What Can You Do About Inflation?
THERE is little that you, personally, can do to stop worldwide inflation. You cannot control government budgets, mounting debts of others or economic policies of nations. But there are things that you can do to help cope with the money squeeze.
For one thing, if you live in a more developed country, it may mean settling for a lower standard of living. That is, it may mean doing without certain things that you have come to take for granted, but which most people in poorer lands never had in the first place. While this prospect may seem very undesirable, it needs to be faced to prevent increasing frustration.
Too, as money becomes tighter, marriage mates need to talk openly and calmly about how their income will be used. Where the wife also works at a secular job, the need for communication over how family income is to be spent becomes greater. If the husband, or wife, spends without consulting the other mate, problems can mount.
Family food bills can be pared 20 percent if children are not allowed to go grocery shopping
The trend in food costs is up, up and up. How have some families saved money here, aside from the obvious way of cutting back on the more expensive foods? An Awake! correspondent in Japan says:
“Food is the biggest single expense on the budget of Japanese families. So the advertising sections in newspapers are carefully looked over so that all the bargains on shopping days can be taken advantage of.
“Also, at many supermarkets, just before closing, certain items are reduced in price in an effort to sell them before the day is over. Or, these same items, the first thing the next morning, are set out at the reduced prices to make them move before spoiling. Some housewives make an effort to shop at these times, and keep the family reasonably fed at moderate prices.”
Joseph Coyle, a food editor in the United States, claims that people can save from 20 to 40 percent on purchases by making up a shopping list after studying advertisements on the best food-sales’ days. In some places, ‘no frill’ stores sell at discounts because of having lower expenses.
In a recent year, grocery manufacturers in the United States issued 62 billion (thousand million) coupons offering price reductions, with an average value of 15 cents (U.S.) per coupon. These coupons are found in magazines, newspapers and sales brochures. The key here is not buying a product merely because it is advertised at a reduced price, but buying the product you need at such prices.
Newsweek magazine observed: “Family food bills . . . can be pared by 20 per cent if children are not allowed to go grocery shopping—and aren’t able to wheedle extra purchases from their parents.” Too, a shopping list of genuine needs (not just wants) is important to avoid ‘impulse buying’ in stores. And when shopping, look for unbranded products that have the same nutritional value as advertised brands, but that cost less.
A Brazilian husband whose family is being hurt by inflation comments: “We had to cut down on luxuries, and my wife cooperates in every possible way. She never throws away any leftovers from meals.” Others save by having the husband take his lunch to work instead of eating out.
It makes sense to save by cutting nonessentials
When money is tight, it makes sense to save by cutting back on, or cutting out, nonessentials. One such is the tobacco habit. It is not only costly, but deadly, since about 90 percent of all lung cancers, and many other health disorders, come from smoking, truly a habit that is a “defilement of flesh.” (2 Cor. 7:1) Those who have given it up by exercising self-control find that they save hundreds of dollars a year.
Similarly, alcoholic beverages are costly, and their excessive use can damage health, and even family life. While the moderate use of alcoholic beverages is not condemned in the Bible, overuse is. (Prov. 23:29-35; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Here, too, hundreds of dollars a year can be saved.
Another source of savings has to do with recreation. It is not really necessary to spend hundreds, or thousands, of dollars to enjoy a change of pace from work. Commercial advertisers may make it appear that traveling to faraway places and staying at luxurious hotels are musts, but that is not the case. Traveling to places of interest near home, going on family outings, visiting with friends and other inexpensive forms of recreation can be very enjoyable. Appropriate television programs can help fill the gap left by cutting down on expensive movies and theaters.
In the old days families did not have radios, stereo sets, television, movies or other modern forms of entertainment. And the average family back there rarely, if ever, ‘ate out’ at restaurants. Yet they had wholesome forms of recreation and a measure of enjoyment in life—perhaps even more than we do in today’s complex world. True, times are different, but humans are not that much different. They can still enjoy simpler, less expensive forms of recreation.
Many women now save much money by making their own clothes. Initiative and practice really pay off here. As an example, a housewife saw a relatively simple dress that she liked in a department store, but it was priced at over $50 (U.S.). Instead of buying the dress, she purchased similar material and made the dress for less than $5.
