Saving, budgeting amid rising costs

RISING costs have been affecting us all, from petrol prices to grocery bills, we’re all feeling it. And with things not looking to change anytime soon, budgeting — and rebudgeting — has been the order of the day in most households, as though costs are rising, salaries for most have remained static.

How have families been managing, especially as they seek to retain their goals of also saving and investing? While some have given up some aspirations due to rising costs, others have managed to juggle to still make things work. Saving, budgeting and building wealth are all still possible even with rising costs, they say, and below they tell how they’ve been managing.

Al, 35, analyst and married father of one:

We’ve given up on the plan to own a home this year, and to just basically be practical. We started the process but didn’t have the total for the commitment fees or closing costs, and we didn’t want to take another loan for those. So our plan is to continue saving towards that, and save on rent by moving back in with my parents. It’s not ideal, but being debt-free is important to us. My folks have a farm so milk, vegetables, poultry and pork, we don’t have to worry about. We split the bills for the other basic food prices, and we pulled our daughter out of school in Kingston, and enrolled her closer to home. These decisions have resulted in quite a bit of savings. Even though the price of housing in the area we want will probably go up next year, we’re assured that we will find something. It’s better to be prudent than foolhardy, and times like these demand sound planning, and that’s what we’re doing.

Anora Manning, 42, accounting manager and married mother of three:

I haven’t received a raise in pay since 2019, so I’m working with the same salary, while every single thing has increased. I can’t let that affect me though. What I’ve done is kept my deductions the same as far as savings go, and I even increased my life insurance coverage, and started a savings account for my youngest child. With what’s left it’s been a juggling game — I shop in bulk at Pricesmart because I find that their unit prices for items are cheaper than even the wholesale; and I buy meat exclusively at the meat shop. I used to shop exclusively at the supermarket, but now I only get things there that I can’t get at the wholesale. These habits have resulted in major savings. I also buy the same amount of gas, and wherever that takes me, that’s it. When it’s done, I take public transportation or carpool. I also cook more meals at home and pack lunches for the kids, and take advantage of entertainment specials, like two for one movie days, and free park visits. I pay off my cards each month then use them to shop, that way my cash back will be great. All in all, our standard of living hasn’t changed, because I have been meticulous about juggling.

Markland Hutchinson, 38, small business owner and married father of two:

I own a small business so a lot of it has been tightening the strings to make things work, as I can’t reduce the amount of money I give my wife to run the house. Things get tough sometimes, but I do less wastage of money and material with just paying attention to quality, what I spend, and where I spend. At home my wife has been holding down the fort by changing a few habits. We don’t skimp on quality with some items — I still need my branded beer and coffee and other foods I eat, but she’s been buying the more affordable grocery items like oil, cereal and laundry detergent, while going to the suppliers for diapers and formula, and heading to the wholesale and chemical store for items like meat, canned foods, detergent and soaps. Most of all we still save the same as we did, and we started a backyard garden for produce.

Stephanie Morais, 30, nurse and single mom of one:

My grocery list has definitely shortened — I’m on a diet so if it’s one positive thing, at least I buy less and eat less. I realised that we’d throw out a lot of food, so I shop according to what meals I will make each day. So basically I do a meal plan each week, and just shop for those ingredients. We’ve totally cut out waste using this method. If I need a top up at any time in the week, I’ll just grab those items at the wholesale. I had totally switched from supermarket to a wholesale the other day, but I couldn’t stand the bad treatment so I switched back. I figure that life is hard enough without having a security guard follow me around the store, and digging into my bag when I’m leaving, all to save $200. So I’ve gone back to my old supermarket, and most weeks they have deals on items and I’ll buy those. I sold my car and we take the bus, and what a blessing that has been on my pocket! No more car payment, no more mechanics! I live and work along a bus route, and my son goes to school on one, so it’s no problem. I was even able to start a college fund for him with the money I saved from that car salary deduction. If you have your goals set, not even the economy should ruin them. Live within your means and you’ll be fine.

LICHELLE PALMER

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