In The Red: A pound a day keeps the credit crunch at bay? Yeah, right

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So. A teacher in Bristol has survived an entire year spending only a pound a day. And now she's written a book about it.

Wow, eh? A pound a day. Hurrah for her, I suppose. Let's hope her book sales go some way in compensating.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound bitter. It's just that my own situation is so far from Kath Kelly's saintly scenario, and I can't help but feel a bit put out when someone comes along boasting about how much more cash-savvy they are. It's not as though I don't try – but a pound a day? Perhaps I could learn a trick or two.

I could certainly do with some help: recent attempts to smarten up have left me with even less pocket money that usual. Maybe an extreme solution – a spending detox, as it were – would be the answer.

It began, Ms Kelly claims, when she decided one drunken evening that the only way to solve her money woes would be to give up spending. Full marks for logic, you might think, but not for practicality. Except that she actually did it.

How? Well, she scoured the local paper for free buffets, ensuring that she wouldn't have to pay for food. And she walked the streets in search of dropped coins, which not only left her with a tidy £117 windfall, but also (I'm guessing) meant that she didn't need a gym membership. She stopped meeting friends in cafés and met them on park benches, where they'd share a parsimonious flask of soup. She bought 27p shampoo. Oh, and she scoured local roadsides for berries. Which, presumably, she ate when short of free buffets.

Sounds fun, doesn't it? A bit like something out of Spooks, what with all that mooching around on street corners and loitering on park benches.

All right, fine, I'm lying – it sounds like a living nightmare. And not in the slightest bit London-friendly. I mean, free buffets? Do they even exist? Roadside berries? Actually, I have seen a few berries growing down by the Regents Canal – though they're surrounded by beer cans and cigarette butts, and I can't help thinking that what meagre nutritional benefits they may offer are likely to be offset by the traces of alcohol, urine and whatever else they've happened to absorb: heroin, maybe? At any rate, it sounds like hard work.

Still, it wouldn't hurt to give it a bash – at least for a week or so. After all, if it worked, it would do my bank balance no end of good. And while it may sound utterly joyless, really, how hard could it be?

At least, that's what I thought until the start of this week, when I actually did it (or tried to). On a scale of one to 10, I'd give myself around a one.

This is more or less how it went...

I get up on Monday morning, shower, get dressed and head out the door. Money spent? Nil. Very good.

And then I realise: I have no means of transport. Hmm. How to get to work? Ms Kelly cycles – but I'm terrified of traffic and bound to get lost. Oh, and I don't own a bike.

I think about calling in sick, and then consider hitch-hiking (Ms Kelly got to France that way, stowed away in a lorry like an illegal immigrant.) But I dismiss the thought: I'm already late. I give in and top up my Oyster card. That's £19 over budget. I've failed – and it's only 9:15am.

Living on a budget, I realise, is one thing. Living like a monk is quite another. It's an entire vocation, as all-consuming as a career. It requires serious thought, planning and sacrifice. And while I'm more than happy to take the cheap road, forsaking my life for the free road isn't going to happen.

So, Ms Kelly, I concede that you are a better person than I am. Forget the book deal – someone get this woman a TV show.

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