A Beijing office worker, Wang Hao, became an online sensation in 2008 when he called on people to live on just 100 yuan (HK$120) a week to encourage them to embrace a simpler way of life. Wang launched the experiment after home loan payments on his new flat took up half his salary, and after realising he was frittering his money away on empty spending. He set himself the challenge of living off 100 yuan a week - 10 per cent of his previous expenditure. He set up a blog, which gained about 100,000 followers. In the run-up to Christmas, I forsook my usual consumption frenzy to see if his call for low-expenditure simplicity did in fact improve life, or was just the path to misery. I established a few simple rules for myself: rent and regular bills were exempt, but the money - a little over HK$17 a day - must cover all food, travel and entertainment. Monday I normally have a latte to kick-start the week, but this would use up all today's money and half of tomorrow's as well. I have to make do with instant black coffee. I let myself use staples from the cupboard, such as flour, oil and salt, but fresh food comes out of my allowance, so milk is out of the question. Breakfast is a slice of dry toast. I found a bakery that sells four slices of bread for HK$4.50, but can't afford butter or jam. I usually read the business section of the newspaper, but buying one would eat up half my budget, so I sign up for a free online trial of my usual paper. I'm working from home to save on transport costs, but by noon I am starving, so I take a break to buy some food. At my local supermarket I find some instant noodles for HK$3, so I buy two packets, along with some broccoli for HK$2.80. I pick up an onion for HK$2 in the wet market, and trawl the stalls for fruit. But nearly everything is beyond my budget. In the end I settle for two mandarins that cost HK$2 each. I spent a total of HK$19.30. This is going to be harder than I thought. Tuesday I start the day with a slice of dry toast from the loaf I bought yesterday and a cup of black coffee, which is as putrid as yesterday's. I do some work, then head out to get my food ration. The noodles I bought yesterday are high in salt and additives and this makes me thirsty. I still have half an onion and some broccoli left, so I opt for a larger and slightly higher quality packet of noodles at HK$5.50, two more mandarins and an apple. I lunch on leftovers from last night's dinner, a slice of bread, a mandarin and apple. But by 3pm I'm starving again, so I head out in search of snacks. The cheapest thing I can find is a packet of crackers for HK$3.90. Total spend: HK$16.30. Wednesday I feel tired and I am finding it hard to concentrate. I crave protein, I need sugar and can't face any more noodles. I follow my breakfast of dry toast with two pieces of bread for lunch, and throw in a mandarin. I take my sons to a Christmas party in Kennedy Town. I take the tram there and back, which eats up HK$4.60 and an hour each way, during which they moan constantly. I hoover up the leftover party food, so I do not have to buy dinner. Total spend: HK$11.10. Thursday Skipping dinner was a mistake and I wake up tired and hungry. I add sugar to my coffee at breakfast to try to give me some energy, but I find it hard to concentrate. I feel light-headed. At lunchtime, I splash out and buy six eggs for HK$18.90, another four-slice loaf of bread and an onion. I have scrambled egg on toast for lunch and noodles stir-fried with onion and another egg for supper. At a total of HK$25.40, I have massively overspent. But I have enough food left to last me for tomorrow and for the first time this week, I do not feel hungry. Friday I need to buy dog food today. The dog is not participating in my challenge, so I do not need to deduct the money from my HK$120. This is just as well, as it costs HK$185. It will provide the dog with 28 meals, meaning each meal costs HK$6.60, compared with an average of just HK$5.71 per meal for me. I have a lower food budget than the dog. I eat the same food as yesterday, but treat myself to a bunch of bananas. Total spend: HK$4.19. I'm back on track, but my productivity has nose-dived and I feel awful. Saturday The challenge takes a new twist today, as I have two children to amuse. We usually go swimming on a Saturday, but today this is out of the question. We go to the park and the free Tea Museum. The boys love it, but I just don't have the energy. I feel short-tempered, tired and depressed. I snap at my husband and yell at the kids. My skin looks terrible and I am constantly hungry. I switch back to instant noodles for lunch. I find some potatoes for HK$7.90, which I make into chips for supper, along with my last egg and some broccoli, which cost HK$2.80. It is the best meal all week. Total spend: HK$13.70. Sunday I am so relieved it is the last day of my challenge. I splash out on a baked potato (HK$3.10) and a tin of tuna (HK$14) with leftover broccoli for supper, as well as more instant noodles for lunch. I feel terrible and cannot wait to eat normally again. Total spend: HK$20.10. Results I have spent a total of HK$110.09, meaning I have stayed within my budget. But the leftover cash is more a sign that I gave up buying fruit by the end of the week, rather than that HK$120 is enough to live on. When taking on the challenge I thought I would find the food monotonous, but had no idea how ill I would feel. I found it difficult to concentrate and frequently felt light-headed. I was also depressed and lacked motivation. Far from enabling me to embrace a simpler way of life, I found shopping on such a low budget highly time consuming. While it might be possible to survive off HK$120 a week, it would be very difficult to do so in the long term, and impossible to maintain a balanced diet. Yet millions of people around the world do survive on this little, and that money covers everything. After my week of trying to live off so little, my heart goes out to them.