Alan's Live Below the Line Challenge

Alan - 2013


In 2013, Live Below the Line is running in the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA simultaneously, with more than 20,000 people spending 5 days living below the line. Across three continents people will join the movement to tackle extreme poverty - See more at:

From 29th April to 3rd May 2013, Live-Below-the-Line ran in the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA simultaneously, with more than 20,000 people spending 5 days living below the line.  Across three continents people will join the movement to tackle extreme poverty

I signed up myself to take this challenge and ended up doing it for 10 days, it was to help raise funds for Oxfam to help people who really do have to live on this amount of money.  HERE you can read my diary of how I got on.

The basic idea is that during this time I could spend a maximum of 1 per day on all I eat and drink. 

Although I have now finished the challenge we are still able to accept donations - so if you feel my ordeal deserves support please consider donating by clicking HERE

364 Raised
My first target of 250 was reached, so as promised I extended my challenge to 10 days (extended to Wed 8th May 2013)

See how I got on in my diary here

More Information

What is it all about

More info on the challenge

My official LBTL page

All about me

Is it possible to live on 1 a day

My ill-advised extension to the challenge


This could result in my having to somehow live on 1 a day for over 2 weeks.
This is something I have never tried before and I imagine it will be VERY difficult
but it is for a very good cause so please offer your support by sponsoring me with a donation.

6 days to start
Pre challenge thoughts:
When I first signed up for the challenge I thought that actually this will not be that much difference to my normal lifestyle as I live on a pretty low income already, but as the date gets closer I  start to realise it is going to be a much bigger challenge than I first thought.  Creating a meal for 1 would be no real problem at all, but living 24hrs on 1 is another matter!!!
The 5 days I expect not to be too bad, but if I reach the 250 target and thus carry on for the 10 days then this will be a much greater challenge...
I deliberately have made no real plan as I figure that it will be more "real" if I just jump in at the deep end.  It is recommended that you buy the weeks food all in one go but I think it will be more interesting to start each day with a 1 coin and take it from there.  Tesco have been known to sell tins of mushy peas for as low as 3p a tin, but they are 15p at the moment and I doubt I will by lucky enough for them to drop in the near future.  I know a local shop which if you time it right you can buy bread very cheaply as it is going out of date. 
Sat 27th April
2 days to go
I have been cruising the supermarkets a lot recently on the lookout for a bargain.  I have found a few promising items and I will do a shop on Sunday to get some bits in ready for the start of the challenge on Monday.
I usually drink vast amounts of coffee but this will have to stop as the cheapest coffee I have found is 47p for a small jar (this I don't think would last me long and I know it would be really bad tasting) but I have found at Asda 80 tea bags for 27p - so I guess I am drinking tea next week.
Tesco sell a packet of rich tea biscuits for 24p so I will probably get a pack of these in and split it between the 5 days.  I have been pleased to find 1kg of rice at Tesco for 40p, this will I suspect prove to be my main food source.  Lots of the cheaper foods I find are not suitable for vegans, so this is adding to the challenge, it is rather disappointing (and surprising) that it appears cheap eggs and meat are available but no cheap fruit and veg.  My being vegan may in one respect be a help though, in that I am already used to the idea of being surrounded by food and other people eating but not able to eat any of it myself.
Alcohol will be out of the question so this will be a bit of a nightmare in its self, especially if it goes on for more than the 5 days.
I have not found any kind of cheap fruit/veg yet.  I was planning to search markets etc. but from reading up on others who have taken the challenge it sounds like fruit and veg is a luxury I will have to do without (luckily I don't like healthy food anyway ;-)
- All in all, it looks like being a pretty miserable week with no alcohol, feeling hungry much of the time and on top of this it being my first week back after my holiday.  The logistics of how to deal with my weekly meeting with friends at a local cafe and the evening meals with Linda have yet to be figured out???
- I have just realised; I get 5% discount at Sainsburys, I had forgotten about that - so I can get 1kg of rice from Sainsburys for 38p.  It is a strange experience even for me to be so excited at a 2p saving ;-)
Sun 28th April
Day before start

Here is what I have purchased ready for the challenge:
1 x 1kg rice from Sainsburys - 38p    (saved 2p with my discount)
- Should be enough for a serving each day
proof of bread price
1 x  80 tea bags from Asda - 27p
- A luxury really, but a price I couldn't resist.  I am hoping to make the teabags last the full 5 days
1 x loaf of sliced bread  - 22p    (on offer at Tesco as out of date)
- This is great news as this will give me 3 slices of bread each day,  so that is breakfast sorted  (pic to right to prove it really was 22p)
1 x mixed fruit jam from Lidl - 29p
1kg Onions from Lidl - 63p
1 x pack of biscuits from Tesco - 23p

