Putin’s Inflation?

Commentary
I’ve been rather baffled on the rhetoric of the Biden administration concerning the current rampant inflation. In mid-June, President Joe Biden concluded that “Putin’s price hike is hitting America hard”.
But is this a fair call?
A first answer can be drawn from the monthly pace of annual inflation in the United States.
A figure presenting the monthly annual change in the Consumer Price Index of the U.S. and month of the onset of the war between Russia and Ukraine (February). (GnS Economics, St. Louis Fed, BoFA, NBER)
It’s rather obvious from the figure that inflation was running rampant way before President Vladimir Putin decided to attack Ukraine. Some could even infer that the pace of the increase of inflation has actually slowed after the onset of the Russo-Ukrainian war. This, naturally, would be just statistics playing tricks with our heads….



Source link

Can the Fed Do the Job?

Commentary
Since the Federal Reserve began its counter-inflation effort last March, it has acted forcefully. It has raised its benchmark federal funds interest rate some 1.5 percentage points and reversed its long-standing program of quantitative easing.
Instead of buying bonds to inject money into the financial system, it has begun to withdraw some of those inflationary monies by selling from the hoard of securities it had built up previously. And the Fed has promised to continue withdrawing liquidity and raising interest rates until inflation comes under control.
But in no small part, because its tardy response to inflation last year eroded public confidence, the Fed now faces an especially tough fight….



Source link

3 Inflation-Proof ETFs to Put Into Your Portfolio


Let’s figure out what investments make sense through ETFs as inflation hits a new 40-year high


By Melissa Brock

If you’re concerned about inflation, you’ve got a good reason. Inflation has hit its highest level since 1982 to an increase in the level of prices of the goods and services that households buy.

What do you do when commodity prices are surging? High inflation can be the result of a hot economy or companies. As a result, many companies may choose to charge more because they realize they can raise prices without losing customers.

Let’s walk through how ETFs (exchange-traded funds) What options are available to you in a high environment? Choosing the right ETFs can hedge against inflation. (Drozd Irina/Shutterstock) and demonstrate a few ETFs that are effective inflation hedges.

How Can ETFs Hedge Against Inflation?

First, a quick definition of ETF and inflation.

An ETF is a basket of securities that tracks an underlying index. ETFs comprise a mix of stocks and bonds. ETFs offer the diversification, low expense ratios, and tax efficiency that can help assist many investors.

Inflation is typically measured by two common statistics—the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of the price in aggregate of consumer goods and services, and the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), a measure of the price of goods at the production level.

Some inflation can be good for equities but surging costs can hurt a company’s profits. Rising rates can help the equity markets have so far shaken off inflation fears but the bond market is another story. Rising rates negatively impact bonds because of the inverse relationship between price and yield.

ETFs track the performance of many things, including currencies, commodities, gold, or natural resources. You can use many different ways to hedge against inflation.

3 ETFs to Consider

Let’s consider three ETFs you may want to consider adding to your portfolio.

Vanguard Materials ETF (NYSEARCA: VAW)

The Vanguard Materials ETF tracks the performance of the MSCI U.S. Investable Market Materials 25/50 Index. The sector is made up of companies in a wide range of commodity-related manufacturing industries:

  • Chemicals
  • Construction materials
  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Forest products
  • Related packaging products
  • Metals
  • Minerals
  • Mining companies
  • Producers of steel

The ETF offers a broad representation of the target sector and large-, medium- and small-cap companies and carries 117 stocks. The net assets of its 10 largest holdings are the following:

  • Linde Plc
  • Sherwin-Williams Co.
  • Air Products and Chemicals Inc.
  • Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
  • Ecolab Inc.
  • Newmont Corp.
  • Dow Inc.
  • DuPont de Nemours Inc.
  • PPG Industries Inc.
  • International Flowers and Fragrances Inc.

iShares Core US Aggregate Bond ETF (BMV: AGG)

The iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF tracks the investment results of an index made up of the total U.S. investment-grade bond market.

The high-credit-quality portfolio is invested in other levels of investment-grade bonds, which makes it more stable compared to stocks.

