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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Cooper family's Lent diary - week six
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¬†The Cooper family from Manchester (Niall, Rachel and their three children) are among sixty people across the country who agreed to take on the Church Action on Poverty challenge to live on the £4.10 an hour minimum wage for Lent. Niall sent us this week's Cooper family diary, describing how the household budget is holding up. We're all starting to get a bit fed up with life on the equivalent of the minimum wage. It isn't that we have gone spectacularly over budget - in fact this week, we have only overspent our £125 limit by £7. But the problem is that life has become increasingly boring and mundane. Yesterday, our oldest child, Emily (7) complained for the first time about the lack of money: 'If we'd had the money, we would have been to see Monsters Inc by now. When is this going to end?' We've had just about enough of cheap lifeless bread and cheap tasteless tea. I'm starting to get cravings for a glass of wine, a piece of cake or a bar of chocolate. It's not that we can't afford the occasional treat, but they are few and far between. And always in the back of my mind is the knowledge that if we do splash out - even by just a couple of pounds - we'll have to pay for it somewhere else. So, in the past week, we've spent almost nothing other than on food, petrol and school meals, and paying off some of our accumulated debts from previous weeks. Two weeks newspapers (£7.60) and three weeks milk (£11.34) along with the children's school meals (£19.80) has accounted almost a third of our weekly income. Depressingly, we'd almost certainly have to cancel our daily paper and milkman if we were doing this for more than six weeks. As most of our money has gone by Friday, we've hardly spent anything for the past five weekends. Luckily we were invited round for a meal with friends on Saturday, and went to a birthday party on Sunday, but even this meant spending over £8 on a present and a bottle of wine. Roll on Easter! Niall Cooper (Niall is National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty)
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