I know I said earlier I would do it day by day but I realised I needed to buy at least the items I plan to split over the 5 days.  So I now have some basics in and I have around 60p a day to play with.
I figure the bread and jam plus some biscuits should get me through to evening when I can cook some kind of main meal.  Don't expect there to be any decent kind of plan behind any of this ;-)

Total spent = 2.02
Monday 29th April
Day 1

After reading about a few other people who have taken this challenge I realise I will be taking a very different approach to most.  Rather than the more usual seeing what creative meals I can russle up on a very low budget I will be tending more towards maximum quantity for least effort ;-)

The first morning of the challenge and the true horror of what I have got myself into starts to dawn.  I am about to try my first cup of extremely cheap tea with 6 rich tea biscuits for breakfast (I know this is not a great start but I often skip breakfast anyway).  Lunch will be three slices of bread and jam. 


Today was ok, I had 3 slices of bread and jam at lunch and 2 more when I got home
I did a bit of research at lunch and found Asda sell a jar of curry sauce for 18p which as far as I can tell is vegan - this is excellent news and I will give it a try tonight.

This evening I am to cook a meal for myself and Linda, I was going to cook something else for Linda but she says she is game to try what I am having.  The plan is to use the following:
   200g of rice - bought Sunday (I will add 200g of rice for Linda's portion)
   1 onions - bought Sunday (I will add an extra onion for Linda)
   1 tin of Tesco Kidney Beans - 21p (thought I would splash out on a luxury)
   1 jar of curry sauce - 18p
I am sure I will eat it, but will be interesting to see what Linda makes of it.  The  remaining 22p of today's budget I blew on some biscuits from Asda (Ginger Nuts).

The guys at work had the idea that I should aim to have 2 left at the end of the week so I can have a pint with them Friday, but as I only have 2.37 left now I don't think this is going to happen.

I am sure you are keen to know how the tea is going.  As I am sure you expected, it is really bad !
I have been drinking it all day but I can imagine that by Friday I will be at near breaking point.

As expected the meal wasn't great, but we ate it.  The rice is not very good, think I will give pasta a try next time.  The sauce wasn't too bad though really.  Treating myself to a few biscuits before bed.........

Thanks very much to all the people at work who have sponsored me today - now only 62 off my target

Total spent so far = 2.63

Tuesday 30th April
Day 2

Biscuits again this morning - I really need to find something a bit better than this but they are so cheap and so good.  A big box of Corn flakes can be bought for 31p which would be good, but they are not vegan.  I plan to go to Sainsburys after work to have another hunt round for something cheap and a bit better than biscuits.  Bread and jam again at lunch. 
Is it any wonder that people on low income in this country have such a poor diet, there really should be some cheap fruit/veg available.  On a related subject, where is all this cheap booze I keep hearing about?????
I was looking at THIS interesting item on what people around the world eat, the U.K. photo speaks volumes.

BTW - If you are reading this diary please drop me an email (  I have no idea if I am just talking to myself|?

I must confess I have suffered a bit today - walking through Nottingham passing all the food places was hell......
My total is now 202 - big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me.  There are still several people at work who have promised to sponsor me, so hopes of it all being over by Saturday are fast disappearing.
My visit to Sainsburys to find something better were a complete fail, guess it is back to the biscuits - lol
I am planning a late night raid on the local supermarkets in the hope of a bargain.  Tonight I think Tesco veg soup (24p) with added onion and lots of bread is the way to go.

Bagged myself 3 small tin loaves for 25p each, these will be ideal - total spent today 99p 

Bread n Soup

Total spent so far = 3.62

Wednesday 1st May
Day 3

Last nights meal was very good, there is much more in those small loaves than I thought so plenty of last nights loaf left for a decent amount of toast and jam at breakfast :-)
It would be nice to have some oil for cooking onions, I will see if I can find anything cheap enough but I am not optimistic.  Some margarine would be ideal as I could also use it on my bread and jam.

I have been emailing more people today asking for sponsors, I must be mad as there is still a chance I can end this Friday ;-)
I had a terrible thought - I have stated that if I collect well beyond 500 I am "duty bound to carry on past 10 days", what if this diary goes viral - I could end up on this challenge for months !!!!  ;-)

Three challenges face me today:
 1)  I am eating with Linda again tonight so I need to figure out what we will have
 2)  I am meeting friends in Beeston for coffee so what to do about that? (I am hoping they will not charge me for tap water).
 3)  I am not at work so I have lots of spare time to feel hungry (the ginger biscuits are already lost...)

