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Cheap as chips US holiday just piled on the pounds

American junk foodLook at what I got in my shopping trolley - or cart, as they say here. I confess, I let the kids go mad in a Florida supermarket and guess what, no vegetables came back. I think this little display probably entitles me to receive the Bad Mother of the Year award for disservices to child nutrition.

I was indeed horrified to discover that Marshmallow Fluff is a concoction of corn syrup and sugar. (Fun fact: if you put it in a sandwich with peanut butter you have a ‘fluffer-nutter‘.) But I was even more disturbed when I saw the price of my haul of junk food. Along with some adult snacks, booze, seven days worth of breakfast and essential groceries for the rental house and a couple of family evening meals, we ended up spending the equivalent of £250!

It didn’t help that we were in a Waitrose-style store in a fancy Gulf Coast beach resort near Sarasota. We didn’t stint on our shopping either because, hey, we’re on holiday! But the real killer in this bill is that the pound is now worth 20% less than before (and because of) the Brexit referendum - at least when we bought our dollars.

And wow that really hurts. Because last year that shopping would’ve cost £200, not £250. Back home, it doesn’t seem to mean that much. Food prices haven’t moved up so radically and so what if what was £5 is now £6? But when you start adding up hotels, restaurants, entertainment and even self-catering, it really makes an impact. If your £5,000 holiday suddenly becomes £6,000, you might want to reconsider.

Of course, if I’d been a bit cannier, I would’ve followed my investment guru’s example. Grandpa, the sly fox, opened a US dollar bank account about 18 months ago with a couple of grand and has - this is a technical term - made out like a bandit. I’m not sure I’d advise other 84-year olds to start punting on foreign exchange but the good times will be rolling on the Saga coach tour of Bath & Beyond this June.

With the pound also looking quite feeble against the euro, summer holidays abroad this year are going to cost. If all fails, your pound will go further in places such as Mexico, Turkey and Japan, the Post Office says. Alternatively, you could consider staying home. At least you’ll eat healthily.




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Saturday, 20 April 2019