How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day by Kath Kelly: Book Review
Today, on the bus home, I finished an amazing book. In typical scrimper fashion, I managed to snag it for 10p, and it was worth every penny. Now, I love reading, and getting lost in a great fiction novel is a perfect idea of relaxation to me. However this book was different to any other, I feel it has changed my life and my way of thinking. I feel like I have experienced something that will not be easily forgotten, and that I will read this book again and again. Okay, before you think I'm getting carried away in a romance novel, let me explain. Kath Kelly wrote a wonderful book all about her year living on just a pound a day. However, the way she wrote it was what made me love it so much. It wasn't a list of tips or a series of diary excerpts, it was written like one of my favourite novels. I felt like I was sucked into the book and was taking her adventure with her, it was more like a story than a factual book giving me advice on how to live my life for less (which was the original reason I purchased it). It did just that, but so much more too.
When I started out writing this blog, I was looking for ways to make a bit of money and save a bit of money, just to make university life a little easier. I hadn't really considered the overall picture, the consumer world that we live in, which is so strongly governed by what other people want us to spend our hard earned cash on. One woman set out to really take herself out of this equation, by embarking on one of the most crazy, inspirational and amazing challenges: living a whole year on just a single pound a day.
Yes. One pound.
This to me was mind-blowing. Consider going out for your lunch...£5 gone. It's okay to bring your own lunch now and again but, as a student trying to make friends at a new university, I would be so worried that I would miss out on social occasions. However, after reading Kath Kelly's book, I can see socialising in a completely different light! By the end of the year, I am 100% convinced that she had a better social life than me (despite the stereotypical idea of 'students these days'), and she spent far far less on it. I think the idea of having to make the effort of living on a pound a day, means that you try harder to make sure that you can go to events. Also, once you have discovered free events (many of which seemed to have free wine and food at them) why would you not attend? Why spend £20 on a night out you can hardly remember, going to the same places, hearing the same blasting music, spending the same ridiculous entry fee, when you can have an excellent night without all of that. Since I started reading this book I have tried out some free events. I attended a free pub quiz with a mate, (I met wonderful new people, had such a laugh and felt my useless knowledge wasn't quite so, well, useless!) and didn't spend a penny (I'm a fan of tap water and lemon to be fair). I also have been to a couple of fairs where I not only met fantastic people who were passionate about their company, but picked up many opportunities and freebies along the way (I don't think I will have to buy a pen for the rest of my university career).
As well as going out though, we spend money on all sorts of things that we really don't need to - and so many are pressured by what the big bosses want us to buy. I am talking about presents and cards for what feels like a growing number of occasions on my calendar. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Hallowe'en, Mothers and Fathers Day, Valentine's Day, I even heard people talking about Grandparents Day and Best Friend day! Although I love the idea of having a day dedicated to celebrating these things and showing your appreciation to those who deserve it, do we really need to spend lots of money telling someone we care? I adore having a day dedicated to spending with the one you love, and showing them how much they mean to you throughout the year - but do we have to exhibit this with a £15 bunch of flowers? If we sat back and thought about it, a handmade card, or a homemade batch of their favourite bake (scones if anyone is paying attention) could be so much more personal and appreciated. What about taking the time to go for a (free) walk in the park with your mum and catching up on everything she's been up to. I feel this would be much more appreciated than an expensive card in the post accompanied by a bunch of flowers that won't last the week.
The opportunities to save money are all around us. I walked past noticeboards in the university for weeks that were telling me about all the great events and talks I could have been going to. I now make an effort to look out for and attend these, and have met some new friends in the process - something I was worried that I would miss out on by living frugally. It shows that living for less doesn't mean you do less living.
This passion I am expressing for trying to escape this consumer world, was sparked by the wonderful book: How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day by Kath Kelly. I would love to meet this woman and sit down over a cup of hot water in a bookshop comfy chair some time and ask her all about her year. She has inspired me to look differently at the way I live my life, and appreciate the finer things in life, without the luxury price tag. I would recommend this book to anyone, and if anyone has any thoughts on this book or others like it, leave me a comment below, share this blog post or tweet me @LaurieBeat.
Thanks for your time dear reader, and happy living for less.