By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and The Flat Broke Cookbook
Inflation is here and it’s doubtful that it’s going away any time soon. As a prepper and someone who believes in my country, my first instinct is to rail against the disastrous decisions that have caused this crisis, but as a realist, I know this is not something that all the flaming commentary in the world can change. There are things that are out of our control, and idiotic governmental policy is one of them. If we can’t change it, we have to learn to live with it and thrive despite it, so this article is about living with inflation.
Over the past month, I’ve watched a product that I regularly bought for 2.99 go up to 3.99 then 4.99. I know many of you are having the same experience. If everything in your shopping cart is going up to the same degree, it won’t be long before your weekly trip to the store has doubled in price if you continue on your current shopping path.
Most of us don’t have the money for double grocery bills or other increased expenses. It’s time to pull out every tool in your frugal and self-reliant arsenal to make it through this financial crisis.
First things first: this is not the end of the world.
I know how it feels when money is tight and the cause is outside your control. I know what it feels like when it seems like there’s an ever-tightening noose around your money, choking out its ability to sustain you. It’s stressful. It’s scary. It makes you feel powerless.
So the very first thing you have to do is take back your own power.
(Part of this comes from knowledge. And part of knowledge is understanding the various scopes of disaster. Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on the four levels of disaster for more info.)
First of all, remember that our country has been through an economic depression before. Sure, things were different then, but the patterns are the same. People felt much the same way then as they do now – at times the situation felt insurmountable. But by and large, most folks got through it and that difficult time imprinted habits upon them that lasted their entire lives. Every loved one I have who lived through that time spent the rest of their life being practical, self-reliant, and frugal.
I remember my granny saving grease from the skillet every time she fried something. (And I grew up in the South, so there was a lot of frying going on.) She also planted a garden well into her 80s, raising food and preserving the harvest. I recall helping pluck chickens there before my grandpa passed away when I was less than 5 years old. Granny made every bite of jelly I ever ate until I was in my early teens in addition to a host of other tasty home-canned goods. She never wasted a thing.
I recall my dad eating cornbread covered with buttermilk in a glass with a long spoon right to the end. He wouldn’t throw anything away until he’d made every effort to repair it himself. He had all sorts of tools and a workshop full of various hardware odds and ends. A lot of those came from unfixable items – which, of course, he stripped of anything that might be useful in the future before throwing it in the trash.
We had plenty of money – he was a doctor – but the lessons he learned as a young child in a poor family that did not bounce back quickly from the Depression stayed with him. Despite his money, he was practical, frugal, and never ostentatious. He made as sure that he was in a position where he would never face poverty again by wise investments and savings.
I share this to remind you that even though it seems like we’re facing an impossible future, this has happened before – and people survived. It did change them. But that’s precisely how they got through it. You have to be ready to make those changes as well.
Adapt mentally to living with inflation.
The very first thing you need to do is adapt mentally to the ever-changing economic landscape. A long time ago, I first wrote an article about three steps to surviving darn near anything:
That’s right. Accept.
Like it or not, the key to getting through this is accepting the fact that we have an economic crisis on our hands and we can’t do anything about it except manage our own small circles. You may be irate at the destruction of our once healthy economy, but that’s not going to help you get through it productively. I generally hate the saying, “It is what it is” but in this situation, it’s the truth.
So, instead of fruitlessly raging against the machine, instead of being angry or sad that you can’t acquire things you used to or afford to pay for things you once could, accept it. Life is different now. Anger will keep you stuck in a place that makes it nearly impossible to change and adapt.
For the record, I’m not suggesting that what has happened to our country is okay in any way. I’m just saying that we have to live in our setting, whatever that may be. Selco always talks about those who adapt to the new rules first are more likely to survive. While our situation may not be life and death, the rules have definitely changed. Adaptability is still the key to survival.
Look for substitutions.
When shopping, you may not be able to find the items you’re accustomed to buying, either now or in the near future. Or those products might be available but at double the price. You have to be prepared to make substitutions when living with inflation.
In the introduction, I mentioned a product that I’ve watched the price rapidly rising. That product is oat milk, which I get for my coffee because dairy doesn’t agree with me. Not only has the price gone up, but the brands I like have also been harder to acquire. So the first adaptation was moving to whatever brand was the best price. Now that the price seems to have risen across the board, I just placed an order for 50 pounds of organic oats and I’ll make my own darned oat milk for a fraction of the price. Oat milk is certainly not a life-and-death product, but it’s one I like having on hand. So to me, making my own is worth the effort.
