On the 5th of December 2022, the CSO published the results of the ‘Our Lives, Our Money’ survey (linked here). This survey explored the money concerns and changing spending habits of people in Ireland. It was carried out online between October 27th and November 13th, 2022. The survey was open to anyone living in the Republic of Ireland and over 18 years-of-age, and gathered 11,316 responses. The results were then calibrated to reflect national population totals.
The vast majority of respondents, 80%, said that they have experienced a decrease in disposable income over the past 12 months. 63% believed they were in a worse financial situation than they were a year ago, while 64% believed that their situation would get worse over the next 12 months. Respondents were by and large conscious of the 9.2% rate of inflation, with 72% estimating inflation as being between 7% and 11%. An alarming 19% of respondents said that every month they are short of money to cover their expenses, while a further 35% said that they are just getting by financially.
Only 4% of respondents said that they were not concerned about the current cost-of-living, with 96% saying that they were concerned, and 56% being very concerned. Most were concerned about utility costs, with 76% saying it was their greatest concern. Other areas of concern included having no savings or pension (31%), healthcare (30%), and mortgage/rent (24%). More than half of respondents were struggling financially, with 35% saying that they were just getting by, and 19% saying that they are short money every month to cover their expenses.
94% of respondents said they had made cut backs of some form or other. The most common cutbacks to non-essential costs were socialising at 72% and takeaways at 62%. 58% reduced their spending on clothes, hairdressing, and beauty; and 53% reduced their trips to the cinema, concerts, and/or theatre.
The largest essential cost being cut back was utilities such as electricity and heating, with 62% having made cut backs to one or more of these. 51% were cutting back on fuel costs, and 49% of households made cutbacks on food spending, with that figure rising to 54% for households with children.
Subscriptions were also on the chopping block, with 41% cutting back on media subscriptions such as Netflix and newspapers, and 24% cutting back on club subscriptions such as gyms and social clubs.
The survey revealed a number of demographic differences. Of those in full-time employment, men were 10% more likely to ask for a pay rise to counter cost of living increases, with 30% of men saying they would and only 20% of women.
There were different concerns when broken down on age lines. 29% of younger adults, of 18-29 years, were concerned that they could not afford to start a family, and more than 57% considered emigrating to lower their cost-of-living. The rate was similarly high amongst renters of all ages, at 43%. Older respondents had different concerns, with 45% of over 70 year olds concerned about healthcare, while their younger peers in the 60-69 category were most likely to cut back on fuel, at 60%.
Overall the Our Lives, Our Money survey shows the cost-of-living crisis is hitting nearly everyone, with some being hit harder than others. With more than half struggling or just getting by, the country is looking at an acute problem of poverty should the cost-of-living crisis not be adequately addressed.