As economic concerns among families persist, workers struggle to make the most of their incomes and refuse to give up their summer vacations.
Kate McLaughlin’s paycheck doesn’t stretch far enough these days.
“We already take the subway to work, walk to the library and post office, and drive used (9 and 18 year old) cars,” says McLaughlin, a cooperative education coordinator at Northeastern University in Boston, who’s been forced to tighten down her personal budgeting strategies. “The main change my husband and I have made is to stop using our credit card for gas, grocery shopping and eating out … We just set aside a certain amount of cash for food and gas at the beginning of the month (literally, one envelope for food and one envelope in each car for gas) and that’s what we have.”
The McLaughlins aren’t the only family feeling the economic pressures of rising food and gas prices. More families are curbing their spending habits, and developing personal budgeting strategies. What’s putting the squeeze on the McLaughlins and other workers? The uptick in food and gas prices plays an important part, experts say. As of Aug. 11, rising gas prices brought the average cost of gas to $3.81/gallon, up $1.04 from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The USDA’s Economic Research Service expects rising food prices to increase 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2008. Over the last 15-20 years, food-price inflation has been around 2.5 percent per year, according to USDA economist Ephraim Leibtag. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says in June, average weekly earnings when adjusted for inflation were down 2.4 percent from a year ago.
If your paycheck isn’t stretching far enough these days, consider switching to a high paying career, asking for a raise, or using personal budgeting strategies.
Here are more ways Americans are using personal budgeting strategies to navigate fiscally uncertain times. Keep reading--you might be surprised.