WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 9 — There are many ways to cope with inflation. For example, you might want to put together two shopping lists– one that focuses on the essentials and another that itemizes the things you don’t need. The “don’t need list” might include things such as gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, video streaming services, vacations and a new car.
At the top of the list of necessary essentials is, of course, food. Unlike a cost of living list, it’s a cost of staying alive list. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons food is among the items that has been getting pricier and pricier since the Biden inflation cycle began 18 months ago. And just because our president passed the Inflation Reduction Act [IRA], bear in mind it does not have a positive impact on the growing, out of control rate of inflation.
On the contrary, it is likely to make matters worse according to 230 prominent economists who signed an open letter saying that there is an “urgent need to reduce inflation, but the ‘Inflation Reduction Act of 2022’ is a misleading label applied to a bill that would likely achieve the exact opposite effect…The U.S. economy is at a dangerous crossroads. Forty-year high inflation is causing immense strain for households and small businesses, and it is prompting steep interest rate hikes that, while necessary to counter fiscal policy excesses, increase the chance of a deepening recession…As such, taming inflation must be the top short-term economic priority to avoid further economic decline and hardship. Unfortunately, the inaptly named ‘Inflation Reduction Act of 2022’ would do nothing to the sort and instead would perpetuate the same fiscal policy errors that have helped precipitate the current troubling economic climate.”
The open letter, while enlightening, cannot undo what the president and Congress have done but it can make matters worse in the near-term future. For example, a recent Consumer Price Index update shows that “The food index increased 10.9 percent over the last year, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1979.”
But a New York Post assessment notes that the CPI food index is based on the average cost of food at home and the cost of food at a restaurant. The post explains that “Inflation for food-at-home, which accounts for grocery store and supermarket food purchases, rose even higher to 12.2%, underscoring how consumers are not getting much reprieve by trying to cook at home.”
The report triggered quite a few letters to the editor, including one from a shopper who wrote: “10% is an underestimate. A trip to the store this week $6 for 4 tomatoes, $14 for a small package of chicken, beef is not even possible, $6 for an 8oz package of luncheon meat, $5 for 4 ears of corn, $6 for a small watermelon, and this is stuff that is in season.”
So, how does one cope in such a costly environment? By downsizing your grocery list and sticking to the list when you get to the store. No more impulse buys. A lot more store brand items. And, according to one handy website, Clark.com, “Another way to be sure you don’t buy anything extra is to go to a cash-only envelope system.”
Another helpful suggestion from clark.com is to use “a recipe ingredient matching site (check out SuperCook.com)…[it’s] a great strategy as you look for ways to save on groceries. These kinds of sites help you with meal ideas based on what you have at home and what items are on sale in a given week.
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