Last week Amnesty International had a challenge of living below the line of poverty during one week. They had calculated what the line of poverty would be in the Netherlands (this is the line of $1.50 dollars a day of the United Nations combined with the social minimum) which was €2.90 per day here. So, I wanted to do this challenge too, to experience how it would be to live with very few money from which you were supposed to do everything you had to do: going out, buying food, make up, sports, film etc. The only things not included were housing and electricity costs, because that would be impossible for students like me to incorporate in their daily budget. But we had to keep in mind that this 2.90 euros a day would, for the extreme poor, be needed for everything.
I do live from very little money already (because I save everything I can for travelling and more volunteer work) and so I did not find it extremely difficult to live from 2.90 euros a day. In fact, I even ended up with living from approximately 1.60 a day, because I was so cautiously spending my money. I also ate at a friend's house, she gave me the left-over rice which I could of course use for the day(s) after. It felt a bit weird to accept food from other people, but I could imagine poor people having to do this too, and so I was happy with my gift. This challenge was also about the social pressure and difficulty as you had to say no to all social activities including some kind of payment. This could lead to social exclusion, and it was interesting to experience this for a week. The challenge was also set up to raise awareness on wasting food. When you have very little food, you have to use it wisely. I always try to do this because it increases your ecological footprint tremendously if you don't, but this week I was even more aware of everything I threw away, including plastics and papers, as there is so much energy lost when throwing them away.
I can certainly say that I appreciate my food more than before. Luckily I did not have to go hungry although I can imagine when even housing costs are included in this price, (and clothing and tuition fees) it is hardly possible to have (healthy) meals each day. I will continue trying to spend my money wisely, but I often buy fairtrade and biological food, resulting in higher prices overall. This challenge has defenitely brought me insights in living as a poor person and it has teached me how valuable food is in our lives (and how much we are normally not aware of this).