From the Editor’s Desk

Andrea Norris-McKnight

Interest Rates Are on the Rise Again

Hello Frugal Friend!

According to The Guardian, “The Fed’s benchmark interest rate was raised by 0.5 percentage points to a target rate range of between 0.75% and 1%. The hike is the largest since 2000 and follows a 0.25 percentage point increase in March, the first increase since December 2018.”

The article went on to say that “The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the Fed to raise rates seven times in 2022, reaching 2.9% in early 2023.”

As interest rates rise, so does the cost of borrowing money. While this won’t make any difference for your fixed-rate mortgage or auto loan, new borrowers will likely pay more.

When the Federal Reserve raises its benchmark federal funds, it typically means the interest rate on your credit card also goes up, usually within a billing cycle or two. This week’s half-point hike means your rate could go up a lot. Variable rates are tied to a financial index and will move up or down along with the index.

Of course, the best thing to do is pay off credit cards as quickly as possible, but this isn’t the easiest thing to do when necessities like gas and milk cost so much and have already tightened budgets. Take a look at The Best Credit Card Debt Repayment Options for Different Credit Scores. It will walk you through some options that could help you avoid paying more in credit card interest, such as transferring your balance to a new card with a 0% introductory rate. You may pay a transfer fee, but it will likely be cheaper than what you’ll pay in interest this year if you carry a balance on your card.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Andrea

Here’s To Our Mental Health

Hello Frugal Friend!

This week I just want to make a quick mention that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is an important topic to me. Like most people, I have loved ones who suffer from mental health issues.

While The Dollar Stretcher is not a health site, a mental health issue, like any health issue, can adversely affect your finances. It may be to pay for mental health care or an overspending problem caused by a mental health issue.

If you or a loved one have mental health struggles that are affecting your finances, here are a few articles we have on the topic:

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Andrea

Balancing the Budget During These Inflationary Times

Hello Frugal Friend!

Last week, we discussed ways to save on food as grocery prices continue to rise. But sometimes, when the budget is tightening, the best places to find savings are not necessarily within the increasing budget categories. So while we do need to continue to find ways to save on food and gas, looking at other budget categories may better help re-balance the budget.

Here are some steps we’re taking at my house to keep the budget balanced during these inflationary times. None of these savings are very big on their own, but collectively, they offset some of the increases we’re seeing at the grocery store and the pump.

My kids aren’t thrilled, but we’ve taken a close look at our subscription services. We’ve knocked our Netflix streaming subscription down to one user and canceled Apple TV for now. Also, I’ve paused my Audible subscription for the next three months. These small changes will save us about $20 per month, enough to offset the extra it costs me to gas up my little Nissan Juke.

I am sure everyone who has an Amazon Prime membership is questioning renewal now that it has gone up to $14.99 per month/$139 per year. My mother and I decided to take advantage of the household sharing feature. We both paid half of my $139 annual renewal. I put the money saved into what I’m calling our “inflationary slush fund.” It is just a savings account we use for some of these small savings that we can draw from if we end up over-budget on something else any given month.

Living in Florida, keeping a green lawn without regularly running sprinklers is nearly impossible. But I did reprogram our sprinkler system to water each zone a few minutes less than usual. I also bought my son a timer for the shower so he actually gets in and out in less than 10 minutes. It looks like these small changes will save us about $10 per month on our water bill.

I finally broke down and bought 24 cloth napkins, and I wish I had done it a long time ago. We’ve cut our paper towel and napkins usage by at least 75%. I don’t know how much it saves us but certainly a few more dollars per month.

Lastly, for now, I bought a power strip for both our TV and phone charging station. With the flip of one switch, I cut the power each night to our TV, Roku box, and gaming system. During the day, I turn off the power to our phone chargers.

If your budget is getting a little too tight for comfort, take a look at the unaffected budget categories and see if you can find ways to balance those rising categories. Here are a few articles that may help:

And I’d love to hear how others are finding ways to cut back. Please send the to andrea@thedollarstretcher.com.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Andrea

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