Victoria B on 27 November 2020
Q. What's happened to your spending since Covid hit?

Then covid hit, it wasn't so big a deal at first. The first thing I noticed was food bills went up, along with electric bill (as we're home more using tech more and as couldn't shop around for lower priced foods). I knew I'd be forced onto universal credit in the April, I'd be saving little by little since the January, but by April what little I'd saved had needed to be spent on medicine (things like Calpol and child vitamins went up in price a huge amount), new shoes, etc. So I had to take an advance payment out. But that also disappeared fast, and I wasn't used to monthly payments. In the wait for payments of UC to start I had to take out an Argos card (to get clothes and can be used in Sainsburys at a push, so was like a food safety net), and credit through studio when dryer broke. Everything hit me in one really really bad month. Now, each month I get paid £1207 (already taken the repayment of the advance), within the first day, heck the first few hours really, I pay all my bills for the month - phone, rent, Internet, credits, gas, electric, council tax, prime (which I get for cheaper cat food/litter options than buying in a shop, bulk buy every couple months online, and also for kids TV and online education resources), the odd little credit monthly payment (discovered a website in early lockdowns that let's you pay over three months and sells cleaning stuff, household bits, etc - online pounds hop basically, cheaper to buy cleaning supplies through them than through amazon or Iceland or whoever I could find to deliver foods). Ad suddenly the food bill was over £200 per month. Because the children are eating more, because the prices went up and multi-deals stopped, because I was paying for the convenience of home delivery and had extremely limited choice over what foods were available. I had to buy less healthy in favour of more filling. Cheap and cheerful food stuffs. More microwave options as the microwave used less electricity than the oven, every penny counted. I needed food bank help also, which was a horrible experience (I'm grateful for the team that worked to feed our community but the bread was a hugely traumatic issue for me, so often past its date and mouldy). I got less takeaways, less home made foods which expensive ingredients (herbs and spices aren't cheap when you need more than one or two of them, and hard to get online). While I've now gotten into a bit of a spending time with swing, learning which credit payments to skip in favour of meals, learning to juggle and wiggle this payment or that payment around. Still end up with nothing left after maybe the first week, two weeks if we're lucky.

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