Leaving people with no room to manoeuvre financially could backfire
I can’t say I’m reeling after the Budget because we pretty much knew what was coming down the tracks but I’d say there’s definitely an atmosphere of quiet contemplation today as many of us, especially those with a hefty mortgage and kids, are wondering how we’re going to get through the next year. As we can now no longer afford to go out it’s quite sobering – literally - that even our last refuge -a bottle of wine on a Friday night – is going to cost more. With even less money now to spend and a property tax to stump up for, the only route to survival for many families is to not spend money .
I’ve been thinking of watching re-runs of 1970s BBC sitcom, The Good Life for tips on being self-supporting because we might look into making our own clothes (although arguably it would be cheaper to buy them in Penneys or a charity shop), growing our own herbs and vegetables and bartering for goods and services. We already buy a lot of the items we need second-hand on adverts.ie (nearly-new football boots for the kids, hurling helmets, a coffee maker…) and were inundated with offers when we sold our baby buggies and cot online. My microwave used to belong to a colleague who had his kitchen renovated. We’d get a goat like Tom and Barbara but it would cost too much money to feed.
Going out en famille for meals will remain a distant memory . When we do go out as a family it’s to the Kid’s Club in the Omniplex cinema in Santry which costs €2.50 a head (that’s €12.50 for a family of five) and we sneak in home-made popcorn in sandwich bags and diluted orange . I’ve seen other parents dole out sandwiches and produce flasks of soup during a Kid’s Club film so they are in effect having lunch while being entertained – a clever strategy if you want to avoid pleas to go to McDonalds on the way home. I’ve started walking in and out of work (saving €21.50 a week since the fare hike), I will be bringing my lunch into work (saving at least €20 a week) and won’t be going to the doctor unless I am on my last legs. I now baulk at paying full price for anything and accumulate Tesco clubcard vouchers to pay for pricey family days out to the zoo and the National Aquatic centre etc. While we’ve always tried to buy Irish in the supermarket, now we have to choose goods according to their price.
So in a nutshell, we’re not going to be contributing hugely to the domestic economy next year and if this situation continues we might start to enjoy the parsimony and the penny pinching and it could become a way of life rather than a necessity. Leaving people with no room to manoeuvre financially may well backfire long term.