Day 24: Live below the poverty line – £1 a day

  • Breakfast: porridge + office milk
  • Lunch: crumpets (40p) value cheese paste (60p)
  • Dinner: bartered leftovers

I read this morning about 10 year old Karis McIntyre in Salisbury who has also been finding out what it’s like to live below the breadline. Karis and her family have also been living on £1 a day for the past week and donating to the Trussell Trust. Spire FM have just kindly rewarded Karis by topping her pocket money up to £10 – great job Karis! 

Lunchtime and I had no opportunity to hit up the reduced sections last night so I will have to chance my arm. 1300 hrs – location Sainsburys. There are a few reductions available but all out of the budget, I don’t want to regress to soup again so opt for crumpets and cheese instead.

The value cheese’s tag line is “a little less cheesy, spreads nice and easy” and at 25% cheese they’re not lying… I consider ‘spreadability’ as a property of cheese and whilst useful I wouldn’t rank it higher than overall cheesiness. Still, it slides onto the crumpet with ease and with no laborious spreading to report.

I’ve explored various methods of feeding myself over the course of this challenge including foraging, skip diving and soup from butchers bones. This evening I’m looking closer at ‘bartering’ – the old fashioned art of trading skills and talents for goods rather than money.  

I’ve read some inspirational stories about people that have taken the art of bartering to its limits such as Simon Armitage, a poet who took on the Pennine Way utterly penniless. During the day he would walk, and in the evenings he would stay with those he met along the way while earning cash by giving poetry readings. Bluddy brilliant. 

We’ve all seen movies where if the character is short on cash at the end of a meal the restaurant owner insists they roll up their sleeves and wash dishes to pay off the debt. There is a restaurant in Paris where people routinely pay for food by the dish load. 

Not one for poetry, I’m seeking instead to try and undertake dishwasher duties this evening in exchange for some grub...

I hit up No. 4 coffee and wine bar in Southampton in search of bartering opportunities. I meet Justin and Gracie behind the bar and am soon put to work collecting glasses, wiping tables, taking out the rubbish and washing crockery.

The place is buzzing, Ben Dlugokecki is playing and he has the crowd hanging on every note. As the night goes on there is dancing, singing and general merriment. Glasses are emptying and I try to ensure Justin and Grace have enough clean ones to witness their incredible cocktail alchemy.

Some diners on a nearby table have read about the challenge and very kindly offer me what’s left of their pizza as I clear it from their table. It turns out they’re all on a work do for a local telemarketing company and as I chat about the challenge I obtain some useful Waitrose reduction intel. 

I soldier on with the tasks and Grace prepares me a little doggy bag of leftovers.

I’ve read that bartering is a lost art. A positive social upside to the practice is the connection with others and the sharing of skills and experiences. Tonight I’ve met some marvellous individuals in Justin and Grace and whilst my washing up skills could probably still do with refinement (as my housemate would attest), Ive thoroughly enjoyed my bartering experience.

Thank you to Grace, Justin and No. 4 for kindly letting me help you out for the evening. 

5 Comments on “Day 24: Live below the poverty line – £1 a day”

  1. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a while but haven’t quite managed it (my plans are usually foiled by the broken fridge, uni’s lack of a microwave or the other half wanting my food!). It might be a little late now but have you taken a look at Jack Monroe/agirlcalledjack’s stuff? She used to live on £10 a week for her and her little boy and her cookbooks are my absolute favourite – I’ve never used so many recipes from one book. 🙂 Good luck with your last stretch x


  2. It’s the 30th today, where are days 25 – 29?! I’m really enjoying this! Pulses & grains such as lentils & pearl barley are good with a few cheap veggies & a tin of tomatoes for a soup or stew.


  3. Your story has reached the Australian media. A great read, good on you. May I suggest you buy a jar of vegemite. It will last you more than a month, it’s very nutritious, packed with vitamins and very tasty. Also very cheap.


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