Living on $7 a Day, The Guy Behind the Videos – An Interview with Darren Terpstra


The first time I heard of Darren Terpstra was the day I saw him in a YouTube video. In the video he was introducing a little girl from Brazil named ‘Ayla.’ He had just sponsored Ayla through Compassion International with money he had saved by living on $7 a day. He also shared in the video that he had made a commitment to live on $7 a day for a year and that at the end of each month he was giving the money he had saved to charity. Sponsoring Ayla was what he was able to do with the money he had saved during his first month.

Check it out the video

How exciting was that?! I was really impressed to think that in only one month of saving he was not only able to sponsor Ayla, but also he had saved enough to sponsor her for 7 years!

After watching Darren’s video I just had to know a little more about the guy behind the video and I had the privilege of doing just that a couple of weeks ago when he so kindly agreed to meet with me.

When we first started talking Darren seemed like he was your average 25-year-old guy, but within just a couple of minutes I realized there is so much more to this guy than just your average 25-year-old guy. I did already know from watching his videos that he had a very strong passion in his heart for helping those in need, but having a conversation with him gave me a much bigger look into just how truly deep that passion really is.

Today I am really excited to share our conversation with you, so that you too can know a little more about Darren Terpstra.

The Basics…

Darren Terpstra is 25 years old. He grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin and went to school in Jackson, Mississippi. He now lives in Colorado Springs where he works as a marketing manager for the publishing company David C. Cook. He is also the founder of KiwiConnect which is still in the making.

The Questions…

What started you on this journey?

Darren shared that God has put three things on his heart that he wants him to do with his life which are:

  • – Build up a business, make it profitable and then use that money to help others through mission and humanitarian causes.
  • – Be an example to the church on how we as Americans can live more sacrificially and more like a light in society. As C.S. Lewis said, “if our spending lifestyles look the same as non-Christians in the same income bracket, we’re probably doing it wrong.”
  • – To show non-Christians that Christianity is about sharing love and not condemning and to be an example to non-Christians should God give him the platform.

“If we’re known for picketing parades and getting angry at Starbucks cups…we’re probably doing it wrong.”

Another thing that started Darren on this journey is when he was in high school he had a friend who was sexually abused at home. He was with her day in and day out and seeing what she was going through was really heart breaking. One day they had a class assignment in which they were asked to bring forth an idea that could help change the world. His friend stood up in front of the class and said that for just $40 you could buy a person out of sexual slavery.

He’s not sure where she got that fact from but said, “when you figure that ISIS is selling girls for between $10 and $40, and that for $3000 you can fund the raid of a brothel, and an arrest is made off of that raid they calculate that 200 girls would be saved in the future. Which comes out to a cost of only $15 per girl.  (I was stunned by that fact)

He told me that statistic is from when he was in high school so he is pretty sure that has changed by now, but whether that amount were $100 or $200, would it really make that much of a difference?

Right after the Haiti earthquake there was this guy who was rallying their college to help who said that for $5* you could feed a family in Haiti for a month.

“To think that for 20 to 25 cents you can provide a meal.”

“With the change in your pocket you can provide immunizations for people in Africa so diseases that we have completely cured over here are not over there. Immunizations are one of those things that you can very easily do to save a life.”

He heard one place that stated boldly – For $200 put into immunizations you can save a life. “I thought that was pretty mind-blowing when you think of our priorities.” (And so do!)

*Just a little side note – Darren has a new video out ‘Day 101‘ according to Samaritan’s purse $35 will feed a family in Africa for a month!

How did you come up with the $7 a day idea?

Initially he had the idea of just not buying anything for a year and then to document his journey. After thinking about it he decided that way might be really difficult to put rules around. So he talked with some friends and came up with the idea of the $7 a day year.

He came up with the amount by figuring out how much he spends per day minus the things he needs such as rent, utilities and insurance. From there he came up with the figure of $7 a day. Anything he makes above the $7 he gives to charity. He plans to spread each month’s savings across several different charities.

