Shopping for groceries should not be a traumatic experience. But even shoppers who have never paid attention to prices may be unnerved at the prices of food and other household items. In case you haven’t been paying attention to your grocery prices or energy bills, the news headlines are replete with inflation updates and rising numbers. This constant drumbeat of dire information almost seems designed to give us the jitters.
Instead of allowing news bulletins to increase anxiety, knowing the facts can actually be helpful as they allow us to understand what’s behind all this. Some increases are plausible, such as egg and poultry shortages due to bird flu, and other products still affected by supply chain issues. One thing is certain – no individual can bring down rising prices, but keep these things in mind to avoid rising tensions. Firstly, even a family which never had difficulty making ends meets may find themselves in a pinch right now. Some are dipping into savings to tide things over, and perhaps those funds were saved for times like these. Also, remember you are doing nothing wrong; the knowledge that inflation is wreaking havoc across the globe and not just your personal budget may actually be a solace of sorts.
Picture a worst-case scenario, with a touch of reality for balance: inflation continues to rise for the next few months, and the average family (that’s you) needs to dip into savings or maybe even secure a loan to cover basic expenses. The fact is that such setbacks have always occurred in one form or another. Fluctuating markets have always been a source of stress, sometimes with lasting effects on personal savings and other assets. While the inflation numbers are now well above average, the nation’s overall economy is healthy and it’s not uncommon to hit a few bumps in the road.
On a global scale, level headed consumers can actually help to rein in inflation. When the public reacts to inflationary fears by stocking up on goods, that surge in demand drives prices upwards. This pattern of panic buying is an example of “herd mentality”, a behavior that is nearly always destructive. In fact, some shoppers have filled up their carts with certain products only to find lower prices the next time they went to the store.
Research has shown that for the most part, shopping habits remain unchanged. The reason for that is simple – everyone needs basics like bread, eggs and milk. Paying for these items has become more difficult, but there is little purpose in dwelling on this problem since we can do little to change it. Like other trends such as politics as even fashion, the economy is cyclical. There are always ups and downs, and in the not-too distant future this issue will no longer be the source of stress that it is today.
For a parent or spouse, it’s important to remember that you can set the tone of happiness and contentment in the home. When money is tight, all it takes is a misspoken word to escalate into a blame game about spending too much (or too little). “It’s not the money problems that cause divorce or relationship issues, per se,” says one expert. “It’s how people handle the money problems.”
So while the Fed may not be asking for your advice on how to stabilize the financial markets, your family is looking to you for steady hand and a kind word. And that’s a job no one else can do.