Inflation continues to undercut American pocket books. It’s no doubt that everyone is feeling it when they fill up their cars or head to the grocery store. The amount of times I say the things my parents said is astounding now - “boy things are expensive today, it wasn’t that long ago that I could get a meal at McDonalds for less than $5. The other day I spent $8.50 on a sausage egg McMuffin meal…”. Yes - I am not the healthiest eater…
When I was younger you could get out of the grocery store for under $100. But today I feel like I accomplished something when I get out for $175 or less. But while we can make those claims historically, the impact of the last year’s inflation is real. Apples that were on sale a year ago at $1.29 a pound are now on sale at $1.99 a pound. Beef rose quickly as well in the last year where ground beef might have been $3.50 a pound and is now $4.00-$4.50. The impact of increasing costs is outpacing our increase in income.
With that in mind I thought I would take an opportunity to call out a couple of things that you might want to consider as you look to earn more, or if you are looking to save more.
Talk to people who lived and worked at the end of the 70’s. Maybe that’s you, or maybe that’s your parents, or maybe that’s someone in your church, or someone else. But reach out to them. They lived through a similar time period in the late 70’s. They could tell you what happened then and give you tips on how to plan for a period of time when prices continue to rise. It will also help you to remember that they survived it.
Earn more $ to pay for things. Inflation is spiking so you need to make more $ in order to pay for the items you buy. It can feel daunting, but try to remember that you can take some meaningful actions by thinking pragmatically.
Don’t be daunted, but be strong, stand firm and think - how much more $ do I need to earn?
Then attack that goal with a plan. Maybe you just need to earn an extra $100 a month. So what do you have to do to earn an extra $100 a month? That’s roughly $3 a day. When you break it down like this, it can be less daunting. Consider:
I need one new customer this month. How will I find that “1” customer? The answer often leads to more than 1…
I need to make 1 more sale this month. How will I make that sale? Again, the answer might lead to more than 1 sale.
I need XX hours extra this month at my current jobs - then ask your manager for more.
Been a while since your last raise? If you know what you need, you might be able to ask for that amount - if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
What can I cut out to save $3 a day?
Identify Opportunities: Opportunities exist when people's pockets are tight! Maybe you are thinking about starting a side hustle, or wondering what talents you have might translate to this economic environment. Well, we all have to remember that even in down times, there are always opportunities.
Ever do an aptitude test? You can take one here https://www.careeronestop.org/Toolkit/Skills/skills-matcher.aspx. This might point out some skills you knew or did not know you had.
Find something that interests you? Reach out to friends and family to find out if they need any help. And remember, while it might be the start of something great, you’re just looking to earn a specific amount per month (such as $100 extra).
Good at graphic design? Video shoot / editing? Can you cook? Live in an apartment building / have roommates?
Maybe you can create a meal plan that is cheaper than eating out, provides people with a nutritious meal, and generates enough profit for you to reach $100 in a month.
Can you tutor? Music? Academic Subjects?
Don’t be afraid to be ambitious, but CELEBRATE incremental successes!
Where are people feeling the hit most? How can you help or capitalize? Ask meaningful questions about what is happening in the economy and think about ways you can insert yourself to make or save $.
Energy costs are up - so ways to “conserve” energy might be great areas to investigate (are you a contractor that can help make someone’s home more efficient?)
Housing - can you buy property and rent it out? Do you have space in your home to rent out to someone? Will we start to see more boarding house set ups in the near term as rents continue to increase?
If buying new becomes too expensive, then will being able to repair used become a good side gig? Can you fix that appliance for someone? Can you fix something for a price that is lower than the cost to buy a new one?
Saving money is EVEN BETTER than making money in many cases. Why? Because you don’t have to do anything “extra” to make the same money. You might need to sacrifice a little, but usually we can all cut out something that we don’t need, OR we can usually be better shoppers to find the deals that will help us save enough money to make a real difference. Here’s just a couple of things we can all do that will have an immediate impact:
Better shopping, particularly in the grocery store. Recently I decided to head to ALDI (a grocery store that is primarily private label (generic) to do my shopping. It was our basic family shopping to get produce and a few other items. I usually spend $75-80 on the household staples when I head to the grocery store (fruit, veggies, cheese, some items like cereal and snacks), but at ALDI I spent $48 on those items. 25-40% cheaper for almost every type of produce I purchased. That was around $25 in savings. I had to drive a bit further, but it was worth it. Do that once a week and we’re at $100 for the month.
Check your subscriptions. What are you paying for monthly for streaming services, media consumption, publications, other business subscriptions? Are you using all of them frequently? Getting what you want out of them? If not, cancel. You might cut $10-$20 a month right there - OR MORE.
Run a budget exercise for a couple of weeks - track every expense. Where are you spending? What’s impulsive? Where can you cut back? As you start to earn more $, you can add back in some of the luxuries you miss. But my grandma always used to say that her parents told her, “If you really want something, walk away for 24 hours, and if you still really want it, then consider it.” Basically she would use this to avoid being too impulsive in a purchase. I should personally listen to this more often.
Relationships - reach out to your colleagues, community organizations, friends and family. There may be ways that you can save $ by combining resources (either financial or time). For example - could you get together with 4 other sets of parents where you could share some childcare responsibilities in exchange for a bit of your time. It was an idea that I had the other day, but what if we worked with these other families where each of us would take 1 half-day per week to do some sort of lesson for our kids. Yes, I may need to figure out how to block off 4 hours of one day each week, BUT if other families were participating it could mean we could save on some daycare costs during the summer when the kids are out of school AND I would still get 4 days where the child or children wasn’t home.
Barter - if you’ve got a skill that is marketable, you might be able to trade that for something else you need. Got some work that needs to be done in the house but you’re not handy? Rather than pay someone to do it, find someone willing to do it for you in exchange for something you can offer (design a website? Exchange for something you own, etc.?). When cash is tight, or if a recession does come forward, bartering can be a great item at your disposal.
If you read this far - you’re amazing. Pat yourself on your back immediately and say "I am AMAZING." THERE IS A LOT more that can be done and over the coming months we’ll be providing more real life tips as well as access to seasoned professionals and people who have been there and done that. At SHO we believe RELATIONSHIPS are key - technology is amazing, and when technology can foster true relationship development it’s even better. But meaningful relationships with people in your community can foster your growth as an entrepreneur and person. In times of stress, if your side hustle fosters new and broader relationships, you’ll be well prepared for when things swing into growth mode again!
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