Benefits in Lent (Week 1) – Cheating
The first week of Benefits in Lent has concluded with a budget overspend of £0.97. The biggest spend was a train ticket back to Liverpool. I would have been within budget if I had a half pint of beer instead of a whole one.
Actually, someone on benefits should not be able to afford a £44 return train ticket. Yet, I’ve not spent a single penny on food. What is going on?
Yes, I cheated. I went on a large shopping trip on the Saturday before the start. I filled my freezer and bought three boxes of cereal:
Existing Food Stocks
I will take advantage of special offers. This means that I had built up a considerable stock of food – probably enough for a month. Benefits in Lent is a welcome opportunity for me to run down these stocks.
Work Lunch Allowance
I do get a lunch allowance from work. This does saves me spending money and time making sandwiches in the morning. At a conservative estimate, it gives me a £5 advantage.
The Spirit of Benefits in Lent
Benefits in Lent is not meant to be a perfect simulation. It does affect my behaviour enough to remember why I am doing this. My income is constrained and I can’t do whatever I want. Every time I pass Starbucks and want a coffee, I realise that I can't afford it. It may seem petty that the only change in my daily life is not having coffee. But there will be harder choices to make. Because the three boxes of cereal won't last forever.