Inflation is a real worry for many Americans — even those who earn six figures — and it’s impacting decisions about how they spend their money.
Fully 96% of those high earners are concerned about inflation and 65% are “very concerned,” according to a Morning Consult/CNBC poll, which last week surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults with an income of at least $100,000 a year.
Some 34% said they are worse off financially this year than a year ago and 46% have had to cut household spending due to inflation, the survey found. If inflation gets worse, 38% plan to cut spending.
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“It’s definitely a wakeup call,” said certified financial planner Shelly-Ann Eweka, a senior director at TIAA.
“They fear what it’s going to do for them in their future and how are we going to be able to manage our lifestyles if this is what costs are right now.”
Consumers have been paying higher prices on everything, including gas, food and shelter, over the past year, and it is costing households hundreds of dollars more a month. In May, the Consumer Price Index, which measures prices on consumer goods, jumped 8.6% year over year — the highest increase since 1981. The latest report is set to be released on Wednesday.
The first thing on the chopping block for consumers is dining out at restaurants, followed by entertainment outside the home and travel, according to the poll.
When will inflation slow down?
It will take time to bring down inflation, according to economists.
Inflation has been brought on by strong demand, a constrained supply chain and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, explained Jared Bernstein, a member of President Joe Biden’s White House Council of Economic Advisors.
“The most recent analysis shows the demand part is actually trailing off,” Bernstein said on “Squawk Box” Monday.
“The supply chain constraints are still in place, [but] they’re easing significantly,” he added. “The Putin price hike is very much in the mix, and that remains a strong constraint, weighing on both the real economy and the markets.”
Assess your financial situation
To navigate higher prices, the first thing you should do is get a handle on your financial situation.
Look at your income, your spending and the type and amount of debt you have.
“Our expenses and how we make our financial decisions and what choices we make, those are the only things that we can control,” Eweka said.
Protecting your income with disability insurance coverage and your budget by shoring up your emergency cash reserves are also important safeguards to have in place right now, she added.
Look at ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’
Once you see where you are spending money, break it down into needs and wants, and begin to cut back on things that are optional, said CFP Carolyn McClanahan, founder and director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida.
In fact, dining out all the time not only costs more money than cooking at home but is also not as healthy, said McClanahan, who is also a medical doctor. When at the grocery store, use coupons and comparison shopping to help you save money.
There will be nights when time is tight and you are tempted to order takeout for dinner. McClanahan cooks in bulk on Sundays and puts meals in the freezer for those nights.
Carpooling or planning car trips to minimize driving can help with gas, as can working from home a few days a week, if feasible.
Also, review your credit card for recurring transactions such as subscriptions. If you are not fully utilizing the subscription, cancel the service, she advises.
While it is natural to be concerned about rising prices, you can’t control them — and worrying about it isn’t good for your health, said McClanahan, a member of the CNBC Financial Advisor Council.
“Only think about the things that you can control,” she said.
“Making certain you are spending your money in a thoughtful fashion is the one thing you can do to help mitigate the outside world around you.”
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.