WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Shirnelna Barnes, a single mother, just moved out of a studio apartment where she lived with her elderly parents and teenage son.

“It was very stressful for a minute, but then I learned to ‘woosah’ and go with the flow, ‘woosah,'” Barnes said Wednesday.

With inflation impacting millions of Americans’ daily lives at home and at work, DMV families describe how they’re navigating higher costs, and moving forward with their day-to-day lives.

In the first installment of ‘Inflation and You,’ a DC News Now series, Consumer Reporter Ben Dennis is highlighting local neighbors to shed a light on their very personal stories and how they’re overcoming struggles.

Between jobs and taking on the role of at-home care while raising a child, Barnes described how she stares down at the face of inflation, saves money in her new apartment and has personally sacrificed.

Barnes and her sister, Leola Ragland — a Prince George’s County resident — helped feed their mother Sylvia when DC News Now visited Barnes’ apartment near Thomas Jefferson High School near the Crestwood neighborhood.

Ragland helped Sylvia walk from the tiny dining area to a recliner in front of the TV after their meal.

“I made it especially for you,” said Ragland after asking about the meal.

Shirlena Barnes, her mom and her sister, Leola Ragland

“Mom is, she’s OK, she’s safe, she’s secure and she has what she needs,” she added. Barnes later described her mother’s fluctuating health condition has improved since she came into her care in 2021.

In the room immediately adjacent to where the pair’s mother sat quietly with a soft smile, Barnes walked through the single bedroom where 15-year-old son Ronnie and his grandmother sleep.

Barnes opened a large hardcover notebook among her son’s belongings, saying, “this is where he does his art, so maybe one day he’ll be artist. … He’s good, he’s real good. I’m so proud of him.”

Teenage “boredom” is how Barnes, and many other parents, have described a facet of learning cooped up at home during widespread virtual learning structures during the first year of the pandemic.

During the isolating months of the pandemic, Barnes began cutting back on”excess spending” while navigating several months of receiving unemployment benefits, and jobs as a home and hotel cleaner, adding that moving apartments four times has allowed her to save further.

“Some apartments I had, I would live there to save up money. I got a plan in my mind…” ” …and then when I can get enough room for all three of us. Hey, I did it, I made it,” she aid.

However, making “it” involves having to pay for essentials like groceries, which notably are more costly due to inflation.

“Going to the store just to get fruits and vegetables, it’s ridiculous, the prices,” Ragland said, before Barnes described, “I got three food pantries I hit up every week. Fruits and veggies, some will be good, some will be bad, but it’s usable,” and a cost savings of $100 every month.

Expressing optimism throughout the interview, Barnes wanted to point out her own recent achievements while a single mother, including receiving an education just before the pandemic began.

“I went back to school to get my GED,” she said before opening a storage container with a myriad of certificates of achievement related to employment and school.

“This is a perfect attendance for the whole year. I did not miss one day. So when I say, just go, you want to do something, just go do it… there’s nothing else but to do it, that’s it, just do it,” Barnes advised other mothers considering personal goals.

DC News Now wants to hear from you! How have you been faring amid inflation? How are you cutting costs, and what are you hoping to learn to Stretch Your Dollar? Email Ben Dennis at bdennis@dcnewsnow.com.