Last week I wrote about the very real threat inflation poses to retiring comfortably. With inflation up almost 5.5% from a year ago, most of us need to find ways to reduce our spending by that same amount just break even. This week I thought I would share a few creative things any of us can do to reduce the impact inflation has on our monthly budget. Some may seem silly but hopefully they get you thinking about little things you can do to stretch your dollar as far as you can
Reduce your gasoline costs. As I’m sure you are all well aware, the price of gas over the past 6 months has increased substantially. While we are forced to pay whatever the price at the pump is, there are some things you can do to reduce how much you spend on this staple. This may seem inconsequential but adding some extra air to your tires, can improve your overall mileage substantially. Particularly if they are a little low to begin with. Another great strategy I use is to buy my gas at a discount. Wholesalers like Sam’s Club and Costco charge as much as 10-15 cents less per gallon. Over a year of fill-ups these savings far outweigh the cost of the membership. Grocers like Price Chopper and Hy-Vee also offer deep discounts on gas when you utilize their frequent shopper programs if you’re already a frequent shopper of these establishments and not taking advantage of these free programs you are leaving money on the table.
Buy in bulk. When grocery shopping, I have a simple strategy that I use to reduce my costs substantially. Each week when I get the grocery ads in the mail, I really only look at the front page and the weekend sale insert. Those are the two places where you will find your best prices of the week. When something I use regularly is featured, I buy as much as I can keep without it going bad. For example, last week a local retailer had a brand of pasta sauce I buy on sale for roughly 50% off the normal price. I bought 10 jars. This is enough to get me through until the next time its price is drastically reduced. Yes, it takes a bit more intentionality and planning to buy in this way, but when you make it a consistent habit for all grocery shopping it can save you hundreds a month. For other perishable staples like dairy and produce that is not on sale I have found Aldi is so much cheaper than other competitors that most all other items on my weekly list are bought there.
Visit stores less likely to raise prices. I have written before about my love of Dollar Tree for saving money. Now more than ever they are a fabulous tool for reducing overall spending. From housewares, to cleaning products to even food, many people are amazed at how much you can save buying certain things there. Other stores like five below, or dollar general have a harder time changing prices on the goods they sell and are also excellent places to get a deal.
Consider a new hair style. If you thought airing up your tires is not worth bothering with, this one may cause you to stop reading. But if you’re still with me, seriously consider a shorter hair cut for the summer, not only will you save money on how quickly you have to return to the stylist, and how much product you use daily, but the shorter hair will also make you feel dramatically cooler. Thus reducing the temptation to lower the thermostat in your home during these hot Midwestern Augusts.
Use inflated prices to your advantage. The last suggestion I have for you this week, has nothing to do with spending less, but instead making more. With the costs of everything from cars, to homes, to building materials all going up drastically in cost, now is the best time in my lifetime to sell some things you don’t need. And with online sites like Facebook marketplace and craigslist making it easier than ever to connect with a potential buyer willing to pay top dollar, you can actually use this current economic situation to your full advantage.
Again, this list is far from complete there are many other ways in which you can maximize the buying power of your hard-earned money. If you have something you have started doing that has made a difference in your budget, I would love for you to share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The advice is general in nature and not intended for specific situations)