Certain stores sell secondhand clothing in very good condition, so a considerable saving can be made. Some people cut costs by washing their own clothes instead of having them laundered. They wash items such as sweaters in lukewarm water by hand rather than having them dry-cleaned, sending out only those things they cannot do themselves.
An important factor in saving on clothes is not being too concerned about fashion. Many people throw away good clothing just because of style changes. But one man, noting that even men’s styles were more swiftly changed now, declared: “Not this time! I’ll never again be a slave to fashion designers trying to get me to part with my money. I wear what I have as long as it is neat, clean and respectable, regardless of what the fashion people say.”
Another area that has resulted in much saving for some is learning how to make simple repairs at home. This not only saves repair costs, but gets much longer use out of appliances, furniture and other items.
One husband states that he has saved about $200 a year on haircuts. His wife agreed to learn how to cut his hair, and is getting better with experience. With such varied hairstyles these days, the haircut does not have to be perfect anyhow.
Medical costs can be reduced by comparing prices of doctors, treatments and medicines. A television news team, visiting a number of different drugstores within a few blocks of one another, found that the cost of the identical prescription drug varied from two to five times as much from one store to another.
Of course, the list of things that can be done to save money is much longer. But these samples show that a little thought and planning can help in this time of money pressure.
Too large an appetite for material things has wrecked many a family
One of the greatest sources of trouble these days is having too large an appetite for material things. It has been the financial ruination, and home wrecker, for all too many families.
Some want more material things to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ But such false pride can be very costly. Appropriately, one wit already has noted that it simply does not make sense ‘to spend money you do not have, to buy things you do not need, just to impress someone you may not even like.’
Regarding the need to control material desires, a family wrote the following to U.S. News & World Report:
“Our family lives happily on the amount many two-income parents pay day-care centers. We fight inflation by guarding against double-digit desire for material goods.
“We have a peace about raising our own children and find security in being a ‘traditional family.’ Full-time homemaking will never be obsolete because it is God’s way for a woman to be perfectly fulfilled. ‘Expectations about what marriage should be’ have nothing to do with income. People, not combined incomes, make a marriage. People, not material goods, make a family.”
The curbing of material desires is particularly helpful in avoiding a prime cause of unhappiness: an overload of debt. Borrowing too much money, and living with the frustration of trying to pay it back, is a sure path to trouble. Accurately the Bible states: “Borrow money and you are the lender’s slave.”—Prov. 22:7, Good News Bible.
According to interviews with families in serious credit trouble, many of their purchases were not needed. A young couple married only two years had already accumulated huge debts. Rather than pay those off first, they continued to borrow and spend. Their lack of self-control regarding material things soon took them into bankruptcy. Yet they told a credit counselor that they had spent money only “on necessities.” When questioned, it was found that these “necessities” included very expensive vacations and costly clothes that they really did not need at all.
Debt advisers suggest analyzing your take-home pay to see what percent of it you use for debt repayments. If, aside from a home mortgage, it is much over 10 percent, you are heading for danger. Some of these credit managers relate that when their clients cannot control their use of credit cards, they ask for these cards and tear them up in their presence. They note, interestingly, that this often causes “emotional hurt” to those who viewed credit cards as friends instead of the potential destroyers that they are to those who cannot use them wisely.
“The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things,” the Bible states. “And by reaching out for this love,” it adds, many people “have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:10) Those truths are becoming more evident with each passing day.
What happens to those who make the materialistic view the main force in their lives? Our correspondent in Japan notes:
“In Japan, the average family simply takes on more work. The husband and wife work full time, plus overtime. Although they may feel that they are coping with inflation, it is the family that suffers because there is no mutual, upbuilding association.
“The whole effort is very shortsighted. It only concentrates on NOW, TODAY. The future is not brought into the picture and hope is not part of the daily life.”
But without upbuilding association, and without a genuine hope for the future, what will happen if the wife loses her income, or the husband does, or both of them do? When this world’s economic systems are brought to ruin, what will happen to people who make the acquiring of material things their chief aim in life?
Will this really happen? Yes, without fail! And this is what makes your view toward inflation, toward money and toward material things not just an exercise in coping with temporary economic difficulties. What you need to prepare for is the coming annihilation of all of today’s economic systems.
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Rejecting excessive pursuit of material things can help to prevent serious problems