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Budgeting for Inflation

A picture of a calculator with a sheet of paper with budgeting information underneath it and a hand/pen making notes

Inflffects prices of pretty much everything. From gas and groceries to clothing and heating, higher prices can create financial challenges for families. As you sit down to budget and pay bills, it's is a good time to fully review how household dollars are being spent.

  1. Many of the tried-and-true cost savings methods still work. Assess how much you are spending now and on what. This will help you make important choices between your wants and needs. You’ll want to take a good, honest look at what you are spending when and where.
  2. Track food and grocery spending. Save your receipts -- from both the grocery store and restaurants where you eat out. You also may be able to find this information on your bank account and credit card records. Some store apps keep itemized records of what you spend. Don’t forget to include the extras. Did you stop at the coffee shop or convenience store this week? What about that last minute take-out meal on a busy evening? Most of us spend more than we think we do. When you start to see where you are spending, on what items, and the cost of those items, you may find you can make a few changes quickly. Then really think about your wants and needs. These are different for everyone. Have a conversation with the other decision-makers in your family and see where you might cut back.”
  3. Many of us know it is a good idea to eat at home, but did you know that eating at home can be healthier and save money? Making a grocery list is a terrific cost-saving measure. And when you plan out your meals ahead of time, you are more likely to avoid eating out and provide more balanced, healthier meals.
  4. Research sales. Many stores rotate the same items on sale every few weeks or in time for certain holidays. If you can, start to track how often something like eggs or butter go on sale, then you can anticipate when to buy them at lower prices. Many stores offer additional digital savings. Check the app before you go to the store. Sign up for coupons or discounts can add up. Look for traditional coupons in the paper, mail and at the checkout register.
  5. Shop from the outside of the store in. In the grocery store, this is where you’ll find fresh food. Get the items you need first, then go through the aisles. Skip the aisles that will tempt you -- those aisles that have items you "want," but don’t need. Avoid items at the end of the aisle. These items are designed to stimulate impulse buying and the prices are not always cheaper.
  6. Convenience foods that are packaged and processed for longer shelf life are located in the aisles. These can cost more for less food. Use your calculator and compare pricing. It may be less costly to buy a box of pasta and a can of pasta sauce than individually packaged microwaveable packets.” 
  7. Consider buying the store brands instead of name brands. Some of these items have the exact are made exactly the same or have the same content/ingredients, and come from the same suppliers, but with different packaging. They often offer substantial savings.
Author: Lauren Weatherford, WVU Extension Family & Community Development Agent, Fayette & Nicholas Counties
Published: October 2022