Searching for ways to beat inflation? No doubt, inflation is putting significant pressure on people’s budgets, and the future looks bleak when it comes to the potential of prices falling soon. As of September 21, 2023, the Consumer Price Index revealed that consumer goods and services rose 8.6 percent (on average) over the last 12 months, noting shelter, food, airline fares, and new vehicles as the most significant contributors to this overall increase. And this isn’t just impacting lower-income families either—a recent study found that 31 percent of Americans making $100,000 and more struggle to afford their bills.
As prices continue to rise, here’s a look at beating inflation on everything from groceries to gas to household bills.
GROCERIES (3 Ways to Beat Inflation)
Even if you’re not struggling to afford your bills, you can beat inflation by saving money on groceries. Doing so can free up some extra cash to put towards other things, like savings or investments. Here are a few tips for how to save money on groceries,
1. SHOP STRATEGICALLY
Not only do you need to pay attention to grocery prices when shopping, but paying attention to how you shop can also result in significant savings at the food store. One study shows that shoppers who used self-checkout spent less on impulse than those who used the staffed lane. Another way to ditch impulse grocery buys is to use a handbasket rather than a cart. You don’t have as much space to toss in anything other than the necessities by doing this.
2. STICK TO STORE BRANDS
Store brands have come a long way in the last decade, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing taste and quality to save, and you’re looking at spending around 30% less. Many grocery stores and big-box retailers are also more likely to offer deals and coupons on their food brands, so there’s even more opportunity to save.
3. KEEP AN EYE ON MANAGER MARKDOWNS
Shoppers will often find fresh foods at up to a 70% discount when nearing their expiration date. These include meat, cheese, chicken, fish, and dairy. Ask your store manager where you can find these options and freeze what you don’t plan to eat right away.
RESTAURANT MEALS/TAKE OUT (3 Ways to Beat Inflation)
Saving money on restaurant meals is important for a number of reasons. For one, eating out is becoming increasingly more expensive as inflation continues to rise. Additionally, when you eat out, you’re not only paying for the food itself, but also for the service and oftentimes for the ambiance of the restaurant.
Here are some ways you can beat inflation by saving money on restaurant meals/takeout.
4. BUY GIFT CARDS IN BULK
Before heading out to eat, pick up a discount restaurant gift card. You can snag significant savings when buying bulk packs of gift cards from warehouse stores. For instance, you can get $25 off two $50 gift cards to Macaroni Grill and $20 off two $50 gift cards to California Pizza Kitchen, both available at Costco. If you don’t have a membership to one of these bulk stores, check out Restaurant.com for dining deals, as this site posts discounted certificates for restaurants based on zip code.
5. LOOK FOR LOCAL SPECIALS
Happy hour isn’t just for drinks, many bars and restaurants also offer deals on appetizers and select menu items, so this is a good time to dine out to save. Otherwise, look for early-bird or late-night dining deals as restaurants may discount meals when crowds die down. Meanwhile, families can save by searching for dining spots that offer free kids’ meals on certain days of the week. Download the Yelp app and tap on the Deals tab to look for dining and take-out specials nearby.
6. SNAG CASHBACK ON DINING
Take the sting out of rising restaurant prices by using cashback tools to save money. Sites like CouponCabin.com offer cashback for food delivery services like $2.50 back at Uber Eats and $10 back at Postmates. Meanwhile, you can earn an extra 4% cashback when you pay for your food and drinks using the Slide app at participating restaurants and coffee shops, including The Cheesecake Factory, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, etc.
GAS (3 Ways to Beat Inflation)
In these (high) inflationary times, it’s more important than ever to save money on gas for your car. Rising prices at the pump can quickly eat into your budget, leaving you with less money to spend on other things. Here are a few ways to beat inflation and save on gas to keep more money in your pocket.
7. TRACK PRICES
Fuel prices can fluctuate daily, making it tricky to determine which gas stations have the best rate. However, you can quickly compare current prices per gallon using the GasBuddy app. Enter your location or allow the GPS feature to pull up your location and notify you where the least expensive gas is in your area or along your route.
8. REDEEM GROCERY POINTS
Pay attention to where you shop for groceries, as some offer fuel reward programs, allowing you to redeem points for discounts at the pump. For instance, Kroger’s loyalty program provides one fuel point for every $1 spent on groceries which consumers can redeem for discounts at Kroger gas stations and participating Shell stations. Other grocery stores offer similar programs, so don’t let those rewards go to waste.
9. THINK TWICE ABOUT HOW YOU PAY
Cash is king when saving on gas, as card paying customers can expect to spend 10 to 15-cents more per gallon when swiping plastic. If you don’t typically carry dollar bills on hand, look for a gas rebate card to earn more cashback on fuel purchases. You can even double up on cashback by uploading pictures of your gas receipts using Fetch Rewards. You’ll earn points good towards gift cards to stores like Amazon, Target, or Walmart, which you can use to offset future spending needs.