The fund invests at least 90 percent of its net assets in component securities of its underlying index and in investments that have economic characteristics identical to the economic characteristics of the component securities of its underlying index.

  • BlackRock Cash Funds Instl SL Agency BISXX
  • Federal National Mortgage Association
  • Government National Mortgage Association
  • United States Treasury Notes
  • United States Treasury Bonds
  • United States Treasury Notes

Vanguard Short Term Inflation-Protected Securities ETF (NASDAQ: VTIP)

The Vanguard Short Term Inflation-Protected Securities ETF tracks an index that measures the performance of inflation-protected public obligations of the U.S. Treasury that have a remaining maturity of fewer than five years.

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) provide protection against inflation. The principal of a TIPS increases with inflation and decreases with deflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. When a TIPS matures, you receive the adjusted principal or original principal, whichever is greater.

TIPS pay interest twice a year at a fixed rate. The rate is applied to the adjusted principal interest payments rising with inflation and falling with deflation.

The fund allows investors the potential for less volatility of returns relative to a longer-duration TIPS fund. Investors invest in bonds backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government and the principal is adjusted semi-annually based on inflation.

Other Ways to Hedge Against Inflation

What are some other ways to hedge against inflation? Let’s look into a couple of hedging methods.

  • Real estate: Owning real estate (whether your primary residence or a vacation home) is a great way to hedge against inflation with a long-term mortgage, especially at historically low rates. Owning a home means you’ll have the potential for its value to increase over time.
  • Stocks: Stocks are a long-term vehicle for hedging against inflation, even if it might seem that you shouldn’t invest in certain stocks. That’s why you need to shop around to find the right stocks by understanding the basic underlying fundamentals of individual stocks. Excellent companies’ stocks should climb over time and the best companies chew through inflation with no problem because of their structure and leadership.
  • Gold: Gold has traditionally been a great inflation hedge. Gold tends to fare well when inflation rates go higher. Investors often view gold as a store of value during tough economic times, and it has succeeded in this purpose over long periods. You can also invest in metals through an ETF.

Consider Inflation Hedge ETFs for Your Portfolio

If you want to diversify your investments, hedge your risk or get exposure to a certain industry or market, there are many advantages to including ETFs in your investment portfolio.

When you want an inflation hedge, ETFs may be the perfect asset for your portfolio because it combines the ease of trading individual stocks and depends on a simple way to diversify a portfolio.

However, it’s important to remember that there are some dangers of an ETF. There are many ways an ETF can stray from its intended index. This tracking error can deviate from what you’re looking for in an investment, as an investor. Indexes do not hold cash but ETFs do, so you’ll face a tracking error in some situations.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are only those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.



Source link

Fed’s Powell: ‘Clock Is Running’ for Fed to Bring Inflation Down

There is a risk U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate increases will slow the economy too much, but the bigger risk is persistent inflation that starts to let public expectations about prices drift higher, Fed chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday.

“The clock is kind of running on how long will you remain in a low-inflation regime … The risk is that because of the multiplicity of shocks you start to transition into a higher inflation regime and our job is to literally prevent that from happening and we will prevent that from happening,” Powell said at a European Central Bank conference.

While “there is a risk” the Fed slows the economy more than needed to control inflation, “I would not agree that is the bigger risk. The bigger mistake would be to fail to restore price stability.”


© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.



Source link

Consumers’ Outlook on US Economy Getting Worse, Amid Shaky Economic Data

U.S. consumers were dealt a flurry of sluggish economic data Tuesday, both hard and anecdotal, suggesting that a tangible recovery might not be on the horizon.

For starters, a Gallup Poll for June revealed that two-thirds of respondents (67%) say escalating gas prices are causing moderate to severe financial hardship in their own households.

That’s up a staggering 15 percentage points from an April survey featuring a similar question.

More than 60% of respondents said they are driving less this summer because of higher prices, a higher percentage than in previous years of significant gas price increases — namely 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2018. 

Second, Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index — a summary of participants’ ratings of current economic conditions and outlook — has tumbled 13 points from last month to minus 58. 

