‘It seems as if we are all heading in the same direction: debt for life’

About 20 days – that’s how long the salary of P.K., a 30-year-old worker in a furniture company, lasts. With only 760 euros net in his hand and bills coming in all the time, he is often obliged to ask his boss for an advance before the end of the month. «Just a few days ago my car insurance bill arrived. It was a shock. I just don’t know how I’m going to pay it,» he said. «I don’t pay rent. If I didn’t have my own house I would be looking for a second job to make ends meet.» It is not as if he buys anything apart from food and basic necessities and recently he has considerably cut down on going out. Most of his salary disappears on bills and the supermarket – on fixed charges and daily expenses. Until now he has not resorted to getting a loan, but he always thinks about it. Continual financial strain «I want to avoid it but I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick out this continual financial strain, the borrowing and end-of-the-month poverty, the worry if something unexpected occurs,» he commented. «It seems as if we are all heading in the same direction: debt for life.» If it is difficult for someone who is single, without obligations or severe problems, than what is it like for someone with a family? Anna, 43, works as a secretary in a good company, has two children – a boy, 15, and a girl, 19 – and her husband is a state school teacher. «I earn 700 euros a month and my husband about 1,600 net,» she said. «But it’s not enough to live comfortably. How can you make ends meet? When you have kids there are lots of expenses and there are many extras to pay for. Fortunately, my daughter got into a university in Athens and we won’t have to pay for a second house. They urge us to have kids, but how can you on these earnings?» «My husband, who is getting on, got a second job in a restaurant,» she continued. «Most evenings he’s away from home. He returns dead tired, we hardly see each other. What kind of a life is that? Working from dawn to dusk and not even a moment to spend with your family, or go out one evening to the theater?» Even though this family did not have to pay rent, taking out a loan was inevitable. «We took out two consumer loans when some problems arose and we were unable to pay the expenses. Now, of course, we can’t pay off the installments.» M.L., 35, works as a private employee at a Greek university and gave the impression of being constantly on the move. She earns 1,100 euros and her husband about the same amount as a teacher in a private school. «Neither of us can manage on this money. I often work overtime and my husband also teaches in a private institute and gives private lessons,» she explained. «Between us we earn about 3,500 euros a month. It’s not bad but in order to be able to lead the life we want we work from morning until night. The problem is that we come home so tired that we can’t do any of the things we are supposedly working for. We live just to work,» she concluded.

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