How inflation could help us save money — and the planet

Inflation has many Americans worrying — a jump in prices of groceries and gas means paying more for fewer items, and possibly constraining any savings for the future. But it could also be a chance to rethink everyday spending, and possibly even help the environment.

There’s a link between consumer spending and climate change. Much of what Americans purchase must be manufactured, placing more emphasis on resources, energy and fuel. This record inflation, currently standing at more than 8%, could be a time to revisit everyday spending and change behaviors, for the benefit of consumers’ budgets and the world, said Tanja Hester, author of “Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn and Save as a Force for Change.” 

In her book, Hester, who is also a MarketWatch contributor, shows the link between spending and big-picture global issues, including climate change, inequality and capitalism. Hester is also an early retiree, leaving the workforce at age 38 after switching from a lifestyle of splurging to saving. Her first book, “Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way,” explores financial independence and early retirement. 

“For the people who are under 60 currently and hopefully have a lot of years left on the planet, we have to think of the world we want to be retired in,” Hester said. 

Hester spoke with MarketWatch about the relationship between consumerism and inflation and how people could change their behaviors to save their money and help the planet at the same time. This interview was edited for clarity and length.

See: Gas is going up but this is how inflation really hurts older Americans

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