The index ranges from 100, if all respondents describe the economy positively, to minus 100, if all respondents describe the economy negatively. 

The ECI’s current score has reportedly reached its lowest point since February 2009, when the country was in a recession. 

Third, in the past month, citing ECI history, the percentage of Americans surveyed calling the economy “poor” jumped 8 points to 54%, and the percentage of those asserting the economy’s “getting worse” rose 7 points to 85%. 

Finally, the average national price of regular unleaded gasoline stands at $4.88 per gallon, according to AAA

The high averages run similar to numbers produced from GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices worldwide.

Right now, 11 states have average gas prices exceeding $5.00 per gallon — Michigan ($5.01), Utah, ($5.17), Idaho ($5.21), Arizona ($5.28), Illinois ($5.44), Washington ($5.48), Oregon ($5.49), Hawaii ($5.54), Nevada ($5.56), Alaska ($5.58) and California ($6.31).

Last week, President Joe Biden endorsed Congress enacting a three-month federal gas tax holiday in an effort to foster more summer travel.

The proposal, however, has failed to generate enthusiastic support from many members of Congress — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Biden also called on states to temporarily lift their respective gas taxes.

The Gallup survey sampled 1,015 U.S. adults June 1-20 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.


© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.



Source link

The Dallas Fed Reveals All


News analysis

July Fourth is always a bittersweet holiday, a time to reflect on the grand ideals of the founding of American independence. But this year it will once again be impossible to believe that those ideals are still with us as a governing principle, at least not consistently, not even predominantly, certainly not right now.

To summarize the current problem, the nation decided to turn against those ideas of freedom and rights in the name of virus control (a model mysteriously copied from the praxis of the Chinese Communist Party) and thereby unleashed at home the very tyrannies that our ancestors fought so hard to establish as a permanent feature of American life.

And we are paying the price in the worst way now. They shut down nearly the whole of the American economy—as if that would be possible without causing egregious damage—and closed churches and schools. They tried to make up the difference by spending and then printing trillions of dollars, believing somehow that this would not create an eventual calamity.

That calamity is here now, and it is showing up not only in raging inflation but also worker demoralization, cultural nihilism, radical political discontent, and economic dislocation. The most pressing problem right now is satisfying American energy needs but the Biden administration offers no more than wind and air—literally recommending those two means of powering our lives rather than tapping abundant fossil fuel resources.

The incompetence on display daily is truly mind-boggling. As a result, not even our usual July Fourth celebrations can be observed without pressing reminders of how prosperity is being drained away. The typical celebratory parties this year, according to Wells Fargo, are up fully 11 percent over last year. That’s also the real-time rate at which food and beverages are going up in price.

Farm Bureau, according to The Epoch Times, fully expects a 17 percent increase:

“The authors of the study assessed many of Americans’ favorite cookout foods. They found that the price for two pounds of ground beef surged 36 percent to $11.12, two pounds of boneless and skinless chicken breasts jumped 33 percent to $8.99, three pounds of center cut pork chops climbed 31 percent to $15.26, and 32 ounces of pork and beans rose 33 percent to $2.53.”

Such a level of inflation has been unknown in the United States for forty years, and it is worse this time because of its longevity. There is no one at the Fed right now with the courage to do what needs to be done, and no one in any policy position within the reigning party will push economic growth over control, enterprise over diktat, or freedom over compliance. For these people in office, command and control is all they know.

We will soon be watching those firecrackers in the sky to celebrate freedom as a principle but it was little over a year ago when many ruling-class voices were dismissing the whole idea and even calling it “freedumb.” That was surely a turning point in American cultural life, when the people who imagined living out this country’s main ideals were put down as enemies and suspected as possible insurrectionists.

Regardless, the resistance to this unrelenting attack on American ideals is growing and appearing in highly unusual places. One that struck me most recently was the printing of actual truth on the pages of a site run by the Federal Reserve itself.

Some background.

