High prices also hit middle incomes hard: heating, no vacation

Dominique and her husband worked in business until three years ago. Both then switched to education. She as a kindergarten teacher, he in higher education. A good job, she says. “Still, at the end of the month, we’re wondering: are we buying the new kids’ shoes now, or are we waiting?”

The couple has three children aged 12, 10 and 3 and live in an owner-occupied home in Amersfoort. Thanks to their previous jobs, they have been able to build up a buffer with which they can now supplement their income. Necessary now that life has become much more expensive for them.

Heating at 18 degrees, no vacation

“Our energy bill went from 150 to 300 euros a month, so the heating does not go higher than 18 degrees,” says Dominique. They’re not going on vacation right now.

About her transition from business to education, she says, “I have never worked as hard as I do now in education.” She finds it really shocking what is financial in return. She now has to suddenly think of all her expenses, a new situation.

Dominique is not the only one to have to think about consumption due to rising prices. 3047 RTL Nieuws viewers and readers from all over the Netherlands responded to our request and completed a comprehensive questionnaire (see the box at the bottom of this article). These are people who work in the health care system (nursing, caregiver, home care, disability care), teachers or teachers, civil servants, logistics staff and mechanics.

The questionnaire shows that of the group of respondents who earn up to 1.5 times the average, 534 have received a higher energy bill and 353 have higher housing costs. An average income in 2022 will be 38,000 euros gross per year, including holiday allowance.

The respondents indicated that they need to make crucial choices in basic needs. “Swimming lessons and sports subscriptions have been terminated,” it read from one. Family visits are postponed by the high price of gasoline, or people save on health care costs. Another: “Sjeu will come off like that.”

Cut down on travel costs and sports

Sylvia, she herself has been rejected, but her husband works: “We have an average income, but we feel we are at a minimum. We are not able to cope. We are very selective with groceries, no longer buy meat I look in all the folders for offers and pay the accounts with holiday pay. “

Maarten tells us that he does not earn badly, and neither does his wife. “We have two teenagers at home. Fortunately, I have found a job closer to home, which saves travel expenses. For example, we are cutting back on weekly newspapers and a sports subscription. I can save less. It should not take years.”

Shame to ask for help

419 of the respondents have an income of 2 to 2.5 times the average. 169 of them have a harder time coping. In addition to the energy bill, the more expensive groceries, fuel and excursions are also mentioned here.

Of those who have difficulty coping (2349), more than 600 state that they have recently asked for (financial) help from family, friends or the environment. It is about loans from friends or family, although many indicate that they are ashamed of this.

Skip a meal, no fresh vegetables

In addition to the data from the survey, RTL Nieuws also interviewed 39 respondents extensively by telephone. This shows that people are mainly facing the increased cost of groceries. Therefore, some no longer buy fresh vegetables or fruit, others skip a meal a day.

Money is also saved in other ways, such as turning off the heat or lowering the heat, taking a short shower (s), leaving the car at home, giving up paid hobbies such as sports, music lessons or taking care of no or less care. Think about skipping a visit to the dentist or dental hygienist.

It is striking that tenants complain a lot about poor insulation and its consequences for the energy bill.

Nibud: middle income must now also puzzle

Nibud recognizes the conclusions. They are seeing more and more middle-income people in trouble. Arjan Vliegenthart: “This group now also has to puzzle to be able to pay all the bills. They have to change their behavior and spend less to make ends meet.”

Vliegenthart says that it is now primarily a sum of rising prices for food, gasoline and groceries. “Everyone notices it in their wallets.” According to him, more and more people are using their savings. “One can hope that prices fall again,” says Vliegenthart. “Because this situation is pretty worrying.”

How did we conduct this research?

RTL Nieuws received thousands of responses to a call, which was distributed via our own website and social media channels. We inquired into people’s personal situation, such as income and living situation. We also asked what costs have increased, such as groceries, fuel and housing costs. And what (difficult) economic choices people have had to make.

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