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Lizz Roe – April

09/06/2010

OK – this month is live on £1 a day! Kath Kelly wrote a book about this which is fascinating. I’m adapting from her for this – I’ll pay my mortgage and bills and after that do the £1 thing! I’ll also keep travelling for work but the rest has to come to no more than £30 for the month.

Strangely this one seems quite hard! Despite the fact I did the buy nothing thing in February. possibly because a few years ago I did only have a £1 a day for more than two months and wouldn’t have managed it without 4 different lots of friends asking me to house sit for them (covering the 8 weeks in question), and a twenty pound note I found which I took to the police but which they told me to keep. (although if someone came into ask they had my name so that I could be contacted.) So in the end I had £80 for 8 weeks.

As I didn’t have a credit card and was using all my savings and salary to buy my flat, and had borrowed from everyone I felt I could ask, I really did only have those £80 and from that I had to pay for a return rail or coach journey to work at the start and end of those two months too. I hadn’t hitched for years and didn’t feel like it then – not that easy from inner Birmingham either.

I did find it hard – possibly because: my bike was still in storage; it all felt very insecure; I twice didn’t know where I would stay the following week; I was part time at work; and I hadn’t lived in Brum for nearly 20 years and didn’t know where things were, what the networks were like or where I could dumpster dive or anything.

It seems strange because years ago my then partner and I lived for several years on a single part-time salary – but we did have a boat to live on, we had good friends and family, liked the work and study we were doing, Had a sense of purpose and each other, so although we had almost no money it seemed ok. Chilly some times – but mostly ok.

Around the world more than half the global population live on a dollar a day, and yes of course it’s different here but £1 a day after bills must surely be possible? I even have some food in the kitchen – though not as much as in February. And I have some seeds so I can grow some more salads at home.

So – why does it seem harder – is it cumulative? It’s month 4 is that what it is? Maybe it is just that it reminds me of the period in my life which was really very stressful. Maybe it’s a reminder that money just is one of the topics that people shy away from. Thousands of people are in debt in the UK. and that doesn’t include mortgages and car repayments. Numerous people have strategies for how to get to grips with this – Alvin Hall on the TV is one of the best known people in the UK. In the US Joe Dominguez and Vicki Ruben’s project also called ‘your money or your life’ like Alvin’s, has helped thousands of statesiders get debt free. I’ve had months when I’ve emptied the piggy bank too. This is crazy. what is it with £££? what helps not spend?

Some suggestions include lists when shopping, not buying magazines – the ads and lifestyles just depress you and encourage ridiculous levels of aspirational buying, setting budgets for the month and sticking to them, starting by keeping a list of everything you spend each day and adding it up – so that you can see where the main leakages are. They’re all good sense. Another is to pay off your credit card debt before you do anything else – servicing debt is expensive – always try and pay the balance, and if you can’t manage – start a plan whereby you pay the charges and cut the core each month until you’ve got it down. In the mean time cut up that card (and put the pieces in different bins at different times – don’t put a whole card even one that has expired in a single bin – I’m an ethical dumpster diver but not everyone is (read John Hoffman if you think I’m paranoid)

Perhaps it’s because I’m supposed to go to Bonn for work this month! how will I do that? Ok I might just have to only count the days in the UK? waddya think? maybe I’ll just see what happens.

Week1

I’ve taken £30 out of the bank and have changed them into euros. Here I am at day 5 and I’ve spent the equivalent of £4.50 so, so far so good. I spent a happy time wandering around the cathedral in cologne and visited the tomb of the three wise men. Having taken some bread, Marmite, and a water bottle with me it’s not been so hard. Most of the money has gone on transport.

Week 2

Because of the train strike I arranged to work from my dad’s home this week – after I came back from Bonn I had two days at his place before I went off on holiday to the Lebanon. I took my 28 euros with me and managed to come back with 10. This is mainly because it turned out that the holiday included pretty well all the meals – I’d forgotten this entirely! I booked this trip originally for Feb but because dad was so ill I postponed it. Beirut, Byblos, Baalbek, Tyre, Sidon – all absolutely fabulous and with a very nice guide and group too.

Week 3

This is an excellent week – I’ve been told I’ve got an allotment! I’ve been to see it and taken some photos. This is one of the best things to do – because then you can feel a real sense of achievement with each change you make I have had to pay a deposit of £10 for keys to the communal padlock and the loos (oooh there are loos on site – how great is this). I’ve had to spend £2 on sanitary towels, so I am now down to £6. I met up with a friend at a Quaker meeting house with whom I’m teaching next week and we came across a book box with a donations tin so I swopped £2 for a couple of books. this leaves me with £4 for the last 10 days.


Week 4

I’m down to 40p. I had a cup of tea with someone who gave me a lift after a teaching session I did – £3.60 for two cups of railway tea, but she bought the biscuits as well as doing the driving which was very kind. The night before two nice people took me out for a meal at a place which said they did vegan food – they sort of did but only by omitting the cheese and eggs!

What I Learnt

Pheww – it was harder! and I was left with 20p at the end. (I had to use 20p for a loo on a station – hey did you know that a pay phone costs 60p a call now and you can only use 4 coins to start with!) I also walked quite a long way to find the cheapest version of things like soya milk, lentils, sanitary towels, tomatoes etc it’s one of the things I’ve known for a long time – if you’re really hard up then it all takes more effort to eat, do social things, travel anywhere, and just get by.

Next Month:- it’s all about energy – embodied and direct!

See also in this series…

Lizz Roe – An Introduction

Lizz Roe – January

Lizz Roe – February

Lizz Roe – March

Lizz Roe – May

Lizz Roe – June

Lizz Roe – Good Book Guide

Lizz Roe – July

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