Inflation in the United States is rising to a 40-year high point. Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is at 7.9% year over year, from Feb. 2021 to Feb 2022. Hardest hit for working class Americans is the rise in food consumed at home at 7.9% and gas at 38%. Used vehicles are holding their pandemic inflationary highs, currently at 41.2%. Even the dollar store raised their base price from $1 to $1.25. Finding ways to save money to cope with this record inflation is on the top of many families concerns. Even more so for newly separated couples who now have less money to support their household. Below are tips that can help you take a bite out of inflation.
1. Plan when and where to buy gas to get the biggest savings
Download one of several “cheap gas” apps on to your mobile phone. It will show you the gas prices for the closest gas stations. Some of the apps will allow you to select the grade of gas too. Here are few suggested apps that you can find at Google Play or the Apple store; Gas Guru, Gas Buddy, and Waze.
Many local grocers provide discount gas programs, either at store owned gas stations or with an affiliate gas chain. Discounts are based on how much your purchase in the previous month. Grocers with these programs include Kroeger (Fry’s/Fred Meyer/Ralph’s), Albertsons, Safeway, Winn Dixie, and Giant Eagle. Gas station chains have discounts programs too! Do a search for “Who has the best Gas Rewards program?” to find a gas station discount program for you.
If you regularly drive by a Costco or Sam’s club with a gas station, they have discounted prices for their members. Gas can be 10 to 20% cheaper. It’s only worth it if you’re not traveling extra miles to get there.
2. Negotiate better deals
If you carry credit card debt, negotiate for a better interest rate. This will save you money in the long run. If possible, pay off your credit cards each month. Credit card companies make money on your purchases; they don’t need to make money off you too!
If you have a cable TV and internet service, call, and ask for a discount on your current package, or negotiate a better package. Consider a switch from expensive cable to streaming. There are multiple streaming packages that will enable you to continue to have local TV as well as national networks. I cut my Internet and Cable package price of $295 monthly and moved to a streaming service and a separate internet provider. Total new cost of $150. I’m still enjoying the benefit of almost 50% savings!
A great saver for me, was buying nonperishable items at the big box stores and buying in bulk.
Cell phone plans are another great place you can negotiate. If your cell phone is paid off, negotiate to switch to a lower monthly program. Some plans can save you up to 50% for the same service. Make sure you understand your current usage to insure it is a better deal for you. If you are in need of a new phone, some providers are offering incentive plans that include the phone.
3. Grocery Savings
Multiple big grocery stores chains have membership programs that offer discounts. More of these stores now have apps that connect to your specific membership. You can find digital coupons, view weekly ads, and create grocery lists for shopping. Tip: Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry! Creating and sticking to your list is another great way to control your spending. These grocery store apps may alert you when items that you have previously bought are now on sale. The chain grocers usually offer a senior discount day with up to a 10% discount one day a month. Consider asking a someone 62+ to join you on that day.
If you have time, review the weekly ads, and visit multiple stores. Clip coupons from the ads to save even more.
Consider discount grocers in your area such a Winco Foods, Food for Less, Grocery Outlet, Smart & Final and Walmart. Savings of 25% or better, using these discount stores is not unusual.
A great saver for me, was buying nonperishable items at the big box stores and buying in bulk. My strategy was to stock up on paper products, toothpaste, coffee, shampoos, soap, hygiene products and other products whenever I received a tax return check, a bonus or other money that wasn’t part of my monthly budget.
4. Miscellaneous Tips
Postpone any major purchases. With used cars over 41% higher than a year ago, and new cars 12.4% higher, if you can hold off, don’t buy a car right now, wait until prices start to come down.
It’s also a good time to put all those energy savings tips into practice; turn down the temperature to heat your home to 68 degrees, and the air-conditioning up to 78 degrees. Electricity and gas prices are up and will continue to increase with inflation.
This is also a great time to consider giving up smoking or other tobacco products. They are up over 7%.
These tips can help you save money. Track your spending and celebrate the saving. My favorite item to view on my receipt is the amount of money I saved. Every now and then I save more than I spend. That is a great feeling. Here is a link to the Consumer Price Index for the US used for this post.
Good luck to you and your family. The less money you spend on essentials, the more you have to spend on fun!