SPENT: Can you make it through the month?

Over 14 million Americans are unemployed. Now imagine you’re one of them. Your savings are gone. You’ve lost your house. You’re a single parent. And you’re down to your last $1,000. Can you make it through the month?

That’s the challenge made by SPENT, a game launched in February 2011 by McKinney and Urban Ministries of Durham.

You’re given a budget of $1,000 and 30 days of life events and decisions to navigate. Where do you want to look for work? Where should you rent a home? Can you afford insurance? Food? Emergencies? Each decision comes at a cost, financial or otherwise.

If you haven’t tried to live on a tiny budget, this is a great wake-up call for the random things that can throw your life off track. While in graduate school, I lived on about $12,000/year. That’s $1,000 a month. But I didn’t have children; I lived in low-rent university housing; I had health insurance, a car, savings … I was lucky compared to a lot of people living in poverty who face difficult, life-changing decisions on a regular basis.

Give the game a try. I’d love to hear how it goes!