This means nearly everything you buy is more expensive than it was a year ago.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the past year, food and electricity costs have each increased by 7.9%, gasoline prices are 38% higher, clothing is now 6.6% more expensive, and used vehicles have increased by 41.2%. Only time will tell if prices will continue to rise.
There’s a pretty good chance your salary hasn’t increased at the same rate as inflation, so it’s no wonder your budget may be struggling to keep up! So how can you avoid spending more than what is in your bank account? Here are some tips to help you more easily afford the things you need.
1. Eliminate unnecessary expenses
Look at your weekly and monthly expenses and see if there is anything you can cut. Do you have a monthly subscription, such as a video/music streaming service, monthly beauty box, or unused health club membership? Do you pay someone to clean your home or take care of your yard? Consider doing these things yourself until prices start to decline. Pack a lunch from home instead of buying or eating out if you work outside your home. Cutting out even the smallest expense can really add up over time and help to stretch your dollar.
2. Shop for groceries differently
Changing how you shop for groceries can make a big impact on your wallet. For instance, if you normally purchase name brand products, try opting for the store brand or generic versions. Doing so could save you 20-25% on virtually the same item. Take the time to clip coupons, and use the store’s loyalty card for additional savings. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.
3. Reduce your home’s energy bill
The cost of keeping the lights on, the water flowing, and the temperature comfortable can really add up. Making small tweaks to how you consume energy in your home could reduce your total bill by as much as 25%. Some simple things you can do include: fixing drafty doors and windows; turning the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer and down a few degrees in the winter; swapping out incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs; purchasing energy-efficient appliances; taking shorter showers; washing clothes in cold water; and fixing leaky faucets and ducts.
4. Conserve gas
Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, a tank of gas could now cost you $50 to $100 or more! Make each tank last longer by planning your trips and errands efficiently. If you need to complete multiple errands, map out your stops in the most efficient way possible. Reduce your speed by 5 to 10 miles per hour to improve fuel economy. Carpool or ride share with a family member or co-worker if possible.
5. Pay off debt
Eliminating monthly debt obligations will leave you with more money to pay for the things you need and want today. It’s important to make at least the minimum payments on your balances each month but paying more than the minimum will help you pay off your debt faster. Consolidating multiple debts into one loan—with one monthly payment can also help you pay it off faster. Baltimore County Employees Federal Credit Union offers low-rate personal loans that may be a great tool to help you get out of debt. Contact us at 410-828-4730 or email [email protected].