3 Things Montanans Can Do Now For Tough Times Ahead
You don't have to go very far to find a news article or a social media post talking about the high price of gas. In fact, the current national average as of yesterday was 4.318 according to AAA. By the way, that surpasses the price back in the summer of 2008, which at the time was the highest per-gallon cost America had ever seen.
Here in Montana, we're right at 4 bucks a gallon for a state average.
Speaking of 2008 and those high gas prices, it wasn't long after that the country went into a recession and the housing market crashed. Now, am I saying that's going to happen again? No, I'm certainly not intelligent enough to predict all of that, but I do know at these prices, hard times are coming for a whole lot of people.
High fuel prices mean things like groceries and other products and services will increase. So, not only will we be paying more at the pump, but we'll also be paying more for the products we're purchasing.
For Montanans that are already barely getting by, this isn't the news they were hoping for.
So what can we do? Is there anything that can bring some sort of relief as we gear up for what is sure to be bumpy roads for a whole lot of folks here in Montana? There are a few things that Montanans can do to prepare for rough times, whether it be record-high fuel prices, a recession, or some sort of natural disaster.
Have A Garden
Planting a garden is a great way to save some money during the summer and fall. For many folks, especially with large families, a garden is a lifesaver when it comes to the grocery bill. While certain types of produce might be a little bit more difficult, there are several that even a beginner can take on.
"But what if I live in an apartment?"
Good question and I have a better answer. Here in Bozeman, there are a handful of community gardens that allow for folks that might not have the land needed, to still have a garden. For more information, check out bozeman.net for more details.
Another huge benefit to having a garden is the ability to "can" the things that you've grown to last all year long. While gardening and "canning" do involve hard work, the money that you can save is significant.
Have An "Emergency Fund"
You might be surprised to know that a large portion of Americans and Montanans don't have a whole lot of money in savings. In fact, just over half of Americans have 5 thousand dollars or less, while one-third of the population has less than one thousand in savings.
Maybe you're thinking, "how are we supposed to save money with the high costs of everything?"
Well, you have to start somewhere, right? I think one of the issues folks run into about saving money, is the amount. Most folks can spare a little bit of money here and there. When you put that to the side and continue to add to it, over time, you start to build up a nice amount of saving which can come in handy in an emergency.
Have Food Storage
Food storage is a great way to get by when you find yourself in a jam. Whether it is financial, or like we saw during the pandemic when the store shelves were empty, it's nice to have options. There are a number of companies out there that offer all kinds of different food storage options, however, many of them come at a pretty hefty price which could be problematic for those living on a budget.
However, there are options that are much more affordable.
Much like starting an emergency fund, food storage can be as easy as taking small steps each time you go to the grocery store. Let's say you are buying groceries and you buying a jar of peanut butter, maybe you buy two. Unopened peanut butter is one of those items that have a nice long shelf life, which is key when putting together food storage. Other items that are relatively inexpensive and have a good shelf life include things like pasta noodles, beans, granola bars, spices, and canned vegetables (see above).
Personally, I keep a couple of cases of ramen noodles in our food pantry because they're cheap, easy to make, and have a long shelf life. However, it just doesn't have to be food, things like deodorant, soap (body and laundry), toilet paper, and paper towels are all great things to have extra of. It's certainly good to be prepared, even if it isn't needed, it's nice to have peace of mind.
Hopefully, things will settle down soon, but even if they do, as the Motto says it's good to "Always Be Prepared".