McRae: Financial Wellness Tips for Times of Inflation
Inflation is crushing working Mississippians. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these stats from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. Over the course of a month, gas prices in Mississippi have increased from $3.10/gallon to $3.32/gallon. The cost for a loaf of bread rose from $1.35 to $1.40. Milk prices grew from $3.60/gallon to $3.69/gallon. Meanwhile, little changed when it comes to the typical family’s household income.
Without changes in federal policy that restore America’s energy independence, fix the supply chain crisis, enable job creators to invest in the workplace again and cut the reckless spending, I share the concern of many who believe we will be enduring these inflation pains for quite some time. That said, one of the State Treasury’s core responsibilities is to assist Mississippians in achieving financial wellness – regardless of how unhealthy federal economic policy is.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a few tips from financial advisors to help. Of note: While the tips I’m about to share will not completely mitigate inflation’s impact, I’m hopeful they can provide at least a little cushion during these tough economic times.
The first thing almost every financial advisor recommends is to write out what you actually spend every month. If you’re willing to take the time to write a list, you’ll likely find a subscription or two you don’t use anymore – at the very least.
For the expenses you need to keep around, try lowering them. Call your utility, trash, or water companies. Negotiate for a lower price. It won’t work every time, but sometimes all it takes is for you to ask the question: Is there any way to cut my bill right now?
If you do find savings through this process, use the extra cash wisely. Now, there is nothing wrong with a savings account, per se, but they currently earn 0.17 percent interest, on average – hardly enough to compensate for the 8 percent inflation we’re all enduring. As such, financial advisors recommend paying off high-interest credit cards with the funds you’d normally transfer to your savings account. You’ll get a little more bang for your buck that way!
I-bonds, which are earning about 9.6% interest right now, are another great way to use up extra cash on hand. While these bonds come with some restrictions, including an inability to withdraw funds for at least 12 months, limits on investments, and more, there is almost nowhere in the marketplace where your money can work harder for you right now. To learn more, visit TreasuryDirect.gov.
I hope these resources have been helpful for you. We have additional tools posted to our website (Treasury.MS.gov/FinancialEducation) to help you set a budget, manage finances, and plan for college expenses, among other things. Additionally, our team has been busy helping Mississippians find their unclaimed money, which can be a huge blessing during these tough economic times. See if we have any money listed in your name at Treasury.MS.gov/Search. More than 200 people did so at the State Fair this month, allowing us to return more than $20,000 in cash. You never know what you might find.