Dramatic Price Increases Knock Us Down
Views and opinions expressed in Bob’s Blog are solely those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of the CAC Office on Aging or its staff. Published May 5, 2022.
In 2020, Covid-19 hit. Older people were at the highest risk. Almost overnight, we were forced to go into isolation. We were also told to mask up any time we went out. For almost two years there was nothing we could do about this.
We Suffered Through It
At the start of 2022, we thought Covid-19 was behind us. It was time to get back to a normal lifestyle. In the fall of 2021, those of us receiving Social Security learned our monthly benefits in 2022 were going to increase by 5.9%. We might be able to do or buy something special with the extra money we were going to get to celebrate the end of our isolation.
Then 2022 hit. Suddenly there are shortages. Companies are having problems filling orders. Prices increase. A war breaks out in the Ukraine. Prices jump more dramatically. Everything we regularly buy costs a lot more. Even with that 5.9% increase most of us are poorer now than we had been.
A Short-lived Dream Crushed by Harsh Reality
I don’t know if you heard this. Recently, a guy runs into a gas station. He is screaming he has been robbed and demands the clerk call the police quickly. Two policemen arrive. The one in the passenger seat gets out and comes into the gas station. He asks the guy what happened.
The guys tells him he was robbed and lost all of his money. The officer then asks him if he got a good look at the robber and can describe him to him. The guy says not only can he describe him, he is still there. The officer says take me to him. The guys says he’s right over there. Pump 6.
Yes, this may be extreme. However, I am sure when you have gotten gas, you stood there and watched the numbers on the pump whirling around as you put gas into your vehicle. When it passed $30, you started to get a little concerned. Your anxiety level grew when it hit $50. You broke out in tears when it hit $60.
While normally it may have cost you around $30 to fill up your gas tank a short time ago, now the cost was $60 or higher. This was something you really couldn’t afford.
At the same time, you saw the cost of groceries you buy regularly going up to. When you got the bills for electricity and gas at home, those were higher too. If you have to take prescription drugs, you probably have seen the costs of those skyrocket.
God forbid, if you ate out at a restaurant periodically, now it cost you much more than it had.
What Impact Has the Dramatic Increase in Prices Had on You?
You may be on a relatively low fixed income. The money you have budgeted for groceries doesn’t go as far as it used to. You can’t buy what you used to. So, you have had to make cuts.
You may have cut out breakfast or lunch and may be down to one meal a day. It’s not a wise move to eliminate meals. It can lead to health problems.
You may have started to buy less expensive items which are not as nutritious. They may be filling, but may not be as good for your diet.
Prescription drug prices have increased and you no longer can afford your regular prescriptions. So, you have started to cut your pills in half to make them last longer. Here again, that’s not wise to do.
Those vacations you used to take may be a thing of the past. Not only can’t you afford the cost of gas to get there, the cost of motels and food at the place you want to go to have gone up too.
What Steps Can You Take to Provide for Yourself During These Tough TImes?
Take some time and see where you are spending your money monthly. Are there any expenses you can cut back on? Any money you can save, you can use to buy something you really need.
When you are shopping for groceries, look for items on sale. Then stock up on them. You might say you always have. You may need to look harder.
Most stores have their weekly ads online on their websites. Get in the habit of checking these before you go shopping.
If you see something you use regularly on sale, buy as many as you can at the lower price.
Instead of buying the regular brand you always bought, look for a cheaper one or the store’s brand. You don’t need to spend extra for an item just because of the name on the label.
You may want to switch where you shop. Instead of Kroger or Food City, you may want to check out Aldi’s.
Years ago, a big way for a shopper to save money was by using coupons. These were readily available in newspapers.
Just like newspapers, coupons have all but disappeared. There are websites that help people save money. One of these is Ibotta. You can check it out here – www.ibotta.com.
You may have done all of this and you still don’t have enough to eat. Many churches and non-profit organizations in Knox County have food pantries. They have food available to those in need. You may be able to supplement what you buy with what you can get at one of these. Please click HERE to look for food pantries in your zip code.
If you are at least 60, live in Knox County, are unable to leave your home without assistance, cannot cook for yourself and have no one to prepare a meal for you, you can get a meal 5 days a week from the Mobile Meals program. The phone number is 865-524-2786.
The Office on Aging also has a Mobile Affordable Meals Service. Any individual can apply for this service. The cost is $6.25 a day with an initial minimum order of $30. The phone number of this program is also 865-524-2786.
If you are taking drugs for a serious condition like Diabetes, Crohn’s Disease or a severe heart problem, check the drug manufacturers’ website to see if you can get your medications at a lower price directly from them.
If you can’t, check out GoodRx or WellRx.
If you read quite a bit and have no desire to own a book, see if your local library has it. Why buy it when you don’t have any desire to keep it? If your library doesn’t have it, try to buy it used. Here again – if you are only getting a book to read, does it make sense to pay full price for a new one when you can get it much cheaper used?
One local place where you can buy used books is McKay’s on Papermill Drive. They not only have used books; they also have used DVDs and video games. If you never have been to McKay’s, check it out. It’s a good place to get acquainted with.
You can also buy used books on Amazon, Thrift Books, or Alibris.
Go through your closets and see if you have clothing you rarely wear. You might want to sell these in a yard sale or on Craigslist or eBay. If you prefer a yard sale, perhaps you can get together with some friends and do a bigger yard sale.
You can buy used clothing and save quite a bit of money on it. If you are not going out regularly or just want something to wear around your home, does it make sense to buy new clothes? There are consignment shops in the area. You can also buy used clothing at KARM and Goodwill stores.
One thing not many know is that Goodwill and KARM only sell clothing that is new or in very good condition. Frequently people donate clothes to them they have never worn. The stores sell these at a tremendous discount.
Dishware and Cooking Utensils
You can get dishware and cooking utensils at KARM and Goodwill, too.
You can buy used appliances like coffee pots, microwaves, stoves and refrigerators and stoves at Goodwill and KARM or on Craigslist or eBay. Before you buy any, check them out to make sure they work. Frequently people donate items to KARM and Goodwill because the items no longer work and they don’t know where to get rid of them. The people at both places don’t have the time to check them out before listing them for sale.
You can cut down on paying the high cost of gas by using public transportation. If you live close to the bus line, consider using it whenever you can.
If there is no KAT route near you, think about going shopping with a relative or friend. Only one person has to drive. Not only do you save on gas, you also have the opportunity to spend time together.
Also get in the habit of buying gas only when the price drops and at gas stations which regularly have lower prices.
Yard Sales and Flea Markets
Check out yard sales and flea markets to see if you can buy items you need at one of these.
Whenever you eat out, ask if the restaurant has a senior discount.
Some restaurants offer meals to seniors at reduced prices earlier in the evening. Any time one does, take advantage of it.
We Are Tougher Than These Tough Times
Yes, times are tough now. However, each of us has experienced tough economic times before. There was the global financial crisis of 2008 and then the Dot-com bust of 2000.
If you go back earlier in our lifetimes, there were others.
The surprising thing is we not only survived each of them, many of us found we were stronger afterwards.
Today is not different. We will make it through.
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.