I was going to try pasta today but as I have so much bread in stock now I guess tonight's meal really needs to include this, so I will probably opt for seeing if I can improve on last nights meal and convert it into something more like a stew, I think I will see if I can get some cheap frozen veg of some kind.

I had a jam sandwich at lunch then went to meet with friends - The owner of he establishment was very good and provided tap water f.o.c.
so I will give a plug here for the best coffee in Beeston (if not Nottingham) - Local Not Global

I bought a bag of frozen mixed veg at 75p from Tesco, but after looking at the finances I have decided I just can't afford it, I would end up with plenty of veg but nothing to go with it - so it will have to go in my freezer for after the challenge :-(
So instead I have bought a tin of veg soup for 24p, more biscuits for 22p and a tin of potatoes for 14p

Tonight's meal will be pretty much the same as last nights - which whilst not very inventive at least I know it will be ok.   I have cooked a small amount of rice to throw in along with the tin of veg soup and an onion (extra onion and tin of soup added for Linda's portion) and served with a small tin bread loaf - It should at least be filling ;-)

I still have 2 days to go and only 78p left !
Stock check:
  1 packets of biscuits
  1 x small tin loaf  (plus a few slices of the Hovis loaf)
  1/2 kg of rice
  1/2 jar of jam
  5 x onions
  lots of tea bags (Anyone who thinks I am not really suffering I suggest you try one of these tea bags ;-)
Total spent so far = 4.22
Thursday 2nd May
Day 4

Yesterday's meal didn't go down too well, very bland would pretty much sum it up.

Had some toast and jam for breakfast today (and maybe the odd biscuit ;-)
I will cycle over to Long Eaton today and check out Asda again, this seems to be the best place for the cheaper stuff, Sainsbury's being the worst.  Hopefully find something good to spend my remaining 78p on.

Mid day
Failed to find anything new, so for dinner it will be rice, 18p curry sauce and an added onion.

dinner was surprisingly good (and lots of it), not bad considering it's total cost was 36p.  With a few veg. added it would be a perfectly acceptable meal even if I was not doing this challenge.  I had thought the cheap rice was terrible first time I tried it, but actually it is ok.

Great news?   My first target of 250 has now been reached so I am now on this challenge for an extra 5 days!
Next target is 500, if this is reached then it is 15 days!

I bagged 3 more of the 25p loaves :-)     I plan to only count the cost of these as and when I use them, I have to buy them when I can
I experimented with oats and much to my surprise found that porridge made with water is surprisingly good - so I bought myself 500g of oats for 39p
So I will have a bowl of water based porridge with jam before bed :-)

Total spent so far = 4.79
Friday 3rd May
Day 5

Today would have been the last day if I had any sense, but on the bright side I will have another 5 to spend tomorrow.   Actually, I think I am just starting to get the hang of it so in a way it would have been a shame to stop now and I have drunk so much of this cheap tea that I am actually starting to believe it is ok  (could this be the Mere-exposure effect in action ;-)
This mornings breakfast will be my new found foodstuff, porridge made with water and a dollop of jam.

Went to the pub at lunch with the chaps from work (even though I couldn't eat or drink anything there), Melvin kindly managed to get a pint of tap water for me foc so at least I had something to drink whilst watching them all eat their dinner.
On the way home after the pub I bought a tin of speghetti (16p) and had this with the tin of potatoes I bought on Wed.

Just realised I messed up!  I had planned to buy a jar of curry sauce for this evenings meal.  Luckily I still have a small loaf left so I can do something with that but I am very low on jam so nothing much to put on it.
Just realised; if I put the 25p loaf I back into store this frees up 25p and so I can have a 18p jar of curry instead and then have a slap up curry and rice with onion tonight :-)

Total spent so far = 4.88
Saturday 4th May
Day 6
I have a few bits of food left over from the first five days (tea bags, a few onions), this combined with the fact that I now have a much better idea what I am doing should mean the next 5 days will be easier, apart from the one problem that the novelty of this has now worn off......

Rather worryingly the curry sauce from last night has stained my none stick saucepan - I didn't think that was even possible!

Bread and jam for breakfast today with lots of this wonderful tea!

I now have another 5 to play with so time to stock up on supplies, I will bring out the following:
  A sliced loaf which was on offer at Aldi the other day (35p)
  A jar of Sainsburys Jam (29p)
  A pack of Rich Tea biscuits (22p)

Plus Chris found potatoes on offer at the Coop last night, 59p for 2.5kg - looks like a bargain to me.