The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 with branch banks around the country to give it the appearance of decentralization even though it’s not true. Those branches survived to this day. Each specializes in a few tasks to give them some reason for existence. Each one has a different character. The Dallas Fed has always had a more conservative bent, leaning more toward tighter money and freer markets.

The Dallas Fed’s latest survey of manufacturing output sentiment has done the world a service by actually printing comments from businesspeople who answered the survey. Here are some of the choice answers. It’s remarkable to me that such sentiments have been printed in this venue.

  • Inflation on raw materials, especially steel and gasoline and diesel fuel, continues to damage gross margin. Because our contracts are longer term and fixed price, we have no way to pass this on to our existing contracts.
  • Inflation is continuing on anything that relates to oil and gas prices; i.e., almost everything we buy.
  • Everything we buy and sell comes and goes by truck, if we can get a truck at any price. Inflation will continue until the country is self-sufficient in oil and gas. The current political policy may not change until 2024. Therefore, inflation will be our consistent companion for a while, then stagflation!
  • We see the environment for the oil industry becoming even worse than the previous months. Biden is promoting a very caustic attitude toward the oil industry, which doesn’t help the country in any way.
  • We are seeing a contraction in business activity.
  • We’ll all be lucky to have a job with two more years of this disaster.
  • The supply chain is a nightmare, while prices are increasing. It’s difficult to find employees, and the ones we can find are expecting more pay.
  • As a country, we are not looking at the future and establishing relationships with emerging countries like we should to ease the dependency on Chinese products and services. This will hurt us in the long run.
  • Our manufacturing facility is continuing to see unsustainable increases and lead times for raw materials. Skilled labor is a rarity to find. We have increased our starting pay by 40 percent, which puts us above our nearest competitors, and we offer competitive benefits, yet we still cannot attract the personnel needed.
  • You can’t ignore the economic fundamentals leading to a likely recession, and the administration [in Washington] is either stubborn or as paralyzed as a deer in headlights. The Federal Reserve is slow to react and will have to hit the brakes harder than they should have had to do.
  • As you can see, we are already into a bit of stagflation. There is demand for our product, yet limited funding for it.
  • We are very concerned about inflation and its effects on stocks, bonds and interest rates. It looks like a recession is on its way. The future does not look good for housing. We are expecting a major slowdown due to material cost, labor cost and mortgage rates.
  • The price of fuel is driving up all the costs for supplies and distribution. Also, since we do mail production, the cost increase on postage is causing our customers to trim their volumes.
  • Government overspending and transfer programs have inflated the money supply while resulting in unchecked corruption and waste. We will be paying that bill for generations, and what a colossal waste of resources and missed opportunity.

These comments are not only obviously true. That they appear on a Fed site is stunning and indicative of real revolt happening at all levels of society.

Let’s return briefly to the problem listed above, namely that none of this can be fixed anytime soon. We are in for two-and-a-half years of continuing hell. It seems incredible to contemplate. And remember we are talking about responses from Texas, a state that opened earlier than others and has a lower tax burden than most states. It’s a state to which people have moved in order to escape the despotism. And yet even here, there is no escape.

After years of this, what will be left of American industry, culture, the labor pool, and optimism generally is hard to know. The tragedy of it all is that the Biden administration really did have a chance to do some good, to bring calm and normalcy to American life. They instead chose some kind of mythical revolutionary path inspired by untested woke ideology hatched in university settings that has nothing to do with real-world longings for liberty and a happy life.

It’s best not to let this July Fourth pass without deep reflection on the meaning of the holiday. The ideals of this holiday are not just for the 18th century. They are for the 21st century too. The sooner we see this and act on it, the sooner America can get back to being a light unto the world.

Follow

Jeffrey Tucker is founder and president of the Brownstone Institute. He is the author of five books, including “Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty.”



Source link

Inflation Has Hit the Bottle

Customers at fine restaurants and bars are noticing a new form of shrinkflation: weaker drinks and smaller wine pours.

It’s not only personally vexing, but embarrassing for customers conducting important business meetings over a meal, the New York Post reports in “You’re Not Crazy, Wine Pours Are Shrinking.”

