Let’s face it: The cost of living is kicking our butts. If you’re wondering why you’re having trouble getting ahead, it’s because the game is rigged against you.
While wages have gone up over the past couple of decades, they haven’t kept up with inflation. To add insult to injury, the cost of big-ticket purchases, like houses, cars and college degrees has increased faster than the pace of inflation. In other words, the cost of everything is rising a lot faster than your salary is.
The government has a handy way to measure this — a thing called the Consumer Price Index, which is essentially the price of common things we pay for all averaged together. The Bureau of Labor Statistics just compared prices in February 2021 to those of one year before , and found that grocery prices had increased by 3.5%!
In the big picture, the cost of living has essentially doubled over the past 30 years, according to a number of studies and this cost of living calculator calculator from the American Institute for Economic Research.
Having trouble keeping up? We’ve got some money moves you can start making today:
1. Cut Your Food Budget by Planning Ahead
Groceries are a huge part of the high cost of living, so they’re a big target for savings. Try preparing for the week ahead with some meal planning.
This goes beyond just making a shopping list. Real meal planning helps you save money because it helps you use what you buy, preventing food — and money — waste. It also prevents you from spending extra cash on emergency lunches or late-night takeout.
First, figure out how many meals you’re responsible for making every week. If it’s just you, your answer might be 21: seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners. If you have a family, count meals per person — a dinner for three people counts as three dinners, even if you all eat the same thing.
Now figure out how much food you’ll need to buy to make it until your next grocery trip. If you buy the same items…