Published: Monday, 21st January, 2013 8:00am
Linda Raeside in her kitchen trying to work out how she will pay the bills that have been making life a struggle for her and her family in the last few years.
• For more information on Linda's campaign, Spartacus, you can email her on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.spartacusireland.com
You can also follow her on Twitter.
A Mullingar mother of six has started a one-woman crusade to get the powers that be to help the hundreds of thousands of ordinary, hard-working families who are struggling to make ends meet.
For the last two years, Walshestown resident Linda Raeside says that her and her husband Luke - who has a "good job" - have not bought heating oil or used their electric clothes drier in a bid to make Luke's salary last until the end of month.
Linda says her family's income has fallen by at least €600 since the introduction of the Universal Social Charge at the start of 2011 and the cuts to the Children's Allowance over the last two budgets.
"Every month you are always waiting. The last week is always the worst - you are trying to make sure there is enough food on the table, we are trying to make sure there is enough diesel in the car so my husband can go to work in Dublin, and all the bits and pieces that come in from school and you are trying to push it out until you get paid."
While she says that she is "very aware" that there are families in worse situations than her own, Linda admits she doesn't know if she will be able to pay the mortgage this year or be able to afford to send her eldest child to college in two years' time.
"It's very stressful at the end of the month when you are saying, 'right I have to bring the kids into school, the red light on the diesel in the car is on and hopefully I have enough diesel to get in and hopefully my card works when I go up to get my diesel'.
"It is stressful going to the supermarket saying, 'Jesus, I hope I have enough money in the bank account or else I'm going to have to put it back'. I'm not a snob but I don't like going up and worrying about not having enough money to pay.
"I don't like sitting here telling everybody my business either but I feel that I can't sit back and do nothing.
"I don't know what it is about me, but I feel that I can't sit back and do nothing, I feel the need to stand up for people because we have no union as householders. We have no one standing up for us. I hear people talking on the radio saying 'we have to do something, we have to do something'."
The proud stay-at-home mum, who says that she hasn't been able to afford to bring her family to the cinema for a year and a half, believes that it is time something was done for families who have had to endure six austerity budgets, while their outgoings continue to rise year on year.
The government, which has spent tens of billions bailing out the banks, has to exert pressure on them to ease the burden on homeowners, she says.
"You stop using your drier for two years and they put up the electricity rates. You don't fill your oil tank, which we haven't done in two and a half years, you get solid fuel, and now they put a carbon tax on the solid fuel... Butter has gone up, bread used to be €0.39 and now it's €0.72.
"The cheapest I can get 10 kilos of potatoes is €8 and I was getting them last year for €2.49. Everything has gone up and you are still expected to pay the same.
"It's ridiculous that we are expected to pay the same mortgages yet be constantly bombarded with all this austerity. They (the banks) are sitting pretty, they took all the risks yet they didn't pay for anything. We pay for everything and it's not right."
In a bid to get the government and banks to do something, Linda wants as many mortgage-holders as possible to drop letters calling for mortgage payment relief in to their banks on February 9. That will coincide with a series of anti-austerity demonstrations taking place across the country on the same day.
She has set up a website from which people can download a template letter, www.spartacusireland.com.
"It's not fair, and there are people worse off than me. We're struggling, but at least I know that we have light at the end of the tunnel each month. I know that my brother doesn't. He doesn't have a job, he was self-employed and he couldn't even draw the dole for, I think, three years.
"I have another brother on a three-day week and I have another brother who takes care of his wife and he was hit with the Carers Allowance. It's all over the place, it's not just me. I have friends who are trying to get rid of dogs because they can't afford to feed them."