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Readers’ feedback gives glimpse of families’ cost-of-living burden

Constant struggle: many families are suffering from the high cost of living in Bermuda (Image by Mohamed Hassan/Pixabay)

A few weeks ago, I asked for personal feedback again from local families on what their costs added up to in a monthly Bermuda budget.

A few brave souls contributed numbers along with some very insightful feedback.

I had wished for more participation, but realised that our resident community has probably become so numb to the incipient price escalations that it is now too futile, exhausting to comment.

Food costs are the front and centre focus given that two-three squares a day is a family necessity; that said, cost impact is felt, depressing to face, during every single shopping stop.

Even the common, cheap protein source, an egg has seen rapid price increases, tracked by Eggflation in Bermuda.

While much of those increases were due to to unusual events at the origin production level, it is still so difficult to digest.

Adding to the food financial burden is health insurance and the non-covered out-of-pocket health and prescription costs, then day care, schooling, activities, rent/mortgage, transportation, and utilities. Observation is that wage deductions alone from gross amounts decrease a take-home net pay by anywhere from 10 per cent to 30 per cent.

Consumers contribute cost-of-living numbers

The data set below does not list every household expenditure. Mortgages and rent cannot be compared, for instance, since only one represents a future asset.

Items also are stated in average ranges due to the lower number of contributors.

From even these numbers, though, one can extrapolate the household financial challenges from two - person adult families (lower health insurance cost, less food consumption) to families of two adults with up to three children based upon anonymous contributor numbers. No single individual/parent contributed information.

Note also that the very low end cost in the food category denotes families who grow some of their own produce, while health insurance reflects the wide range between HIP, Future care, or Employee share of group health insurance plans. It was also noted that employers are reducing health benefits offered.

Monthly averages


Two adults: $800 - $1000

Families with children:$1000 - $2400

Utilities: $175-$450

Health insurance

Two adults: $1,100

Family plan: $1300-$1700

Day care/school

$1,666 - $3,675 depending on number of children

Transportation: $200 - $1,000

The cost burden for families with children has to be overwhelming — even when dual incomes may appear more than adequate. Paraphrasing comments: “Seems no end in sight. No matter how we manage something extra comes up, or goes up in price. We could not survive without two wage earners. We are just treading water. We are saving a bit if we can.”

Families cannot prepare for financing university educations, if they cannot begin putting aside funds when children are young. The nagging future worry is the ability to fund their own retirement.

A single parent has an even bigger challenge to build a successful career, feed, fund child care, schooling through university, while knowing their retirement is their sole responsibility.

Bermuda longevity and old-age security

Bermuda does not have enough senior-care living facilities. Thus, longevity financial costs are also impacting families who are assuming the care responsibility for their elder relatives. I know these facts first-hand, readers. It was shocking to meet retirees who were funding their own very elderly parents’ nursing home costs.

When will inflation end? Will consumer habits become radically different? Will self-sufficiency or do-it-yourselfers achieve a renaissance?

No, we don’t want to go back to the good old days where you had two pairs of shoes, one for school, one good pair for church (which you promptly outgrew) and flip-flops or barefoot the rest of the time.

Something has to give — these financial challenges cannot continue unabated.

A key paragraph jumped out in Khalid Wasi’s recent article in The Royal Gazette: “In the 1960s, we were a nearly 100 per cent self-sustaining society; we only needed to become a thriving one.”

Why isn’t every household mandated to have a small produce garden?

Those of you way to young to know, or haven’t read history, during the Second World War in the United Kingdom when inflation and food scarcity was rampantly uncontrollable, everyone who was able, was required to develop a Victory Garden.

The UK community also shared and bartered food, revamped, reused, repurposed and did without just about everything - since many ordinary household items and food were contributed to supply troops, and build war armaments for the sheer survival of the nation.

Bermuda has an estimated 10,000 - 30,000 feral chickens in the wild.

Why aren’t they in everyone’s pot, another quote from the Second World War? It sure would also solve some of the eggflation problem.

Yet, anecdotally for example, when families have domesticated a few in a perfectly acceptable homemade chicken coop, they were held up by the government bureaucracy of conforming architecture, then told to tear it down.

Where was the help instead to bring the chicken home into beautiful building compliance, with positive results for everyone?

Imagine all those coops looking like miniature Bermuda houses! Imagine people helping each other design and build another step to self-sustainment!

Whatever the answer is to this huge challenge, regrettably, some families have made their financial decision.

They’ve bought the one-way ticket, outbound.

Thank you, readers again for reading another of my impassioned financial help articles. Please feel free to comment!


Controlling costs in inflationary times,


Next week: a look at the book, The No Spend Year, Little Ways to Save a Lot of Money, in which Michelle McGagh, an independent personal finance journalist in the United Kingdom, describes how she went to radical lengths to cut back on spending. What she saved in a year and how she did it will follow with more discussion in a future article.

More on self-sustaining in upcoming articles.

Martha Harris Myron is a native Bermuda islander with US connections, finance journalist of 22 years to The Royal Gazette and author of the Bermy Island Finance Blog where readers can contribute to the new section on Survival & Self-Sustainment coming soon. Contact Martha at info@marthamyron.com

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Published February 25, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated February 27, 2023 at 7:58 am)

Readers’ feedback gives glimpse of families’ cost-of-living burden

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