The numbers are in, and last month inflation went up 8.6% over what prices were a year ago — the biggest increase since 1981. Maybe you've noticed prices going up, or perhaps you've seen products getting smaller (or, even worse, both). Either way, your paycheck probably isn't going as far as it used to.
TLC / Via giphy.com
Recently, members of the BuzzFeed Community shared how rising prices on everyday essentials like groceries and gas are affecting their budgets. Some people had money-saving tips and strategies to share, while others are just really struggling. And in the comments, people had a lot more to say about how they're coping with this period of inflation. Here's what they shared:
1."I am dipping into savings and cutting back on things I never had to. I cut back on going to the salon, cut back on enjoyment like wine, nails, and entertainment. I know it sounds vapid and superficial, but those are all small businesses that suffer. If I'm cutting back, lots of other people are as well."
2."I’ve discovered that around 10 a.m. on Wednesdays my local grocery store marks down food that's close to expiring. I stock up for the week on whatever meats, bread, and veggies they have on clearance, and it’s so helpful."
"I managed to get some ground beef last week for 99¢ per pound, and I made a big meatloaf stuffed with veggies. My dad loved it and the kids didn’t even notice the veggies. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it otherwise (ground beef is usually $9.99 per pound) but I feel so blessed."
—Sara R., Facebook
3."I've done the math, and driving to my eight hour shift means I break even. Sure, I can add three hours to my day to commute by alternative means, but really...?"
4."Fortunately for me, I really like beans. Such a money saver!!"
5."Aldi has great prices on lots of essentials, produce, meats, excellent cheese selection. While most folks can’t exclusively shop there, I buy about 80% of my groceries there (and I’d consider myself rather picky). Ours is close to a Target so I fill in the gaps there or price check between the two."
—Shaunna W., Facebook
6."I walk everywhere I possibly can. I’m single and I’ve found that a certain meal delivery service is 100% legit. It cuts down on food waste, which means less money down the drain for spoiled goods. It’s about $80 a week to feed myself two meals a day, and I don’t order delivery anymore."
"I still like wine, so I only buy six packs with a 10% off special. I’ll probably never order wine at a restaurant ever again. It makes me sick to think how much money I used to casually spend on drinks and apps out with friends.
Now I just invite them over to my back yard. Everybody brings an appetizer, and we can actually hear each other in a peaceful, quiet environment. I’m probably just never going to go to a restaurant again (or very rarely). Money saved. Social life improved. Win Win."
7."I put together a budget binder and started collecting my change in a jar again. Every week, I take the left over cash from everything else (dollar bills, random fives) and sort it into the binder to go towards rent, gas, pet care, and so on."
8."I'm lucky enough to get one free food item a day from my job, which I usually save for later. Breakfast and lunch have become an expense I can't afford so I make sure dinner is just big enough to get me through the next day."
"I'm no longer exploring cooking different things. I literally just buy the essentials to get me through the week, and even those are becoming expensive."
9."Try being a single mom during this. I have a set salary, and I have to commute more than 40 minutes both ways to work. My car was recently totaled, so I had to get a new one with an increased payment. Try living in the gray area where you barely make enough to survive, but you can't qualify for any assistance."
10."I work with a group of community clinics in Orange County. One of the services is a food pantry — no need to be a patient in order to get a bag of food. Staff try and customize a bag if the recipient is diabetic, for instance, and if a person is homeless or couch surfing we give them foods that don’t need refrigeration."
11."The pandemic caused my workplace to close permanently. I transferred to a location about 15 more miles away, and gas has definitely impacted me in every way. For starters, it costs me more to drive there, but more importantly, I’ve lost half my clients because it’s too expensive for them to drive there! I eat one meal a day, cancelled my internet, and use electricity sparingly (and mostly for AC)."
12."I can’t afford to go to the doctor. I have several specialists, but they’re all an hour and a half away so I’ve got to be super picky about which health condition is the worst right now and also try to double up on appointments so I can go to at least two on the same drive. To say my health is suffering would be an understatement."
"I’m supposed to get labs done (as I haven’t since before COVID) and I can’t afford the gas right now to drive 35–45 minutes to the closest labs."
13."I bought stock in a gas company at the beginning of the pandemic. It’s quadrupled in price, and now I have to sell it to buy…gas."