 

All over New York, from pubs to five-star restaurants, diners are astonished at how small wine pours—already known to be diminutive—are becoming.

Brian Hogan, an international investor, took an important client to one of his favorite Manhattan restaurants last month. The sommelier poured his guest’s Chablis, with a flourish.

Hogan’s business guest, usually mild mannered, felt insulted by the skimpy serve, summoned the manager and asked him to bring over a measuring cup.

“He thought the pour was ridiculous and offensive,” Hogan said. “When he measured, it turned out to be only 4 ounces.”

In this instance, the manager delivered more wine to the glass and apologized profusely.

As the Post puts it, “Inflation has hit the bottle. All over the city, from taverns to fine restaurants, diners are doing double takes as they receive reduced pours of wine at increased prices.”

Typically, a 25.4-ounce bottle of wine will yield four 6-ounce glasses. In 2022, with inflation at a 41-year high, many fine restaurants are meting out 4-ounce pours.

Says one downtown New York sommelier, at a new hot spot: “I worked for Danny Meyer, and we always gave 6 ounces. When I got here, I was quickly corrected and instructed to pour only 5.”

Wine blogger and certified sommelier Mark Fang says of a recent visit to Gruner Veltliner: “Normally, I get only one glass of wine, but this time, the pour was so small it didn’t last past the appetizer. I’m willing to pay for quality [but] I feel shortchanged when I receive a small pour.”

Out in the Hamptons, though, discerning customers will not stand for skimpier drinks.

“I hear that in the city, they are lowering servings and jacking up prices,” says Zach Erdem, owner of 75 Main and Blu Mar in Southampton. “Here, if you give people 5 ounces, they will scream at you!”


© 2022 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.



Source link

Conservative Ad Rips Biden Over Rising Prices

A new ad from a conservative group accuses President Joe Biden of hampering Americans’ summer experience by causing rising gas prices and inflation.

The ad, part of the State Government Leadership Foundation’s campaign titled “Tale of Two Americas,” will air in several important battleground states ahead of the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, including Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. The ad claims that Biden’s economic policies have caused high gas prices and widespread inflation, which has caused problems for Americans looking to enjoy their summer.

“Thanks to the failed policies of President Biden and his liberal allies in the states, Americans hoping to get back to normal after two straight summers of COVID-19 restrictions have no less worry and uncertainty in their lives right now than they did during the pandemic,” Republican State Leadership Committee President Dee Duncan, told the Daily Caller on Monday. “Reckless spending and anti-American energy policies from Washington are the reason gas prices are skyrocketing, inflation is soaring, and working families don’t have the financial means to experience the summers they were hoping for.”

Biden recently called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for the next three months in order to lower prices for American consumers.

“Every time you go to the gas station to fill your tank, the federal government charges an 18-cent tax per gallon of gas that you purchase and a 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel you purchase,” Biden said last week. “It’s a tax that’s been around for 90 years.”

He added, “By suspending the 18-cent gas tax — federal gas tax for the next 90 days, we can bring down the price of gas and give families just a little bit of relief.”


© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.



Source link

How to Stop Inflation from Deflating Your Savings

No, you aren’t imagining things. Everything costs more than it did before, and these higher prices make it hard to balance the budget while saving and thinking about retirement. But you can stop inflation from deflating your savings!

In April, the Bureau of Labor released the latest data from the Consumer Price Index (CPI), revealing inflation’s steady creep upward hasn’t stopped yet. The rate of U.S. inflation climbed to a whopping 8.5 percent in March, marking this spike as the most significant increase in the cost of living in 4 decades.

You aren’t alone if you’re struggling to handle prices at their 40-year high. Nearly half of Americans (45 percent) polled by Gallup last year admitted inflation caused financial hardship at a time when the CPI was just 6.8 percent. Moreover, of those that reported facing difficulties, 10 percent revealed their challenges impacted their standard of living.

While the Federal Reserve claims inflation’s bubble will pop soon, experts anticipate the CPI won’t fall below 4 percent by the year’s end. That means you can expect another year of high inflation bumping up prices.

