‘Austerity’ in stormy times

HanoiThis whole month, Nguyen Thu Trang, 28 years old, has changed her shopping habits. Instead of going early, she waited near the end of the session to go to the market because she knew meat and vegetables were cheaper at that time.

Being a housewife for 4 years now, Trang knows that pieces of meat and vegetables cannot be as fresh as the early market. “But lately the price of everything has increased, so it’s good to be able to buy it cheap,” she said.

Trang and her husband had their first son for more than a year, followed by another set of twins soon after. Alone, Tinh (her husband) has to support a family of 5 in the capital. Last year, when Covid-19 broke out, he had to stay at home for three months straight. “Even wedding gold must be sold to eat and raise children,” Trang said.

This year, Covid calmed down, Trang’s husband restored the beverage agency business. The hotter the weather, the more crowded the customers, but the store’s profit has not increased because the price of gasoline has increased seven times since April 21. Most of Tinh’s customers import goods in small quantities and refuse to buy them at too high a price. There are grocery stores that only order a few buckets of water, but Mr. Tinh has to transport dozens of kilometers by truck to deliver. “If you don’t keep the price, pamper the guests, people will leave even more tired,” the husband explained when his wife asked him not to raise the price according to the market.

The money her husband brings home is little, while Trang calculates milk, cooking oil, fish sauce, eggs, etc., everything increases by 10-20%. She was forced to cut spending. Now Trang is one of the most commenting members of the free giveaway group. Clothes, shoes, children, adults, whatever is suitable for her family, please return.

In addition to going to the market to buy vegetables and meat, she asked her family in Ha Nam to provide more eggs, more rice, etc. Whenever anyone in the countryside went to the street, her birth mother asked to send food to save money. “Sending a box of goods from the countryside, before only two or thirty thousand freight, now it’s 50,000 dong cheap. Thanks to an acquaintance, I saved nearly two batches of milk for my children,” she said.

Thu Trang hoards food sent from her hometown, in addition to foods bought from the market late. Photo provided by the character

The price storm is quietly attacking families. According to data of the General Statistics Office, domestic gasoline prices increased according to world prices; The increase in the price of food, foodstuffs, the price of essential consumer goods and services in line with the price of input materials are the main reasons for the increase of 0.38% in the consumer price index (CPI) in May 2022. month-on-month and increased by 2.86% over the same period last year. On average, in the first 5 months of this year, CPI increased by 2.25%, which is nearly double the 1.29% in 2021.

The rapid increase in prices along with many expenses for health care and health care has affected the lives of the majority of workers. Vu Minh Tien, Director of the Institute of Workers and Trade Unions, said that the survey in 2021 showed that 21% of workers had to eat more instant noodles, 48% of people had to reduce their daily meat intake, 22% of workers had to switching from everyday shopping to eating food provided by loved ones; 15% of cases choose to eat meals together, reduce meals.

Pham Khanh Nam, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City University of Economics, said that the rapid and continuous increase in prices right after Covid became a double impact, making it difficult for people to restart their lives. Many people have stable incomes after Covid, but because of inflation, their income is no different.

“Saving and changing consumption structure is the best way at the moment,” said Mr. Nam.

“Consumption structure” by Hoang Ngoc Ha (30 years old, in My Dinh, Nam Tu Liem, Hanoi) changed by price. Being alone, earning more than 15 million dong per month, Ngoc Ha affirmed that the increased prices of items have not shaken her life. However, in order not to break her savings plan, Ngoc Ha was forced to tighten four main spending items including food, beauty, entertainment, and learning.

For a month now, she has been walking to work 2 km from home. Walking is a form of exercise, so she cuts the monthly gym fee. “Before, I was afraid of dust, afraid of the sun, now I’m afraid of rising gas prices,” she said.

Instead of going to a traditional market, Ngoc Ha switched to an online market. Her company is currently affiliated with a number of e-commerce platforms, has many discount programs for employees when buying food, giving money when downloading apps…

“Although it takes some time to install, it can save several tens of thousands of dollars a day,” she said. Ha cooks rice to bring to work, stops watching movies, rarely gathers friends and works hard to hunt for discounted dresses, shirts and cosmetics instead of branded items. “Now what you really need to do is dare to spend,” she shared.

People buy food at the end of the day at a supermarket in Hanoi, June 22.  Photo: Pham Nga

People buy food at the end of the day at a supermarket in Hanoi, June 22. Image: Pham Nga

Belonging to the group not affected by Covid-19, Ms. Thu Hien’s family (37 years old, in Nam Tu Liem) was still surprised when prices skyrocketed. Instead of tightening spending to ensure savings, Hien’s family accepts to save less, so that the quality of life does not change too much.

My wife and I have just scheduled a vacation like before Covid. When ordering the service, Hien panicked when the price of airfare, food service and hotel prices all doubled. “The round-trip ticket price for adults and children alone is 16 million, equal to a month’s salary,” she lamented.

In the face of the situation of gasoline prices continuously reaching a record high, many travel businesses have increased tour prices by 5-10%. The cheapest round-trip airfare on domestic routes during the summer peak of 2022 has reached VND 2.5-4 million, about VND 500,000 higher than the previous summer peaks. In early June, the Civil Aviation Administration proposed to increase the ticket price ceiling to 4 million VND each way.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to experience the summer of her children, she decided to slaughter two pigs to save money. More than 25 million VND, plus the travel budget is enough for the family to have four days of comfortable rest.

In order to deal with inflation, Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai has requested the use of a flexible petrol price stabilization fund, with scenarios to ensure supply and reserve import plans when necessary… Ministry of Finance The government is also expected to propose a dramatic reduction in the environmental protection tax bracket for gasoline to help curb inflation in the coming time.

According to Dr. Pham Khanh Nam, controlling inflation is not simple. If taxes are reduced, it means that state budget revenue will decrease, public investment will be less, and job opportunities will decrease, creating a vicious cycle.

Despite struggling to turn around, but Thu Trang and Ngoc Ha both find “breathable” much easier than in the days when Covid raged. No longer helpless on social networks to ask for each box of milk for her children, now Thu Trang can import some fruit to sell online, run to the market to lift up, put down an item.

“It’s still possible to go out to the street to make a living, to turn around, to book another place, there’s still a chance. It’s scary when you want to work but you have to stay at home because of the epidemic,” she said.

Pham Nga


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