As you saw in the video at the beginning of this post, during his first month he saved $3164 which he used to sponsor Ayla through Compassion International for 7 YEARS! WOW!

What does your family think about your 7 dollar Year adventure? 

He has 1 sister and 2 brothers and is what he calls himself an ‘extreme’ middle child. He hasn’t received Christmas Gifts for the past 5 years because he always asks for money and then he donates that money to charities… so all of this was not a real surprise to his family at all.  “One time my mom asked the question… ‘If Darren had to choose between true love and bookoos of money what do you think he would choose?’” his little brother said, “I think he would probably choose bookoos of money and then give it all away.” Darren laughed as he told me this and he said, “I didn’t really know how to take that so I think it was a compliment…so ya, that’s my family and yes, they are very supportive of what I am doing.”

Do you have a girlfriend?

“No one at this point. In the days of Netflix, Starbucks and the American culture the way it is, it’s hard to find someone who has the same values as you.”  He told me his church group goes out to eat on Sundays and sometimes he goes and doesn’t eat. He in no way means to make it sound like he is against something, it’s just when he figures if 20 people go out to a restaurant spending $10 to $20 each that’s roughly $200 each week that we could be doing something else with. He went on to say he is not saying something is wrong, there is freedom in Christ, but at the same time he is just hoping this challenge shows people some sort of conviction about things like that.

“I find it interesting that just because it’s me, because it’s a person in front of you people always want to buy me something. Hey let me pay for your lunch, let me do this for you let me do that for you. After I first started this challenge cereal started appearing on my chair at work,”

He had to let people know he didn’t want donations to himself, “what I want is to point people towards people who can use this money.”

“So…Wrapping all that up no, no girlfriend, so we’ll see what God has in store”

He also said that when people first find out about his $7 year one of the first questions they ask him is, ‘so, how are you going to date?’  he said, “Well dating wasn’t really an issue in the beginning of all of this so I think I can make it a year, we’ll see what happens.”

I noticed in your videos you like to exercise, it looks to me as if you really enjoy it, do you?

Darren says there are 2 types of exercise, the first type is the type he likes… things such as ultimate Frisbee, flag football, most anything active that he can do with his friends. He also does a lot of things with the youth which keeps him young.  He doesn’t like workouts such upper body where you just burn it out at the gym.

I see that you signed up for Ninja Warriors, have you found out if you made it?

No he hasn’t heard anything yet but he doesn’t really think he would win because he doesn’t have the finger strength he needs to win. He says you get finger strength by rock climbing and he doesn’t rock climb because that would bust his budget at a cost of about $12 a session.

What about your roommates do you all share food?

“We all buy our own food and we have 2 fridges with our own section for our own stuff. So no, no skimming of the top of my roommates”  

When you saved $3164  your first month and were able to sponsor Ayla for 7 years did you already have that added up or did that surprise you?

“That really surprised me.” “I had not done the math and so I thought maybe 3 years or maybe 4 years. When the numbers came out and said it went for 7 years I went wait! No! And I typed it in again and I typed it in again and I thought wow that was a lot more than I thought it would be!”  Darren told me that statistic has been pretty powerful to people in the fact that just one month can take a child out of poverty.

I would like to add that Darren also has two other children that he sponsors through Compassion, their names are ‘Rehan’ and ‘Indri’ and they live in Indonesia.

Is there anything you miss a whole lot?

“I lived very frugally before this so it’s not like I was blinded by the light and suddenly went from eating out every day to this. The biggest thing that I miss is not having to take notes on every single dollar that I use. It used to be very easy to say, ‘oh I have a trip in the summer to California’ and know that it was paid for. Now I have to make sure I save a little off of the $7 a day to pay for it.”  For instance, he really wants to go on his yearly surfing trip to a friend’s house in San Diego this summer which will cost $250.

He also misses Redbox.  “I didn’t used to feel bad about getting a Redbox but when you are living on $7 a day even a Redbox can be a splurge.”

Board games have become a popular alternative he now that plays with friends instead of movie nights.

What has surprised you the most in all of this?

