Inflation Hacks – Tips to Strengthen Your Budget

Inflation Hacks

By now you’re likely feeling the impact of paying more at the grocery store and gas station. Are these increases starting to affect your daily decisions? If this is your experience, you are not alone. The force at work is called inflation. Inflation is a general increase in the overall price level of the goods and services in the economy. The U.S. government measures inflation with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is up 8.5% from one year ago for March 2022. Having some level of inflation is normal. The Federal Reserve targets 2% annual inflation to promote maximum employment and price stability. While inflation is a complex topic, our focus is on providing you with ideas to take charge of your spending to respond to the financial challenges that can happen with high inflation.

Start with building or reviewing your spending plan. A spending plan will help you see the numbers in black and white and help you know what money is coming in and where it’s going out. Now that most costs are on the rise, if you pay more for gas or groceries as an example, then take a close look at your spending in those and other areas. Paying attention and making adjustments to your plan early could help you avoid overspending on your overall plan.

Here are some areas to consider as you review your spending plan:

Gas – Talk about sticker shock! Many of us rely on our vehicles for work and managing daily life. If you have a gas-guzzler, you may consider downsizing to a more fuel-efficient vehicle. This may not be an option considering today’s auto market but do your research before ruling it out. Here are a few other ways you can save on fuel costs:

  • Use public transportation, bike, or walk when possible.
  • Rideshare or carpool to work.
  • Form a carpool for kids’ activities.

Food – Prioritize planning and get creative! Before heading to the store, shop your own pantry to see what you have on hand. Consider reviewing the store sales flyer (most are available online) to help you meal plan and make a shopping list. Come up with creative meals to use up perishables and the other items you have. Avoid purchasing more expensive convenience foods. Buy store-brand products and stock up when you see frequently purchased goods on sale. For those days you need a break from cooking, consider picking up takeout rather than paying for a delivery service.

Sell unused items – Earn a little money while spring cleaning and lightening your load. Given current prices on new items, shoppers might be more willing to purchase used items.

Check out yard sales and consignment and re-sale shops – These can be great places to find gently used furniture, clothing, and children’s items.

Pause before you purchase – Take some time (overnight or a few days) to decide if you really need a product or service you’re considering. See if you can find a less expensive alternative or make do with what you have.

DIY home improvement – Borrow or rent tools. Trade skills with a neighbor. For example, you could help them paint in exchange for help with yardwork. Many repairs can be completed for a fraction of the cost with the help of online articles or video tutorials.

Plant a vegetable garden – Give your green thumb a try! Consider planting a few vegetables that thrive in your climate and help you cut down on your grocery bill. Rain barrels could reduce your watering costs. Be sure to run the numbers before you get started to make sure it is worth the investment.

Staycations – Rather than flying or a big road trip or theme park vacation, discover local attractions, restaurants, and activities. Camping in state and national parks is often an affordable vacation. Service members qualify for a free annual (soon to be lifetime) National parks pass.

Summertime entertainment – Plan a block party in your neighborhood and encourage everyone to bring a dish to share.

Small behavior changes add up – Remember to turn off lights and fans in unoccupied rooms. Trade the relaxing bubble bath for a shower to save on water. Then find time to unwind with a nice walk outside.

Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) – Your installation has resources, information and even gear available, in many cases, to enjoy your local area such as auto skills centers, equipment checkout, recreation centers, and tickets and tours. You might be surprised by all the gems nearby that are free or discounted for military families.

Review subscriptions and memberships – Understand what you’re spending on things like streaming services, subscriptions, and gym fees. Look for subscriptions you no longer use or can replace with an alternative. Consider other options like using the MWR online library movie database, public library to check out books and movies, or exercising at the base fitness center or outside.

Military discounts – Seek out discounts on products and services you already purchase.  The Veterans Administration keeps a list of offered discounts here. For example, you may be able to reduce your internet service provider bill by $30 a month while increasing the connection speed, just by signing up for their military discount.

While this is the highest level of inflation we’ve experienced in 40 years, acting now could help reduce the stress and impact higher costs have on your spending plan. In addition, adjusting your spending habits can help minimize the possibility of incurring debt. Check out MilSpouse Money Mission for more ways to lead your family to a stronger financial future.

