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13 November 2014

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Credit Crunch

You are in: Tees > Credit Crunch > A pound a day?

John's jacket and helmet

John's latest credit crunch accessories

A pound a day?

As many of us struggle through the recession we ask the question can you actually live on a pound a day? To find out BBC Tees' John Foster spent a week doing just that for the BBC Inside Out programme. Find out how he coped with the challenge.

John Foster is never one to turn down a challenge so when the BBC Inside Out team approached him to see if would take part in an 'experiment' he was flattered.

That was until he found out what he'd actually have to do in the name of research. A pound a day? What to get to work (by 5 am I'd like to add), feed myself, keep my fluid levels topped up and have some kind of life along the way? Yer joking aren't yer?!

I have been told I can't cheat. So, much as I would love to raid the cupboards at home, drive to work in the car, or take up all the many offers of VIP parties I get invitations to... I won't.

I'm going to resist temptation and try and stick with it to see if I can really survive on just a solitary pound a day. Oh and I've been told if I have any change left over from that one day I can use it the next! Great.

Fame at last

Fame. John's name on the Sky Guide

John spent a week living on just a pound a day and wrote about his experiences each day. He did survive, just, and got his wallet back on Friday 20 February.

If you missed the programme don't worry you can watch it again online.

Day 5 - Friday 20 February

The last day and it was freezing first thing.

I decided to head in via the new road from Ingleby, over the Surtees Bridge and then the Wilderness Road and Newport Road today... and wait for it... I only stopped once for a five minute break.

Fish and chips... or at least they WERE here!

Fish and chips... or at least they WERE here!

The fast journey time. I think I broke the 40 minute barrier.  How good is that!

Anyway having not spent any money on Thursday I was feeling a bit flush with £4.18 in my pocket. The thing I've found doing this week is that there are a lot of things to be done for nothing or very cheap like the other afternoon at Elm Tree Community Centre.

There are also other activities you can get involved in for nothing so you are not at home twiddling your thumbs.

To Acklam in Middlesbrough first up... and to my old school, Boynton, or as it's known now, Hallgarth... and some steel drums.

I met a group that meet to play steel drums, and go away to play concerts and generally have a good time. Thanks to everyone down there including Megan who showed me what to hit and when.

This week has been very tiring, and with the money burning a hole in my pocket... you know what... I deserve a treat.

Fish and chips on the way home and I've blown the lot. I now have nothing else left until I get my wallet back sometime this evening.

Friday night. There is a long standing meeting with friends of mine in Newcastle, something I can't get out of. I organized it long before the £1 experiment.

The Nerd Night!

A group of radio friends meet up in different parts of the country for a chat and a few bevvies. Obviously I'm drinking water... so at least I can drink for free.

Eating tonight may be a bit difficult but having said that the fish and chips have filled me up! We will see when I get my wallet back... if I do.

What have I got from this week?

Strong leg muscles for a start.

However I have been aware of how much stuff we throw out, how much waste. I'm literally looking at the pennies and that has made me think about the choices I buy. I didn't know that there were so many bargains to be had or free stuff that is under our noses.

Don't think that everything costs because it doesn't.

Some of the most enjoyable things have been the things that we maybe take for granted. The stillness of the night and me on the Wilderness Road.

Hearing an owl in Thornaby.

Really enjoying being in other people's company and chatting to them rather than relying on the TV or the radio to break the silence.

Being part of a group and having a common interest where friendships are formed and getting fit!

It really has made me think.

It's 4:00pm on Friday afternoon. I'm off for a couple of hours kip then to see my friends and hopefully get my wallet back and to use it more carefully.

Thank you for all your fantastic suggestions that have helped me through the week and your support.


Day 4 - Thursday 19 February

So another day down... and nearly done for the week.

Today was a fairly quiet day. I managed to get sorted early and was away home for 1pm. Everyday this week has been taken up with lots of filming and with the blogs to do and the programme to sort for the next day I have been working a 15/16 hour day. So to home and catch up on some sleep... or that's what I thought.

It's now nearly 4pm and I'm still sat here grafting. I haven't had time to eat anything today as yet however I haven't managed to spend anything.

John's gift and card

John's gift and card... nice!

£3.20 is still burning a hole in my pocket. Half of me is wanting to go and spend it on something to eat while the other half is thinking "No, save it and have £4.20 for Friday".

I still have an egg, garlic sausage and a baked potato to get through, never mind the damaged fruit.

If anything, this week has taught me not to be wasteful. Whereas I would go out and buy something because I felt like it, now I'm thinking I should use up what's there before parting with cash. Every penny counts. As a result of this I'm also not snacking anymore so I suppose that is good too.

