WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – People are feeling the pinch when it comes to buying groceries, especially in the Midwest.
According to Moody’s analytics, small towns in the Midwest and South are the most impacted as consumer prices rise 9% or more.
Jeremy Hill, Wichita State University’s economic development and business research director, said supply chain disruption, wage hikes, and higher costs for transportation and gas are to blame.
“There is more of a squeeze on inflation and households here, mostly because of energy and in other functions of that, which affects goods getting here and it makes our consumer goods at the store a little more expensive because they’re driving them,” said Hill. “Inflation here in the Midwest is actually going up more than the nation, a lot more.”
Hill said the story of the last decade was high wealth earners making most of the money. Most recently, the gap between the higher and lower-income classes has narrowed because of wage increases among the middle and lower classes. Hill’s concern is that inflation might erode that progress.
“I don’t see it yet, but that’s the one I’m watching because over this next year, by the summer, we should see some better inflation numbers, and if we don’t, then we’re gonna start to come back that low middle-income household and look at how are they handling it, where are the risks there, and how is that slowing down long term growth,” said Hill
While people deal with the high costs, there are a few ways you can save getting the necessities.
Lisa Ross, Kansas Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program coordinator, said the most significant piece of advice is to prepare.
“If that hamburger or pork chops or you know broccoli is going to be on sale, you can really design your menus and your meal planning around what’s on sale and get some really good deals,” said Ross. “There are many ways to save, and it really does save your family time, money, and stress in the end.”
Ross has some tips to save money:
- Make a budget: Ross said to go through your spending each month, set a budget and stick to it. She said if you don’t know how much you can spend, you’ll likely overdo it at the store.
- Look at the weekly coupons and advertisements: Ross said whether it is from the store you always go to, or the one that has the best deals of the week, this can help you plan out a weeks worth of meals budget friendly.
- Keep a running list throughout the week: Ross said it’ll lower the amount of trips to the store and lower the temptations to buy other items you don’t need.
- Don’t shop hungry: She said when you go hungry, you’ll likely buy more food than what would actually be eaten.
- Look high and low on the shelves: Ross said typically higher priced items are placed in the middle, so be sure to check out the whole shelf to see if there is a better deal.
- Compare prices in store: She said not all generic brands are cheaper. You might get more food if you buy the name brand, just check the unit price on the price tag.
- Read the fine print: Sometimes coupons have 10 for 10 deals, but she said it’s important to ask yourself if it will stay good for that long or if you will eat it all in time. She said sometimes you could get yourself into a deal by buying something you don’t need. In turn, it can leave you spending more than you’d like.
- Be Flexible: Ross said if you plan to buy potatoes, but sweet potatoes are on sale, try a substitute. She said this will encourage you to try new things, while also saving money.
- Rewards cards: Most stores have a rewards program where you can get coupons and points for each purchase. Ross said as long as they are free, they are a great thing to have, especially if you go to that store often.
Ross said this should help relieve a little bit of stress on the pocketbook.
“Planning ahead of time is what we really want for everybody, and saving money as well,” said Ross.
You can see how Kansas compares to the nation with it’s consumer goods through the Cost of Living Calculator by WSU. You can find that here. New numbers to account for the rising inflation should be updated in a few weeks.