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Inflation Hacks

By now you’re likely feeling the impact of paying more at the grocery store and gas station. Are these increases starting to affect your daily decisions? If this is your experience, you are not alone. The force at work is called inflation. Inflation is a general increase in the overall price level of the goods and services in the economy. The U.S. government measures inflation with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is up 8.5% from one year ago for March 2022. Having some level of inflation is normal. The Federal Reserve targets 2% annual inflation to promote maximum employment and price stability. While inflation is a complex topic, our focus is on providing you with ideas to take charge of your spending to respond to the financial challenges that can happen with high inflation.

Start with building or reviewing your spending plan. A spending plan will help you see the numbers in black and white and help you know what money is coming in and where it’s going out. Now that most costs are on the rise, if you pay more for gas or groceries as an example, then take a close look at your spending in those and other areas. Paying attention and making adjustments to your plan early could help you avoid overspending on your overall plan.

Here are some areas to consider as you review your spending plan:

Gas – Talk about sticker shock! Many of us rely on our vehicles for work and managing daily life. If you have a gas-guzzler, you may consider downsizing to a more fuel-efficient vehicle. This may not be an option considering today’s auto market but do your research before ruling it out. Here are a few other ways you can save on fuel costs:

  • Use public transportation, bike, or walk when possible.
  • Rideshare or carpool to work.
  • Form a carpool for kids’ activities.

Food – Prioritize planning and get creative! Before heading to the store, shop your own pantry to see what you have on hand. Consider reviewing the store sales flyer (most are available online) to help you meal plan and make a shopping list. Come up with creative meals to use up perishables and the other items you have. Avoid purchasing more expensive convenience foods. Buy store-brand products and stock up when you see frequently purchased goods on sale. For those days you need a break from cooking, consider picking up takeout rather than paying for a delivery service.

Sell unused items – Earn a little money while spring cleaning and lightening your load. Given current prices on new items, shoppers might be more willing to purchase used items.

Check out yard sales and consignment and re-sale shops – These can be great places to find gently used furniture, clothing, and children’s items.

Pause before you purchase – Take some time (overnight or a few days) to decide if you really need a product or service you’re considering. See if you can find a less expensive alternative or make do with what you have.

DIY home improvement – Borrow or rent tools. Trade skills with a neighbor. For example, you could help them paint in exchange for help with yardwork. Many repairs can be completed for a fraction of the cost with the help of online articles or video tutorials.

Plant a vegetable garden – Give your green thumb a try! Consider planting a few vegetables that thrive in your climate and help you cut down on your grocery bill. Rain barrels could reduce your watering costs. Be sure to run the numbers before you get started to make sure it is worth the investment.

Staycations – Rather than flying or a big road trip or theme park vacation, discover local attractions, restaurants, and activities. Camping in state and national parks is often an affordable vacation. Service members qualify for a free annual (soon to be lifetime) National parks pass.

Summertime entertainment – Plan a block party in your neighborhood and encourage everyone to bring a dish to share.

Small behavior changes add up – Remember to turn off lights and fans in unoccupied rooms. Trade the relaxing bubble bath for a shower to save on water. Then find time to unwind with a nice walk outside.

Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) – Your installation has resources, information and even gear available, in many cases, to enjoy your local area such as auto skills centers, equipment checkout, recreation centers, and tickets and tours. You might be surprised by all the gems nearby that are free or discounted for military families.

Review subscriptions and memberships – Understand what you’re spending on things like streaming services, subscriptions, and gym fees. Look for subscriptions you no longer use or can replace with an alternative. Consider other options like using the MWR online library movie database, public library to check out books and movies, or exercising at the base fitness center or outside.

Military discounts – Seek out discounts on products and services you already purchase.  The Veterans Administration keeps a list of offered discounts here. For example, you may be able to reduce your internet service provider bill by $30 a month while increasing the connection speed, just by signing up for their military discount.

While this is the highest level of inflation we’ve experienced in 40 years, acting now could help reduce the stress and impact higher costs have on your spending plan. In addition, adjusting your spending habits can help minimize the possibility of incurring debt. Check out MilSpouse Money Mission for more ways to lead your family to a stronger financial future.

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We are team of financial professionals who understand military life because we have experienced military life. Our goal is to educate and empower military spouses to help them make smart money moves. We combine passion and expertise to ensure you get the most accurate and relevant information. Take comfort knowing Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, an Accredited Financial Counselor® and the Department of Defense Office of Financial Readiness have vetted the content on this site.
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