Cost of living: A Dutch woman plans to forego heating come winter

by | Sep 21, 2022 | World

This story is part of a series of portraits exploring how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people around the world.Tilburg, Netherlands – Hanny Heuvelink fears the moment the mail arrives. Any day now, the post could deliver the final bill for the past year’s gas and electricity and she worries about the amount she will have to pay.
When you are on welfare like Heuvelink and have only about $40 a week for daily expenses, a sudden hike in your gas and electricity bill can prove to be a fatal blow to the budget. Not that Heuvelink is one to complain. “Niet mauwen, maar kauwen [don’t dwell on your sorrows]” is the motto of the cheerful 57-year-old.
Balancing a tiny budget has been Heuvelink’s speciality for decades, but the price hikes of the past months caught her unaware. Inflation in the Netherlands has hovered at about 10 percent since the beginning of the year, making grocery shopping a challenge.
The bag of bread rolls she always buys – “more filling than sliced bread” – that cost $1.25 last year now sells for $1.75, she says. These days, Heuvelink goes to four different supermarkets to find the cheapest products. It is a time-consuming exercise but she says she has no other choice.
Due to rising living costs, she already plans to not switch on the heating later this year, in fact – she has not since 2018 – and …

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