Vicky Whitwell opens the fridge to get her children a snack. “We don’t keep a lot in our fridge,” she says, gesturing to the half-empty shelves. “It’s the wastage. We can’t afford to be chucking food in the bin.”
Vicky lives in Coventry with her husband and two children, 11-year-old Chloe and Charlie, 9. She owns her own business and works in a care home to top up her income. Her husband works for John Lewis.
“We have got good incomes but it’s just budgeting around what could happen, what might happen, what is happening,” she says.
“When you go from filling up a car at £70 to £130, that’s double – nobody could foresee that.”
Cooking pasta at home with the children, Vicky reflects on how different the summer holidays is for them this year.
“If I’m honest, I’d just like to be able to go out like we used to for days out without having to watch the bank balance, watch what’s coming in, what’s going out, what might happen in the winter.
“Because the income that comes into the house is going out on bills and everything else as everything is just getting more and more expensive.”
They used to have an annual family holiday – but not this year.
“We’ve not planned any holidays. In 2018 we went to Portugal and Croatia, 2019 we went on holidays in the UK. We haven’t done any holidays since COVID just because the money isn’t there.
“We went away at the weekend to a farm for the weekend – that’s all we’ve got planned at the minute, just because we need to make sure we’ve got the money to live when we get through to October, November.”
Her main priority is still trying to keep up payments for the children’s activities. “He’s a swimmer and a footballer,” she says, gesturing towards Charlie. “She’s a dancer and a musician,” she says, pointing to Chloe.
“Music lessons are the most expensive but it’s what keeps her mental health where it is and keeps her happy so you do what you do for your children.”
Her main fear is soaring energy bills. “You’re just looking at what you’ve got for the winter because that’s when it’s going to hit us.
“Right now we’ve got sun, we’re not using the heating. But we all know that winters are cold and the kids have obviously got to be kept warm.”