Duke professor shares how to manage costs when dealing with inflation

<p>&nbsp;Duke professor Emma Rasiel gives a presentation on managing costs during inflation on Sept. 13, 2022.&nbsp;</p>

 Duke professor Emma Rasiel gives a presentation on managing costs during inflation on Sept. 13, 2022. 

From Duke Dining to gas prices, students are feeling the costs of inflation and Duke professor Emma Rasiel shared ways to manage it. 

In the “Inflation: Understanding Rising Costs” seminar hosted by the Office of Student Loans and Personal Finance on Sept. 13., Rasiel, Richard Y. Li Professor of the Practice, spoke about how students can manage their finances while dealing with inflation. Rasiel recommended decreasing spending on food, planning grocery trips and budgeting.

With COVID-19 disrupting supply chains and the war in Ukraine affecting supply of fertilizer and crops, the price of food has increased by 11.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Food prices have primarily increased for beef, poultry, milk, eggs and fruit.

“Being a vegetarian right now is probably quite a good thing to be because meat prices are crazy,” Rasiel said. “So if you are not a vegetarian, but you can handle having less meat, that's going to save you money.” 

The Consumer Price Index, which measures annual inflation for common goods, was 8.3% at the end of August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but Rasiel thinks that number may be misleading. 

“Different industry areas, or types of things that we buy, all have different levels of inflation,” she said. “The two most volatile sectors are food and energy.” 

After removing these two sectors, inflation drops to 6.3%. “On average, it's still not a great number,” Rasiel said. “But it helps us to bring the extent of the inflation into a little bit more manageable range.”

To decrease spending, Rasiel recommended avoiding impulse buys by shopping earlier in the day, for instance. 

“After you've had your night's sleep, you have more mental self control,” she said.

Buying in bulk and finding items with a longer shelf life can also save money, according to Rasiel. She also recommended planning meals ahead of time and avoiding end-of aisle bargain items.

Rasiel took suggestions from audience members on how to save money. One audience member suggested comparing prices online before shopping, while another proposed finding bruised fruit at grocery stores.

Rasiel warns inflation may continue. 

“Europe's inflation is a lot worse than ours,” she said. “It doesn't help that another part of the world with whom we do a lot of transactions is in really high inflation. I don't necessarily think that means ours will go up much more, but it may slow [prices] coming down.”


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