MOTHER and mature student Sarah Roche feels the Government has left the squeezed middle-classes relatively unscathed this time, but that cutbacks have targeted the vulnerable.
Sarah (37), who lives with husband John and children Patrick (10) and Saoirse (8) in Sutton, Dublin, was relieved she didn't suffer cuts to child benefit.
"We try to keep the child benefit for the kids' activities and shoes but €130 a child a month disappears quickly," she added.
"I think the top earners were left alone, and instead of the middle people, they went for the more vulnerable – the elderly and students."
After returning to study Nutraceuticals in DIT, Sarah was hit with the €250 hike in student contribution fees.
She is in the middle of appealing a refusal for a maintenance grant after the thresholds were raised.
The income coming into the household has dropped severely in the past three years.
Her husband works for Dublin City Council, and she estimates his pay has been reduced by as much as 30pc with cuts to pay and allowances.
"Unfortunately my husband falls into the bracket where we're not poor, but we're not rich, we are in the middle, and I think that is the bracket that are being fleeced," she said. Now, he gets up at 5am and cycles to work to save on petrol.
"My social life is standing on the side of the GAA pitch on a Sunday. There is no wine on a Sunday. We don't smoke, we rarely go out. We don't have a fabulous lifestyle. There is nothing left for us to adjust. I now do a seven-day food shop and make it last for 10," she said.