73% of Americans Say Their Money No Longer Goes As Far. Do These Things if You Feel the Same

A woman looking at jars of food in an empty grocery store.

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Feel like your paycheck has less buying power? Here's what to do.

How closely have you been paying attention to your grocery bills lately? If you review them line by line, you may notice that many of the essentials you're buying are suddenly more expensive.

And it's not just groceries. Rising inflation is driving up the cost of almost every aspect of life, and it's causing a big financial strain for a lot of people. In fact, 73% of Americans feel their paychecks no longer give them as much buying power as they once did, according to a recent survey by Voya Financial. If you feel similarly, here are three moves that might help.

1. Researching sales can help dampen inflation pain

When groceries were less expensive and gas wasn't at an all-time high, you may have shopped for food or filled up your car without giving it much thought. These days, that's a riskier prospect, especially if you happen to live paycheck to paycheck without any savings in the bank to fall back on.

Rather than randomly hit the stores or gas station, do some digging. Use sites like GasBuddy to see where fuel is the cheapest in your area, and comb through supermarket circulars to identify sales. Most grocery stores post their weekly deals online or in an app, so don't worry if you don't receive those circulars in the mail. A little research could result in big savings. Honey, a popular browser extension, can also help you find coupons and deals automatically when shopping online.

2. Cut back on some non-essential expenses

Groceries and fuel are things you can't skimp on, but there may be other spending categories in your budget where you do have the option to cut back.

The sky-high prices we've been grappling with won't last forever. If you have to temporarily cut back on small luxuries to make ends meet in the near term, it's a far better strategy than going into debt -- even though cutting back may not be an easy thing to do.

3. Get a side hustle so there’s more money to go further

If your regular paycheck isn't going as far as it used to, it may help to boost your earnings via a side gig. Many industries are still grappling with labor shortages and need more hands on deck, so you may have more options these days to pick up a few shifts a week at a local business without having to commit to a more extensive schedule.

If you want a more flexible side hustle, aim for something you can do from home, like data entry or web design. Or start driving for a ridesharing service so you can choose which nights you want to work.

Given the way the general cost of living has soared since the summer, it's not surprising the majority of those surveyed by Voya feel their paychecks can't keep up as easily. If you're in that boat, make an effort to shop more mindfully, cut back on some spending if possible, and boost your earnings with a side gig. These tactics could spell the difference between covering your bills or kick starting a dangerous cycle of unhealthy debt.

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