“People being more worried about me more than about the message that I am trying to get across. I don’t think I was expecting people at work to start bringing me cereal and me having to make the public statement that I wasn’t excepting donations to Darren’s charity fund.”

He did say that he knows that all of the gifts were left out of a good heart, it just wasn’t necessarily the sort of response he was expecting. What he had been expecting was a response like “hey what’s a good charity to get into?” Which he said there actually has been a lot of that too, which has been really good.

He also said the gifts could maybe mean that people really care about him and maybe he should just stop over thinking it.

What he really wants to do with all of this is to point people towards people who CAN use the money.

Do you think this is something you could continue to do after the year is over?

Yes he thinks he could. Creating the videos and meticulously writing down everything he spends is a small headache, but it’s really not that bad.

What gave you the idea to do the Dubsmash at the end of each video?  He says he looks at it as his reward to people for getting through the video. He thinks the videos can sometimes seem super heavy and though he wants people to be convicted and see the change that they can do, he also doesn’t feel like someone will continue to watch the video series if they feel they are continuously smacked in the face with they aren’t doing enough. He thought it would be a fun and funny way to end things off and also so people could get a better understanding of his personality.

My last question to Darren may seem a little odd but I couldn’t help myself…..What’s wrong with Ramen Noodles????

“I have a couple of PTA friends and my friend’s mom is a nutritionist and so if I started eating really really unhealthy I would get into a lot of trouble!”

Just in case you are wondering why I asked him this question you will have to watch his day 3 video. I will go ahead and tell you that this girl loves Ramen Noodles 😀

Well that’s it for my questions!

I really enjoyed my interview with Darren Terpstra and sure hope you did too. We talked and laughed and I think I may have blabbered just a tiny bit too much myself because I noticed the other day that I have now made my way into one of his videos (Gangs of El Salvador). Thankfully he called me a ‘super nice lady’ which was really sweet and made me day. I think Darren is super nice too.

Anyway…. that is all I have for today. If you would like to follow Darren on his journey you can visit his Facebook page – Darren Terpstra or his YouTube page – 7DollarYear . Darren if you are reading this, thanks for your time spent sharing your journey with me!

Thanks for reading and also be sure to check out the links below.

Terri Siebert

Samaritan’s Purse – Lifesaving Food

Darren’s YouTube Series – 7DollarYear

Darren’s Facebook Page

A Very Special Music Monday – Kickoff to Twelve Days of Giving Christmas Away

12 days of giving christmas away

Today I had to go to Walmart.

Walmart isn’t exactly my favorite place to shop and I usually avoid Walmart if at all possible. Today I had no other options but to go to Walmart because I really needed white Kit Kat bars for a candy bar house that I am going to make for my grand kids for Christmas. This past week I visited just about every store in my town in search of the white Kit Kats but nobody had them and as you probably already know…Walmart has just about everything.

Before I go any farther let me assure you this is not a Walmart bashing blog post.  I have nothing against Walmart other than it is a huge store and if I go in for only one thing I still seem to somehow get sucked in for longer than expected and I usually come out with a whole lot more than I went in for.  Also in my town Walmart is always really crowded so I also always feel very stressed out after I leave there.

This morning I made the decision that if I was going to make the candy bar house for the grand kids and have it come out looking like it was supposed to look, then I had no other option except to face the fact that I was going to have to go to Walmart and today was the day!

As I drove to the store I came up with a plan of action for a quick enter and exit.

The plan was… I would go into the store and only travel the front isle of the store as I checked all of the pay lanes for the candy bars, hopefully find them, and then get out quickly!

I’m sure you already know…. my plan did not go as planned.

Upon entering the store I noticed right away that they had put a bunch of isles full of Christmas stuff right by the door.  I am not really sure how it happened but the next thing I knew it was like a vacuum had sucked me in and a full hour and a half had gone by before I finally exited the store with a whole cart full of stuff!

Yes I was a little stressed from the crowd, but I did get my Christmas shopping closer to being finished, and YES I did get my white Kit Kat bars!


Did you know there are only 12 more shopping days left until it is Christmas?

