Shoppers noticing higher prices as inflation hits 30-year high

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 11:18 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The U.S. Department of Labor says inflation is up 6.2 percent, looking at last month compared to a year ago. That’s the largest increase in 30 years. Between the increased prices and supply-chain problems, it hasn’t been a good time to be a consumer. The Labor Department says higher costs for food, fuel and energy contributed to the quick rise in inflation and relief doesn’t appear to be coming soon.

“I am shocked, I really am.” Kristina Caldera said, “I usually don’t think anything about it but lately, I won’t even buy steak just because it’s so incredibly high.”

As inflation takes its toll, more consumers are taking notice.

“Never really looked at prices and I didn’t do a budget, like no kidding. I didn’t even clip coupons, and now I’m actually looking for coupons. I’m looking for values,” local shopper April Gutierrez said.

Data from the Labor Department show grocery prices up more than five percent from a year ago. The price of meat is a main contributor to that increase with beef roast up about 25 percent and bacon up more than 20 percent. Items like eggs cost 11.5 percent more.

“We’ve been having meatless nights because beef has gotten so expensive,” said Consumer Credit Counseling Service Executive Director Jeff Witherspoon.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service provides free financial counseling. With that, Witherspoon, advises trying to limit spending to $225-$250 per month per person in your household, and when grocery shopping, make a list and stick to it.

“It requires discipline and sacrifice and a lot of times, people don’t want to do that. But you have to face the facts, we’re all facing the same prices going up, so you’re going to have to work hard at your finances,” Witherspoon said. “Nobody cares more about it than you do.”

Witherspoon said to make use of coupons and websites like KrogerKrazy can help find the best deals and make the most of trying to stretch a dollar. Also, on the weekly ads, he said the front page is where you’ll find the best deals.

“More than ever, it’s important that people have a good, solid monthly budget,” said Chris Wolgamott, director of financial well-being with Meritrust Credit Union.

Wolgamott with Meritrust Credit Union advises trying to add in some wiggle room, use this current month to estimate the next and figure out what’s needed and what’s not.

“Priority is job number one for that budget,” he said. “You want to make sure the most expensive things are covered first. You also want to see if you can find ways to trim that budget down.”

Beyond the grocery store, gasoline, utility-piped gas services, like natural gas, and used cars are among the biggest price increases in the last year. Gas is up nearly 50 percent.

Wolgamott said, “Turning the thermostat down a degree or two. With gasoline costs, try to budget out how you’re driving so you can do that as efficiently as possible. There’s lots of different ways that we can kind of nickel and dime our budgets.”

Wolgamott and Witherspoon said to be intentional about how you’re spending your money and try your best to plan ahead.

Witherspoon said, “You’ve got to relax and not put emotions into your financial decisions because a lot of times when you do, you make bad financial decisions. Look at everything, maybe there’s a way to make a little extra money.”

Witherspoon said some other tips to help with food costs:

Use weekly sale flyers to make meal plans.

Limit the junk food - pop, cookies, chips.

Buy off-brand unless the coupon is cheaper.

Consider Aldi for grocery shopping because its prices are consistently lower.

Don’t take kids to the store.

Buy products only when in season.

Stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale.

Use coupons when eating out and split meals.

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