Now half of struggling families are slashing their spending on food
HALF the country's households have cut grocery spending and more than 65pc have reduced the amount spent on clothes.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office paint a picture of sections of society struggling to stay afloat.
They also show that one in seven (14pc) people with a mortgage was unable to make payments on time at least once in the previous 12 months.
In a bid to stay afloat, 82pc of households have cut back on groceries, clothes, care and entertainment.
ONE HOUSEHOLD IN FOUR HAS HAD SPENDING CUTS IN AT LEAST FIVE OF NINE DIFFERENT CATEGORIES.
Going to pubs and restaurants has been hardest hit, with 66pc saying they have reduced their spend on this form of entertainment.
In a separate study, one third of Irish people couldn't afford to visit their GP last year.
And 6pc of those studied by GP Now admitted it would be beyond their financial means to bring a sick child to the doctor.
The figures were released on the same day that the head of AIB sparked anger by claiming one in five people in mortgage arrears to the bank was choosing not to pay.
David Duffy claimed people were paying credit card, credit union and car finance debts ahead of their home loans.
FF finance spokesman Michael McGrath accused Mr Duffy of creating a smokescreen to facilitate repossessions by alleging 20pc of people in arrears were 'strategic defaulters'.
Single-parent households were hardest hit, according to the CSO's Quarterly National Household Survey, with 69pc reporting a difficulty.
Car owners told the CSO they were using their cars less.
Two fifths of those interviewed said they were concerned about their level of personal debt and over half said they were more worried than 12 months ago. Only 5pc said their level of concern had dropped.
When it came to paying bills and debts, 43pc said they were experiencing "great difficulty or some difficulty", while 24pc said they could manage fairly easily or very easily.
Higher prices created the biggest hurdle for those struggling with debt, with 73pc saying this was a major problem while 47pc said income loss was at the root of their problems.
Higher utility bills were cited by 90pc, while 32pc mentioned higher or additional school, college or university costs.
Higher medical or dental costs were a difficulty for 17pc.
Families have been responding to their money problems by reducing their spending but also by using savings to pay bills, getting help from families and friends, restructuring loans, working longer hours or getting a second job.