Dumpster diving isn’t limited to just information espionage. A Portland, Oregon woman began to eat out of the dumpster (which she affectionately called, “dumpster dogging”) to save $30,000 in just eight months — enough cash to leave her job and travel to central America. Amanda Holden, 32, was called the “Dumpster Dog” by her coworkers because she used to eat their leftovers. She had also changed her spending habits to prove that many people can still live, and thrive, on just a limited budget. Her months-long experiment also empowered Holden to start her own company which helps women to achieve their financial goals.
She wrote on DailyMail.co.uk, “I worked at an office with lots of dudes so there was always extra food. I ate their leftovers. In approaching this challenge, I was very self-deprecating and using my humour. There were some times when I couldn’t find any scraps to [eat] and I would have to buy food. I would never go hungry.”
The last point is something that Holden emphasized. The “point” of her dumpster dogging was to save money and look at life another way. “It wasn’t about hurting myself, I was just doing everything I could. If someone is going to eat half a pizza, I would just ask them to toss it over,” she said.
Holden was 27 when she realized that she had not been very careful with her money. She was the typical young adult, who would go out every night with her friends and pay for luxuries more often than she could afford. She was also working in a job that she absolutely hated, but which she stayed in because she needed the money. After long deliberation, she decided that she would somehow earn the cash to quit her job, live comfortably and travel. She had given herself a ballpark figure of saving $20,000.
“It was a big ask on my 27-year old salary,” she remembered. However, she said that she was firm in her decision and decided to give up paying for unnecessary items such as make-up and beauty products and limiting her social spending. The first few months, she noted, were the hardest, but eventually she developed a habit of cutting corners whenever she could, even asking her coworkers for their leftovers. Despite being mocked a few times, she was able to submit her letter of resignation eight months into this scheme.
“When I gave my boss my two weeks notice, he took a minute, then looked at me with a wonky eye and asked if that was why I was eating trash and why I was called the dumpster dog,” she recalled.
During the entire experiment, Holden wrote a blog which she called DumpsterDogBlog.com. In it, she wrote about how one could incorporate some of her practices in their own life. Similar to a body or juice cleanse, Holden argued that dumpster dogging every now and then “resets” the brain’s financial outlook. Again she emphasized the need to not take this to the extreme — the goal is not to starve one’s self or deprive people of basic necessities. Nevertheless, the consumerism type of thinking has its own seductive grasp and can be insidious. Most people, she said, don’t realize just how much money can be saved with just a few lifestyle changes. Saving money should never be seen as a chore. When people enter a “lack” mentality, they often become frustrated. The key, then, is balance.
One of the tips Holden recommended in keeping track of one’s spending habits is to have a clear-cut goal. This need not be so lofty; however, it does have to realistic. Set a time frame, along with the exact amount that needs to be saved. These short-term goals create milestones which can be celebrated. The achievement of milestones also encourages people to continue on with their goal.
Regardless of whether you agree with Holden’s suggestions or not, the practice of saving is encouraged by all financial advisers. You never know what can happen and it always helps to be prepared. (Related: Top 10 Great Money Saving Tips.)
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