How to Tame the Inflation Beast
Inflation is on the rise and it’s hitting Americans right in the wallet. In April the Consumer Price Index was 8.3% the highest level in more than forty years. Three-quarters of people responding to a Bankrate poll of more than 2,000 people say inflation is hurting their finances. According to the American Psychological Association, rising prices are a major source of stress for 87% of the people they surveyed.
Workers Credit Union AVP and certified financial coach Cierra Brownell says inflation is on the minds of many of the members she talks to at the Worcester PlanIt location. “When somebody's already living paycheck to paycheck or living outside their means, and then there's an increase on something that they need, like gas and groceries, it can intensify that stress that they are already feeling,” she noted. She also pointed out that it can add unforeseen debts if people in a difficult financial situation are forced to use credit cards for something they would otherwise pay for in cash.
Brownell offered the following tips on how you can cope with inflation.
- Examine your budget - Take a critical look at your cash flow. Determine whether there are places you can reduce or eliminate expenses you have. Ask yourself if items you spend money on regularly are a want or a need. These can include subscriptions to newspapers and magazines, audio books, and streaming services. Coffee drinks, alcohol, and meals in restaurants are other costs to evaluate. You may not need to eliminate them completely but taking steps like making coffee at home or going out to eat less often can add up quickly. Brownell was able to save enough money to go to Hawaii in a few years when she switched to homemade coffee.
- Comparison shop - Do research to see if you're getting the best possible deal for your cell phone and other necessary expenses. Insurance is another area where you may be able to get a better deal that can save you money on a regular basis. Workers Credit Union can connect you with insurance experts who can help you.
- Be intentional about spending - Think before you buy. Groceries are a major expense that is increasing due to inflation. Consider where you shop. Is there a store with better prices you could use instead? Also, make a list of what you need before you shop to reduce the chances of buying on impulse or spending money on items you already have. Look into using coupons or apps that calculate what you are spending as you shop.
- Bring in more income - Investigate how you can add more money to your budget. Think about whether it's possible for you to change jobs, pursue workforce development programs that lead to a stronger salary, or have the time to work a second job. Another way to generate funds is to sell items in your home that are in good condition but are not being used. You can do this through online options like eBay and Facebook Marketplace or by having a yard sale.
Challenging economic times are difficult for everyone but taking action can be both empowering and a real stress reducer. If you’re still unsure about how to manage your finances, seek out a Workers Credit Union certified financial coach like Brownell who is happy to meet with you in person or online.
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