Monday 30 May 2011

What % of your income do you spend on food?

Take a moment and work it out, roughly will do.
Here in India, on just living allowance and excluding clothes, toiletries, telephone, electricity etc I probably am spending about 60 % of my money on food and I'm not skimping! I do buy nice teas, I do buy chicken, fish, mushrooms (which here are just as expensive as chicken), I do buy treats like  the occasional bar of chocolate, packet of crisps, branded fizzy drinks etc But I don't buy alcohol unless on vacation :) Since this is meant to be a living allowance then a high percentage is not unrealistic. And I still have leeway.
Back home on a salary this percentage would be much lower. If you are retired or out of work and on a fixed income you will have had to make some adjustment to your spending compared to when you had a salary, but still you will have some room for manoeuvre. What % did you come up with : 5, 10, 15%? The better off you are the smaller this % becomes. The greater % you have to spend on things of choice - your health, your children's education, your car, your house, entertainment, holidays whatever you choose. It would be interesting to see the range of % readers have.
Now check out Food Price Rollercoaster to see how the ever increasing prices of food stuffs impacts this. 
Even in the year and half I have been here in India  I have seen food prices rise and fall as they always do with seasonal availability, but behind this is a real rise. I reckon I am spending about 50% more this year than last  - vegetables that were 10 Rupees a kg are now 20 or 30 Rupees. Now my haggling should have go better, the sabzi wallas know I am here on equivalent of a local wage,albeit a good one.  So now imagine having to keep a family of 4 on this income, and pay for accommodation etc. Ok people do it. Now what happens when food prices rise – you have to eat, you cannot go to school, to the doctor if you have not eaten, everything else you can do without, food no one can do without, you have to buy it. of course the first thing that goes are any luxuries, then the quality and range of food narrows, and finally the volume. So from this it is easy to see why hunger continues to be a problem, why health issues are secondary to eating in peoples priorities, why health problems then take hold virulently as poor nutrition weakens peoples immune system, why almost every woman in rural India is anaemic with consequences for mother and child health and child development.
So next time you do your weekly/monthly supermarket run consider the others of this world you live on $1 a day and do something about it.