It’s been more than 2 years since the start of the pandemic and the world is still reeling from the effects. Unfortunately, inflation became an encroaching reality when the economy shut down. High consumer demand combined with limited inventory caused by supply chain issues has influenced prices across the board. From groceries to entertainment, we’ve all seen the prices jump!
Our wallets and lifestyles feel the pain as we adjust to this temporary reality. Inflation is cyclical and will surely come back around during our lifetime. Frankly, it’s not a bad idea to maintain a budget-minded focus, especially for just-in-case scenarios. Below are a few ways that can help take the pressure off your wallet and keep you moving forward:
Make Use of Community Fridges
Community fridges are a fantastic resource. These refrigerators are located in public spaces and are open for the community to freely take what they want and leave what they can. This mutual aid initiative is designed to encourage community, reduce food waste, and allow easy access to fresh, nutritious food. Community fridges are run BY the community, FOR the community. They have been established in many metropolitan areas throughout the country.
- Reduce food waste
- Mutual aid: trade goods in and out
- Build community connection
- Access to healthy food
- Save money
Focus on essentials and reign in unnecessary spending. Today’s culture of instant gratification has created a disposable society, one that constantly tries to fill a void only to remain unfulfilled. Save money by strategically managing your current resources.
- Keep and use leftovers
- Properly care for your clothing
- Learn the basics of sewing
- Shop pre-owned
- Maintain instead of replace within reason
- Sell unwanted items online or through a garage sale
It’s smart to shop around if you have multiple grocery stores near you. Cross-check prices, selection, and weekly sales to find great deals. Plan your shopping around these deals, create a list, and stick to it. Pre-planning your groceries takes time and effort, but the pay off is immense if your goal is to save some money.
- Shop around
- Check weekly ads for sales
- Price compare online if available
- Look for in-store clearance items
- Sign up for loyalty programs to access member-only discounts and digital coupons
Brian and I shop 6 grocery stores within a 7-mile radius: Publix, Kroger, H Mart, Sam’s Club, Aldi, and Lidl. I will often cross-check prices online (through store websites) while in different stores to compare deals on-the-go. Lidl was a sleeper surprise to us – their regular prices are usually quite a bit less than elsewhere. For example, we just picked up a 30-count pack of Grade A Large Eggs for $2! We used to spend about $100/week on groceries, but now spend $30-$40/week through careful planning.
Change Perspectives and Expectations
Many experiences are no longer what they were pre-pandemic. They are less robust, more expensive, or no longer worth it for other reasons. As we faced these changes, Brian and I focused on how to continue to enjoy ourselves differently. We found that we just needed to adjust our perspectives.
We can’t expect pre-pandemic levels of service and cost. Instead of getting irritated by a night out that used to cost $60 with great service, but is now over $100 while being ignored, we have changed the way we experience a night out (and in!).
- Reduce eating and drinking out
- Create a fun, lively atmosphere at home with barware, music, and lighting
- Explore low-to-no cost outings, such as museums, hikes, and more
Not only do we end up saving money, but we also find new things to try together. From DIY projects to consistent P90X workouts and cheap eats to at-home bartending, we have a lot of fun exploring new perspectives.
Investing in yourself awards clarity and capability. It’s a personal journey that can often be trying, but incredibly rewarding. When you self-invest, you develop additional skills, increase knowledge, and therefore, are less likely to outsource.
There are a number of ways to invest in yourself. Enhance your professional or personal skills through free webinars or training sessions. Participate in advanced training or ongoing education to work towards a better paying job, new career, or even self-employment!
- Mind: Explore resources from the library, internet, and training sessions
- Body: Fuel your body with proper nutrition and sleep. Commit to an exercise regimen, such as no-equipment strength training or a workout program like P90X for greater mobility and strength.
- Spirit: Self-reflect through journaling, meditation, or solitude
- Attend all kinds of workshops for hands-on experiences
Self-investing encourages a sense of adaptability. It allows you to understand your own boundaries while pushing you to face challenges. Tackle that DIY project, grow your own garden, or build passive income with the skills you’ve acquired! Not only will you feel great about your accomplishments, but you will also save on having to pay someone else to do these things for you.
Participate in Cash Back Programs
Are you spending money on everyday essentials without getting anything extra in return? How does rewarding yourself with a little cash back sound? You can earn anywhere from 1%-6.5% cash back on qualifying purchases through cash back credit cards. Check out our Beginner’s Guide if you’re new to credit cards.
You can also boost your cash back rewards as a loyalty member and through certain cash back websites.
We personally utilize our cash back credit cards and Swagbucks!
Embrace Travel Flexibility
The travel industry has seen its fair share of ups and downs since the pandemic. Affected by closures, inflation, war, and shortages, travel remains costly and uncertain in some areas. If you choose to travel, it’s best to be as flexible as you can to avoid the sting of inflation.
- Fly budget airlines for super cheap tickets
- Purchase tickets at the airport for discounted rates
- Fly off-hours (late night or red-eye)
- Travel during the week instead of the weekend
- Travel out of season
- Road trip instead of fly
- Book accommodations with kitchens to limit dining out
- Sign up for hotel loyalty programs and travel credit cards to earn and redeem reward points
Save at the Gas Pump
The cost of fuel has impacted many of us. From personal homes and transportation to worldwide travel and freight, the price of gas has changed budgets all around. The consumer not only faces an increase at the pump, but also through the purchase of goods. Try a few of these tips below to help mitigate some of the expense.
- Download the GasBuddy app to track local gas prices
- Pay with a cash back credit card
- Pay with cash for a discounted rate
- Negotiate to work from home if possible
- Avoid running errands during rush hour
- Combine errands to reduce car trips
- Walk or use public transit
Buy in Bulk
Warehouse clubs offer incredible bargains compared to standard grocery stores, especially when buying in bulk. Though annual memberships can range from $50-$150, access to these clubs can save you money in the long run. In fact, did you know that regular retail goods are priced at a 50% markup, whereas warehouse goods only face a 15% markup? Additionally, memberships can include health insurance, travel savings, and discounted fuel.
However, you don’t always need a club membership to buy in bulk. Even at standard grocery stores, you can still find ways to save. Pay attention to buy one, get one free (BOGO) deals, deep discounts, and closeout sales. Stock up on these goods when you can!
- Dry goods
- Frozen products
- Household and cleaning supplies
Gift Quality Time over Material Goods
No need to play into the consumerism of gift-giving to express how you feel towards someone. Save yourself the stress and money! Instead, challenge yourself to come up with creative low-to-no cost get-togethers.
- Go for a hike
- Play board games
- Watch a movie
- Scrapbook together
- Small DIY project
- Cooking competition with on-hand ingredients
- Visit free museums (or visit museums on days that are free)
Brian and I stopped buying gifts for each other years ago. We’ve found creative ways to enjoy our time together and have saved money along the way! The money we would have spent on gifts throughout the years has funded investments, experiences, and adventure.
Though there isn’t a way to completely avoid inflation, these suggestions can help offset some of the high costs. The current state of the economy calls for a change in habits to maximize savings. Remember, this change is temporary! Limitations and boundaries are not designed to last forever. In fact, you might even learn to love these adjustments, so much so that this change has no negative connotation. You may find that you prefer a simpler life, one in which you live with less to be more. In the end, life is all about perspective.
For us, we have chosen to enjoy what we can and make short term sacrifices for long term gains. What ways have you tried to cope with inflation?