"It’s a constant struggle. I struggle to be able to manage with a bag of coal a day ... I don’t overspend and really have to watch what I burn. All we have is an open fire and coal is really the only thing I can afford. I couldn’t afford to light my fire in the morning so I can only get it lit around 3pm for the children coming home from school. But it’s cold in the morning."

Her life involves the constant pressure of calculating and re-calculating her daily expenses. She has become practically accustomed to being in a perilous financial position, but this has huge impacts on her personal physical and mental well being, as well as the well being of her young children.

"I measure and budget every part of my life. Even now after Christmas if I have a spare pound, I put it on a Tesco stamp because I know that if I don’t … come next Christmas I wont be able to afford a Christmas grocery shop of say £100 for food. I have to start now for next Christmas.

My oven blew up on Christmas Eve and I can’t afford to replace it even though I budget well with the rest. What do you do with these unexpected bills ? I had to take the wee turkey to my sister’s house to get it cooked. I can budget to survive every day but I cannot budget when anything like this goes wrong.

The children are doing well despite it all but if they weren’t there I couldn’t go on …you have to get up in the morning and smile for them … they are good wee 'uns, I’m so lucky to have them. But my wee 'uns do without a lot."

Fiona's story shows the strength and courage she has despite the incredibly difficult financial circumstances: everyday she gets up and strives hard to budget carefully, to keep her family going.

 

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