Is your budget ready? If not, don’t panic. Instead, keep reading to understand more about inflation and what you can do to protect your savings.

Record-Breaking Inflation

Inflation is not a product of the pandemic, although it may initially seem that way. On the contrary, between lockdowns and labor shortages—and now the Russia-Ukraine crisis—the past 2 years have kept inflation well-fed.

These special circumstances allowed inflation to grow to dizzying heights, but it’s been around a lot longer than the COVID-19 pandemic.

The problem with today’s record-breaking inflation rate is that prices are climbing far too fast for wages to keep up. While employers have been handing out raises, a survey shows they averaged 3.4 percent in 2021, less than half of today’s current inflation rate.

With inflation and wages out of balance, you may notice how your dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to before the pandemic. Each expense takes up more of your very finite budget as a result.

Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Now that everything costs more, many Americans are feeling the financial crunch, with nearly two-thirds of Americans living paycheck to paycheck today. This isn’t necessarily new. In fact, survey after survey has revealed people have been living this way for nearly a decade.

If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, most, if not all, of your monthly income goes towards making ends meet. With your income tied up with bills, you may have practically no cash for anything else.

Don’t Deflate Your Savings

It’s hard to keep up with your savings goals when you live like this. You might even hit pause on savings altogether. And without contributing to savings, Americans increasingly turn to credit cards and short-term personal loans for help in an emergency.

According to a Bankrate survey, 56 percent of Americans could not handle an unexpected $1,000 expense with savings. Most of those without savings would charge credit cards or ask a loved one for some help. But others would go into debt and borrow money online via short-term personal loans to cover unexpected expenses.

While credit cards and short-term personal loans function as emergency backups in unexpected cash crunches, they’re meant as temporary stopgaps for singular expenses. Moreover, borrowing money won’t solve the issue that high inflation is an ongoing problem that will long outlast most cash advances and personal loan terms.

More still, debt can add to your money troubles. If you’re already living paycheck to paycheck, you may not have the cash available to repay your personal loan on time. Late fines and extra interest are soon to follow.

Updating Your Budget with Inflation in Mind

Americans point to high costs preventing them from saving as much as they want, regardless of whether they rely on credit cards or short-term personal loans as crutches.

Unfortunately, there’s no telling just how long high inflation will hang around. Still, one thing is for sure: a higher-than-normal inflation rate will affect prices for the foreseeable future.

Higher prices are the new normal, so it’s time to tweak your budget, updating it for another expensive year. Let’s dive into how you can do that.

1. Make a List of Priorities

When things are tight, you need a plan of action to understand your next move. So sit down and write out your list of priorities. These expenses are the absolute essentials you need to pay each month to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

Besides housing costs and groceries, this list may include insurance payments, utilities, basic household items, and toiletries. In addition, the minimum payments for personal loans, cash advances, and lines of credit also belong on this list. These minimum payments will help you avoid late fines, extra interest, and credit damage.

This list shows the bare minimum for what you need each month. It serves as a good reminder of what you need to pay first before moving on to other things.

2. Cut Discretionary Expenses

As judge, jury, and executioner of expenses, you should be looking to slash non-essential spending until you have more wiggle room in your budget. Then, the unnecessary expenses (i.e., those you don’t need to lead a safe or comfortable life) should be on the chopping block.

Which expenses didn’t make it on your list of priorities? It can be daunting to say goodbye to the fun things in life, but it’s easier to let go knowing it won’t be forever. You can reintroduce the non-essentials when you start to feel less pressure.

To help you get started, here are some discretionary expenses you can cut:

  • Streaming services: If you have multiple streaming subscriptions, pare them down to the one you use most often.
  • Subscription boxes: While the average subscription box doesn’t cost a lot, it may be too much if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Put them on pause until you have more wiggle room in your budget.
  • Gym memberships: The average gym membership costs about $600 a year. You can pocket that change by switching to a free at-home workout.
  • Takeout: According to The Fool, the average American spends $2,375 on takeout a year. If you eat out multiple times a week, you stand to save a lot by eating at home.
  • Alcohol: Happy hours after work and wine with dinner add up. Going dry can help you free up more cash for bills.