The only thing I have had to think about is a card and present for my brother-in-law. It's a landmark birthday for Andrew and I can't really afford to go out and flash the cash... ok £3.20 of it, so, why don't I make a card... and see if there is a unique present I could give him?!

Please don't spoil the surprise by telling him what I've got and done for him. This is between you and me.  That bottle is a bit of a rare find and I know the card looks a little pants but it's the best I could do and I haven't made a card since Beechwood Junior School in Middlesbrough!

Today, so far, has been a good day. The bike ride in was easier than it has been all week, card made and no money spent.

Tomorrow night I get my wallet back and some spending power, well more than a £1 a day. How could I celebrate?

Hmmmmm I have an idea but there will be a hurdle to overcome first.

Thank you for your help and suggestions. They have been fantastic.

Day 3 - Wednesday 18 February

So Wednesday and a really eventful journey in. Again I got lost in the maze of Thornaby but finding my way out I passed a man who was just stood in the middle of a field and a lady in her nightie walking her dog... at 4.20am!

The ride in is getting easier I'm finding I'm stopping less and less which is good however the legs are really hurting and it was a struggle to get out of bed this morning. Even through the pain I was thinking of you... here are the promised pics of the A19 at Mandale Interchange taken at about 4.30am.

Again you came up with some fantastic suggestions on how I could get through the day. With £1.06 in my pocket I decided it might be time for me to do something to earn money and keep ahead of the game. I also knew where there was an event taking place for free where I could eat and have tea or coffee but it's in Elm Tree in Stockton. How do I get over there... I certainly didn't want to bike it...

Fred the taxi driver from Hartlepool came up with an idea and called 'John Foster, weekday mornings from 5'.

"I'll take you to Elm Tree... for free... if you doing something for me... wash my taxi" 

Wednesday's food - not bad heh?

Wednesday's food - not bad heh?

How could I refuse. So 12.30pm was the arranged time for me to have my bucket and sponge ready. That's great but I haven't managed to earn any money. How about busking?

Well I can't play a musical instrument, I can't sing... so... ah yes... you remembered Charles Dickens and 'Bleak House' which I got from the library yesterday. Why don't I read some out? See if I get any money? Armed with the copy of the book and a bucket for the hundreds of pounds that was going to come my way I set up my pitch in the centre of Middlesbrough by Spectratext!

I began... I read passages out and nothing for a full 10 minutes. A few funny looks, a few people stopped, a few people walk straight by completely unaware that a man in a bright orange jacket was bellowing Dickens at them at full voice. However, one bloke came over and put about 26p in the bucket. I think it was to shut me up more than anything. I gave up but then some fantastic happened. I heard some coins being dropped in the bucket and looked round to see a young lad who spurred on by his mam had put about 70p+ in my bucket. Thank you to that very generous family and for the first time this week I had more than £2 in my pocket!!! Gerrin'!!!

I walk past Steve the fruit and veg man who gave me some slightly bruised bananas and oranges and with my new found wealth I splashed out on two baked potatoes!

12.30pm and outside BBC Tees a yellow Hartlepool taxi pulled up... Fred and 20 minutes later he had the cleanest taxi in Teesside! I kept my side of the bargain and so did he. Thanks Fred!

Elm Tree Community Centre and proof that you can get something for free. Marilyn and the team there, again a big thank you, do 'afternoons' where anyone can go to.
Ok the majority of the people there were more mature than me but free tea, coffee with cake is not to be sniffed at. Local community centres sometimes do afternoons like
this and it's not all bingo and knitting... at Elm Tree there was Pool, Badminton, Table tennis etc. The people there were brilliant and made me feel very welcome. I may have eaten more cake than anyone else but I'm a growing lad!

Tea tonight... a bigger selection than I've had all week and over £2 for the next day but to be honest I'm finding this hard... very hard.

10p receipt

John's 10p receipt

Day 2 - Tuesday 17 February

So after falling asleep DURING Masterchef... Anna, my other half, said, 'It's time for some sleep'.

Again the alarm went off at 3am... again I was up doing some prep for 'John Foster, weekday mornings from 5'. Outside I could hear the faint tapping of rain on the windows... 'oh no' I thought... hungry and soaked!!!

When I left the house the rain had stopped and feeling very bold I thought I would try a different way to work this morning. Cutting through Ingleby Barwick and towards Thornaby where I promptly got lost! If you live on Chancery Rise and there was a odd bloke on a bike going round in circles... it was me!! Don't Panic. (and I thought toytown was a maze!)

The thing that struck me about Thornaby at this time is that there is literally no-one out! I was on my own all the way down Mitchell Avenue... even the A19 at Mandale didn't have a soul on it!  I will take a pic for you.

