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Inflation Nation Series: Budgeting and Saving

Updated: Jul 10, 2022


Anyone tired of inflation? I'm sure your bank account is. The level of inflation is hurting households nationwide and it seems like a bunch of things happened at once. A bunch of chickens died causing a hike in poultry/eggs (some of the cheapest go to grocery items); Avocados and other produce, as well as any canned items seem to take a hike as well; Ukraine and already existing inflation issues hiked gas/oil; Housing market issues caused a disgusting increase in both housing prices AND rent; Jobs haven't exactly been increasing pay based on inflation, making the value of your take-home pay to devalue quickly.


What the hell do you do?


There's plenty of articles giving tips and tricks on cutting corners. But unless you want to sit around and cut coupons all day for food that's not really what you eat, some of the tried and true money saving tips just aren't worth it. Try some of these:


GROCERIES/FOOD

  1. If you're into couponing, save time by sticking with online apps for your groceries that offer coupons with one quick click of a button. Many stores still offer free curbside pickup which means you can save time and money and still use coupons without having to sit and cut them out or peruse the store for over an hour. Look at how much you already spend per month on food. Can you find a way to spend $20 less?

  2. Simply eating less. We're too used to eating beyond feeling full. Learning to eat only when you're full can be hard. Drink a glass of water before and after a portion of food and see how you still feel. You may get full on half the food you usually eat, doubling the length of how far your food can really go for you.

  3. Just use less of everything. We're a culture of excess. We use too much shampoo, dish soap, cleaning supplies. Next time you're in the shower or doing dishes, test what it would be like to use half of what you're used to using. Does it get the job done?

  4. Focus on foods that actually cost less. While veggies and fruits aren't always fun to eat and go bad within about a week or two, they sure are cheap. If you replaced some of your typical grocery list with easy fruits and veggies to eat, you may notice that your bill is just less. Instead of getting a bag of chips, try getting a few bananas that'll last you as long and fill you up--AND cost much much less.

  5. Buying in bulk really only shows noticeable savings over the course of the long-term use of bulk-store memberships. But if you've got the extra cash and want to invest, it could be worth it. Just watch out on how tempting it is to over-buy and end up spending MORE on groceries than what you normally would have.

UTILITIES:

  1. Some areas have been freed up to choose your energy company. If so, it could be worth it to check the lowest rates but pay attention to customer reviews. The truly best company will usually be the one with happy customers, as unhappy customers are usually a result of poor service that ends up costing more in some ways.

  2. What would it be like to go without internet and just rely on your phone's data? Pay attention to how much you actually use your internet at home and see if it would be better to just use your phone's data and get a hotspot. If you're into gaming or have more than one person that like to stream videos in the home, this may not be a great options, but if you're just one or two people in the same household and don't watch much cable and don't mind a slightly slower service, you can get all your entertainment from a hotspot on your phone or your phone itself.

  3. Water is a non-negotiable need and most rental properties won't let you rent without having water and utilities set up. Some apartments will also make you pay a flat rate for water, so it may not help to look at water conservation when it comes to saving money. Otherwise if you pay your own water bill, a few tricks to lowering the bill include turning off the water in between the lather/rinse in the shower (European style); only having the water on when you're actually using it and turning it off in between usage (dishes, brushing teeth); Watering the lawn only early in the morning, or foregoing green grass altogether; If you don't have an efficient washer, making sure when you do a load that you do a full one every time. Watch out though, some communities will charge a low usage fee for using too LITTLE water. Outrageous right? It's typically best to keep water usage around 2 units, but check your bill and see if you ever are charged a low usage fee. Ask your city what the cap is on low usage so you can always be above the line and not pay more for being more conservative.

  4. Sometimes using a large oven or other appliances is unnecessary if you're only cooking for one or two people. It could be worth it to get an appliance that does it all: roasting, baking, airfrying, etc. and only using these smaller appliances when cooking smaller meals.

HOUSING

  1. Sometimes you just get stuck where you're stuck. But if you're in the city, moving slightly out of the city can save on rent. If you work in the office and gas prices would only offset that rent, then the opposite would be true, but if you're working from home or could transfer your work--or if you're just wanting to look for a new job altogether anyways--going to suburban areas or even partially rural areas can bring lower cost of living. Just don't come in to blow everyone out of the water when it comes to housing and cause a drastic increase in home prices--you'd just be part of the problem.

  2. Negotiate with your landlord by comparing rental prices elsewhere. It's a long shot, but if you feel like you're being price gouged on rent, and you can prove it by showing that other properties of the same type and value are lower in price, then you can hold your landlord accountable and ask for a decrease in rent. Again, this is a long shot, but when it comes to housing, this is one of the hardest areas to save money or create wiggle room while still finding the kind of place that works for you.

  3. If you're in a good place in life, you could consider selling your house. But if you just turned around to buy another house, you wouldn't really be able to leverage the housing market. Some individuals, small families, and couples have been selling their homes at the astronomical prices that people are willing to put down only to turn around and live the "van life." Do some research but if you sold your house for 200k and transforming a van or getting a small RV for 12k wasn't out of the question, you will have made bank depending on how much money you had left over. It would be an intense adjustment and those not of the faint of heart who were willing to go minimalist, but some are finding this to be the way to go.

Don't stop at this blog. Keep searching for ways to save and budget money. Ask your most resourceful friends what they do. If you're in a pinch, contact your local resources to see how you could get a little bit of help whether it's help with utilities or food.


Stop by the forum and let us know what you do to try to save and budget in these super ridiculous expensive times!

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