A CEO living on $15 a day? No way!


Brent Trotter, President/CEO of Coalition for the Homeless, said the $15 a Day Challenge made him appreciate things he normally takes for granted.

Brent Trotter, President/CEO of Coalition for the Homeless, was the person who originally suggested we issue a $15 a Day Challenge to our supporters. And of course, since he conceived the idea, he also participated.

It’s not every day that a CEO, even the CEO of a nonprofit, voluntarily lives on such a limited budget. Considering Brent’s involvement in the creating the Challenge, and the nature of his position, we found it fitting to post his comments about the Challenge first.

So we’re sure you are wondering, did Brent manage to live on $15 a day? He did – but he admits the Challenge wasn’t easy.

Primarily commenting on the inconvenience of his tight budget, Brent gave some honest insight into the implementation of his personal Challenge:

“It was tough to live on such a tight budget. I had to constantly be aware of my spending, which was stressful. It was draining emotionally to work all day and afterwards realize that my work didn’t stop because it was time to go home – at that point I needed to calculate how much money I had left and what else I needed for the night.

M~ SUN0805N-Gas 5Transportation: “I had to be very deliberate in calculating my driving distance. I had to combine errands and plan ahead so that I got everything done in one round because I didn’t have enough gas to afford the luxury of going back out if I forgot something.

“I budgeted $5 for gas the first day, but I just had to go back the next day and put in $5 again. After making several stops for gas in one week, I realized how inefficient this was. I missed the convenience being able to get a week’s worth of gasoline in one stop.”

upclose-fast_food2Food: “I found that I did not eat as healthy during the Challenge; instead, I tended toward value meals at fast food restaurants, because that is what I could afford. I’m not a real healthy eater to begin with, but this did affect me – by the end of the Challenge my body could feel the effects of all the cheap, nutrient-weak food I had consumed.

empty_wallet_crop1Social relationships: “I realized that on this budget, I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill some of my obligations, like needing to be at certain events. For example, Friday night I had a work engagement. If I really only had $5 for gas that day, I would have had to miss this event. I would have also had to miss a family friend’s lacrosse game that weekend – living on such a strict budget would have a strain on all my relationships with friends, family and business associates because entertainment costs (extra gas, food, and tickets for events) would be out of my budget.

“To successfully complete the Challenge, I had to count my pennies – not my dollars. Looking back over the week, I realized the things I typically take for granted, like the stability of knowing I have enough money to cover my meals for the day, or the convenience of being able to make purchases when I need to.”

Want to share your response to the $15 a Day Challenge as a guest blog? Email your comments to coalition@cflhomeless.org – we’d love to hear your insight! Throughout the week we will be posting responses to the Challenge, so be sure to check back in!