While inflation seems to be slowing down, anyone who has been to the grocery store in the past month knows prices are still outrageous. But, it is possible to counter inflation with these frugal hacks that will save money and offset elevated prices.
Many are fortunate to be able to depend on a raise at the beginning of the year; only it’s possible your raise may go unnoticed as the higher cost of living will eat up the margin.
And increased costs can often lead to increased financial stress – especially if you’re someone who is not guaranteed a raise in the new year.
How To Counter Inflation in 2024
Looking at ways to live a more frugal lifestyle and adopting frugal habits to lower household expenses can help you counter inflation as prices continue to rise.
In addition to trying to cut expenses, it’s also important to continue to increase your income over time.
1. Save Money With Cashback Apps
Using cashback apps is one of the easiest ways to save money.
You may have heard of some of the more popular sites/apps, such as Rakuten (formerly Ebates), Ibotta, Dosh, and Fetch Rewards, but you can earn even more cashback with a lesser-known site called TopCashback.
TopCashback has both an app, a website, and a Chrome extension (similar to Rakuten) that notifies you when you’re on a website that has an active cashback offer – this feature makes it virtually impossible to miss out on earning cashback when shopping online.
In addition, Top Cashback passes off 100% of their commission to the consumer (that’s you) so you earn a higher percentage of cashback when shopping through TopCashback versus many of the other cashback sites.
Plus TopCashback partners with over 4,000 online retailers, so there’s a high probability you’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn cashback.
2. Cut Back on Food Costs
Scaling back your grocery bill always feels hard because we all love to eat, but with prices soaring, you’ve likely seen your weekly food costs follow suit.
For most, food is one of our largest household expenses. That’s good news because when we are spending a lot of money in a specific budget category, that usually means there is much opportunity to cut costs in that same category.
Taking steps to lower your grocery bills will help you counter inflation by offsetting the higher food prices.
Order Groceries Online To Save Money
If you aren’t yet ordering groceries online, it is a game-changer.
Not only does it save you so much time, offer convenience, and avoid frustration standing in long lines and dealing with the crowds, but it helps you to stick to your budget as you’re shopping.
You can keep an eye on your virtual cart total and always see how much over budget you may be going – or if you’re under budget and have some wiggle room to add additional items.
Ordering groceries online allows you to easily edit your cart to remove items without going back through the store to put things back once you’ve realized you’ve spent too much money. Lastly, it helps curb those spontaneous purchases you make while standing in line waiting to check out.
Most stores don’t charge a fee if you order online and pick your groceries up, but many do add additional charges if you want to have your order delivered.
Cut Food Costs With Meal Planning
Consistent meal planning is one of the best things you can do to cut food costs.
Maybe meal planning sounds like a giant pain to you, but, once you get in the habit, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In fact, once you successfully integrate meal planning into your weekly (or monthly) routine, it can be done in just a couple of minutes each week.
Plus, over time, you’ll develop your own system and flow, and you’ll find it makes life so much easier.
Stock Up on Essentials During Sales
In addition to the rising prices, unfortunately, some areas are still dealing with shortages of certain items.
Being intentional when you are planning out your shopping trip for the week can help you better prepare and be able to stock up on staples when they’re on sale at a good price.
Take a quick look in your pantry, cabinets, and refrigerator when creating your meal plan to see if you have all the staples you need.
Is there something your family uses that would have a big impact on running your household efficiently if you had to go without?
Plan ahead to maintain a small stock of any items you consider to be essential and research to determine when and where these items will be on sale at a good price so you can budget accordingly and allow yourself to purchase a bit more than you normally would.
3. Embrace Minimalism To Lower Expenses
Yes, minimalism has been having a moment in the past few years, but it’s often over-exaggerated.
The media only seems to depict the extremely minimalist lifestyle, but embracing minimalism does not mean you must sell everything you own and sleep on the floor.
Instead, minimalism can simply mean cutting back on some excesses in our lives. It’s a great time of the year to purge your home of unused or unwanted items. It can look like spending your money on the things that matter most to you and reducing spending on the things that don’t.
Embracing minimalism can also look like scaling down holiday celebrations in some ways.
