There’s been a lot of news about inflation lately. Earlier this year, inflation was up nearly 8 percent over last year – the highest rate the U.S. has seen in 40 years. You don’t have to be a financial analyst to understand the implications. Essentially, a dollar is worth less than it was very recently, leading to higher prices at checkout. Meanwhile, supply chain issues are only compounding the problem, making certain goods difficult to find as well as harder to afford.
Some everyday items whose prices have been the most impacted (according to Forbes):
- Animal food products (like meat, eggs and dairy)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Furniture and bedding
When world news starts to hit your pocketbook it can feel scary, like you’re losing control over your or your family’s financial well-being. Although it may be unclear how and when prices will come back down, there are still some basic ways to beat inflation at home.
Smart Steps to Offset Inflation at Home
If you’re struggling to pay the bills or worry that you will, the worst thing you can do is assume there are no solutions. Basic budgeting, finding opportunities to save where you can, asking for help, and reassessing your spending priorities are all good ways to keep a sense of control of your finances. Start with these four areas:
1. Negotiate a Better Price.
Cable bills, utilities, even streaming services can often be negotiated. Contact your local government to seek relief with any bills giving you trouble, especially if late charges are starting to kick in. Banks and credit card companies will often remove late charges when asked. Also, revisit routine expenses, from electricity to doctor visits, and ask if you qualify for any special programs or discounts. As for those streaming services, it might make sense to cancel them in favor of free monthly trials to tide you over.
2. Put Off Bigger Purchases.
The cost of a new or used car, a new home, home improvements, and even furniture has fluctuated a great deal in the last year. Used car and truck prices were up over 30 percent at one point! But those spikes will most likely come back down. The good news is that, in some cases, they already have. In the meantime, consider deferring any big-ticket items that aren’t currently necessary until they take a smaller bite out of your budget.
3. Make Small Changes to Save on Gas.
For many families, the cost of gas has been the hardest part of rising inflation. Yet, in many cases, people can make small adjustments to curtail spending on gas. Saving even a few bucks can be helpful when times are tight. Keep your tires filled, use proper motor oil and fuel, and take care of any issues that could lead to improved mileage. Even small changes – avoid idling, remove objects from the trunk, don’t speed – can improve your mileage.
In addition, companies like Costco and Sam’s Club offer savings on gas. Just be sure you read all the fine print and compare what is being offered – including any added fees – to what you’re already paying before signing on to any new club memberships.
4. Create an Emergency Fund
It might not be possible now, but it’s a good rule of thumb in general. Setting aside a few dollars out of every paycheck will help you build extra savings over time. Even a small emergency budget is better than none. Eventually, it may protect you from having to rely on a credit card or another source of debt.
Take Advantage of Personal Finance Services at Your Local CFSC
It’s hard to predict when inflated prices will start to ease. However, at times like these, it’s more important than ever to take a look at your own financial situation to make sure you’re making wise spending and saving decisions. At Community Financial Service Centers throughout the country, anyone who walks in the door has access to countless services that can potentially help them stay on top of their bills. Just a few examples are:
- Electronic Bill Payment
- Prepaid Debit Cards
- Title Registration and Other Vehicle-Related Services
- Check Cashing on the Spot
Times have been tough, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. CFSC tailors its offerings to fit each community it serves, with products and services that fit your needs. To take advantage, find the nearest CFSC location to you and stop by today.