(5 Minute Read) – We’re all feeling the pinch of record inflation. Consumer prices rose 9.1% last month, the largest increase in 40 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That decrease in spending power translates to $341 a month for the average American household. To look at it another way: you can expect to spend roughly $4,000 more this year for the same goods and services you enjoyed last year.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to save for the unexpected—which will help you handle these unanticipated expenses. But not everyone is willing, or able, to simply absorb these increased costs.
While most of us have fixed costs around housing, food, utilities, and insurance, there are probably a lot of optional expenses you can trim to offset that extra $341 per month that inflation is costing you.
We’ve already outlined some tips on how to save on gas and shared our favorite cost-saving life hacks; now we’ve curated five new money-saving ideas to help you spend less each month, even during these unprecedented financial times.
1. Ditch Your Subscriptions
How much do you think you spend on subscriptions each month? It’s probably more than you think. C+R Research just conducted a survey asking 1,000 people how much they spend on subscriptions each month. Respondents said they average $86 per month on subscriptions, but it turns out, the actual number is 2.5 times higher at $219 per month.
It’s easy to forget about or underestimate the cost of your monthly subscriptions, since 86% of us have automatic payments set up for them. The bigger problem, however, is that researchers found 42% of people have forgotten they’re still being charged for a subscription they are no longer using.
Are you paying for a subscription you forgot you had? Checkout the app Truebill (on Apple iOS or Google Play). The app gathers all your subscriptions so you can see what they cost you. Ready to cancel one you don’t use? Truebill will do it for you.
Or you can consider rotating your subscriptions for a premium streaming service. Pick one and subscribe to it for a month, binge watch your favorite shows, then cancel it and replace it with a different platform. Most services make it easy to cancel and restart the subscription when you’re ready (or when that next season of your favorite show drops).
2. Go Green and Save Some Green
You can save a lot of cash, and help the environment, by investing in a reusable water bottle. According to earthday.org, the average American spends $266 each year on disposable plastic water bottles. With only 23% of those bottles recycled, you could make a big impact by eliminating waste with your reusable water bottle.
That $266 a year adds up, too. Switching to a reusable water bottle could save you $17,000 over the course of your lifetime, according to earthday.org. And you’ll do your part for the earth by eliminating some of the 17 million barrels of oil that are needed to manufacture disposable water bottles worldwide.
3. Get More at the Grocery Store
Next to the gas pump, you’re probably feeling the impact of inflation the most at the grocery store. According to the Consumer Price Index, groceries have gone up 12.2% over the past year. With the average monthly grocery bill at $411 per American family, you’re looking at an extra $50 per month.
No matter how much more you’re spending on groceries, there are lots of ways to save.
- Shop store brands to save as much as 25% of the cost of the name-brand item
- Order online and pick up your items; you’re less likely to overspend and won’t be tempted by impulse purchases
- Use the Flipp app – it consolidates store circulars so you can figure out which store’s virtual coupons will save you the most money
- Plan meals around what’s on sale with Cookpad, a website that lets you search for recipes by ingredient
Don’t forget to enroll in your favorite store’s loyalty program, which will save you money and can offer perks like discounted fuel or cash back.
4. Energize Your Savings
Energy usage may not be an obvious place to cut costs, but you can save big by making a few small adjustments in and around your home.
Most of us are probably guilty of leaving our phone charges plugged in, even when we’re not using them. The Department of Energy says those chargers are just one of the many so-called “energy vampires” in our homes, costing us $100 per year. Any electronic device that’s plugged in but not being used is still drawing energy, and you’re paying for it. The energy department recommends unplugging printers, computers, radios, appliances, cable boxes, game consoles, and yes—your cell phone charger—when they’re not in use.
If that’s not enough to get you to unplug, consider this: 5% of America’s power consumption is from energy vampires, which could provide electricity for an entire year for all of Italy.
Making wiser decisions about your energy usage can also help save money, especially in the kitchen. Simply matching your cooking pot to the correct burner size can save energy. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found putting a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner wastes more than 40% of the heat the burner creates. Using the right size pot or pan can actually save you $36 a year on an electric range and $18 a year on a gas range.
In addition, Edison International estimates that keeping lids on your pans while cooking can decrease your energy usage by up to 66%.
5. Entertain Yourself
You can still be frugal and be entertained; you just have to be creative.
Meeting up with friends for dinner and drinks can be spendy. But if you can head out earlier in the evening, you can save 35% on food and about 20% on drinks during happy hour. You can even check out what’s available before you head out through the website Happable.
Get your next book club started without even taking a trip to the bookstore or library. Libby is a free app that gives you access to ebooks from your library. There are no subscription costs, no in-app purchases, and best of all—no late fees!
Have FOMO because everyone’s talking about a new show and you don’t subscribe to that channel? Go to MyBundle.TV to take a quiz to determine which streaming services will best fit your budget. My Bundle says it has 100 million combinations of services to find the right service for you, and users can save $600 a year by choosing the channels and features they want.
Don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars to see your favorite artist in concert? Check out Veeps—a live streaming service that’ll get you a front row seat to a concert from the comfort of your living room. Most shows can be streamed for under $20.
No one knows just how long we’ll be feeling the impact of inflation, but small changes to your spending habits can make a difference in the short term. If you haven’t already, be sure to set up a budget within digital banking so you can track your spending. When you know where extra expenses are popping up, it’s easier to cut back in other spending categories to keep your budget balanced.