Since I am talking about Christmas shopping today, I also want to talk about why we have Christmas in the first place.

Christmas is the day we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. He was God’s gift sent to save us. His gift is free to anyone who wants to accept it.

Personally I am forever grateful for His amazing gift and my life will be forever changed because of it.

Something I notice though is that in all of the rush of things we do in preparation of the Christmas holiday, Jesus sometimes seems to get pushed to the back when he was actually the whole reason for the holiday in the first place.

Why if Jesus is the reason for the season is everyone so stressed out and cranky?? Why are we spending all our time trying to find someone the perfect gift when God already gave us the perfect gift???

This brings me to today’s Music Monday song “Give this Christmas Away” by Matthew West and Amy Grant.

As you all know children are near and dear to my heart, and especially those who live in extreme poverty. The words to this song along with seeing the children in the video receiving shoeboxes full of gifts just warms my heart. These shoeboxes are packed through a ministry called Operation Christmas Child by people all around the world and given out by the hands of the local churches. Along with each shoebox full of gifts every single child also receives the ‘The Greatest Journey’ which is a Bible study program that teaches them about what it means to faithfully follow Jesus Christ.  The children who receive these boxes are given the hope that only Jesus can give.

In celebration of Jesus’ birthday for the next 12 days I am going to post a link that will give you opportunity to shop for some very special gifts for some very special people.

Today’s link will take you to build your own shoebox gift through Operation Christmas Child‘s online shoebox builder. All you have to do is click the link, then build your shoebox, and Samaritan’s Purse will deliver it for you.


Like the words to the song say:

What if I told you?
You have the power
To give someone hope far beyond their wildest dreams
What if I told you it’s right there in your hands?
In your hands
It’s hard to imagine
How something so small
Can make all the difference
Tear down the tallest wall
What if December looked different this year?
What if we all just give this Christmas away? Words by Matthew West

Have a great day!

Terri Siebert



Blog hop!
If you would like to join me in giving Christmas away for the next 12 days just write your own post about giving Christmas away and then add your link to the link up below. Also be sure to post the link up on your blog.

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Human Rights for Sudanese Refugees

Have you ever been so heart broken about something that you can not find the words to say what you feel you need to say? That is how I felt after watching this video…

It’s so heartbreaking that something like this is happening in our world.

Because South Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir still continues to attack his own citizens, 190,000 people have fled across the border to Northern South Sudan where they are now living in refugee camps. People still pour into the camps daily, traveling for days without food and water,  barefoot and sick.  Many never make it, they die and are buried along the way.  Thousands of children arrive in the camps with severe acute malnutrition. Medical care in the area is scarce. Access the clean water, lack of sanitation and hygiene are huge challenges.

Today is blog action day.  Today myself and thousands of other bloggers around the world are teaming up with Samaritan’s purse to try to help raise awareness of this ongoing crises in South Sudan.  Samaritan’s purse  is making a difference.  They are making a difference by working with partners inside the refugee camps helping to bring basic needs to those who are now living inside these camps.  The needs include food, water, medical care and the love of Jesus Christ.

To see what is being done to help those inside the refugee camps please watch this video.

Today I am asking YOU for your help.

Today I am asking you to:

  • Pray for the violence to end and peace for all of Sudan.
  • Give as God calls you to help the displaced people of South Sudan.
  • Help us spread the word and raise awareness by asking others to get involved. You can write a blog about the crises in South Sudan or if you would like you may share this blog of any of the links listed below.

You may feel like a tiny whisper in a huge world but together we can speak loudly and make our voices heard.

Together we CAN make a difference.

Thank you for reading and thank you for helping the people of South Sudan,



Related articles:


A Refugee Again

Humanitarian Catastrophe: Sudan’s Ongoing War Against Its Own Citizens

A Glimmer of Hope

Feeding the Multitudes in South Sudan 

The Gift of Forgiveness

Making Motherhood Safer 

Overflowing with Joy 

Yida Refugee Camp Relief 

#BAD13  @samaritanspurse