It’s no secret that the price of just about everything is going up. In July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) had increased 9.1 percent over the 12-month period that ended in June 2022, making this the largest CPI increase in forty years.1 If you’re concerned about recent price increases and the impact on your finances, you’re not alone. We’ve gathered easy, practical tips to help you keep your financial goals on track during this tumultuous time.
A national poll recently found that nearly 60 percent of American adults were concerned that their paychecks would not cover their household expenses in July.2 And we’ve heard from Lake Trust members that fuel, food, and energy costs are growing concerns.
While you can’t control prices and the marketplace, you can control your monthly budget and many of your living expenses. To help you consider some ideas, we’ve collected a list of practical tips to adjust your budget for inflation.
What is the CPI and why is it important?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each month to measure the average cost of common goods. This statistic helps measure how prices in specific categories (like food, shelter, vehicles, energy, etc.) change over time. This number can help gauge where inflation is impacting consumer goods the most.
World events, marketplace conditions, and demand for products can impact the CPI. The recent dramatic increase in this number is why you may have seen news sources reference the CPI in headlines lately. It’s important to be aware of how prices are changing because these fluctuations may impact your monthly budget.
How can I adjust my budget for inflation?
Creating a monthly budget is a good visual tool to help you see where your money is going each month. Creating a plan for how you’re going to spend your money in the month ahead is also an easy way to start making slight adjustments to work toward your goals.
“Focus on making little changes to your budget that will add up over time,” says Justin H., Financial Wellbeing Program Manager at Lake Trust. “And don’t forget to review your fixed costs each month, like your insurance rates. These costs are often overlooked when people are searching for ways to save money.”
To do this, consider making the following adjustments to your spending:
- Compare prices. Pay attention to sales and deals and try to plan your meals around these items. Consider using an app to check gas prices in your area before your next fill up.
- Create a shopping plan. Plan out a weekly meal menu and determine what you need to buy before going to the store. This can help you avoid impulse purchases or buying duplicates of items you already have at home.
- Switch to generic. Consider switching from name-brand items to generic or store brands. Check the ingredient list if you’re not sure if a generic item is comparable to the name brand.
- Eat more veggies. You might be surprised at how many meatless meal ideas you can find. Eliminating meat from the menu once or twice a week can add up quickly.
- Review your subscriptions. How often do you use your media subscriptions? Or your gym membership? Canceling a subscription or two can add up to big savings over time.
- Leave your car at home. Depending on where you live, try to walk, bike, or use public transportation. Or choose one day per week to do your errands. The gas for small trips around town each day add up quickly.
- Review your insurance. Compare your 2021 auto and home insurance rates to your 2022 rates. If they’ve gone up, it’s time to start shopping. We can help you compare policies across many insurance companies and search for discounts.
- Shop second-hand. Thrift stores often have great deals on clothing and household items that may be new or gently used. And your purchases will often support a local nonprofit.
- Conserve energy. Turn the air up/heat down if you aren’t going to be home for a few hours. Turn off the TV, lights, or electronics when you aren’t using them. Even better: Unplug them.
To get started on your budget, download our budgeting worksheet and start tracking your spending.
I’m working on paying down debt. How can I continue doing this when other costs are squeezing my budget?
If you’re struggling to stick to your debt payoff plan, don’t get too discouraged and stay focused on your goal. It might take a little longer to reach your goal than you originally planned, but you’ll get there. This maybe a good time to rethink your strategy.
Refinancing your home loan, refinancing your vehicle loan, or refinancing your student loans could help you get a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. Or explore options like a home equity loan or personal loan, which may allow you to consolidate several loans into one easy payment. Make sure to check the current rates to determine if these options could help you save.
How can Lake Trust help me?
Your financial wellbeing is in your hands, and we’re here to support you. Meeting your financial goals is a delicate balance of meeting your wants and needs and forming a positive emotional relationship with your finances.
Our Member Experience Associates in our branches and Contact Center are knowledgeable experts who can help you explore options to work toward your financial goals. Whether you’re simply trying to meet your day-to-day expenses or looking for new ways to save money, our team is here to listen and find the best resources for your situation.
Through Lake Trust Financial Life Planning, we can also help you create a plan for college, retirement, or another life event. We can also help review your auto, home, and life insurance plans. Or explore investment options.
Lastly, we have a strong partnership with GreenPath™ Financial Wellness3. Their financial counselors can help you create a debt management plan, manage your student loan plans, access educational resources about building your credit, and more.
Remember, everyone is at a different place on the path to financial wellbeing. It’s easy to get discouraged on this journey, so don’t compare your financial situation to your family, friends, or neighbors. They may be working toward similar goals or may be struggling with a different aspect of their finances.
Focus on your vision for the future and let us know how we can help. We believe in you. And we believe in the power in all of us.