Rising inflation rates got you down? Try these tips for staying afloat.
In February, consumer prices for food rose nearly 8 percent (7.9), the largest 12-month increase since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Energy prices increased by more than 25 percent from February 2021 to February 2022. Meanwhile, gas prices are higher than ever and are expected to continue to climb.
Rising inflation rates can cause you to spend hundreds of dollars more each month. But you can take steps to balance out some high costs with strategic shopping and cutting fuel and energy costs.
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1. Shop discount grocers
If you’re like everyone else in the U.S., you’ve noticed significant and steady price increases on foods like meat, produce, dairy products and many other grocery items due to the pandemic. You might even pay double what you paid for the same amount of groceries three years ago.
If you want to save on groceries, give Aldi, Save-A-Lot or another discount grocery chain a try. You may find you spend only half of what you typically pay for a weeks’ groceries. At the same time, don’t forget to look over your regular grocery store circulars for sale items.
2. Cut back on fuel usage
Now that gas prices are high and expected to increase even more, cutting back on how much gas you use can free up money to spend on groceries, dining out and other expenses that have jumped due to inflation.
To save on gas, combine several errands into one trip. Take public transportation, walk or ride your bike. Keep your tires inflated and your engine tuned so your car uses less gas.
Find out: 8 Ways to Save Money at the Gas Pump
3. Stick to sales when you can
It’s tempting to buy clothing as soon as it hits the store or online retailer but try to hold off a bit if you can. If you wait a little longer, the store may discount that new shirt you want by 25 percent or more. If you’re patient enough to browse in-store and online clearance and sale sections, you can find great deals on all kinds of items.
The same goes for grocery shopping. Don’t purchase items you don’t need just because they’re on sale. Instead, watch for sale items similar to the full-priced items on your grocery list. When shopping for electronics, appliances and other items, compare prices at several retailers to find the best deal.
4. Cut utility costs
Natural gas prices have increased significantly in many states, and some cities have especially high electricity or water rates. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to afford to live in more affordable comfort.
- Run your washer, dryer, dishwasher and other appliances at night when electric and natural gas rates are typically lower.
- Use ceiling fans. In the summer, operate ceiling fans in a counterclockwise direction. “If you use air conditioning to cool your home, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort,” according to Energystar.gov. “In temperate climates, or during moderately hot weather, ceiling fans may allow you to avoid using your air conditioner altogether. Install a fan in each room that needs to be cooled during hot weather.”
In the winter, switch ceiling fan direction back to clockwise to save on heating bills.
- Fix leaky faucets and toilets. The average household can waste about 10,000 gallons of water a year due to dripping faucets, leaky valves and leaky toilets with worn flappers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Upgrade to EnergyStar appliances, which can save the typical household around $450 a year, according to Energystar.gov.
Find out: Your Inflation Move: Don’t Make a Move
5. Use online price matching
To save while shopping in a retail store, always check the price of the item on the retailer’s website. You’ll be amazed at how often you can find a lower price online.
Many retail stores — Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Office Depot/OfficeMax and PetSmart, for example — will match the price listed on the retailer website. To find a store’s price match policy, search online by the store name and “price match policy.”
Published by Debt.com, LLC