Locked In: How Inflation Impacts Those on Fixed Incomes

Locked In: How Inflation Impacts Those on Fixed Incomes
Bargains hunters at Bolton Market on Aug. 17, 2010. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Rachel Hartman
Retirees living on a pension and others who rely on a set amount of income every month will likely feel inflation—fast. “Those living on fixed incomes may see their purchasing power decrease during periods of high inflation,” Janet Alvarez, executive editor of Wise Bread, told The Epoch Times. A budget that worked well in the past might be stretched as prices rise across the categories of expenses, including gas, rent, and groceries. “Taking on new debt, such as a mortgage, may be more onerous,” Alvarez said.
If you and your family depend on a fixed income, there are several strategies to consider that may help lighten the impact of inflation. Following are ways to maintain your current lifestyle and carry on, even as prices continue to rise.

Evaluate What You Have and Need

Take an evening or weekend to decipher your current financial situation. Look at what you have in cash, savings, investments, and retirement accounts. Review what your expenses have been in previous months and evaluate where the price increases are hitting your budget. Also, reflect on your household needs now and in the past few years. “Your expenses may not be consistent year over year,” Marcy Keckler, senior vice president of marketing and financial advice strategy at Ameriprise Financial told The Epoch Times. You might find you can cut out certain memberships, subscriptions, or services you no longer need. 

Revamp Your Grocery Shopping

Rather than going to the same stores to buy regular items week after week, spend an afternoon or weekend in other shops to compare prices. “You may find that meat is cheaper in one place, and produce is cheaper in another,” Lisa Thompson, savings expert for Coupons.com, told The Epoch Times. You could also discover warehouses like Sam’s or Costco offer better prices for bulk goods. If your household consists of just one or two people, you might try shopping at these warehouses and then sharing the big bulk products with another person or family.
Before heading out for the store, make a list so you know just what to buy. You might also look at store flyers to see what’s on sale that week and plan your meals to use those ingredients. Also, spend some time looking at apps and websites that offer coupons or deals. You’ll be able to receive further discounts or get cash back on your purchases.

Make Smart Choices for Big Purchases

For large-ticket items, like a vehicle or home, settling in to wait may pay off later. “New car prices are rising quickly now, so it may not be the best time to buy,” Alvarez said. Houses are also increasingly more expensive in many real estate markets throughout the country. If your timeline is flexible, consider watching prices to look for a sale or deal. You might also research other options, such as leasing a vehicle, purchasing a smaller home, or renting in a less expensive neighborhood.

Get Creative to Save on Entertainment

There may be events in your area that are free or offer discounts on certain days. “If you do some digging, you might find opportunities for free music or comedy events, great prices for happy hours, and BOGO [buy one, get one] tickets at movie theaters that will help you cut down on your entertaining expenses, but still allow you to get out and enjoy activities that will contribute to your qualify of life and wellbeing,” Thompson said. Outdoor hobbies like hiking, walking, and swimming can also be solid ways to spend leisure time when the weather is accommodating.

Consider a Side Hustle

If you’re retired with savings in retirement accounts, it may seem like you’ll have to pull more from the funds to cover increased expenses. Before increasing your withdrawals, however, it could be valuable to peruse employment options. “If a side gig is a possibility, use that side income you generate as a buffer, so that you don’t spend your nest egg on living expenses,” Alvarez said. Start at online job sites like Workforce50.com, RetiredBrains.com, or Seniors 4 Hire. You could also sell household items you no longer need or use at marketplaces like Craigslist or eBay.

Plan for the Future

When costs go up, it’s important to think beyond the current day-to-day prices. Take some time to think about what you want to do, especially in terms of travel, hobbies, and lifestyle, during the upcoming months and years. Research the cost of your choices to see whether they will still be feasible for your budget if costs continue to increase.

When factoring for inflation, look at what you expect to receive in the form of a pension, withdrawals, and benefits. “Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation, but other income streams will be affected by rising prices,” Keckler said. “Talk to a financial advisor and create a retirement strategy to help you make the most of your savings and investments.”

Rachel Hartman is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. Her work has appeared in national and international publications for more than 10 years. She resides in Miami and travels frequently.
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