With all of the fantastic suggestions you have been giving me for food and where to go and with £1.50 in my pocket to roll I thought I would have it made. WRONG!! and far from it. After looking in a few of the shops in Middlesbrough it became apparent I could get, for example, a cheap packet of mince but not the potatoes and don't even think of the stock cube. Instead I decided to go for a lasagne ready meal and some garlic sausage to put into sandwiches. Garlic sausage I have never tried before and everyone I spoke to said 'YUK' so you can see I was in a happy mood!  That only left me 16p left for anything else I may need.

A trip to a farm shop next to see a wonderful lady called Becky at Larberry's farm. I was feeling ok about my bargains so far... but I wonder what if I'm a bit cheeky I could get from her. Are you ready for this...

2 eggs, some pork, cheeses and a pint of milk... and the cost...

Tuesday's food haul

Tuesday's food haul

go on have a guess... 10p!

The sell-by dates had just gone a day before and legally you can't sell them even though there is nothing wrong with them so rather than bin them I got a lot for free and paid 10p for the eggs! Ker-flippng-ching!!!!

So all in all very happy with the day. I still haven't found any cash on the streets, still haven’t got anyone to give me a lift in but I have a glow of contentment on my face as I made my way to the last port of call, the library. Why?  it's warm for a start and there is free internet access. I need something for my brother-in-law's birthday at the weekend and had heard about a site called Freecycle. Basically you don't throw anything out you offer it to other people. I won't say what I asked for but if comes through I will be very impressed.

A good day... 6p in my pocket and loads of food to eat now.  Gerrin!!!

So here's today's haul... what's that I hear you say... 'Bleak House???'

Find out why on Wednesday!

Day 1 - Monday 16 February

The alarm has just gone off... 3am! an hour earlier than I would get up but then again on any other morning I wouldn't be relying on a bike to get me into work.  I 'borrowed' the bike off a mate called Big Dek.  'Course matey you can have the bike, you may need to pump the tyres up'. More than that - I had to get the thing just about MOT'd!
I did a practice run from home to BBC Tees on Sunday afternoon. 48 mins for five and a half miles. I didn't think that was bad when you bear in mind the last time I was on a bike was about 20 years ago!

The camera team from Inside Out were meeting me at my house at about 4am to get the shots that they needed of me getting to work. This involved driving alongside me at a sedate five miles an hour, while I sweated like a pig just to keep moving in a fluorescent orange coat that made me look like an EasyJet reject.

One thing I did find interesting was the number of other bikers out on the roads at this time. As I crossed the Surtees Bridge a biker passed me in the opposite direction. 'Good Morning' I said in a cheery voice. A muffled grunt came back at me and I too concluded there was nothing cheery about a Monday morning at 4.45am!!! The journey, once free of the dual carriageway that links Ingleby Toytown... sorry Bar-wick! to the A66 is not that far. The Wilderness road comes and goes and before I knew it I was at the back door of BBC Tees.

Only once into the studio and the show underway did it really hit me... £1... 100 pennies and that was it.  Wallet and cards left at home. No car and only a bike, which I'm sick of the sight of already, to keep me company.

One of John's Foster meals

One of John's Foster meals

After 10am and wandering around town did it became apparent the scale of the task. However, after speaking to a few people in bakers, coffee shops and fruit & veg shops I did see a glimmer of hope. Little hints and tips of how this week could be slightly more appealing. One baker has a yesterday's bake section, in other words, everything that wasn't sold the day before is marked down and perhaps even 2 for 1. I'll have a bit of that.

I blew 50p on two loaves. Half the daily budget gone but at least bread is filling and will keep me going... toast for the week!  A fruit and veg seller in town gave me an apple and an orange. The apple had a slight brown bit on the skin, which when cut out was delicious. There was nothing wrong with the rest of it and the orange had slight discoloration on the skin but inside nothing wrong. They were FREE!

I now know how I can get free coffees from coffee shops, by talking to the sales assistants long enough you can get free nibbles and how if you haggle you could treat yourself.

I also met up with John Cossham. A man who does not waste anything.. .and I mean anything. He's from North Yorkshire and gave me loads of tips on how to save food, look for bargains and how to make some money to. He has a deal with a local fruit & veg shop where he lives and will buy the produce that is going towards it sell by date for 1p a bag. What he can't eat he will compost. He will collect aluminum cans and exchange them for money. An absolute mine of information and a great help today.
So what have I got after day one apart from a rumbling tum...?

Two loaves of bread, an orange and wait for it... 50p which I decided to keep hold of and roll into Tuesday's £1!  £1.50 to spend. Tonight maybe a long night, but tomorrow we can dine out in luxury... perhaps.

Listen to John Foster weekdays from 5 and watch the film on Inside Out on Wednesday 4 March at 7.30pm to see if he coped with the 'Pound a Day' challenge.

last updated: 09/03/2009 at 15:15
created: 16/02/2009

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