Many families are barely able to make ends meet

Giorgos and Tonia, who have a 5-year-old child, are both employed in the private sector. Giorgos earns 1,600 euros a month from his main job and -400 a month moonlighting, while Tonia takes home -1,800 (these are considered relatively good wages for Greece). They pay 520 euros for a housing loan, 320 euros for the child’s kindergarten, 550 euros every two months for public utilities and 100 euros on apartment maintenance expenses. Another 160 euros goes on a parking (they live in the city center) 140 euros in car fuel, supermarket expenses 500 euros, 150 euros at the butcher’s and -80 at the greengrocer’s. Their budget is further burdened by credit card payments. «I imagine everyone is familiar with this – at some point we just don’t have enough to get by and so we are forced to use plastic money – which we end up paying for very dearly, given the high interest rates,» says Tonia, 33. These payments take up whatever is left over from their other expenses. «The only luxury we allow ourselves is a visit to a cafe once a week and to eat out once or twice a month,» she added. «I remember that about three years ago, 500 euros in the supermarket would buy you anything. Now you just buy what is necessary and only with some reservations do I fork out for a bottle of wine or a sweet, which now seem like a waste of money.» «It costs about 1,800 euros to buy a cot, a carrier, a playpen bed, bottles and clothes,» said Panayiota, a 38-year-old interior designer. Her husband Nikos, who works for an insurance company, has a monthly income of about 2,000 euros. «We just break even,» he said, «even though we own our home. Public utilities cost about 350 euros per month, the supermarket about 550 euros. Fuel and highway tolls another -300, -500 on credit cards and a consumer loan. Baby milk alone costs 170 euros a month and diapers another -60. As you can imagine, we can’t even think of saving.» Things could be far worse, of course, as they are for low-income families. «What can we buy with my part-time wage of 400 euros and my husband’s wage of -1,000?» asked Katerina, who works in a supermarket. «We want to have a baby but can’t because we spend more than we earn. We are living on credit cards and loans – by necessity.»