Millions of households suffer under exceptional cost of living
Daily life has become nearly 10 percent more expensive than it was a year ago, Het Parool reports. The last time the Netherlands saw inflation on such a large scale was April 1976.
Europe, Asia and the U.S. recovered economically from the coronavirus pandemic in a relatively quick amount of time, just to be faced with an energy and raw material shortage and consequences of the war in Ukraine. Now, Dutch people across economic strata are feeling the effects, with energy, gas and grocery costs putting a strain on many households.
"Nowadays I regularly receive panic calls from people about the expensive life," budget coach Lisa Verdegaal told Het Parool. "They work hard, but are just above the allowance limit. Then their energy company's annual contract ends and they hear that their energy costs are rising by 200 euros a month."
Gas and light were 2.5 times more expensive in March than a year earlier, the newspaper reports. Euro95/E10 rose to 2.5 euros per liter before the Cabinet lowered excise duties at the beginning of April.
However, 61-year-old Anna Beek of Veldhoven told Het Parool that she still avoids using the car, "although I am a big car enthusiast." In addition, she looks closely for sales at the supermarket and meticulously plans meals to save money.
Single elderly people, students and flex workers are increasingly turning to the Red Cross and food banks to get enough food, since grocery trips have also become more expensive. Ukraine is a significant grain exporter, making staples like bread and beer suddenly pricier. Market researcher GfK monitors the monthly increase of 55 staple products, like apples, milk, cheese and toothpaste and saw an 11.3 percent price increase since August of last year.
More middle- and high-income shoppers are turning to budget stores like Lidl, Aldi, Dirk and Nettorama. Marco Florijn, chair of the association of debt counselors NVVK, said people who earn "excellent salaries" on paper are now seeking debt counseling as well. “I don't want to overdramatize, but I see a big problem."
Florijn said the NVVK is working to make sure these people don't become the next target group. Even before the inflation, 2.8 million households were in a precarious financial position, with many dealing with risky debts. But now, life has become more difficult across the board.
"The price increases are so extreme that the 'do everything the same, but an ounce less' strategy is no longer sufficient,” Gabriella Bettonville of Nibud told the newspaper. “Many people have to cut significantly in their spending. That means no second vacation or no vacation at all, subscriptions gone and no new furniture.”