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close this book Daughters of Sysiphus
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View the document Expenditure on shelter
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The stories behind the figures


Auntie spends nearly $100 a week on food but rarely eats meat as she has such a regular supply of fish. However, lunch money for the children costs $15 a week while the school is in session.

One of the biggest expenses for the household is the ice used to keep the fish fresh which costs $77 a week. Another expense arises from the fact that they must travel two-and-a-half miles to obtain fresh water which has to be carried back on a minibus. This process costs at least $30 a week.

When things are going reasonably well Auntie can make $200 or more a week from her fish vending. She buys the fish for $40 a weight (6 lb) and sells for $9 a pound. The price is really determined by the fishermen. If vendors at the Causeway do not buy the fish the fishermen simply take them to Greenwich Farm.

When the money is good she finds that she spends the extra on more food and goes to the downtown market to make her purchases. She only does this when she has enough money. Otherwise she uses the 'one one" small shops that people run all along the beach and which provide all the basic essential like flour, rice and sugar.


"No worry talk about the cost of living - it gone way above the sky. When you carry a hundred dollars to go to the supermarket it come like you carry one dollar. When you go to the supermarket you see the things but no money to buy it, and even if you can buy it you don't know what you buy. My spending is more than my earning.

Carmen's main concern is food. She is not really concerned about clothes.

"When I get a piece of clothes I know how to care it. I don't dress up every day. What I judge is just what I judge and what I dress is just what I dress. So clothes is not really the problem. You can wear one for three year but you have to eat more than that."


"Sometimes you don't even know how much you spend a week, because if I go to supermarket with two hundred dollars there is no change to come back. I get bananas and coco from my field until Gilbert come along and tek down the bananas.

"Kerosene oil - for a week I end up with about three gallons twelve dollars. I don't spend bus fare for the children because they can walk to school and when I'm going to my field now it only costs me four dollars.

"I don't spend a lot for medical expenses. I don't spend a lot on clothing because they come from abroad. They send down maybe one time or two time a year and I get a barrel."


"Me go to the shop and buy what I can buy. I got food stamps for the mental boy and 1 got one for me and father but it comes every two or three months and I only get $20 but it stay (takes) too long. You have to have the food for them to eat every day. I don't eat often - I have a bad stomach. We pay $130 per month for water.

"How much money do I spend a week on food? You can't talk about week - you have to say every day, daily, today. You have to buy food every day. You may have $20 to spend but you don't have that to spend every day.

"Food is the most important thing because you have to find food every day because you can't live without food. I pay $45 a year taxes. We pay light bill - $130 a month. My husband doesn't go out. I don't go out, so it's only bus fares for school. $10, $5, $5 and $3 each day for the children to go to school.

"The way things go now we have to stop raise fowl. We used to raise a lot of fowl but I can't bother with it. The feed too expensive and I don't have money to do that. I plant up the yard but you can't plant vegetables because of the earthworm.


She spends about $80 a week on food and $120 a month on light. Water costs about $100 a month but that is for all the units in her complex.


"I spend half of my salary on food each week. I have to send something to the country. Sometime I spend up to sixty, seventy. Water is included in the rent which is $260 a month. Gas (cooking) we share. I pay $40. Transportation is $1.60 a day and sometimes I get a drive. I work six days a week. I make uniforms to cut down on the clothes so it's only clothes to go out and clothes for the children that I really pay for. 1 will buy material and ask someone to sew them.

"Medical expenses is the part that is beating me because I don't have insurance.

"Food is the most important thing because without food you don't have any strength to work. You have to eat proper food to get along because most of the time if I just leave here and have a cup of tea when I reach work by 12 o'clock I'm weak, and I don't have any energy. So food is the most important but I don't know why food have to be so expensive."


Between her sister and herself they bring home about $200 a week. Food costs nearly $100 a week. School fees and lunch for the children costs about $20 a week but they get clothes from relatives abroad and sometimes the local politician brings clothes at Christmas. They sometimes get charity clothes from "charitable organizations" and received quite a lot of help in 1977 after the fire that burnt out their previous house.

When they need to, the family uses a health clinic nearby. They have to pay a fee of $5.00 for each visit, a donation of $0.50 and $5.00 for medicine if it is available.


Pam pays $150 a month for the two rooms that her family uses. She takes home $150 a week after tax. Between herself and her mother they spend about $150 a week on food which is their major expense. Transport and lunch money come to $15.50 a day when the children are in school but sometimes one of the children walks to save on the expense. They use a mixture of coal and gas to cook and also have a kerosene stove as a standby.


About half of her income of $800 per month goes on food which is by far her greatest expense. She pays $150 a month for the mortgage, $30 a month for water and $50 a week for lunch money for her youngest son. Pansy also has to pay a book fee of $300 a term for him.

She bought her verandah chairs on hire purchase but otherwise has no loans apart from the mortgage. One of the benefits of her job is that she gets relatively cheap health insurance so she doesn't have to worry too much about medical bills.

Every two weeks Pansy sends $40 to her mother in the country.


Charcoal cost $15.00 a bag and lasts about three nights. The family's major expense however is food which amounts to nearly $ 100 a week. The shop costs about $ l 75 a week to stock.