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The Secret To Beating Inflation

All the following inflation data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Food at home costs are up 12% year-over-year. This affects you! (Unless you’re a mystical no-food yogi…yikes). We all need to eat.

But can we make economical food choices to fight food-flation? I say yes. Not all food is equal on a calorie-per-dollar basis.

“Jesse, stop food-shaming me! I’ll eat salmon if I want to. And ‘calorie-per-dollar’ is a weird, robotic way of thinking about food.”

Don’t get too defensive. Kelly and I ate fish (with broccoli and orzo) just last night. But I’m aware that salmon is ~25x more expensive than oats. There are thousands of food choices, and those choices affect our health and our wallet.

Energy – including gas and electricity – is up 13.1% year-over-year. We all need to commute to work. We need to warm the house (or cool it, depending on where you live). Our lives require energy.

But we have choices. Some of us have work-from-home options. Or bicycles. Or thick, wooly sweaters. We can choose the degree (get it?) to which we spend on energy.

Kelly and I ignored demand-driven increases in flight prices (up 36% year-over-year!) and took our honeymoon in November. We chose to suffer that inflation!

Inflation sucks. Our dollars are losing their spending power. Inflation sucks in particular for those who are forced to spend money in the most-affected spending categories: food, energy, travel, and rent/housing. Inflation feels like an unconquerable foe and there’s nothing we can do about it.

…right?

Before you give up your fight against inflation, I challenge you to question your definitions of “mandatory spending.”

“Jesse, stop spend-shaming me! I’ll buy the Ford F-350 if I want to!”

I know, I know. I’m not going to Suze Orman away your lattes. In fact, loyal readers know I’m a fan of “bimodal spending” – which includes spending lavishly on the stuff you want. It’s fun to spend money!

But look around you. Are you telling me there isn’t one thing in your house – probably in the room you’re in right now – that’s complete, waste-of-money junk? You don’t have one spoiled item in your fridge or freezer that needs throwing out? There’s not one “toy” in your basement, garage, or shed that’s been collecting dust for 5+ years?

We’ve all made spending mistakes. We can learn from those mistakes and spend smarter.

What’s the secret to beating inflation? I’m not sure it can be beaten. But it can certainly be tamed.

And the secret to taming inflation is to challenge your preconceived spending assumptions. I don’t know enough about your unique life to tell you what that looks like. Less driving? Less salmon? Fewer flights?

But I know enough people (dozens, maybe even hundreds of them…I’m kinda popular) to know that some of your unique spending habits could be dialed back tomorrow, and you wouldn’t know the difference.

The secret to taming inflation is to find those “leaks” in your budget and plug them. Don’t pay a 10% inflationary surcharge on the money you shouldn’t be spending anyway.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, join 6000+ subscribers who read my 2-minute weekly email, where I send you links to the smartest financial content I find online every week.

-Jesse

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