Savings in times of high prices

By Yenny Caballero

06/08/2022 – 8:47 p.m

How do families today cope with all household expenses and especially food? You can’t even make a beef soup anymore due to the high prices of the ingredients.

The world is going through an economic crisis and Panama does not escape this reality, in our country hundreds of families manage to stretch their weak budgets. How do you prepare a balanced meal and is it possible today?

We went in search of affordable options to bring balanced meals to the table.

On average, each Panamanian needs $275 a month just for basic groceries, not counting other expenses.

Meals like beef soup have become priceless, and even more so when families are larger than five members, we have chosen to accompany Miteila in this exercise.

Miteila Monge is a housewife. The first ingredients he looked for for the soup were the otoes, which he found for a dollar a pound, and a bunch of cilantro for $0.50. He also found the onion at $0.65 a pound

In the market of San Felipe Neri we find vegetables. stews, meat. Miteila goes for a walk and compares the prices.

Miteila found the slimy yam for $1.50 and the diamond yam for $0.75 and to reduce the cost she bought the diamond yam but the meat was missing, the beef ribs were $2.00 and the shoulder was 2 $.50 a pound

The ingredients of the soup, vegetables, stews, meat and other ingredients like rice add up to 23.60. But you have to add the cost of fuel to market, gas to cook and time factor.

A consumer who buys all the meat at the San Felipe Neri market tells us it saves him about $9 every 14 days.

The basic family basket is up $12.46 this year, up 4.74% from 2021

The cost ranges from $257 to $314 in the metropolitan area and San Miguelito.

But how can you save money and still eat healthy? The nutritionist José Ramiro advise us to replace the products.

For example, broccoli costs $2 a pound and tomato $1.50, but carrots, which cost half that at $0.70 a pound, have the same nutritional value as cucumbers.

The nutritionist warns us that the portion of meat you must eat is the size of your palm, which is worth $1.50, but you can replace it with the egg, which costs $0.13 and has the same nutritional value.

There are also ways for pregnant women to do justice to their special diet.

Brenda is pregnant and although the doctor asked her to eat salads, she can’t do it with tomatoes because they are very expensive. Her advice is to get your iron and vitamin intake from lentils and spinach.

But household expenses are not limited to food, there are families who have to choose between eating or paying for services. When they pay for electricity or when they buy one thing and for others it is not enough, such as the cost of fuel.

Marta Luna is a financial advisor and recognizes that more and more people are struggling to plan their spending.

He warns that there are vital things like the mortgage on the house that represent his security and that of his children. If you stop paying it, you lose what you invested so you can find rent and pay someone else for the house. For this reason, they advise reaching an agreement with the bank.

But there is debt that should not be acquired in this crisis, it can damage your credit reports

There are people who go into debt for a fifteen year old or to celebrate a birthday, they don’t do it for health or education or anything that’s a priority.

The same thing happens with credit cards, people think that little piece of plastic goes to heaven, and it doesn’t, explains the financial adviser.

Miteila and her sister started writing down their daily income and expenses so they know what they are spending their money on.

Luna warns that in the face of the crisis, it becomes essential to create an individual budget and then a family budget with everything that is earned or produced, including subsidies received from the government.

Switch to an entrepreneurial mindset if you have skills to generate additional income. Reduce all unnecessary expenses to those you enjoy. And very important that you don’t spend everything, but leave something behind for emergencies. Remember that in times of high prices you need to save.