Consumers have been paying more for food and gas for a while now, but the price increases have affected nearly every purchase a person makes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation rose by 7% in 2021, the largest increase since the 1980’s. Higher prices are weighing heavily on those who can least afford it, especially seniors on a fixed income. Here are 5 easy way you can fight inflation in your budget.
1. Senior Property Tax Exemption
If you own your home, see if you qualify for a senior property tax exemption. Property taxes can create a unique problem for retirees. As property values go up, property taxes increase as well, but incomes may not keep up with the pace of tax increases. Many states have responded to this issue by enacting tax relief policies for senior citizens. Unfortunately, the county assessor will not automatically let you know if you qualify for an exemption. It is up to you to review the eligibility requirements and then submit an application. Information on the requirements can usually be found on your county assessor’s website.
2. Cancel Subscriptions You No Longer Use
It’s easy to forget about a newspaper subscription or gym membership you set up on auto pay years ago and no longer use. By reviewing your last two months of bank statements and credit card statements you may catch a few recurring payments that you can easily do without.
3. Shop Around for Insurance
If you are like most people, you probably haven’t competitively shopped your homeowners or car insurance rates for many years. Call around to find out if you can get a better rate with another company. If you are insuring your home and car with different companies, you may also be able to save by moving both policies to the same company. Before changing companies be sure to thoroughly compare the coverage to make sure you are protected at the same level.
4. Utilize a Mail-order pharmacy
Many insurance companies offer a discount if you use their preferred mail-order pharmacy. In most cases you will have a single copayment for a 90 day supply of medication that is equal to what you pay for a 30 day supply when you go pick up medications yourself. For example, if you pay $25 per month for a medication, you will likely pay only $25 every 3 months with the mail-order option. When you multiply that savings by multiple medications the amount of money you keep in your pocket could be substantial. As an added bonus the medications are delivered directly to your door so you will save on gas by eliminating multiple trips to the pharmacy. Before making any changes be sure to verify coverage and notify your doctor.
5. Shop Online
Prices online are going up just like everywhere else, but they seem to be rising at a slower pace. According to Adobe’s digital price index, online prices are up just 3.6% from a year ago, compared with a 7.9 percent jump in the overall consumer price index. If you couple your online purchases with a rewards card, you may even get a little cash back each month. Just make sure you can pay the balance in full each month, because if you end up paying interest on a credit card it will quickly erode any potential savings.
Hopefully you will be able to utilize some of these ideas to help ease the worry many of us are feeling with inflation on the rise. Of course, there are several other bigger steps that can be made to free up cash such as downsizing, moving in with family, taking out a reverse mortgage, or selling an insurance policy however these types of life changes require very careful consideration and shouldn’t be jumped into hastily. Always consult a trusted financial advisor before making any major financial decisions.
Ty Strahl is the Spokane areas leading Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Her job is to help navigate the many aspects of aging and to help seniors who are in transition to find the right solutions for their individual needs.