One of the biggest things I have learnt over the last few months is how incredibly blessed Brett and I have been when one or both of us have had a fixed salary. In December, Brett resigned from his job and soon after my bursary money came to an end. Since the beginning of the year we have not had any regular income and have had to trust God sometimes from day to day for our needs. This has taught me firstly, how many of the things I used to think of as “needs” are really just “wants” or “nice to haves”. Secondly, it has taught me how little we can get by on without really actually struggling. We never ate or lived lavishly before, but our grocery bill has almost halved during this time and we are still eating healthily. Thirdly, it has taught me that living on less is not easy and comes with a whole set of stresses, pressures, and relational challenges.
Earlier this month, I stopped writing out shopping lists and instead started writing what I called “wish lists”. I would put on there all the things I thought we needed and some things we just would have liked (like coffee and cheese) and hoped that by the time we had used the last eggs and milk, there would be money to take the wish list to the shops. There always was because our God is faithful and always came through. But waiting was not easy. Neither was counting out and making the difficult decisions on how to allocate our money towards petrol, electricity and food.
From May 2-6, I will be taking the Live Below the Line challenge. I will be living on the equivalent of 1 Pound a day, or R12. I am doing this to raise awareness for and to better understand the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty. The money that I would have spent on food during the week (check out the rules), I will donate to a poverty alleviation project. This is not a warm-fuzzy-feeling initiative though. The truth is that most of us have absolutely no idea what it is like to live below the poverty line. Conversely, we lose sight of the abundance we enjoy daily. Yes, I will be limiting my food and drink costs to R12 per day while the truth is that for those 1.4 billion people living below the poverty line, their R12 or $1.25 or 1 pound has to cover far more than food. It is all they have to cover their health, housing, transport, food, education, hygiene, electricity and other needs. I cannot even begin to fathom such living.
“Almost a quarter of the world’s population face challenges that are varied and complex, and which prevent people from developing financial safety nets – ensuring they are unable to escape the cycle of extreme poverty. ” (Live Below the Line, on Extreme Poverty)
Redistribution of wealth must start with those who have. And what better way to begin than by realising what wealth we really possess.