By: Whitney Morrow
Carter County Extension Agent
Kentuckians are feeling the weight of rising living expenses. With national inflation at 7.5%, prices for goods and services are at record highs. These steep costs have forced many households to consider ways to better manage their resources.
To combat rising living expenses, start by finding intentional ways to manage your resources, reduce expenses and stretch your income. Below are a few ways to help your budget absorb the ill effects of inflation.
An inexpensive way to reduce heating and cooling bills is to check for insulation leaks around your home. Simple repairs, such as purchasing a bottle of expanding foam for under $10, can help if you have cracks around windows or foundations. Stick-on foam strips to place under your doors or along vertical openings also sell for less than $10.
Setting your thermostat at 68 degrees or below in the winter, or 78 degrees or above in the summer, can reduce your annual heating and cooling costs by as much as 10%. Remember to regularly clean or change your air filters to keep your HVAC system efficiently working.
Free gas station apps or websites track the best local prices on gasoline. If your vehicle can operate on regular gas, choose that over mid-grade or premium fuel options. You are likely to find better deals at stations away from major highways or intersections. Traveling between 65 and 75 mph on highways can save 10% to 20% on fuel costs. Keeping your car’s maintenance current can help to keep it running at optimal capacity. Check your tire pressure and look for opportunities to batch errands. Carpool, take public transportation or walk when possible.
Track sales at your local grocery stores and stock up on pantry and freezer staples when items are on sale and in stock. Shelf-stable items such as canned vegetables, legumes and grains can add volume to your meals for less money. Freeze produce, meats or some cheeses when you find them on sale. Meal plan before you go shopping and select recipes that will yield leftovers or that can be repurposed in multiple meals.
Be flexible when you shop for and prepare meals. Select store-brand products to save money. Explore adding meat- or dairy-free recipes to your menu to cut costs on higher-priced ingredients. When you look for small ways to save money on everyday essentials, you can stretch your dollars.
To get more information on family financial topics, contact the Carter office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.
Source: Nichole Huff, Ph.D., Assistant Extension Professor, Family Finance and Resource Management