Credit Sesame’s ideas on how to combat inflation by reducing expenses.
Higher prices for everything from groceries to a visit to your doctor are here to stay for the near future, especially as some companies continue to raise prices after their inflation-related costs have been covered.
Your household expenses cannot be put on hold, but there is probably room in your budget to trim some discretionary spending. Is it time to say goodbye HBO Max? Can you reduce your grocery bill by shopping for deals, and purchasing cheaper brands or alternatives to your usual items?
As the Federal Reserve Board works toward its goal of getting inflation down to 2.0%, you can address reduced spending power by lowering your expenses.
Combat inflation when buying groceries
As the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls groceries in the Consumer Price Index, food at home has a 13% inflation rate. Perhaps surprisingly, the rate for food away from home, or dining out, is only 8.5%. Of course, it is more expensive to start with.
Cooking at home is almost always cheaper than dining out, and there are easy ways to save on groceries. The secret is to plan for what you need.
- Plan meals for the week
- Create a grocery list
- Choose recipes with overlapping ingredients
- Avoid impulse buys online or in-store
- Stock up on items you need when you find deals
Drive less to save on gasoline
According to AAA, gas prices have been falling since July,. Although, the national average for regular gas is still $3.75 per gallon. A year ago it averaged $3.40 per gallon. The inflation rate for all types of gasoline remains high after dropping every month since July. At the end of September gas inflation was 18.2%.
Probably, you shop for the lowest prices out of habit. Gas is a significant expense for most people even in times of low inflation. Driving less is the best solution. Searching for a gas station with the best prices can be a waste of gas and money. You’re likely to save more by driving fewer miles. Plan routes ahead of time and combine errands to figure out the shortest route between destinations. A map app on your phone can make it easy to find the shortest route.
Save by carpooling errands, working from home, riding your bike or taking public transportation.
Cut your utilities spend
The inflation rate for energy services is 19.8%. For electricity it’s 15.5% and for piped gas service the inflation rate is at 33.1%.
The advice from France’s finance minister to wear a turtleneck sweater this winter was aimed at Europeans looking for ways to save energy, but it can also apply to Americans. But if the Steve Jobs look isn’t your style, there are other ways to save energy and lower your utility bills.
The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting a programmable thermostat at home to 68 degrees when you’re awake at home, but lowering it when you’re asleep or away. It says consumers can save up to 10% a year on heating and cooling costs by turning the thermostat back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours a day from its normal setting.
Another way to save energy is to do fewer laundry or dishwasher runs. Do this by making sure you’re running a full load, and dry clothes outside or on an indoor drying rack.
The Consumer Price Index doesn’t break utilities down to broadband service, which is an area where it’s worth comparing prices. The approximate national average for high-speed internet and a reliable connection is $60 per month, according to HighSpeedInternet. Prices can range to well over $100 a month, it says.
Switching internet providers is one way to save, but it can also pay to call your broadband company to see if it will match the price of competitors. Some companies have special plans for new subscribers during their first year, and continue those low prices or raise them minimally if customers ask for a discount after the introductory offer ends.
Shop for insurance
Auto and home insurance are two big expenses where it can pay off to shop every six months or year, depending on when your policies expire.
The average auto insurance policy is $1,553 per year, according to U.S. News. The national average cost of homeowners insurance is $1,854 per year for a policy with $300,000 of dwelling coverage and $100,000 of liability coverage, according to a Forbes Advisor analysis.
Other ways to save are increasing deductibles and paying upfront so you avoid monthly service fees for billing.
Consider if car ownership is necessary
Insurance costs may be reason enough to take public transportation to work or buy an electric bike. Buying a vehicle is expensive. The inflation rate for new vehicles is 9.4% and is 7.2% for used ones.
AAA says U.S. drivers spend an average of $10,728 a year to own and operate a new car. That’s more than $1,000 higher than $9,666 for 2021.
Electric cars are cheaper to run than gas cars. A fully electric vehicle saves about $2,100 a year in fuel, AAA says, because electricity is much cheaper than gas. Granted, buying an electric car isn’t cheap or easy.
Selling your car and taking the bus to work may work out cheaper. No insurance costs for starters. Although, the inflation rate for transportation services is 14.6%. And functioning without a car isn’t an easy option in many American cities. Be sure to research public transport options and costs before selling your vehicle.
Entertain yourself for free
Entertainment is one of the easiest areas to cut a budget because it’s a discretionary expense. It’s also an area where savings can be fairly easy to find.
Call your cable provider and ask for a price cut, or shop competitors for better deals. If you subscribe to several subscriptions, cancel ones you don’t use much and keep the one you use the most.
Visit your local library for free entertainment. Books, DVDs, music, video games and newspapers are available at most libraries at no cost.
Stores that sell used books, video games, movies and other things often buy from the public, so check your shelves for items you may be able to sell.
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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.