Does it feel like your money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to in the past? Like many women today, you’re probably feeling the effects of inflation. A higher-than-usual inflation rate is causing your cost of living to soar.

After a steady climb over the pandemic, U.S. inflation reached a whopping 7% in December. This marks the fifth straight month inflation has been over 5%, and the highest it’s been in nearly 40 years. 

Everything from consumer goods to fuel prices are affected, so you’re paying more for household items, groceries, and gas. 

Don’t worry — there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While economists don’t expect inflation to pop soon, it will eventually ease back into the normal range of 2–3%. 

However, it may take the better part of the year before you’re out of the woods. How can you endure these high prices until then? You’ll have to be savvy with your money. 

Inflation Makes it Harder to Save

Usually, in a financial crunch, you can rely on your savings. An emergency fund is the cornerstone of financial stability, providing a safety net when you need a little extra help. 

Many women lost wages over the pandemic, especially if they had to look after their children. Emergency savings can help you weather these challenges better. 

They also can help you smooth out blips in your budget, like when you don’t anticipate a medical emergency or leak with your water heater. You can withdraw from these savings to cover what you can’t out of pocket.

The problem is, with each expense taking more of your paycheck, you may be struggling to put aside enough into savings. Living without savings is risky, as it strips away a safety net every woman needs. 

What Happens if Your Emergency Fund Falls Short?

If you’ve drained your savings during the pandemic, and they aren’t ready for another test, there are other options. 

In an emergency, you can seek out same day installment loans for assistance. Some same business day installment loans are simple, convenient options in a time crunch. 

They offer easy online applications available 24/7 that take a matter of minutes to fill out. If approved, you’ll typically receive same day installment loans by the next business day. 

Their rapid timeline is especially helpful when you need to fix your water heater or see a doctor right away. And, unlike other same day cash advances that are due back in one lump sum, installment loans give you more time to repay what you owe. 

Adjusting Your Spending Can Help

While same day installment loans are a great option in a pinch (provided you can afford their repayments), they aren’t a permanent solution to living without savings. 

So how can you sock away more money into this fund? You can squeeze more savings out of your budget by looking at your variable expenses for ways to cut costs. 

Variable expenses are costs that tend to fluctuate from month to month. They might be unpredictable, costing more or less depending on your daily choices. Here are some of them below. 

  • Groceries
  • Utilities
  • Repairs
  • Pay-per-use cell phones
  • Gas
  • Entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Personal care

Unlike rent or insurance premiums, which largely cost the same each month, you have some power over how much these expenses cost. 

Shopping and budgeting financial concept

How to Cut Costs with 3 Common Variable Expenses

With determination and grit, you can cut costs in almost any category of spending. 

But considering you’re in this mess because of inflation, let’s focus on three everyday expenses hit the hardest by these rate hikes. 

1. Groceries

It’s never been more expensive to put food on your table. Meat, a usual staple of many American plates, is especially cost prohibitive now.

With your dollar buying less, you need to try out these savings to keep your fridge full for less:

  • Don’t wing your shopping trip — arrive with a list and meals in mind
  • Don’t shop hungry — hungry people spend 60% more 
  • Plan your meals around flyers, coupons, and rebates
  • Eliminate waste — the average American throws out $1,500 in food each year
  • Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Learn how to store produce to extend its shelf life
  • Try plant-based meals for half of the week or more

2. Utilities

Electricity, gas, water — these three main utilities saw a bump during the pandemic. According to the Guardian, U.S. utility costs rose by 33% in 2021. 

Curbing your consumption is key to reigning in these prices. Try these energy-saving hacks to spend less powering your home:

  • Wait to use power-hungry appliances at off-peak hours
  • Reduce the water temperature from 140°F to 120°F
  • Lower your thermostat to 68°F during the day and even cooler at night in the winter
  • Try to go without air conditioning if possible
  • If air conditioning is necessary, raise it to 78°F in the warmer months
  • Repair running toilets and leaking pipes or faucets
  • Seal drafts at windows and doors

3. Gas

If you drive, you’re spending more at the pumps. Like energy costs, gasoline has seen a historic rise throughout the pandemic. In 2021, gas prices rose by 50%. 

When parking your car indefinitely isn’t an option, try these tips instead:

  • Download GasBuddy to find the cheapest pumps in your neighborhood
  • Pay at the pumps with a gas credit card that earns rewards on each purchase
  • Join a gas station’s rewards programs and collect points
  • Fill up at Costco pumps if you have a membership 
  • Carpool when making routine or long trips with friends or family to split the cost of gas
  • Walk or bike where you’re going when possible
  • Stop idling
  • Maintain your vehicles to increase fuel efficiency
  • Work from home if that’s an option

The Bottom Line

Everything costs more today than it did the year before or the year before that. Until inflation returns to its usual levels, this is your reality for the time being. 

At this point, there’s no way to know how long this new reality will last. Inflation has surprised many of the world’s top experts at every turn, so they’re unable to say how long these rates will last or if they’ll continue to rise. 

The good news is, general consensus says it won’t last longer than 2022. That means you’ll have to tweak your budget for just another year longer. Keep these tips in mind to curb costs and set aside more savings. Your emergency fund can help you weather inflation until it pops.