On a fixed income and trying to get by

How can I afford the cost of basic necessities?

a pile of money and the edges of a social security card
Social security card and one-dollar bills | Photo by Pixabay

For seniors and others who depend on Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to sustain their way of life, it may be more difficult to put food on the table and cover the cost of other necessities. Social Security and SSI payments are adjusted each year by an amount equal to the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The specific index that Social Security and SSI use is the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), with further parameters including the U.S. city average and all items list for costs of goods and services. The adjustment is made based on the third quarter of every given year compared to the same quarter of the previous year.  According to the Social Security Administration, some years will have no cost of living adjustment for Social Security and SSI.

This news comes at a time when the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the cost of basic necessities increased annually slightly higher than the rate of inflation over the last 30 years. It is more important than ever for those living on fixed incomes to manage their spending. Make sure to think about what you will do with your income each month. You may not be able to increase dollars you have available each month, but there could be ways that could help boost your resources.

Organizations such as Feeding America provide information about access to food in your area. These organizations help those who need the help in local communities. You may consider visiting one of the local food pantries once a month to help offset food costs. There are also many organizations that will assist with utilities and other resources that you may need this winter. You can call 2-1-1 to find resources and services in your area.

Spend some time thinking about your basic necessities. Making money decisions, setting goals and making resolutions are steps to face your reality. With fewer dollars it may benefit you to start early. If you have questions, or would like to ask an expert, Michigan State University Extension has access to many resources. Visit the MI Money Health page for more information and answers to your questions.

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