Deep concern about being able to pay household bills has hit home with exceptional force since the New Year according to a Sunday Independent Quantum Research telephone poll.
A Sunday Independent poll taken the week before Christmas found that paying bills was the biggest worry for 19 per cent of respondents.
But in this week's poll, taken in the wake of the massive hike in VHI premiums, there is a dramatic increase in concern about bill demands.
Now 30 per cent are expressing worry about how they will make ends meet.
The poll found that the biggest worry generally was about a decline in living standards.
In the pre-Christmas poll 45 per cent expressed a fall in living standards as their biggest concern. Last week that figure rose to 51 per cent.
Respondents admitted they had already made big cutbacks in expenditure over the past 12 months and that they were very fearful of what was coming in the year ahead.
Interestingly, the number of people who said they were most worried about losing their jobs has dropped from 21 per cent to 16 per cent between the pre-Christmas and post new year polls, while those worrying about losing their homes remains constant at nine per cent.
Pollsters found that younger people worried most about their jobs while middle aged people worried about their bills.
One female respondent said: "I have reduced my standard of living greatly in the past two years as a public servant and I'm now worried about losing the house with much more deductions on the way."
Another female respondent commented: "The most important thing for me is my house. As long as I can keep up the payments I don't mind giving up on the luxuries."
Another urban male respondent said: "It's hard for your standard of living to go down when you don't have a job, live in social housing and can't pay your bills."