Sky-high inflation and economic uncertainty have some worried about their future and livelihood, and financial mentors say now is the time to learn how to invest and save wisely.
"It goes back to the dreaded b-word, the budget," says Danny Kofke, motivational speaker for Menturo Financial Education. "Many people have no idea how they're spending their money."
Economists and financial experts recommend going back to basics if you're struggling to balance your checkbook. Inflation is at a 40-year-high due to pandemic relief spending, supply chain problems, and energy supply disruptions, partly from Russia's war against Ukraine and partly from other factors.
"It's a little 'to be determined,'" said Dr. Steven Skancke, chief economic advisor at Keel Point. "We could still see high inflation numbers in April and May."
In March, energy rose 11% and food prices are up about 5.8% from last year. Dr. Skancke says almost 70-percent of those receiving unemployment are receiving more than when they were working. In turn, the nation has developed some poor spending habits.
"Especially during COVID when a lot of us were staying home, when we were forced to – we got on Amazon and it was just an easy click to make ourselves feel happy," Kofke said.
All of that happy clicking led to a record $204-billion spent online last Christmas. Given historic job growth, wage gains, and supplemental government spending – stats show real wages have still declined.
Danny Kofke taught school for 18 years. Now, he's an author and mentor teaching families how to make financial ends meet.
"Money control is 90 percent behavior," said Kofke. "We have to change behavior. We know how to do well, spend less than you earn. It's pretty easy on paper. But then that crazy thing called life happens. And we end up spending more."
He recommends tracking your spending for one month. Then at the end of that month, you'll have a better idea of how much you spent on expensive coffee (per example). That will help you cut out unnecessary spending.
A popular economic principle is that poor people spend all their money while the middle class saves and the rich invest. Given current economic uncertainties, Kofke and Skancke suggest investing in wise areas like a 401K and trimming the daily spending.
"Think about how many hours of work go into a purchase," said Kofke. "Easy math would be for someone who makes $20 an hour and they want to buy something that costs $200. They're going to have to work 10 hours to buy that item."
He says you can cut down on spending and build your rainy-day fund without sacrificing fun altogether, although you need to practice. If you begin tracking your spending now, you may be able to save money as early as the next month or so.
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