Rising Living Costs Top List of Americans' Concerns, Far Outpacing Gun Violence and Crime

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  • In a recent survey, inflation topped the list of Americans' concerns.
  • No other issue came close to being a source of worry.

Americans are more worried about inflation than any other factor.

Since around this time last year, American consumers have been grappling with rising living costs. Inflation began rising in the spring of 2021, and recently, it reached 8.3%.

That's forcing a lot of people to rethink their spending habits. Some consumers are cutting back on non-essentials to compensate for their rising bills. Others are cutting back on actual essentials, like food, to make ends meet.

Inflation is also making it difficult for Americans to meet their near- and long-term financial goals. Higher living costs are resulting in lower IRA and 401(k) plan contributions for some workers, and lower savings account balances for others.

It's not all that surprising, then, that Americans cited inflation as a major concern in a recent Pew Research Center survey. But what is surprising is just how highly it ranks on respondents' list of worries.

The biggest problem the country faces today

A good 70% of Americans view inflation as a major problem for the U.S. By contrast, only 55% say the same about healthcare affordability. And only 54% and 51% say the same about violent crime and gun violence, respectively.

Interestingly, only 19% of those surveyed cite the COVID-19 outbreak as a major issue for the U.S. That's somewhat encouraging, as it's a sign the public is learning to coexist with the virus rather than allow it to upend their lives.

But still, inflation is clearly a major problem, and one that isn't about to magically go away anytime soon. And so it's important that consumers do what they can to combat rampant inflation while it persists.

Fighting back against inflation

If inflation is causing you a world of stress, you're not alone. But it's important to take steps to maintain your buying power and keep working toward your financial goals.

First, get on a budget if you don't already have one in place. Having your expenses mapped out for you will make it easier to identify areas where you can cut back.

Next, make some cuts. That's not the easiest thing to do, but if inflation is making it so you're racking up debt or dipping into your savings month after month, it may be time for some changes. That could mean spending less on social activities for a period of time or skipping a planned (and not yet paid-for) vacation if money is tight.

At the same time, you may want to consider boosting your income with a second job. While inflation may be soaring, job growth has been strong in recent months, and that extends to the gig economy. If you raise your income, you're apt to have an easier time managing your bills, all the while staying on track with your savings efforts.

The fact that Americans are more concerned about inflation than crime and gun violence is almost disturbing -- but it speaks to how real a problem it is. It's important to do your best to fight back against inflation so it doesn't end up wrecking your finances for years to come.

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