Higher Living Costs Could Last 8 to 10 Months, Experts Warn

by Maurie Backman | Published on July 18, 2021

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Uh-oh -- inflation could be here to stay for a while.

Have you noticed that just about everything in life seems to be more expensive these days? You're really not imagining things.

Inflation levels recently reached a 13-year high, and unfortunately, it doesn't look like things are going to cool off anytime soon. In fact, according to a Duke University survey released this week, we should expect higher-than-average cost increases to stay with us for a good eight to 10 months. Ouch.

If you're already feeling the impact of inflation, try to take some steps to ensure you don't end up deep in debt. Here are a few key moves to make.

1. Get on a tight budget

If you've never followed a budget before, now's the time to change your tune. When living costs rise, it's more important than ever to have a clear picture of what your bills look like.

Comb through your bank account and credit card statements from the past year to see what your various bills look like and what they cost on average. Then, adjust those totals to account for recent inflation and compare that total to what your paychecks give you.

For example, say you look at your bills and see that you normally spend $20 a week -- or $80 a month -- on gas. If, for the past four weeks in a row, you've spent $23 a week on gas instead, it means you'll need to adjust that figure upward to $92.

Then, you may need to go into a different spending category and reduce it by $12 to compensate if you're already maxing out your paychecks. That could mean downgrading your cable plan or dumping a streaming service for the time being.

2. Be a savvy shopper

Groceries now cost more across the board, but that doesn't mean there aren't any ways to save money at the grocery store. Spend a little time each week seeing which supermarkets have staple items on sale, and when it makes sense, buy items you use frequently in bulk to snag a discount.

3. Apply for a better credit card

There are many credit cards out there that reward you for everyday purchases like gas and groceries. If you're not getting much cash back from your current cards and you have a strong credit score, apply for a new one with a more generous rewards program.

4. Get a side job

You may only be able to stretch your current paycheck so far and cut back on so many expenses. If that's the case, consider picking up a side hustle on top of your main job.

The good news is that many businesses are desperate for workers right now, so you may have plenty of local opportunities where you live. And if not, you can carve out your own gig, whether it's signing up to walk dogs, babysit, or drive for a ridesharing service.

Hang in there

The reason inflation is so bad right now is that a lot of supply chains were shut down during the pandemic and are only starting to open back up. At the same time, an improving economy means there's more consumer demand for products. Whenever you have a situation where demand exceeds supply, it sets the stage for higher prices.

In time, supply should catch up with demand, and inflation levels should start to calm down. But until that happens, it's important to do whatever you can to protect yourself financially.

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