A RICH House Poor House family who normally live on £1,800 after bills revealed they couldn’t even afford fish and chips – after swapping to a £158 budget for the week.
Enterprise architect Peter Coleman and his wife Jo, a freelance writer, normally spend £150 just on the weekly supermarket shop – as well as eating out at least once a week.
The couple – who are parents to Lucy, 14, and Matt, 15 – live in a four-bed £750,000 house overlooking Salisbury Cathedral.
They swapped homes with swimming instructor Terry Morgan, a single mum-of-two who lives in a cramped £133,000 three-bed flat above a curry house in Havant.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous Online, Peter said: “There were two chip shops nearby.
“You can smell the fish and chip going in and out of their house and normally we would have fish and chips on a Friday, that’s one of our little family treats.
“We were going to just buy chips and then cook our own chicken nuggets but in the end it was something we didn’t do at all because we couldn’t afford them.
“It must be frustrating for her because you can smell them when you get out of the car.”
Coffee lover Peter also had to give up his daily flat white habit, which can see him fork out £7.50 during a typical day working in London.
Jo said: “It just makes you realise how you will just willy nilly spend money and not even think about it and things like that really add up.”
The week was a huge learning curve for the Coleman’s kids – leaving Lucy on the verge of tears at one point.
Jo said: “Our daughter particularly was quite shocked. When we first moved into the flat you could see it in her face. She was sort of welling up.
“But Terry’s flat is such an expression of her personality. She’s so positive and her flat is covered in murals and hand prints and photographs and love – you felt love when you walked into her home.
“I think it made a big impression on Lucy.”
The couple enjoy the finer things in life, but living a week in Terry’s shoes gave them a whole new perspective.
“We had slightly lost our way,” said Peter, who’s currently trying to cut down to a four-day working week so he can spend more time with his family.
“We’ve been caught up in a way of life that’s quite expensive and, seeing a lot more of each other instead of going out and doing all these expensive things, we really enjoyed it it brought us together as a family.
“We’ve realised the pleasure in simple things.“
Jo agreed, adding: “Peter often goes off on his annual cycling and skiing holidays, I go off with the girls.
“We’ve got into the pattern of doing things separately and actually spending the week together in a quite confined space, the four of us get on so well.”
Instead of fancy trips abroad, the Colemans experienced Terry’s normal family holiday – with kids Coral and Theo, both 12 – on the Channel 5 show, in a 26-year-old caravan.
But even that came with its challenges, when Peter realised they couldn’t afford to drive to nearby Hayling Island – because they didn’t have a tenner for petrol.
He said: “We were really near the sea, and I thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice everyone to take the camper van down to Hayling Island and have a cup of tea by the beach?’
“I thought that would be a really lovely evening out. But then I thought ‘hang on, the camper van will take 10 quid worth of petrol and we didn’t have that in the budget’.
“It’s really clear that we have choices to have a bigger budget. When you hear Terry talk it’s clear that she has less choice and I felt for her.
“I was sitting there thinking ‘brilliant I’ve got the camper van, oh not so brilliant I can’t drive it anywhere’. That was sobering.
“My constant worry was that the car would break down then we would only have £10 to cover it. That was playing on my mind.”
During the week, the family swapped meals out for a diet heavily reliant on bread – but treated themselves to a round of drinks out on the last night, when they realised they had cash leftover.
Peter said: “We really compromised some of our food choices to try and live off the budget. We should have been a lot more sensible about how we spent the money.
“We did have a little bit leftover at the end of the week and we went for a round of drinks at a pub and were staggered by how expensive they were.
“We said to each other we would have been happier if we had stayed and just had something in the camper van.
“We could have got some things from the local supermarket and just probably had a better experience.
“It was about £17. I’d lived off bread for a week to buy these drinks, thought I might get two, but no.”
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The couple revealed they were up at 5am most mornings, speaking about the cut-backs they wanted to make in their lives.
Jo said: “It was a very emotional week, it was exhausting because it’s a really intense experience.”
Peter added: “You don’t just swap houses with people, the whole time you’ve got someone constantly asking you how you feel about that and so you’re reflecting on it all the time. And it takes you to some really deep places.
“Then about halfway through the week you think ‘I’ve learnt my lesson now, I realise that we’re very lucky, that we need to spend a bit less’, but then you’ve got to keep going because it’s a week long thing. You’ve made that commitment.
“That is a really positive thing, but it was sort of deeply uncomfortable at the same time.”
Fabulous also spoke to Terry about her experience – and why her only treat for herself was a Hetty the Hoover.
While this Rich Kids Go Skint star revealed he’s NEVER been into a council house before and was starving for his whole stint on the show because the meals were so small.
Rich House Poor House is on Channel 5 on Thursdays at 9pm.