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Credit Crunch

You are in: Suffolk > Credit Crunch > Credit Crunch hits Penny Lane

Penny Lane, Ipswich

Credit Crunch hits Penny Lane

BBC Suffolk and BBC Look East take a close look at how the Credit Crunch is affecting residents of one street, Penny Lane, in Ipswich. Stop and say hello.

Penny Lane is a quiet suburban cul-de-sac in the east of Ipswich, close to Trinity Park. In September 2008 it was chosen as the location for a snapshot of how the global economic downturn is affecting day-to-day life for people in Suffolk.

Here are some of the people we met. Add your story using the comments box at the bottom of the page.

Goodbye to the tumble dryer

Penny Lane residents Helen and Peter Ord have found themselves making sacrifices, despite Peter being a founding director of a business with a million-pound turnover.

"We've cut back on a few things," said Helen. "We don't use the electronics as much as we could, we've checked our insurance policies and we've switched fuel tariffs.

"We're being a bit more choosy in advance - saving pennies now so if things do get bad we've already put the money aside and will be ready for it."

The couple's two children have also been recruited to help save money.

"The kids have to help wash up now as we're not putting the dishwasher on. We haven't used the tumble dryer all summer - that's a conscious decision after the last electric bill."

After years of soaring prices, the housing market has slowed down and many people are finding it hard to secure a mortgage.

The Ord family has first-hand experience of the downturn in the housing market.

"We put the house on the market at Easter and left it on for four months," said Helen. "We had three viewings, nobody who was really interested.

"We thought it was too much hassle so took it off, which was the right decision. We could have ended up with a bigger mortgage on a house that wasn't worth it.

"The estate agents were very pushy.

"We'd get phone calls when we were on days out with the kids - saying 'can you come home now as someone wants to see the house'? We'd then get here and the people would go 'we would have seen it tomorrow, we weren't worried'."

Every little helps

One sector to benefit from the widespread financial gloom is the discount supermarket. Aldi reported a massive rise in profits in 2008 and, along with the likes of Lidl and Farm Foods, it's picking up new customers who are looking to trim down their food bill.

The Ords are amongst the converts.

"I'm not automatically going to the nearest supermarket (Sainsburys). Every couple of weeks I go down to the discount supermarkets and stock up on all the things I know we like and eat.

"When I do go to the nearest supermarket I'm trying to buy the two-for-ones and special offers.

"It's quite fun actually. I love a bargain."

Fellow Penny Lane residents Jeff and Elizabeth Hammond, who are both retired, are also re-evaluating their shopping habits as well as looking for cheaper alternatives for utilities.

"We're quite fortunate to have Lidl and Aldi nearby, so we can save a few pennies if possible," said Jeff.

"Utilities of course are a major problem, with electric and gas bills as well as the hike in council tax every year is always a problem."

But the Hammonds, who have lived in Penny Lane for 18 years, say that hard work and good planning have helped them deal with any severe changes in the economic climate.

"I've always said we're in this position because, dare I say it, we worked hard. We put the effort in when we were young. There were times when we didn't have the cash to do the holidays, even in the UK, but we haven't expended cash that we haven't got.

"We made sure we didn't have too many loans which we couldn't afford to meet, so we lived within our means to make sure that we're in the situation that we are today."

Optimistic outlook

The Ords and Hammonds are both actively seeking savings to help them through what Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling predicts could be the worst economic downturn for 60 years.

But both couples remain optimistic.

"We've said we'll try and put a sweater on a bit more often," said Helen Ord. "But at the end of the day if it gets cold and we need the heating on we'll put it on.

"You've got to carry on living your life, you can't convince yourself it's all doom and gloom because it's not. We'll see how it goes."

last updated: 22/09/2008 at 17:14
created: 22/09/2008

Have Your Say

What cost-cutting measures can you recommend?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Some of us live decadent live styles and cutting down should be easy to do. It makes me wonder whether anyone would eat less food rather than buy it cheaper and of inferior quality!

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