Not had a payrise in a couple of years and no prospect of one? Maybe been made redundant? Struggling to pay the bills? Finding it harder to pay for your weekly shopping? Cutting back on necessities, not just luxuries? Don’t know how you’re going to pay for the next set of shoes your kid grows out of? Well do not despair, for here comes a great horde of smug poverty tourists to show you how to do it all better:
“Living on a budget requires planning,” Sanders says.
No, really? There was me thinking I could just carry on buying whatever I fancied whenever I felt like it. I needed a middle-class academic to point that out.
This sort of article pops up every now and again, but in the last couple of weeks there’s been a slew of them. Perhaps it started with a market trader challenging Ian Duncan Smith to live on £53 per week, during a radio call-in. He said that if he had to, he would. 475,000 people thought this would be a jolly good wheeze and signed a petition asking him to put his money where his mouth is
…but of course he won’t. I find myself in the unpleasant and unfamiliar position of agreeing with him that it would be a meaningless stunt, as I’ve written here before.
But it doesn’t stop the press latching on to the idea that well actually it’s probably dead easy to live on bugger all money, after all these benefits scum always have big tellies and plenty of fags, don’t they? Let’s fill some column inches with this.
The logical conclusion to all this is ridiculous articles like this appearing in the Daily Mail
‘It is more difficult when you have a family, I was single when I lived off £1 a day, but I still think you could do it.’
‘Even with kids you just need to look up things to do on the internet, there are so many free things in and around where you live.’
*even more sceptical face*
So, reader, how did Kath Kelly get by with an annual budget of £365 and what did she spend her money on? She…
- Picked fruit from trees and bushes
- Collected £117 in loose change found on the streets
- Made the most of free buffets at public events and celebrations
- Scrounged leftovers from grocery stores and restaurants
So, these imaginary kids that you’re feeding from leftovers begged off restaurants and fruit picked off bushes by the roadside, how long do you think you’ll manage to keep them approximately healthy and how long do you think it’ll be before they’re taken into care? But she ‘still thinks you could do it’. So that’s alright then.
Ms Kelly, from Bruton, Somerset, even managed a free holiday in France by hitchhiking to the Channel Tunnel and persuading a French woman to take her as a passenger.
Freeloading seems to be actively desirable if you’re coming from a comfortable background but doing it as a ‘challenge’. It’s hard to square all these ‘look, it’s dead easy, here’s how you do being poor’ lifestyle articles with the constant barrage of ‘fighting back against our something for nothing culture’ interviews with politicians that we see in the press, directed at people who are actually living this way day-to-day, out of necessity, with no end to their ‘challenge’ in sight.