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The present situation presents a significant challenge, marked by the persistent rise in the prices of everyday necessities like fuel and groceries, sparking entirely justified concerns. This upward trend naturally raises genuine apprehensions about ensuring access to fundamental requirements and maintaining a stable living situation until the next paycheck arrives. Given these circumstances, what practical approaches can individuals employ to skillfully navigate these challenges?
An online forum community discussed what they are doing in the face of inflation to avoid feeling like they’re drowning. Here’s what was said:
1. Eating Fewer Meals Out Each Week
The prevalent responses predominantly centered on dining outside the home. One individual succinctly mentioned, “[I] substantially reduced dining out.” Preparing meals at one’s residence proves to be significantly more budget-friendly, especially when cooking in larger quantities to cater to multiple members of the household.
2. Changing Food Preferences
One user shares a handful of habit changes they’ve made around food. “[I] don’t buy as much junk food, eating more soups, stews, and chili, eating far less meat, and cut back on how much we eat.”
3. Finding a Side Gig
“I’m doing anything I can for extra cash. Donating plasma helps.” Says one user. Other options include freelancing, renting a spare room, or starting a side business to supplement your income.
4. Growing Food at Home
Someone shares, “We pretty much only buy things that we can’t grow or raise at home.” This can include year-round planning with freezing, indoor growing, and canning.
5. Getting Help from the Local Food Bank
“I began getting food from food banks. On disability you simply can’t pay $500+ a month on groceries/cleaning products/toiletries. And my thoughts are this: now that they know we’ll pay $6 for a smaller box of cereal I don’t see grocery prices ever going back to what they were.”
This has been a lifesaver for my own grandparents, too, who are on a fixed income and facing rising rental rates.
6. Cutting Out Certain Food Groups
“I had to cut fruits because they have gotten insanely expensive. Otherwise, I plan the meals that I would like to eat a few days in advance and then only buy the needed ingredients, nothing else. It keeps me alive, but I’m definitely not enjoying it.” Say one user. Of course, this can depend on the season and location, too. Sometimes, buying frozen produce is a great alternative.
7. Intermittent Fasting
There are health benefits to intermittent fasting for the right individuals. Someone jokingly said they took up fasting. Yet, as long as they aren’t starving themselves, this is actually a great way to boost health and reduce overeating that many of us are guilty of (talk to your doctor and do not try it if you have had eating disorders in the past).
8. Price Comparisons
“I go shopping once a week for the household, I spend a LOT of time going up and down the aisles, comparing prices and planning meals based on what stuff I’ve bought on sale.” Comparing and shopping less frequently can reduce the urge to impulse buy. Ordering online can also help with impulse buys.
9. Cutting Out Non-Essentials
“We cut out some things that we couldn’t live without. Turns out that we can live without them.” This might include car payments, cable, eating out, drinking, smoking, clothing, vacations, yard services, entertainment, beauty care, and other impulse buys. While it may feel like a burden, a no-spend month (or more) is a great way to determine what you can live without.
10. Buying Whole Foods
One user recommends, “Stay away from things that require factories to be built. The supply chain is apparently still completely f***d. Make your own food. It’s disparately cheaper now. I don’t know how it is everywhere. We live on a coast.” Says one Redditor. This is better for your health and the Earth too, so a win-win-win.
11. Ditching Name Brands
Another user’s advice includes: “[Try the] store brand. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is around $5.50 to $7 per box, Great Value Cinnamon Crunch Cereal is $2. There is very little if any difference in taste.
If the store brand is cheaper, I’ll buy that. If it tastes like garbage, I’ll skip it or buy the more expensive one less often. By doing this, I’ve noticed our grocery bills are between $20-$60 less per trip.”
12. Do a Comprehensive Budget Analysis
Jorey Bernstein, an investment consultant, recommends the following: “Create a detailed budget and track your recurring expenses. This will help you identify areas to cut back or eliminate unnecessary spending.”
13. Shop Around for the Best Deals
Bernstein also recommends: “Compare prices on insurance policies, eliminate unnecessary subscriptions, and negotiate with service providers for better rates. You may be surprised at how much you can save by simply asking for a discount or switching providers.”
14. Get Creative with Cost Savings
Bernstein finally recommends: “Consider meal planning to reduce food costs, using public transportation or biking instead of driving, and shopping at thrift stores or garage sales for clothing and household items.”
15. Audit Spending Habits
Kevin M. Arquette with Wealth Point Planning recommends: “To achieve financial stability, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of where your money goes each month. One simple method for analyzing your spending is to review your bank account and credit card transactions over a span of a few months. This approach provides an accurate depiction of how and where your money is being allocated. By doing so, you can identify any unnecessary subscriptions or spending habits that may be accumulating expenses over time.”
16. Pay with Cash to Prevent Thoughtless Spending
Paul Doak of I.D. Financial recommends: “Paying with cash when at all possible gives people an awareness and weight (cost) of the transaction and the value. When you play with credit card- it is abstract and for many people does not seem real.
When consistently paying with cash – or Debit when necessary- your savings grow incrementally and you notice the sales of every day items that helps with budgeting.”
These are 16 great tips for saving money and reducing spending in the face of inflation. Try implementing ones that resonate with you and would help the most. Good luck!
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