January 13, 2022 - 6:00 am
If you’ve noticed yourself spending more at the grocery store or to fill up your gas tank lately, chances are it’s not because you’re purchasing more food or doing a lot of extra driving.
Consumer prices shot up 7% in December compared to the year prior. That’s the highest inflation rate the U.S. has seen since 1982.
If you’re looking to stabilize your rising costs, you’re going to have to think a bit differently about the way you shop. Here are a dozen savings tips to help you fight price inflation on everyday purchases.
1. Shop your pantry
Before you go grocery shopping, make a habit of checking the shelves of your pantry first. Canned goods, pasta and other pantry staples have a tendency to get forgotten in dark corners.
By taking inventory of what you already have at home, you’ll avoid mistakenly buying multiples of the same item. You might be able to shorten your grocery list (and spend less). You’ll also reduce the chance of food going bad before you remember to eat it.
Try a pantry challenge to use up what you’ve already got at home instead of going out and buying overpriced groceries. Don’t just limit your challenge to pantry items. Check what you’ve got in the freezer and what toiletries you already have before buying more of the same stuff.
2. Do meal prep
Planning out your meals and making grocery lists based on a meal plan means you’ll be less likely to waste money on something that looks good in the store but you never get around to eating.
This expert meal prep advice simply lays out how to get started planning your meals in advance.
3. Minimize food waste
When you’re paying more for food, the last thing you want is to let it go to waste. It’s like throwing your hard-earned cash in the trash.
Use these tips to reduce food waste so you’ll never have to toss out moldy cheese or stale bread again.
4. Choose store brands over name brands
Name brand groceries are already priced higher than their store brand counterparts. And many times, you can barely tell the difference between the two.
With prices going up, switch to generic brands to lower your grocery spending. You may even discover a new favorite.
5. Buy in bulk
If you don’t need a three-box bundle of cereal or 10 pounds of macaroni noodles, you could always split your shopping haul with a friend or family member. Or you could just use this as an excuse to do less grocery shopping throughout the month.
6. Cut back on meat
Cutting back on meat will have a significant impact on your grocery bill, because beef and pork and chicken tend to be some of the more expensive items in the store — inflation or not.
Going meatless a day or two a week and turning to cheaper alternatives, like beans and lentils, can help you cut costs.
7. Save money on produce
Even with prices going up, you can still find ways to save on fruit and vegetables — without growing them in your backyard.
8. Buy reusable instead of disposable
Which is better: Buying something for $5 that you use once and throw away, or purchasing something similar for $10 but that you can reuse over and over again?
Reusable products cost more upfront than their disposable counterparts, but they’re usually a better deal because they last much longer. Being better for the environment is an added plus.
These nine comparisons show how buying reusable instead of disposable can help you save.
9. Save money on gas
The price at the pump keeps going up and up. But you still have places to go — which means gas is an essential.
Carpooling to the office can help you cut costs. So can signing up for fuel reward programs or using fuel comparison apps to find the lowest gas prices around. This article on how to save on gas has additional advice to lower your spending even as prices rise.
10. Share tools and equipment
Splitting the cost of something you’ll only use occasionally is a better deal than paying full price for something that’ll end up collecting dust most of the time.
Consider sharing pricy tools and equipment — like a stand mixer or a leaf blower — with a neighbor or nearby friend or family member.
11. Learn to barter
You can also fight price inflation by choosing to barter with a friend or family member, rather than paying full price for goods and services.
Perhaps a friend has extra lumber from a home renovation that you can use in exchange for doing free graphic design work for their small business. Or maybe you can dog sit for a family member while they’re out of town in exchange for a few free meals.
12. Get free things from a buy-nothing group
Getting free items from a local Buy Nothing Group, means you can bypass high prices at a store — and you don’t even have to offer up anything in exchange. These groups focus on donations rather than trading or bartering.
Join your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.