How to live cheap

Cash-strapped teacher Kath Kelly claims she has been living on just £1 ($1.70) a day for the past year. And she has written a book about it.

Miss Kelly, 47, ate at free buffets, shopped at jumble sales and scavenged food discarded by grocery stores and restaurants.

Kelly had an alcohol-induced wager with friends that she could beat the credit crunch by living on just £1 a day for a whole year – and won. although she was allowed to prepay her rent and fuel bills first, which slightly takes the edge off her achievement.

She shopped in yard sales, picked fruit from bushes and trees and collected £117 in loose change dropped in the street – a third of her annual budget. And to cap it all, she found love while working as a volunteer on an organic farm during the holidays.

She even managed a free trip to France by hitchhiking through the Channel Tunnel.

Miss Kelly was sharing a house in Hotwells, Bristol, when she complained to her friends over a few glasses of wine that she could not afford a wedding present for her brother Danny.

With her rent and utility bills already paid for the year, her budget had to cover transport, food, clothes and socialising.


She soon learned to spot a bargain and after working at the English Language Centre in Clifton, where she teaches for 20 hours a week, she regularly visited super-markets and butchers at closing time to buy reduced food.

She added: ‘I had a freezer full of stuff. I was out all the time with a bag on my back and if I saw bread for 10p at the end of the day, or reduced vegetables – anything – I bought it.’

Miss Kelly would hunt down market researchers in the street as they often have samples to give away.

She ditched her mobile phone and cycled to friends’ houses if she wanted to speak to them, leaving a note if they were out.

She used the library for free internet access and developed a taste for mince pies – which she would stockpile at Christmas when they are given away at stores.

Kath’s daily shopping bills consisting mostly of fresh fruit and veg, would often come to just under £1.

‘I went to the public lectures at Bristol University that had a buffet afterwards, and I went to the library’s 100th birthday where they had a buffet as well. I was the queen of the buffet.

‘Every time there was a public event and a crowd was needed, I was there.

‘I dragged my mates out to free events, too.

‘I couldn’t buy rounds at the pub or anything like that so I’d take them to art openings and book launches.’

Enlarge Miss Kelly says one of her best tips is to hand out small gifts where you can – what you receive in return will usually be of a greater value.

Her trip to France came when she decided to visit her brother, who was restoring a house in Brittany.

‘I hitch-hiked to the Channel Tunnel, got a free ride as the passenger of a French woman and hitched to Brittany,’ she said.

‘On the way back I travelled on the ferry with a lorry driver, and even had dinner at the drivers’ canteen.’

By the end of the year Miss Kelly was able to use some of the £10,000 salary she had banked to spend £1,300 on a lifetime membership to the National Trust for Danny and his bride Sarah.

She had also formed a relationship with 38-year-old Bruce Taylor, manager of the farm where she worked as a holiday volunteer.

The couple now live together in Bruton, Somerset, and Miss Kelly has written a book about her year of living frugally – How I Lived On Just A Pound A Day, available on Amazon at £8.99.

She now grows her own fruit and veg, and says the experiment has changed her outlook.

‘I’m a lot more sensible with my money now and live a completely different lifestyle.’

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