Living On $1.75 A Day? I Am Trying Live Below The Line

Live Below The Line 2014

$1.75 a day? I can hear you saying that I must be crazy but we did the Live Below The Line Challenge last year through work and managed (barely).  Okay we cheated a little, we used money over the week but some days were higher and others were lower and we had an event at work where we ate fancy hors d’oeuvres one day but this year we will follow the rules!  If Ben Affleck can do it so can I!

Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, a campaign and advocacy organization whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty. Live Below the Line is an innovative campaign that challenges thousands of individuals across the world to spend $1.75 a day on food and drink for 5 days, to deepen understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives.

So when I say “live on” I can still get to work (I did try to tell my boss that we should all telecommute last year but he didn’t fall for it).  The $1.75 per day only allowed bt Live Below The Line includes your food and drink but obviously you should try to cut down on other expenses to appreciate how someone in poverty lives.   You can donate the difference in your grocery bill to one of their chosen initiatives or even collect donations.

As a couponer, I did think this would be easier, but you don’t get many coupons for fresh items and processed are expensive.

My Live Below The Line tips from last year

  • It is easier if you are doing it with someone else as the budget stretches further when cooking for more people
  • Whatever you have for dinner will be your lunch the next day
  • Forget about meat – you can’t afford it (I say that but we found a pack of ground pork for $3 with a $1 off sticker last year, that spaghetti sauce went far!)
  • You will be hungry, drink lots of water
  • Look for day olds / stickered items at your grocery store.  While many people found it easier to shop all at once, I left some funds and picked up marked down items as the store was closing on my way home from work.  I enjoyed those cheap oranges and needed the sugar rush and the spaghetti sauce lasted days – we watered it down but so cheap ($2 meat, $0.77 sauce and $0.49 pasta).
  • We had a real lack of calcium in our diet, milk was just too expensive but if it is on sale somewhere I may give in this year as it would help other meals go futher.
  • I really really missed drinking tea (and my coffee addict boyfriend gave into his coffee habit, but he was so grumpy so he is starting to cut back now ahead of the challenge).

So you want to Live Below the Line, but you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into? Well here are the basics.

For the five-day period you can spend no more than $1.75 a day on food and drink, meaning you have a total of $8.75 with which to buy all ingredients for your meals.

• The full cost of all the items you consume must be included in your budget. This means budgeting for whole packets of food items such as rice, pasta, noodles and eggs etc.
• For items such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices simply work out the cost of each item per gram and budget your shopping proportionally.
• You can share the cost of ingredients amongst a team, as long as no participant spends more than $1.75 a day or their total $8.75 budget. Working as a team will allow you to pool together funds and do more with your cooking.
• You can’t grab a snack from the cupboard unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget.
• You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production!
• No combination of meals on any given day can exceed the $1.75 spending limit.
• You cannot accept ‘donated’ food from family or friends, but monetary donations towards your fundraising goals are acceptable, and encouraged!
• You are allowed to drink tap water – remember you should try and drink at least 6-8 glasses of water each day

More information can be found on the Live Below The Line Canada website here and there are lots of blogs with meal plans and shopping bags from last year

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23 Replies to “Living On $1.75 A Day? I Am Trying Live Below The Line”

  1. I think this is a great idea. I’m going to try it with my partner and thank you for the tips.

  2. Thank You. I live on about $1.75 a day and have been doing so for quite awhile. At times, it is not easy, but living on a fixed income, gives you no choice! 🙂

    1. Tea & Nail Polish says: Reply

      Karen, we consider ourselves quite frugal but our food costs $60-70 a week unless we do a big coupon shop, then we eat out once a week and often grab Tim Hortons etc

  3. Wow, I’m not sure I can do that. We have a lot of things we grew and canned ourselves and we buy a quarter cow for the freezer. I’m not sure I would know where or how to figure this out.
    I think it might get easier if you have kids. You still have to prepare a meal, but stretching is easier than starting from scratch.

    1. Tea & Nail Polish says: Reply

      We dont have grown food with the exception of herbs but we guestimated the cost of items we had already in the freezer

  4. I’ve seen a couple of political folk do this in Vancouver (if I’m remembering correctly) My husband and are are thinking about doing it this year. Good luck to you!