HOUSEHOLD BILLS (3 Ways to Beat Inflation)
Inflation can have a serious impact on your household budget, making it more important than ever to save money on household bills.
Here are a few ways you can beat inflation by reducing your monthly expenses and keeping more money in your pocket.
10. COMPARE INSURANCE RATES
You likely shopped around for the best insurance rates when first buying your car or home, but you could be leaving money on the table if you haven’t compared rates. Run a quick price comparison using insurance comparison sites like TheZebra.com to see if you could snag comparable coverage for less. Increasing your deductible and bundling policies are other ways to reduce your premium.
11. RETHINK YOUR WIRELESS BILL
A recent study found that 90% of mobile users waste money on unnecessary unlimited data plans as they use much less than their plan provides. Review your data use and move to a lower-tiered data plan or save by switching to an online-only carrier like Mint Mobile, which offers plans for as little as $15 per month. Considering the average American cell phone bill is $70 for a single user, according to JD Power, that’s an extra $660 a year extra you will have to put towards your debt.
12. CONSOLIDATE DEBT
Carrying balances across multiple credit cards makes managing debt difficult and more expensive, especially for anyone with a variable-rate credit card. As rates increase, monthly interest fees will get more expensive, making it harder to pay down debt. While transferring balances to a zero-percent interest credit card is one option, consolidating multiple balances into one personal loan takes the stress out of managing several different payment dates and comes with lower interest rates. You can even find debt consolidation loans for bad credit by comparing offers at sites like BadCredit.org.
SHOPPING/CLOTHING (3 Ways to Beat Inflation)
Inflation can have a serious impact on your household budget, making it more important than ever to make smarter choices when shopping.
Here are some ways to beat inflation when it comes to shopping.
13. SHOP OUTSIDE THE REGULAR RETAIL BOX
You may have already started to limit impulse purchases and unnecessary shopping, but when it comes to buying stuff you need, think outside the traditional retail shop. Instead, join Buy-Nothing Groups on Facebook to pick up free things and trade kid’s clothing at SwoondleSociety.com. Otherwise, look for gently used options online.
You can find secondhand home goods and furniture through:
- Local listing sites like Mercari or OfferUp,
- Previously-owned fashion at Poshmark or Thredup.com,
- Gently-used sports gear at SwapMeSports, and
- Refurbished gadgets at eBay or Best Buy to save anywhere from 30 to 70% compared to regular retail prices.
14. BUY OFF-SEASON
While marketers want you to believe you need something new for the upcoming or current season, chances are you can wait. And holding off on making the purchase can result in considerable savings. Many consumer goods like clothing, holiday decorations, power tools, and even sporting gear have a season it’s most needed, like swimsuits for summer and snowblowers for winter. Hence, prices peak when the item is in demand. Buying toward the end of the season (i.e. after the December global holidays) may offer less selection, but you can reap bigger 50 to 70% off discounts.
15. MONITOR PRICE DROPS
While hunting down coupons and comparing prices are two essential steps to finding the best deal on any purchase, don’t forget to track prices even after you buy. Many retailers offer price adjustments for recent purchases that go on sale for more money off within a week or two from the original date of purchase. While monitoring these price changes can be tedious, some tools work for you. For example, Edison Mail’s Price Alert feature will notify you when they detect a price drop for recent purchases. Also, they provide tips on how to request money back for stuff you already bought. This way, you never overpay.
TRAVEL (3 Ways to Beat Inflation)
When it comes to booking travel, the best rates are often not the first ones to get displayed. Indeed, these days, one must hunt for the best deals. Here are some ways to beat inflation, and travel at the same time.
16. BE FLEXIBLE
When and where you go will ultimately impact your vacation spending, so be flexible about your destination and travel dates to save. Choose a destination experiencing its off-peak season to enjoy hotel, airfare, and entertainment deals. Traveling midweek will also offer deeper discounts on flights and accommodation. Set airfare and hotel price alerts using sites like Hopper and Trivago, and take a holiday where you find the deals.
17. ENJOY FREE ACTIVITIES
Airfare and hotel will account for a significant portion of your overall travel budget, but even those daily activities and entertainment can add. Save yourself some serious dough by picking a destination that offers plenty of free things to do. For instance, the beach will keep your kids happy for hours, while a mountain getaway gives you plenty of options to play outdoors, including hiking, bike riding, fishing, star gazing, and more.
18. GET CREATIVE WITH ACCOMMODATION
You don’t have to dish out hundreds of dollars on a hotel or home rental— a little creativity can go a long way to help you save on accommodation.
For instance, you can get a free or deeply discounted overnight stay by:
- Swapping homes via HomeExchange.com,
- Renting a room rather than a whole house through VRBO or Airbnb; or,
- Tackling chores or office duties in exchange for free stays at hostels via WorldPackers.com.
While inflation is something you can’t change, there are still ways to beat it. The key is to be mindful of your spending and make strategic choices that allow you to save money. From automating your finances to taking advantage of freebies, these tips will help you keep more of your hard-earned cash.