Critter Corner: Tips for Seniors on Coping with Inflation

Dear Angel,

Everything is so expensive these days. It seems like most items in the grocery store are up by at least 10% in price, and gas seems to have gone up 30% or more. As someone who lives on Social Security, I’m having trouble affording food and gas. What are some strategies for coping with inflation for seniors?

Thanks so much!

Mo Munnee

Dear Mo,

You are correct. We are currently dealing with the worst inflation in 40 years! Costs are much higher when you pump gas, go to the grocery store, and pay for many other necessities, and it all adds up!

Older Americans Are Getting Hit Harder

Inflation is tough for everyone, especially for older Americans living on fixed incomes. Although Social Security includes yearly cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), and this year’s was the largest in decades at 5.9%, it’s still not enough.

So what can someone do if they are in a situation like yours where they rely solely on a Social Security check each month without any other source of income? Here are some suggestions:

  • Look for Social Security’s untapped resources: When it comes to Social Security, there are often untapped additional resources, including 13 different kinds of benefits you can receive, such as disability benefits and spousal benefits. But often people simply don’t apply for them, so they go untouched. A good example is spousal benefits. They can significantly boost monthly benefits. Spousal benefits allow individuals to receive Social Security based on a spouse’s earnings record (if their earnings were higher). Learn more about Social Security and benefits here.
  • Lifestyle changes, while sometimes difficult, can help in reducing your expenses. Something to consider is sharing a home to cut expenses. It’s not for everyone because you’re giving up your privacy, but some people enjoy the company. Or, you can move into a smaller place or move to a lower-priced area.
  • A part-time job is another consideration. With the U.S labor shortage, this can be an ideal time for healthy seniors to find temporary or part-time jobs.
  • Budget your money: Determine what is “nice to have” and what is “necessary.” A good example is a daily visit to Starbucks or Peet’s for coffee. Making coffee at home could save some daily or weekly dollars. There is no better time than today to start the budget process and see what can be scaled back or eliminated.
  • Be selective at the grocery store: Rising prices are affecting everything. Shifting to store brands and discount stores can make a big difference. Consider going to a dollar store for everyday essentials, which can save a lot of money, but note that even most dollar stores have increased their cost to $1.25 because of inflation.

For those not yet taking Social Security but approaching retirement age, consider putting it off as long as possible to get the maximum allowed benefits if you can. Of course this may not be possible if you have no other source of income or assets to cover your expenses while you’re waiting to claim a higher Social Security amount.

Hopefully inflation will slow in the not too distant future to make things more affordable again.

Hope this helps!

Angel

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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