. Furthermore, he agreed to share this information with the public, such that one might foolishly attempt to replicate the experiment at one’s own risk.
One PhD student.
Daily ratings of hunger were obtained.
One PhD student enters a Trader Joe’s grocery store with $15 dollars, and must live off his purchases for one week.
This PhD student used his $15 dollars to make the following purchases:
1 sack potatoes
1 box rice.
1 bag green onions
a dozen eggs
½ gallon of milk
1 loaf of bread
We did not anticipate as part of our experimental design that this PhD student would flout the rules by acquiring items that he did not purchase from his friend’s kitchen. Nevertheless, said PhD student subsisted primarily off of baked potatoes, fried rice, egg-salad sandwiches, and cereal.
Daily ratings of hunger are reported in Figure 1.
It’s unclear why the PhD student felt more hunger toward the end of the week. We suspect that lack of food is the mechanism behind this effect. But these data cannot be considered reliable because they rely on self-report. Also, these data are correlational. We cannot be entirely certain whether hunger increases over time, or time increases as hunger increases!
Lastly, living off $15 dollars a week appeared to be easy, if one steals food from friends.
Future investigations should investigate whether PhD students can live off their stipends without raiding other people’s pantries.