If Not Inflation, Then What? Why More Americans are Relying on SNAP

Mikhail Nguyen
Published Dec 28, 2023


Over the past few years, an increasing number of Americans have found themselves relying on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for assistance, even when inflation is not the primary cause.

Budgeting and managing personal finances play a significant role in determining one's reliance on such programs.

Let's explore the factors contributing to this trend and provide tips on how individuals can better manage their personal finances to reduce dependence on SNAP.

The Changing Dynamics

Despite a growing economy and low unemployment rates, the rising number of Americans benefiting from SNAP has puzzled many observers.

It is important to note that inflation is not always the main culprit behind the increased reliance on this assistance program. Several other aspects come into play:

  1. Stagnant Wages
    While inflation may not be the direct cause, stagnant wages have become a significant factor affecting Americans' finances. The lack of substantial wage growth limits individuals' ability to keep pace with rising living costs, making it challenging to meet essential needs without additional assistance.

  2. Rising Healthcare and Education Costs
    The soaring costs of healthcare and education place an additional burden on families, making it harder to allocate sufficient funds for food. These expenses tend to absorb a significant portion of individuals' income, forcing many to turn to SNAP for support.

  3. Underemployment
    The prevalence of part-time or low-paying jobs often fails to provide enough income to cover basic expenses adequately. This lack of financial stability leaves individuals with no choice but to rely on assistance programs like SNAP to ensure their nutritional needs are met.

Tips for Better Financial Management

While the struggle to make ends meet may be daunting, implementing good personal financial management habits can help individuals navigate these challenges and reduce dependence on SNAP.

Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Create a Budget
    Establish a realistic monthly budget by tracking income and spending habits. It also helps to monitor your credit score. This will enable you to prioritize expenses and identify areas where you can cut costs.

  2. Minimize Debt
    Reduce high-interest debt as much as possible. Prioritize paying off credit cards and loans with high interest rates and consider seeking professional assistance if needed. Explore available debt relief as well. 

  3. Build an Emergency Fund
    Saving for unexpected expenses is crucial to avoid financial setbacks. Aim to save three to six months' worth of living expenses in an easily accessible emergency fund.

  4. Smart Shopping
    Plan meals ahead, create shopping lists, and compare prices to make the most of your food budget. Utilize coupons, loyalty programs, and buy in bulk when possible.

  5. Invest in Education
    Continuously invest in your education and skill development to increase your earning potential. Consider pursuing certifications or attending workshops to enhance your qualifications.

By implementing these tips for better personal financial management, individuals can regain control over their finances and gradually reduce reliance on assistance programs like SNAP.


Although inflation is not solely responsible for the increased reliance on SNAP in the United States, other economic factors such as stagnant wages, rising healthcare and education costs, and underemployment play significant roles.

However, individuals can regain financial stability and reduce dependence on assistance programs by implementing good personal financial management habits. Creating a budget, minimizing debt, building an emergency fund, smart shopping, and investing in education are steps that can lead to a more secure financial future.

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