Down to £4.80 now

Over the last few days I have depleted my tenner to less than a fiver – I bought bird food, a couple of cards and paid a library fee. The cards weren’t strictly necessary, but one will be used immediately for a friend’s birthday and the other will remind me of a pleasant afternoon out. I suppose the bird food wasn’t really necessary either, but they are used to being fed and I don’t see why they should go short because of my personal challenge. It’s not as if I actually only had £10 to the end of the month, that’s just the figure I set bearing in mind my commitments. The library fee was incurred before I thought of the challenge, but I won’t be requesting any more books until the end of the month or I have finished reading all the books I have out already, whichever comes later.

The real challenge for me is feeding myself until the end of the month with only a small top up of veg and a pint of milk, and going without any incidental purchases such as charity shop bargains, the occasional newspaper or paid parking. On the food front I’m having actually cook and eat some of those theoretical cheap meals that I have the ingredients for, but tend to ignore in favour of quicker (and meatier) alternatives. I made lentil dal for lunch yesterday, with enough left over for two or three more portions. Cold dal makes a nice toast/sandwich spread, thinned a bit it becomes soup, and if you mix with some yoghurt it’s good as a dip. Plenty of variety from one cooking session.

It’s one thing choosing to challenge yourself to a limited budget for a limited period of time, but it must be grim to literally only have a few quid in your purse until your next wage, pension or benefit payment is made. And to know that whatever you receive will only cover absolute essentials and nothing more. I pretty much know I won’t actually get to the end of the month without succumbing to the lure of the supermarket and even if I do, I know I can fully replenish my food stores and go back to buying the occasional book, plant or other “luxury” when the challenge is over. It’s only a temporary, chosen deprivation for me at the moment, but for many people on a low income the relentless grind of making a little stretch a long way must be a challenge they could do without.

In case you are remotely interested, I find brushing my teeth with bicarbonate of soda or salt is effective, but very unpleasant! Still, I have a little toothpaste left and using occasionally it has become quite a treat in between the salty brushings.