Inflation is a silent budget killer. It causes everything to go up, from your groceries to your gas, as the purchasing power of your money decreases. During a good year, it cuts your buying power by 2% to 3%. But it’s hitting especially hard this year because the U.S. annual inflation rate is 9.1% for the 12 months ended June 2022, a level we haven’t seen in 40 years.
Unfortunately, there is no simple solution but there are things you can do to help you navigate this period of high inflation. We’ve gathered some of our best tips so you can pick what works best for you and your family.
Pro Tip #1 – Know Your Money
First, you need to know exactly how you are spending your money and how that spending compares to 6 months ago. Once you know, it’s easier to see where you may have room to cut back and redirect funds to other places.
Pro Tip #2 – Cut Expenses
We know this isn’t easy, but we recommend you take a close look at your bills to see where you can reduce or negotiate. Things like insurance go up over time if you don’t shop around. Routine bills that could be eliminated or negotiated for a better rate include:
- Recurring subscriptions/memberships such as gym fees, magazine subscriptions and streaming services.
- Cell phone service
- Car and homeowners’ insurance
Pro Tip #3 – Trim Your Groceries
You can save big on your groceries by being more thoughtful with what you buy and when you buy it. It’s estimated that Americans throw away 40% of the food produced, processed and transported in the U.S.
- Meal planning is an easy way to get better at grocery shopping, so you only buy what you need and when you need it. Look at the calendar to see when you will be home to cook and the days you need to prepare lunches and plan your meals and grocery list from there.
- Meal prepping is another great way to save money and avoid food waste. This is where you set aside a block of time to make a few days or a week’s worth of meals with the same ingredients.
- Many stores offer digital coupons you can clip to save on the items you buy most frequently. Or you can visit different websites to download and print coupons, but this takes a lot of time and planning.
- Use a cash back app to get a rebate or coupon for an additional discount. Here are some of the most popular cash-back apps in 2022.
Pro Tip #4 – Gas Saving Measures
Filling up our vehicles is a necessary evil. We hate to pay the price, but we need gas to get to work and school. There are things you can do to save a little on your weekly fill-up.
- Download and use a gas app such as GasBuddy, Upside or Google Maps to track gas prices near you to find a station near you with the lowest price. Here are some of the favorite gas apps to use.
- Some grocery chains offer a rewards program for discounts on gas so get and use their card for a gas discount.
- Pay for gas with cash. Some stations offer a discount for paying cash.
- Consolidate errands and map your route so you are being efficient in your vehicle use.
- Get a membership at a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club. The annual fee is around $60 but that can quickly be regained by bulk buying (which also helps with grocery expenses) and discounted gas prices.
- Check your tire pressure to boost your MPG.
Pro Tip #5 – Continue to Invest
It may be counterintuitive to invest when the market is dropping but it’s actually a great time to get started. Investing your money is one way to keep up with or even outpace inflation. At Members Trust, we know this is critical to your long-term financial health so you can always count on count on consistently great rates at Members Trust!