By Greg Goldfarb
Life isn’t always easy, even in the best of times. And now, caught in the throes of the highest price inflation since 1981, it has become even more difficult for some.
Seemingly without warning, families in Virginia are wondering every day how best to use their money during these difficult financial times.
Where to cut? What to eliminate? It may seem simple, but it’s not always easy to make the right decisions to grow the family’s money. The key is to be open-minded.
“It’s very important to make choices that provide great flexibility,” said Dr. David Lehr, professor of economics and department chair at Longwood University. “Be nimble and resourceful. It’s not necessarily about backing down and retreating, but about being forward-looking – looking and being willing and able to change course if your home finances or your business conditions change unexpectedly.
Traditionally, in good times and bad, public and private financial planners advise families to always keep a close eye on family finances and household budgets.
A shortlist of household cost-cutting actions may include eliminating unnecessary expenses, shopping for groceries differently, reducing home energy bills, being more fuel efficient, paying down debt, increasing income, and saving for the future,
It is important that households are prepared well in advance for fiscal and economic uncertainties, rather than being caught financially off guard by changing monetary cycles beyond their control.
“In the short term, it’s hard for ordinary people to do much to fight inflation,” said Matt Holt, an economics professor and department head at Virginia Tech. “Historically, good inflation hedges included owning land or real estate, such as owning a house. Even so, buying a house simply as an inflation hedge is not a good idea. Citizens can also postpone major purchases, such as buying a new car or truck.
“Households can reduce discretionary purchases, magazine or streaming subscriptions, and gym memberships,” he continued. “Some evidence that these things are happening is provided by the recent drop in Netflix subscriptions. Making your own home improvements is another way to save money; it is also useful to monitor food purchases more carefully, generics versus name brands and food waste; limiting credit card purchases and paying off unpaid consumer debt is always a good idea. Finally, it may be possible for some people to take on a second job to help stretch limited budgets. »
Another way many individuals and families save money and live off the land at the same time is gardening and backyard farming.
An upcoming grocery-related series called “Grow Your Own Groceries” offers workshops August 2, 9, and 16 in Farmville. Produced and hosted by the Prince Edward County Extension Office at 100 Dominion Drive, sessions run from 11 a.m. to noon. Participants will learn how to plant microgreens, cook with sprouts, grow herbs and start windowsill gardens, using kitchen scraps.
In Virginia Beach, Karen Munden, Senior Extension Officer, Family and Consumer Services, Virginia Cooperative Extension, City of Virginia Beach, encourages families to take a closer look inside their refrigerators to save money.
“(Families) need to plan their meals, think about foods that leftovers can be used in different ways,” she said. “Take inventory of the food in the cupboards and the freezer; ask the family to be creative and only use food in the household. It could be a contest within the house.
Munden is also encouraging fewer door-to-door food deliveries and fewer dining out, going online to better learn how to prepare food at home, and reducing the purchase of convenience foods, such as chicken. boneless and skinless, which costs more per pound than other chickens.
Sliced fruits, like apples, are best when bought by the bag, then sliced and stored in zip-locked plastic bags, she said, adding that fresh lettuce can be treated the same way. way as apples.
Shoppers should also compare the size of consumer items to ensure better value even if the price is a bit higher, Munden said, and use coupons from manufacturers and stores.
“Families may want to buy items in bulk, but make sure the family will use the items,” she said. “Look for coupons and sales. Be sure to read the contents of the item and make sure it is not full of water. The cleaning product should contain more product and less water to have value.
Parents with children in school face additional financial pressures as they look to fall and back-to-school needs.
“Families should think about the whole school year, not just September through December, and estimate the supplies needed for the whole school year,” Munden said. “Shop during the ‘Virginia Tax Free’ weekend in August and buy clothes that can be worn all year round, adding a few layers for extra warmth during the winter months. Families can also consider buying a little bigger clothes and shoes for the kids, so they can grow by spring; and, consider buying second-hand options for clothes and shoes.