Living Below the Line: Experiencing Life on $1.50 a Day

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1.5 billion people live on the equivalent of $1.50 per day.

Let that sink in. Living on $1.50 a day?

When I first heard this stat I tried to reason it away. I thought there was no way that this could be an honest statistic. I figured it was exaggerated and that the exchange rates and purchasing power of an American dollar weren’t taken into account. So I checked it out.pull quote 1

The stat did in fact take into account exchange rates by measuring how much raw material people could buy with their $1.50 or other equivalent daily wage.

So 1.5 billion people live on the equivalent of what we in America can buy with $1.50. Literally.


I was initially alerted to this when I was looking through the LOVE>FEAR Twitter feed. As the LOVE>FEAR webmaster, I do this every day to find cool tweets to retweet and search for good stories and challenges for I saw a retweet from a celebrity that had the hashtag “live #belowtheline”.

I was intrigued and so I clicked on it. I was brought to the above statistic and a bunch of other tweets about people who were taking up the #belowtheline challenge in the month of May.

pull quote 2I followed a link to the Live Below the Line website and found out that the challenge involved people in the developed world living on $1.50 a day to raise money and awareness for the billions of hungry in the world. Celebrities and “regular” people alike were doing it and raising an average of $250 per person through donations/sponsorships from friends and family.

Committing to the Challenge

I thought it sounded like an awesome challenge and a genuine way to make a difference, so I instantly committed to doing it for that day and posted the challenge to LOVE>FEAR followers.

On my lunch break I went to our local Aldi Supermarket to see what I could buy for $1.50. I was shocked at the limited supply of reasonably healthy food I could get. If I only had $1 more I could get everything I needed. As it was though, I had to try to decide what was best, sacrificing important nutritional components in the process. I ended up settling on a loaf of honey wheat bread (whole wheat was too expensive) and an apple.

That was my food for the day.pull quote 3

When I got back to work, I further researched the challenge and realized I had misunderstood it. It was a challenge to live that way not just for one day, like I had thought at first, but for five days. I started sweating.

I didn’t want to have to do that for five days. One day? I can do anything for one day. But five? That’s a different story. It  was the week before my college finals, and I would be crazy to not get enough food to eat.

But I had already posted it on Facebook—very publicly—and begun. I couldn’t back down now.

Life Lessons Learned

I can honestly say my life was truly changed by taking this step of faith and living below the line for a week. I was actually doing something to show that my love for Jesus and for his children is greater than my fear of sacrifice and being uncomfortable. It rocked my world.

Throughout the week I learned a few huge lessons.

pull quote 51) I only needed about a quarter of the food I normally eat to be happy and healthy.

2) As I ate less, I became more selfless. I had multiple deep and spiritual conversations with people throughout the week that never would have normally happened. I most likely would have thought I was too busy; but when I was sacrificing for others with my food habits, I also started sacrificing my time. And I heard some really incredible stories from strangers! It was really cool.

3) If I had had only $1 more, I could’ve eaten completely healthily and comfortably.

I also learned that I really can make a difference in other people’s lives, both monetarily and in my daily interactions.

As a college student working for minimum wage, I don’t make a lot of money; but I can spare a dollar a day for others. That’s all it would’ve taken for me to eat comfortably. If I can make a difference with just $1 a day, I’ll definitely do what I can.

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But more importantly, by stepping out in faith, with my small measure of LOVE>FEAR, I saw my heart and my mind beginning to change. I began to think less of myself and be less afraid, and instead I thought more about others. I was filled with love.

I hope that readers will be inspired by my simple story of LOVE>FEAR. You don’t have to wait for something drastic to do; you can start living out your daily decisions with LOVE>FEAR. It will make a world of difference.

In my five days of living below the line, I raised $221 for Care Foundation. For more information about Live Below the Line, click on the button below.

Live Below the Line Challenge

LOVE>FEAR is created and operated by Maryville Vineyard and exists to leverage the power of stories to initiate change in the world. We believe that the stories of LOVE>FEAR that we share on contain a powerful, life-changing message. Love is greater than fear, but more than that, we want to show how perfect love casts out fear. For more information on, please check out our about page. The time for LOVE>FEAR is now.

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