Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

$500 in Belarus equal to $800 in Russia, isn't it?

Euroradio compares the income of ordinary families in Russia and Belarus.

Belarus' Minister of Labor and Social Security Mariana Shchotkina says the purchasing power of $500 in wages in Belarus almost equals $800 in wages in Russia:

"Indeed, the wages in Russia climbed over $800 in November, while we have an average of $495 in Belarus. But nobody has evered asked me a questions what happens if utilities bills or kindergartren fees soar like in Russia...".

The family of Liudmila and Andrei from Baranavichy earns about Br7.7 million all together or almost $495 per person. Andrei works as a deputy chief at a local factory, while his wife is a factory worker. They have two underage children.

Andrei's net salary is approximately $540-550 per month or Br 4.7 million. His wife does not earn much - Br3.1 million. Liudmila notes that food accounts for the biggest share of expenses.

"When you go to a shop with Br100,000, what can you really buy for this money? Bread, one liter of milk, sour cream and a tiny piece of sausage. Is it really enough?" asks the woman. Like most of people, she is surprised by prices.

"Apples: 1 kg for Br9800, Belarus-grown. Is one kilo enough for a day? I am not talking about some apple nutrition diets. Simply to eat at least one apple for health. Bananas cost Br14000. And fish? Fish is as expensive as meat, but children need to eat it".

Next item: clothes.

"We have teenage children and we want them to be dressed neatly, yet this is very expensive," says Liudmila. The husband shares her concerns: "I bought some jacket for Br 1.5 million!"

Other expenses include utilities bills, diesel for the car, food for children at school and other, all in all around Br1.2 million:

“We spend around Br300,000 for utilities. But since central heating can be controlled, we often switch it off in order to save," says Andrei. He notes he cannot afford to go for vacations to the sea. Firstly, because he is overloaded at work; secondly and triavially, they don't have enough money. Therefore, they spend their holidays at their summer house or dacha.

The Russian family from Smolensk Svetlana and Alexandr also survive on the whole salary but they don't really tend to save. Their household income is Rur 30,000 (slightly less than $1000 or Br8.4 million).

Svetlana says their utilties bills consume 16% of their combined income or Rur5000 (Br 1.4 million). She adds that it is possible for the whole family to buy clothes for Rur10,000 or Br 2.8 million.

"Men's shoes cost Rur500, jeans - Rur350…" says the woman. In Belarus currency, thease are peanuts (shoes for Br140,000, jeans for slightly over Br 100,000). Such prices can be seen only in a grocery maybe...

It is still possible to buy clothes for Br2.8 million but only for one person, because decent shoes in Belarus cost around Br1 million (around $130). Svetlana is surprised by prices in Belarus, since she often goes for holidays to Belarus:

"Bread, milk, fruits and vegetables are cheaper in Russia."

She spends Rur2000 per month (around Br500,000) to pay kindergarten fees. In Minsk, kindergarten costs Br100,000, including food. But this price does not include additional classes for children. One class costs Br90,000 per month!!

Unlike the Belarusian family, the Russian are able to save for harder times or for vacations - at least 11 million in Belarus currency terms (1000 EUR) per year.

"We can save at least Rur40,000 a year," says Svetlana.

She notes it is not common for her family to refuse from anything. In other words, they could save more if they wanted to. If they decide to go for vacations to the sea or to Udmurtia, they can save Rur 60,000 or more within six months.

It looks that the Belarusian family that lives a simple life without excessive spending resembles the family in Russia. Yet with one difference: the Russians can save money and buy clothes for $320 per month.