Cost explosion leads women to poverty line: ‘There’s not much room for improvement’

Updated 06/09/2022 at 10:10 AM

  • Inflation raises prices in Germany.
  • The city of Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr region regularly occupies one of the highest places in the poverty rating.
  • Many here no longer know how to pay their living expenses.
  • Also Monica Koch. I spoke to our editors.

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In fact, Monica Koch (name changed) never wanted to bring up these ideas again: How can I make ends meet this month? Is the slightly more expensive fruit still out there? Do I really allow myself the new jacket? For years, the 62-year-old has lived off social benefits. “I’ve always felt really bad about it,” the qualified remedial educator and master gardener admits.

Everything has to get better. No more going to the table, no flipping every penny twice. “I found a job and now work as an education specialist in a residential group,” she says. For a Koch, this means a lot: pride, appreciation, restoring part of their dignity. On paper, the language is discreet: roughly 1,200 euros.

Inflation is especially noticeable at the gas station and in the supermarket

Every morning the girl gets up from Gelsenkirchen and drives to nearby Gladbeck. “I didn’t have much left after deducting running costs,” says Koch, who is single. For an apartment of 60 square meters, 450 euros are deducted from the cold rent, plus additional costs, food, clothing, telephone costs, recreational needs and more. “I’m really scared of the upcoming heating bill,” Koch admits.

She feels very bloated at the gas station and in the supermarket poorly. Inflation is now just under eight percent. Experts don’t see the end of that yet. “I used to be able to fill up my VW Beatle for 60 euros, and today I have to drop 80 euros,” Koch says. Leave the car? “That’s out of the question. It would take two hours to get to my job by public transport,” says the woman from Gelsenkirchen.

A resident of Gelsenkirchen saves on groceries

I got a nine euro ticket anyway. “I think that’s a good thing,” she says of the federal government’s action. However, the nearly 500-euro repair on the hub of her small car was not paid for, so Koch will continue to sleep tirelessly.

“Right now, I mostly save on food,” she admits. She has all the price jumps from the supermarket in her head. “The price of spaghetti was always 60 cents, now it is 1.39 euros,” Koch explains. So your favorite food is less common than usual. At normal prices, I’ve often left groceries in the past few weeks. “I buy a lot of the specialty box at the supermarket,” Koch says.

When she discovers an organic food in it, she is especially happy. Koch already knows all the tips about browsing brochures before shopping, not going shopping on an empty stomach, comparing prices and choosing brands for home discounts.

Peak not yet reached: prices will continue to rise

She asks: “If you’re already doing this, where should you save?” She worries that prices will continue to rise. A recent study by the credit insurance company Allianz Trade came to the conclusion that the rise in food prices has not yet reached its peak.

Experts estimate that a 10.7 percent price hike is likely in the food retail sector. In other words: annual additional expenses of more than 250 euros per person. “I don’t know where else to save. There isn’t much room for improvement,” she says.

She was entitled to get groceries from the table. “Today I’m over the line and I can’t get anything there,” Koch says. “But food banks can’t handle everything.” Despite the new job, her standard of living did not really rise.

In their view, politicians should do something about it. “The business has to be worthwhile, and that’s fair,” she says. Koch has already thought about growing his own fruits and vegetables so he can continue to eat healthy. “But I don’t have a garden, and an allotment garden is expensive again,” she points out.

You no longer get food on the way, and don’t even think about going to a restaurant anyway. Postponed the purchase of a new sofa. “Unfortunately, this is quite worn out. Now I’m looking for a place where I can get a foam to strengthen it again,” she says.

Vacation canceled again

Holidays in Sauerland are also unattainable. “I actually said to myself: Now that I work, I deserve a vacation,” the 62-year-old says. Accommodation in Sauerland was already paid for, but then he became financially tight again. In the meantime, Koch did not think about saving her dog and cat. “Then I’d rather undo myself,” she says.

In concrete terms, that means: Neither Netflix, nor Amazon Prime – although they would like to have a subscription to streaming providers. Less visit to the cinema, no coffee. And a Rolling Stones party ticket anyway. “It costs about 200 euros,” Koch says, awkwardly laughing. It’s good that the “Sympathy for the Devil”, “Gimme Shelter” and “Compliment” programs from Kitchen Radio remain free.

Sources used:

  • Allianz Business Study: May 30, 2022

A colored scale ranging from A to E that appears on many foods for several months: the so-called Nutri-Score. You can find out what this says about the product and how the scale is created in the video. (Photo iStock: Portrait)

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