Another example is meat. You may have seen bare cases at your local grocery store. Perhaps it’s time to look for different cuts than you normally purchase.
Let’s say that something is on sale but it’s a cut you dislike. You can often ask the butcher to grind a cut that you don’t care for and then you have ground beef or pork that you can use at a much lower price than the stuff in the case. They’ll also cut roasts into chops, stew meat, or steaks for you, generally at no additional charge. If they charge, you might want to invest in a meat grinder and some high-quality knives for processing the meat yourself into your desired form.
Now is a time of fewer options. You’re probably going to have to learn to make do with something different than your first choice when it comes to food, household goods, cleaning supplies, etc. If you look at it as simply a substitution or different option instead of with a mindset of scarcity, it won’t be nearly as stressful.
Repair things instead of replacing them.
New electronics could be the next shortage we face due to a lack of microchips. People are waiting months for new furniture orders to arrive. All sorts of things that used to be a simple matter to replace have now become scarce and/or outrageously expensive. Such is life when living with inflation.
It’s time to repair whenever possible. Even spare parts for computers and vehicles are getting hard to come by, so if you’re in a position to do so, grab anything you suspect you might need now and save it for when you need it. Also, now is the time to be on the lookout for the tools you may need.
Why are you replacing your furniture? I grabbed a perfectly good cabinet from the trash and the only problem with it was that it was wobbly. I put a piece of folded-up cardboard under the back leg and it’s absolutely fine. Our blender lost a leg many years ago.
Every time we move, someone drinks a bottle of water or soda pop and saves the cap – it’s exactly the right height – and we ceremoniously stick it under the base. We’ve been using a bottle cap leg for that blender for more than a decade but the blender itself works perfectly well.
Is there something you can do to fix a piece of furniture that’s seen better days? Can you add a piece of plywood under seat cushions for a sagging frame? Can you recover the pillows? Does it just need some cardboard folded up under a leg or even a couple of bricks for a missing leg? Be creative and see what you can do to make the things you already have usable again.
If you have absolutely no choice but to replace something, search first for a good quality used replacement.
We live in a complex world with lots of moving parts, must-haves, shortcuts, and subscriptions. It might be time to dial it back and seek out simplicity while living with inflation. After all, what is more cost-effective: doing a yoga class from Youtube in the privacy of your living room or driving to the studio and rolling out your mat with a group? You can get the same workout at home if you are determined to do so. And do you actually need a gym membership with weights or can you do more walking and carrying everyday things?
I’m replacing my beloved Keurig that requires pods with a coffee maker I have in storage and taking the cost of my coffee from 19 cents a cup to 10 cents a cup. Living with inflation may soon cause you to have to focus on the cents as well. I’m focusing on simple foods that don’t require a million ingredients, using up leftovers, and finding satisfaction in plainer profiles and smaller servings.
But simplicity goes further than food. Time is money. The time it takes you to hang your laundry to dry instead of using your dryer saves on utilities. The time it takes to make holiday decorations instead of buying them or to create tote bags or pillow covers out of worn clothing saves on purchase provides the items with less out of your pocket.
The same goes for activities. Your kids can take all sorts of classes at the YMCA or local community center at a fraction of the price of official “lessons.” Who says that date night can’t consist of a picnic at sunset or making dinner together and streaming a movie? Instead of a trip to Disneyworld every year, perhaps just driving to the beach would be a more cost-effective outing. It may take some effort to change the expectations of your family members but the rewards will be well worth it.
Last but certainly not least is self-reliant living. We have talked about that more than ever over the past few years and it’s essential for getting through hard times and living with inflation. Nearly anything that you can produce yourself will cost less than store-bought. This goes for food, clothing, household supplies, furnishing, and decor.
The great thing about self-reliant skills is that they don’t just save money. They are gifts that can be passed on to younger generations and the time spent together working on these skills is quality time your loved ones will never forget.
Get some ideas for self-reliant skills you can do anywhere – city, suburbia, or country – in this article, this one on food production and this one that runs the gamut. Your sense of satisfaction when producing things yourself will far override your sense of scarcity from seeing barren store shelves. I suggest you purchase any necessary tools or supplies now while you can still get a hold of them.
How are you living with inflation?
Have you noticed rising prices and scarcity in your neck of the woods? How are you living with inflation? Do you have additional strategies not mentioned here? Share them in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at Learn.TheOrganicPrepper.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.