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It’s a constant news headline, the joke of every meme, and the word we curse under our breath every time we have to put the fancy bacon back on the shelf and grab the generic turkey bacon instead. Whether we want to admit it or not, inflation is here, and it’s sticking around, folks. But first, what even is it?
All you need to remember here is the basic law of supply and demand. Oversupply means prices go down. And undersupply means prices go up, aka inflation. But what I want to remind you is that even if you can’t control how much inflation rises from month to month, there’s still plenty of ways you can beat inflation without resorting to turkey bacon.
Get Your Priorities Straight
Now, the first thing to do is make sure the most important things in your budget are covered. No, I’m not talking about your Amazon Prime membership. I’m talking about what I call your Four Walls: food, utilities, shelter and transportation. So, here’s my plan for how to beat inflation and keep your Four Walls strong!
How to Save on Food
1. Shop at the cheapest grocery stores. If you really want to cut back on your bill, rethink where you shop. In the U.S., some of the cheapest grocery stores are Aldi, WinCo Foods, Food 4 Less, Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s.
2. Cut out the wants, and only buy the items you need. You need breakfast, lunch and dinner—you don’t need that fresh watermelon that costs $7 because someone else cut it for you. If your grocery bill is out of hand, take a serious look at your needs versus your nice-to-haves.
4. Use cash-back apps and coupons. Use cash-back reward apps, like Ibotta or Fetch Rewards, to help you save. While rebates don’t give you a discount up front, the cash-back savings will add up. And don’t knock the power of the O.G. paper or digital coupon either. But remember, never spend just to save. Don’t buy name brand just because you get cash back. Do the math and buy the most affordable option that gets the job done.
How to Save on Utilities
1. Don’t run appliances unless they’re full. Your husband spilled coffee all over his pants—again. But instead of washing those soiled khakis alone, wait until you can run a full load. And when it comes to the dishwasher, the same thing applies (but to be clear, don’t put pants in there).
2. Program your thermostat. You can save as much as 10% a year if you drop your thermostat down 7–10 degrees for eight hours a day.1 So turn down the thermostat before you head out the door.
3. Use less. This is a no-brainer, right? One of the best things you can do to save on utilities is to simply use less. Even the little things like turning off the lights can do a lot to keep you from using more.
How to Save on Housing
1. Be a smart renter. Getting a roommate (even if they’re quirky) can cut your rent in half—or more. And if you know you want to stay in the place you’re in right now, see if your landlord will drop your monthly rent if you sign a 16-month or 18-month lease.
2. Make sure your house payment isn’t more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay. You don’t want to be house poor at any time, and definitely not with inflation on the loose. Making sure your house payment isn’t eating up too much of your income will help you have enough breathing room in your budget to live.
3. If you’re buying a house, save 20% for a down payment to avoid PMI. The more money you have for a down payment, the better—because it’ll lead to a smaller mortgage. Plus, saving 20% will save you from having to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will lower your monthly mortgage payment!
How to Save on Gas Prices
1. Use apps to track the cheapest gas prices. You don’t have to waste gas driving around town looking for a good deal. Just use an app like GasBuddy or Waze to find the cheapest gas prices in your area.
2. Shop around for auto insurance rates. It’s always worth seeing if you can score a cheaper auto insurance rate. If you can lower your yearly premium by $375, that would free up more than $30 in your budget each month!
3. Carpool. Hear me out. I know you like to fly solo, but carpooling to the office, to school or to the kids’ soccer game is a great way to build some human connection while saving money too.
Now, that’s a lot. But don’t let it all overwhelm you—you’ve got this! Prices going up just means you have to rework your budget. So, keep an eye on things, track what you spend, and make tweaks as you need to. Then tell those rising prices to kick rocks and pound sand—because you’ve got a plan to fight inflation. For more tips on how to beat inflation, check out this article.