    1. Tea & Nail Polish says: Reply

      Quite likely, some of the Ontario ones did last year (and others did an earlier one where they had to live on a food bank hamper)

  5. That sounds really difficult. I am trying to think what I can buy at the grocery store for $1.75 and it wouldn’t go far.

    1. Tea & Nail Polish says: Reply

      It is difficult, makes you really think about the people who live on that all the time

      I still have my shopping list from last year
      Oatmeal packets $1.77 (store brand, made up with water not milk)
      Ground pork $2
      Pasta Sauce $0.77
      2 x Pasta @ $0.49 = $0.98
      1 x Baked Beans $0.68
      Oranges $1 (reduced section)
      5lb bag potatoes $1.49 (this really saved us)
      Random veg from farmers mkt $2.36
      Bread $1.88
      Margarine $0.99
      Ham $1.20
      The rest was guestimates from the cupboard like stock cubes etc

      Breakfast was oatmeal
      We made a soup with some of the ham, potaties and veg, it was a bit watery to make it last several lunches but filling
      The pasta mixed with some veg and ground pork lasted 2 days + lunch
      Toasted ham sandwiches + baked beans + “fries” oven baked with some margarine
      One night we had pasta, sauted veg with some margarine

      Lunches were leftovers each day but this year we are doing lunches as a group at work so I need to plan one larger lunch (each day we give the person 0.50 for lunch and work in teams of 4 so $2 for lunch for 4

  6. I don’t think I could do this. I consider myself pretty frugal but due to dietary restrictions and food restrictions its hard to cook meals cheaply

  7. can’t wait to hear how it goes! i’ve heard about this before but man oh man with 4 of us i don’t know if i could do it. maybe DH and I will try it alone one day. being gluten free just increases the difficulty!

  8. I admire you for doing this but I don’t think I ever could!

  9. Eva Mitton-Urban says: Reply

    Always like to push myself for a challenge, this could prove quite difficult. I have cut out buying newspapers as the news can be view online or TV. I clip coupons and try to stretch food/lunches to the limit. Great hints/tips – worth a valiant effort. Keep you posted.

    Eva Mitton-Urban

  10. Wow! Kudos to you! I am thinking of what I have eaten in the past day and am positive it was way more than $1.75. It’s very much something to think about!
    Looking forward to reading about your journey

  11. Tea & Nail Polish says: Reply

    I will be blogging each day covering our meals and budget

  12. Elaine Laforge says: Reply

    Wow $1.75 a day that is great, we are also living on on a budget. I find cooking from scratch saves us a lot over time.

  13. Wendy Arnott says: Reply

    I couldn’t do it being alone but give kudos to others.. I do find Walmart saves me a lot in groceries but for those without a car here, its 2.25 for the bus to get there, and about 16$ for a cab. Superstore is almost as bad, and Save On is most exp, but has three locations if they can walk there.

  14. Karen E. Hill says: Reply

    I use coupons and am frugal when buying food and drinks and there is NO WAY with the cost of food in CANADA that anyone can live on that. Ben Affleck needs to provide proof that he did this please because I highly doubt it

  15. Thanks for the tips. I do coupon whenever possible and only buy when things are on sale … (or whenever possible!)

  16. Elizabeth D. says: Reply

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes for you. I try to be very aware of the cost of our meals because it’s so easy to overspend. I prefer cooking from scratch because not only is it healthier than eating processed foods but it is always cheaper in the long run.

  17. Chandra Christine O'Connor says: Reply

    we pretty much for the last 2 mths lived on nothing but what I could mix together from our cupboards. we barely had money for gas for my hubby to get to work. only good thing I lost a lot of weight being hungry. yes I drank a lot of water. I even heated it up so it would feel like I was drinking tea.

  18. […] Live Below The Line starts this week and this is our list of groceries available for the week ($17.50 for 2 people for 5 days).  We took advantage of offers that were easily available to anyone such as Snapsaves, Checkout 51 and printable/easily ordered/found coupons. […]

  19. If I had time to prepare, I think that it would be an interesting experience. I have hypoglycemia so I’m not sure how I’d fair with only a can of beans for protein. I need my meat.

    I truly feel for all the people that it is their life. Looking forward to following your journey. Thanks for taking us along.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo

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