FORT KNOX, Ky. – We are all feeling the crunch as gas and food prices keep going up.

According to the U.S. Inflation Calculator, the U.S. inflation rate reached a 40-year high of 8.6% in May 2022 – the highest since December 1981. In the past five years, the average inflation rate reflects 2.94% increase.

“We are all feeling the crunch,” says Fort Knox Army Community Service financial specialist Alison Dupont, “but you’re not in this alone.”
“We are all feeling the crunch,” says Fort Knox Army Community Service financial specialist Alison Dupont, “but you’re not in this alone.” (Photo Credit: Stock photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

With the numbers predicted to continue increasing, we are all looking for simple ways to reduce our own expenses. Below are ten simple, everyday ways that may be helpful:

1. Review your monthly bank statements. Look for purchases you can cut back on or live without, such as subscriptions or apps. With some, you can pause or reduce the options, or even flat out cancel them.

2. Reduce electricity use. Can you increase your thermostat temperature by one degree? Unplug unused appliances? Do you run the water unnecessarily? Did you know that washing clothes in cold water can save money? According to coldwatersaves.org, “90% of energy the washing machine uses goes toward heating the water.” Also, according to the Tide detergent company, washing in cold water can save you up to $150 a year on your energy bill.

3. Check that bank activity again!  Take a second look at where you’re spending unnecessarily. How much are you eating out or grabbing lunch on the go? Have you looked at the extra cost of having food delivered instead of ordering and going to pick it up yourself? These are easy costs to eliminate.

4. Bring your lunch to work.  You may not have or want to do it every day, so pick a few days to take a sandwich, salad or leftovers. Maybe there is only one day a week or pay-period that you treat yourself to eating out.

5. Use the water fountain and coffee maker. More and more you can find filling station style water fountains designed for refilling water bottles. Buying a drink from a vending machine or a quick stop at a convenience store can cost $1.75 to $4 each; two a day can cost $450-$1050 a year for the average worker. This also goes for coffee shops, which are much more expensive than brewing at home or in the office.

6. Consider carpooling. Can you ride share with a co-worker, neighbor or even someone with whom you live? Even if it isn’t every day, sharing a ride just a few times throughout the week can make an impact in your monthly budget.

7. Compare fuel prices. Don’t wait until you’re on empty to fill your gas tank. If you see a price that is below most other stations, top off your tank. Download a gas app like Gas Buddy that helps you locate the best fuel costs in the local area.

8. Check out grocery prices. Plan your meals ahead of time and use weekly sales ads to help you plan. Most major grocery chains run weekly ads that can help stretch your budget. If you use a regular chain grocery store, download their app. They often have digital coupons that can also be a cost saving.

9. Reward yourself for being frugal. Watch a movie together at home, plan a game night or make a picnic and take it to the park. Put your savings into a jar so you have a visual reminder of your progress.

10. Look for discounts. Many retailers like Lowes and Home Depot offer military discounts, as well as several restaurants. Don’t be afraid to ask; the worst they can say is, “no.”

Although tough economic times can be stressful, you’re not in this alone. We’re all feeling the pressure to find ways to do more with less. According to Vox News, the economy is going to feel worse before it feels better; it’s going to hurt all of us while readjustments are happening and unfortunately, there isn’t a quick solution. The sooner you start making a plan to adjust your spending, the better off you will find yourself.

One thing you can do is to make an appointment with a financial educator. Army Community Service Financial Readiness Program has free services to assist you in reviewing your current habits and spending, and help you develop a plan for financial success. To schedule an in-person or virtual appointment, call (502) 624-5989.