Shepard was still in college when he read Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, but he waited until he'd graduated to try and prove it wrong. I initially found out about his project here:
CS Monitor: "Can You Build a Life From $25?"
It's not a long interview, but there was enough there to send me right to Amazon to grab a copy of the book. Sadly, it was out of stock. Bah.
In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich sought to show readers that surviving on minimum wage in America is darn near impossible, and that the odds of a self-guided climb up from such poverty are not much better. I read the book, and while I found it to be a well-written and thought-provoking read, I never got around to reviewing it. (Truth be told, I don't get a whole lot out of books or authors who spend the majority of their time telling me what they can't do.)
With Scratch Beginnings, Shepard set out to see what he could accomplish. His journey began with just a sleeping bag, a gym bag with some clothes, and $25 in his wallet. He hopped on a train to ... someplace where all his acquaintances and contacts wouldn't come into play. The question kicking around in his mind: Could he acquire a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year — without using his college degree, or credit cards, or any other form of debt?
He lived in a homeless shelter and received food stamps for 70 days. But ten months into the project, he'd certainly moved up: He had his own apartment, a pickup truck ... and he had saved almost $5,000.
Not very Nickel and Dimed-like, is it?
A couple of snippets from the article above:
Indeed. And I also liked this tidbit from Shephard, regarding how his task might've been harder if he'd had child-care payments or probation check-ins to worry about:
Well, yeah, I'll admit: There's a fair chunk of youthful na´vetÚ in that answer. You'd expect that; Shepard, as I said, is fresh out of college. But that was also the point in the interview where I immediately headed for Amazon to buy the book, too.
I'm looking very forward to getting my hands on Scratch Beginnings.
Labels: Book Reviews