Lunch was another bowl of porridge and also a few biscuits with a "nice" cup of tea later on (well, that was the plan - next thing I knew I didn't have many biscuits left ;-)

This evenings meal consists of yet another curry sauce (18p), an onion, couple of small potatoes and a small loaf (21p as it was damaged as well as nearly out of date) - I admit an odd meal but I am too tired to do much else.....

Total spent so far = 6.72
Sunday 5th May
Day 7
Toast for breakfast. 

I will be going shopping this morning to see what I can find for todays exciting meals.

I bought the following:  A jar of sweet and sour sauce 28p, a tin of kidney beans 21p (as I have been advised I need some protein) and a bag of oats 75p - plus I have brought out another of my small loaves. 23p

During the day I had a load of bread and jam, this evenings meal will be sweet and sour sauce with rice (with added onion and kidney beans)

Total spent so far = 8.19
Monday 6th May
Day 8
I had hoped the sweet and sour sauce would make a nice change, but it was pretty unpleasant.  Maybe this evening I will see what I can do with the potatoes I have.  Bread seems to be the only thing I have eaten so far which could be described as nice.  If I had cooking oil I think things would improve but it is just too expensive. 
Porridge for breakfast again.

I have given up on any hope of a healthy diet - so bought some biscuits for 23p and spent 21p on bread, prob. have some toast later.
Times are hard now, I am having to use my tea bags twice to make them last the full 10 days.

This evenings meal will be boiled potatoes with a tin of mushy peas (12p)

Total spent so far = 8.75
Tuesday 7th May
Day 9
Toast and jam for breakfast again today.  I forgot to take anything to work for my lunch so I had to blow 19p on a banana from Sainsburys!

Still nearly 200 to go before I reach my next target and then have another 5 days to do, so I think I am safe to assume tomorrow will be my last day (although maybe I am tempting fate and I will actually be on this challenge for the rest of my life!). 
I have some food already paid for (potatoes etc.) and 1.06 left to spend so I should be able to relax a bit now - who knows, maybe even see if I can buy a 30p bar of chocolate tomorrow from Tesco as a reward to myself :-)

For this evenings meal  I will bring out yet another of my Coop 23p loaves of bread (I don't know what I would have done without these) and have a tin of soup with it (23p) and the remaining kidney beans from the other night.  This will leave lots of potatoes (probably too many actually) for tomorrows evening meal.

I am looking forward to being able to return to my old life: not having to make my excuses when people suggest I go for a coffee with them; not having to just sit and watch whilst friends have a drink and a meal in the pub; not walking round shops looking at what I could have if only I had another 20p; being able to have a drink with Linda when we have a meal; and most of all, being able to drink coffee again.

Total spent so far = 9.40
Wednesday 8th May
Day 10
The last day of my ordeal (or so I hope ;-)
Porridge for breakfast.  I have 60p to spend today,  I need something to go with the potatoes for this evenings meal and I still have hopes of buying some chocolate!

Just been a bike ride to Long Eaton, bought a tin of beans for tonight (25p) and a bar of chocolate (30p).  That chocolate was probably the best thing I have ever tasted.

Total spent over the 10 days = 9.95
End of challenge
My challenge is over! - I plan to allow myself a brief period of excess (both food and alcohol ;-)
This mornings breakfast - 1.35

What I have learned is that whilst I thought I was already living on a low income, I now really appreciate that I am still living a very privileged/exercessive life (may be difficult to remember in winter when I can't afford to have the central heating on ;-).  I have had a small glimpse of just how depressing and excluding being truly poor must be.  Even though this was a very artificial excercise without any of the real stresses of how I will survive or if I am going to lose my home etc. I was still finding it very depressing and hard work and I am very pleased it is over.

I feel I should be doing more than I am which is why I decided to take part in this challenge, but not sure sponsored events is "it", I just don't have the personality required to ask people for money - it felt to me a bit like I was trying to exploit friends/collegues.  Also, I don't think many people would stand for me doing something like this on a regular basis ;-)
I will consider what else I could do?

One thing I have learned during this is that porridge made with water is just as good if not better than made with soya milk.

If you think my efforts here were worthy of support it is not too late to make a donation HERE

comments/feedback to

BTW - If you are wondering what ever possessed me to sign up for this, I fully blame Peter Singer, as I read his book a while back "The Life You Can Save" which proved to be the most expensive book I ever bought - more info HERE

Peter Singer giving a talk on the subject HERE

In 2013, Live Below the Line is running in the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA simultaneously, with more than 20,000 people spending 5 days living below the line. Across three continents people will join the movement to tackle extreme poverty - See more at:
In 2013, Live Below the Line is running in the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA simultaneously, with more than 20,000 people spending 5 days living below the line. Across three continents people will join the movement to tackle extreme poverty - See more at:

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