Finding it hard to say no when you’re out and about? Apply the 30-day rule. In other words, wait for 30 days before you commit to the purchase. A month is long enough to take the wind out of your sails, revealing the splurge for what it is: a waste of money.

3. Automate Savings

Even at this time, savings are an essential part of your budget. It can help you weather unexpected emergencies, reducing how often you tap into credit cards and short-term personal loans.

Admittedly, saving through high inflation is challenging, so you might want to ignore the usual advice to save 3 to 6 months. But that’s a goal for another day.

For now, save as much as you can to get started, even if it’s just $10 a month at first. Usually, you may lower your goal to $1,000 when you’re first starting out.

4. Tweak Your Phone and Internet Package

Having a phone and access to the Internet is as close to essentials as possible nowadays. You might need them for work, or it may be the only way you can contact the outside world. So cutting these expenses for the sake of saving money just doesn’t make sense.

But if you’re on an unlimited plan, consider downsizing to a cheaper plan with strict data and talk limits. Be careful not to exceed these limits to ensure you aren’t penalized. You stand to save even more each month if you can stomach a prepaid contract.

5. Update Your Insurance

Like your phone and Internet packages, insurance is another essential with some wiggle room. But first, you’ll want to do some research. Go online to compare other insurance companies to see what they offer. Then, when talking to your current provider, you can leverage this info to know if they’re willing to match the competition.

Another thing you can leverage is your loyalty. If you’ve been with the company for a long time, bring this history up while talking to your provider. They might be willing to cut you a better deal knowing you’re thinking about jumping ship.

You may also get a better deal if you’re willing to bundle your life, home, and auto insurance under one company.

6. Eat Better for Less

Putting food on the table has never been more expensive. But, unfortunately, you can’t precisely cut groceries from your budget!

Meat and dairy have been some of the hardest-hit items in the grocery stores, with bacon, eggs, and beef taking most of the brunt. Now that bacon is 26 percent more expensive per pound than last year, you might think twice about including it on your breakfast plate.

Plant-based eating promises some financial savings at the grocery store, especially if you stay away from costly prepared meat replacements. Instead, focus on tried-and-true cheap ingredients like lentils and rice.

Following a meal plan is also another great way to keep your spending in check at the supermarket. Make a list of meals you want to eat every week, adjusting your plan for weekly flyers and coupons.

7. Use Less Energy

Your utility bills are taking a bigger bite of your budget as electricity, water, and gas cost more. Actaully, utility prices in the U.S. rose by 33 percent last year.

Reducing energy consumption across these utilities can help you control runaway expenses.

One of the biggest things you can do to save is set your thermostat according to the Department of Energy’s recommendations. These tips can help you save as much as 10 percent of your annual heating and cooling costs.

Summer: If you have an air conditioner running, set it to 78°F when you’re at home. Try increasing the temperature as high as you feel comfortable when you’re out.

Winter: During the cooler months, try to keep your thermostat to 68°F while you’re at home, reducing it even lower when you’re at work or in bed.

8. Reduce Your Fuelling Costs

With surging inflation, drivers can expect to spend more at the pumps. If you can’t reduce how often you’re behind the wheel, you should download an app like GasBuddy to find the lowest gas prices in your area.

More often than not, this ends up being Costco, but they don’t get a membership just to qualify for their gas. So you probably won’t save more at their pumps than what it costs to become an annual member.

Another way to keep your driving costs low is by using gas station loyalty cards so that you can redeem points as often as possible. You can also consider carpooling with local friends and colleagues to share the burden of driving.

9. Learn How to Negotiate

The art of negotiation is a hard-earned skill that can do wonders for your budget. Depending on your strategy and your creditor’s policies, you can push out due dates to take the pressure off your budget and reduce what you owe.

If you aren’t sure how to persuade big companies, check out this script for guidance. When it comes to medical expenses specifically, ask if they offer a financial plan that offsets your costs. In many cases, healthcare businesses are willing to give you a discount if you offer to pay the reduced amount in full immediately.

