How is the average middle-class family living in the city supposed to survive on a fixed income when the prices of everything from grocery to diesel seem to be climbing astronomically? Well, by sacrificing key luxuries, tightening the belt further and hoping for the best, says the common man.
Jagannath H, who drives a taxi for a living says he has no idea how he is going to face the coming months as he already struggling to make ends meet. “I live with my parents, my wife and my two children and we spend Rs4,000 a month on groceries alone. Everything now has become a problem as even with sacrificing a lot, our grocery budget has increased by Rs1,000. To be honest I have no plan what my family is going to do if they increase the prices further,” he says. Being a driver by profession, paying for diesel is yet another huge load in his life, he says. “I am also paying back the loan for my car. Once we pay for grocery, fee for my children and other things, we have left with nothing,” he rues.
At a more affluent household, Ragini Jayakrishnan, a mother of one who stays with her husband and her in-laws in Jayanagar, says that rather than budgeting, the family has found new ways to save money. “In the past couple of months our grocery budget went up by Rs2,000. We are not keen on budgeting but we have been going for certain substitutes to make the costs come down,” she says. Milk is one of the commodities the family tries to use only on a need basis, according to her. “It is not that we have stopped buying milk but in case of emergencies, we have started using milk powder because we really don’t want to waste a single packet of milk. The prices of vegetables keeps fluctuating. So I really can’t say how it has affected us,” she says. But the increased fee structure of her son’s school has left her feeling the pinch quite a bit. “My son is currently in nursery and they drastically increased the fee structure this year. But we don’t want to compromise on his education either; So we paid,” she says.
Children too are starting to be affected by the price hike as parents are no longer able to indulge them with small luxuries that were an everyday affair not long ago. “We function on fixed budgets. So depending on that we have to adjust our lifestyle. The price hike means certain sacrifices have to be made. There are certain things we put off buying for a month. We don’t buy as many snacks as we used to and when the children ask for certain things, we tell them that we will buy it for them later. Naturally they are affected by this. Our family has cut down on buying biscuits and fruits and kids are not enjoying as much,” says Radhika Vijayabhaskar, a teacher.
She says gas is the commodity that is affected the most.
“We are a family where both the parents are working but the prices of grocery like rice and dal have increased. The price of gas has increased and the price of petrol is also a problem. Right now, we are adjusting but if the prices keep increasing then we will have to dip into our savings. Also, now we think twice before getting our regular health check-ups because medicine is expensive and a single visit to the doctor can cost at least Rs300. So we put it off. The school fees are increasing; fruits are expensive, cooking oil is costly and transportation fare is expensive. Everything is getting affected,” she says.