If you host holiday and birthday celebrations, try turning it into a potluck so each guest can contribute instead of one person having to spend hundreds of dollars.
Embracing minimalism in your day-to-day life could look like borrowing things you may only need once or twice instead of purchasing them and ultimately having to store them year-round.
Or, it could look like repairing things you use often instead of purchasing a new one if it breaks or is damaged.
Even moving things around in your house and shopping from other rooms in your home to create a more minimalist aesthetic instead of swinging by Target each time you want a new tchotchke for your shelf is a great way to embrace small minimalistic habits.
4. Negotiate Your Bills
Now is a perfect time to contact your service providers and try to negotiate rates on things like utilities, insurance premiums, and especially any outstanding medical bills you may have.
With many experiencing financial struggles, there are a huge number of bills going unpaid, and believe it or not, most companies would prefer to give you a reduced rate or allow you to settle past due bills for a smaller balance, which allows them to recoup a portion of the balance instead of risking you defaulting altogether and not paying anything.
It may feel funny to ask for a discount, and yes, it can be annoying to deal with terrible hold music and being transferred around from person to person, but more often than not, you will be surprised at how much money you can save with just one phone call.
Tips To Negotiate Your Bills:
- You catch more flies with honey: Be kind and polite, and remember the person on the other end of the line is simply doing their job.
- Smile when you’re talking: People can hear that smile through the phone. The more pleasant you are, the more likely somebody will work with you to try and reduce your rate (or at the very least transfer you to the right person who can help you with your request).
- Don’t be afraid to call multiple times: It’s inevitable that you’ll be told “no” here and there. It’s possible to receive different information or responses from multiple different people within the same company. If you get a “no,” simply call back again. It’s likely you’ll get a different employee on the line – and will probably have to go through the entire request again – but you never know when you’ll catch the right person at the right time and be able to save yourself a ton of money.
- Sign Up for Rocket Money: Rocket Money will negotiate your bills on your behalf to save you time and effort. It will also identify and cancel any unused subscriptions you have!
5. Review Your Budget and Spending
It’s a great idea to get into the habit of doing this every six-ish months regardless of your financial and economic situation, but if you’re not doing so, I encourage you to carve out some time this week to sit down with your spouse or partner and review your budget and spending.
If you’re not currently tracking your spending, make this a priority for a couple of weeks and be sure to review the spending data you collect in detail.
Remember, your budget should reflect your priorities and values in life – this should be true whether you have a lot or a little extra in your budget.
Your spending is telling you exactly what you are prioritizing, so if you take a look at your budget and notice you’re paying for eight streaming services, but you can’t seem to find any extra to afford the co-pay to take your child to the doctor even though you believe your children are your priority your budget is painting a different picture.
Your budget is telling you that your priority is watching movies or TV.
Once you have a good idea of what your budget is trying to tell you, you can make adjustments.
You’re able to cut expenses that don’t align with your values, you’re able to change where you’re spending your money, and you’re able to shift your spending, so it accurately reflects your priorities.
If you are really struggling to pay your bills and be able to stick to your budget during these times, it’s probably a good idea to start from scratch and create a bare-bones budget, which will allow you to survive on much less than you may be living on now.
6. Learn How To Say “No”
This last habit may be the most important one…learn to say “no.” Did you know the word “no” is a complete sentence?
It absolutely is.
It doesn’t require justification.
It doesn’t require an explanation.
You don’t have to feel bad or guilty about your “no’s.”
As a lifelong people-pleaser, I realize how tough this can be. But sometimes, we simply have to say “no.” If something doesn’t fit your budget, you can say “no.”
If you don’t want to spend money on something making you feel bad, you can say “no”…
If there’s something you really, really want to spend money on, but you know deep down inside, it’s just an emotional purchase and won’t actually fulfill you in any way, you can say “no” to yourself too…
Practice saying “no” and not feeling guilty about it. Practice saying “no” and not feeling as though you have to explain yourself.
Depending on your specific situation, you may just find that this super-simple tip ends up saving you more money than any of the others discussed above.
Making these frugal habits part of your life will help you fight rising prices and counter inflation to reduce financial stress and start your year off right.
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Kristin Stones is the owner of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.