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„Nobody has anything to eat, just drinks tap water“: Average earner lives a month on citizen’s income: It’s tight after four days

The standard rate for single citizen’s income recipients is currently 502 euros. For the RTL ZWEI show “Hartz and hearty”, a 54-year-old average earning caretaker named Michael tried to live off this amount for a month.

“I want to see if it’s possible to manage with 500 euros a month. I’m really curious about this project, whether it works,” Michael says at the beginning of the episode.

Former certainties suddenly become luxury

Before the month begins, Michael sets up a budget in the show. He deducts 140 euros for phone, electricity, water, and other fixed costs. This leaves him with only 360 euros for his discretionary spending – or 12 euros per day. With this, he has to finance groceries, hygiene products, transportation, clothing, and leisure activities.

“I haven’t bought anything yet … It’s getting tight,” says Michael. He calculates that he can no longer afford driving, except for the commute to work – which should actually generate income again.

For leisure and shopping, he will get a monthly public transportation pass to cut down on fuel costs. A shopping bag with wheels will now have to replace the trunk.

After four days, Michael bought a snack – and regretted it

Despite a carefully prepared budget, the costs at the beginning of living on citizen’s income are high, as Michael quickly realizes.

A kettle must be purchased. Drinking water needs to be bought in bulk. And yes, he hasn’t completely given up his old habits yet – within the first few days, Michael gives in and treats himself to a snack instead of cooking at home.

If he really wants to last a whole month, it’s going to be tight. After four days, he still has a little over 300 euros left.

He may have clothes and water in stock. But he actually wants some variety, he wants the freedom back that normal work life and the associated income give him. At least a small job must be feasible – something to feel better and get closer to normal life.

“You have to do something when the money isn’t enough to survive,” says Michael. “Otherwise, you sit here and maybe have nothing to eat and just drink tap water for half a month or a week. And that’s not quite good.”



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