Higher prices for gas and groceries are taking a toll on Jen Kendra's finances, and she's had to make some difficult tradeoffs this holiday season. Her kids will be getting smaller gifts. The rest of the family won't get any at all. Kendra, who lives with her husband and two young children in the Chicago suburbs and works part-time as a bank teller, is paying double to fill up every week at the pump.
"I have seen such an uptick in prices with food and gas," she said. When she drives by the gas station near her home, she often finds herself screaming at the big signs that list the latest prices. Kendra describes her family as lower-middle-class. She has started to use coupons more often to buy groceries, and she shops more frequently at discount stores like Aldi to land the lowest prices. Sometimes that means driving longer distances to find cheaper food. "Anywhere I can find a deal or a bargain, I'm trying to." Federal stimulus checks have helped her family, but the money dried up earlier this year. Their $550 a month from the expanded child tax credit has also been a boost, and goes toward paying for preschool for their younger son and credit card bills for groceries and gas.