Here are some strategies for surviving inflation

With inflation reaching levels not seen since the 1970s, families are grappling with higher prices for almost everything.

The basic strategies for surviving inflation are to spend or save less or earn more. If you’re retired, surviving inflation means using more of your savings — assuming it won’t leave you destitute when you’re older — or finding a hustle and bustle acceptable.

You should also know that inflation has a lasting impact. The last period of high inflation in the United States lasted four years. And the prices rarely drop. Thus, inflation builds on itself, leaving prices higher for a lifetime. So, when considering inflation coping strategies, make sure you’ve chosen an answer you can live with for the long term.

How Retirees Can Survive Inflation

Inflation is often more difficult for retirees, who live on savings, investments and fixed sources of income, such as pensions and social security. So we’ll start with how retirees can determine their best option.

To find out if you’ll have enough to survive inflation without depleting your savings, do a quick calculation.

Look at how much money you receive each month from fixed income sources, such as pensions and social security. Compare that with how much you spend. If your monthly expenses exceed these sources of income, this spending gap is funded by drawing money from savings.

For example, if you receive $2,000 a month from Social Security and pensions, but spend $3,000 a month, you have a $1,000 gap that is funded by savings.

To answer the crucial question of whether your savings will last as long as you do, add up the balances of your savings and investment accounts. Take that total and simply divide by your savings gap.

Let’s say you have $100,000 in retirement savings. You divide $100,000 by your monthly savings gap of $1,000 to find that your savings will last about 100 months, or 8.3 years, before the account runs out. (Obviously, this is a simplistic calculation that could swing a bit back and forth, depending on returns on investment, cost-of-living adjustments, and your future expenses. But the older you are, the more it is likely to be close.)

If you’re likely to outlive your savings and don’t have good ways to cut costs, you should consider side hustle to fill some or all of your spending gap.

How Workers Can Survive Inflation

If you are still working, you have more options. You can reduce; you can (at least temporarily) stop saving for long-term goals; or you can find ways to make more money.

To reduce wisely, separate your monthly expenses into basic necessities and discretionary expenses.

What are the necessities? Housing, utilities and food are the most obvious. Monthly debt payments are also a necessary expense. The same goes for transportation and miscellaneous expenses that allow you to get to work and do your job well.

The last thing you want to do in times of inflation is jeopardize the work that maintains income in your household.

Now consider your discretionary spending and separate it into high priority and low priority categories. New clothes for growing children would be a priority, for example, as would their school supplies. Things you love, whether it’s dining out or watching cable TV, can also fall into the priority category. And saving for both long-term and short-term goals is likely to be a priority for anyone thinking about the future.

But you may decide that you can’t currently afford school fundraisers or extracurricular sports. Maybe your spending on clothes, lunch, or coffee/snack is out of whack. Maybe you need to cut the holiday and gift budget.

Saving for long-term goals should be part of your discretionary budget. And the more valuable the goal, the higher the priority to save for it.

If you’re likely to get big increases that will fill today’s budget gaps, you can temporarily put savings on hold to deal with inflation. Just be sure to check back and resume your savings as soon as these planned increases allow you to better pay your bills.

If your necessary and priority expenses exceed the amount you receive each month, you need to look for ways to earn more money. This may mean asking for a raise or looking for a better paying job.

If none of these options are viable, consider doing a side hustle in your spare time.

Lateral scrambles

There are literally thousands of different ways to earn money in your free time. These include well-known driving and delivery apps, such as Uber and DoorDash. But it also includes hundreds of professional and service-oriented portals that can help you earn money doing almost any job you’re qualified to do.

Dozens of sites also help find customers willing to rent out your home, yard, pool, RV, camping gear, and storage space. These can be particularly nice options for retirees who don’t want to return to work but have accumulated underutilized assets.

Meanwhile, parents of young children can earn money for things they do anyway, like helping with homework and walking the dogs.

Kristof is the publisher of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews money-making opportunities in the gig economy.

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