14."I’m so glad my dad has an electric car. He’s done the math, and charging it costs so much less than gas right now."
15."Between my husband and I, we spend $200 per week on gas. He fills up three times a week because of the length of his commute. We are looking into moving closer to his job, however, with the way the housing market is, it is nearly impossible to find something in our price range that would work for our family."
"Not to mention trying to afford to feed a family because everything is going up. It’s an awful feeling like you’re drowning."
—Jess B., Facebook
16."My boyfriend and I just recently moved into our own apartment. Since moving, we have not bought any meat (not by choice, literally cannot afford it) and we are basically surviving off of ramen because it's the most we can afford."
17."My dad just passed the day after my birthday a few weeks ago now, and it feels horrible that I can't afford to drive the 30 minutes to see my mom who is alone now. I just wanna see my mom so we can get through this together, yet I'm stuck home because of gas prices."
18."When a bunch of positions opened up at my employer, my husband and I discussed him leaving his job to come work at mine. It saves us on commuting since I'm much closer to home, we can carpool, our insurance is paid in full when we both have to carry through the employer (because it saves them money) and we'll get a double credit to our retirement account."
"I NEVER thought he'd join my field, but we needed to find a way to cut some major corners in our budget if we ever want to buy a house — a dream that keeps getting further and further out of reach. So thankful for this opportunity that worked for us, but how the heck are other people managing?!?"
19."I walk, bike, and take more public transit. My friends are paying double for gas, yet my bus ticket is the same price as it was two years ago. If you can't do basic daily necessities without a car (e.g., getting groceries or commuting to an office job), hound your local representatives and demand better (unlike national-level politicians, they are more likely to listen and respond)."
20."I am getting ready to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Currently, in my SUV (that gets 11 miles per gallon), I am spending $400–$600 on gas a month. If I get something that gets 18–20 miles a gallon, it will drop to about $220–$330. That difference almost covers a car payment and it will hopefully be a little more reliable being newer."
—Ashley K., Facebook
21."We’ve decided not to have another child. It's sad, but we feel it's unwise to incur that kind of expense without being confident in the future."
22."I've been baking more, and we don't eat red meat. We eat out maybe two times a month as opposed to almost weekly. I don't go anywhere in my car, and we don't snack anymore (or if we do it's baked goods I made or cheap bulk peanuts or things like that). I have to say that cutting down on pop and sugary drinks has made my mood better."
23."I literally wake up from hunger because I’ve had to cut back on eating. I’ll skip dinner so I have lunch to bring to work. I'm working over 40 hours and it’s still not enough."
24."It's kind of a positive life change, but started eating more plant based! I just couldn't deal with meat prices. Still buy it, but eat way less, relying more on things like beans, chickpeas, and eggs."
25."The Flipp app has been a godsend to be able to find grocery items I want on sale. Stick to the flyers. If it’s not on sale, unless you absolutely need it, then don’t buy it. Wait for it to go on sale. Canned and frozen foods (mainly fruits and veggies) are better to buy than fresh. Same nutritional value and no cleaning required!"
26."Family of six. We did a staycation at a beachside motel instead of our typical out-of-town vacation-home-rental vacation. We haven't eaten at a restaurant or even fast food in months. We eat a lot of potatoes, lol — can't beat five pounds for $3."
"And we stay home...a lot. My kids are bored, but it costs $20 in gas to go anywhere in town. We canceled most streaming services. We're lucky in that we're only living on my husband's income right now while I stay home with our tweens, so we're not completely at the edge. I'm looking to pick up a part-time job, but it has to be close for it to even be worth it.
We were in our early 20's during the recession in 2008 and weren't affected. But 10 years later with three kids, it's a completely different story."
27."I got a Target debit card — 5% savings right off the top for just about everything."
28."I watch for sales on meat. My grocery store has three-pound packages of ground beef, as soon as it goes on sale I buy several, break them down into one-pound packages, and freeze them."
29."It's bullshit to have to commute to work again with gas being over $5 a gallon. The amount I spend on gas now is more than my phone, utilities, and car insurance combined. Also, a box of cereal is almost $7, and I said, 'I guess we can't afford frozen chicken anymore,' out loud in the grocery store. Our household income is considered middle class."
30.And finally, "The inflation wouldn't be so painful if I didn't know the corporations behind it are making RECORD profits. It is shameful."
—Kim E., Facebook