10. Investigate Financial Assistance

Let’s face it—juggling all your bills as inflation nudges them higher, and higher is hard. Sometimes, not even your best attempts at negotiating bills and saving money at the grocery store will be enough to help you balance your budget.

Reach out to a free credit counseling organization for advice. They can provide more significant insights into how to shrink your budget. But more importantly, they can direct you toward government assistance programs that help you offset the burden of your living expenses.

The Takeaway

Although inflation is beyond your control, there are ways you can get back in the financial driver’s seat. As prices continue to rise, your budget is your most crucial resource throughout it all. You can refer to this spending plan to understand your priorities and focus on areas of your spending that need work.

You can reduce your monthly spending and save more, whether it’s unnecessary splurges or excessive fuel spending. Keep these tips in mind for the rest of the year.

But more importantly, know that you aren’t alone in facing these prices. There are resources you can fall back on for more guidance if you can’t balance the budget, no matter how hard you try.

By Pierre Raymond

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are only those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.



Source link

Kentucky Governor Declares Emergency over High Gas Prices

Gov. Andy Beshear took action Thursday to combat any signs of price gouging at the pump, touting it as a consumer protection measure amid sky-high gas prices straining Kentuckians’ budgets.

The Democrat governor signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to gas prices hovering close to $5 per gallon. His action activated Kentucky’s price gouging laws.

With his action, Kentucky consumers can report suspected price gouging at the pump to state Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office.

Beshear said “every little bit helps” in trying to offer relief to consumers reeling from soaring fuel prices. He acknowledged a governor’s options are limited in dealing with global economic unrest.

Cameron responded by urging Kentuckians to alert his office about any signs of price gouging.

But the hot-button issue reflected the political tension between the Democratic governor and the Republican attorney general who wants his job.

Beshear wrote to Cameron in early June asking if the topic of gas prices warranted investigation.

In a recent reply, Cameron blamed Democrat President Joe Biden’s energy policies for the nation’s rising fuel prices. Cameron accused Biden of pursing an “extreme ‘green’ agenda.”

Cameron told Beshear that issuing a state of emergency would offer “minimal — if any — additional relief” to Kentuckians. But he pledged to fully enforce the price gouging laws.

Beshear offered a public reply at his weekly news conference Thursday.

“I believe strongly that even minimal relief is better than no relief,” the governor said.

Cameron’s letter said his office had already been monitoring gas prices in Kentucky, and that 263 complaints had been logged with his office since the start of 2022.

It is the kind of give-and-take that Kentuckians can expect as the political banter heats up going into the 2023 statewide elections in the Bluegrass State. Cameron is among several candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year, when Beshear will seek a second term.

The governor has taken other steps to try to offer relief to Kentuckians battered by rising prices.

Beshear recently took action to freeze Kentucky’s gas tax, preventing a 2-cent-per-gallon increase that would have taken effect July 1. The action is expected to save Kentuckians an estimated $35.4 million. In February, the governor took executive action to grant relief to Kentucky taxpayers hit with pandemic-related increases in their vehicle property tax bills.

Beshear touts the state’s economic development gains during his term. He has landed the state’s two largest economic development projects ever — both battery plants.

The governor said Thursday that Kentucky’s unemployment rate has fallen to historic lows in back-to-back months. And the state has the fewest number of residents drawing unemployment benefits since 2000, he said.

Republican House Speaker David Osborne later said that the jobless rates show that the “pro-worker, pro-job policies” enacted by the state’s GOP-dominated legislature are working.

“This announcement is not the result of press conference promises or ceremonial actions, but rather the hard work, difficult decision making, and forward-thinking leadership of legislators who know firsthand how heavy-handed government overreach harms the people of Kentucky,” Osborne said.

State GOP spokesman Sean Southard, meanwhile, pointed to an aluminum producer’s decision to temporarily idle its smelter in Hawesville, Kentucky, as a result of skyrocketing energy costs

“Gov. Beshear loves to say Kentucky’s economy is on fire, and thanks to the Biden-Beshear agenda, nothing could be more true,” Southard said in a statement.


© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Source link