Inflation is something that we’ve all experienced this past year. We’ve witnessed food prices going up and felt the extra financial strain at the gas station. The cost of living is increasing at such a rapid rate. Frugal living tips have become crucial these days.
With inflation reaching a 40-year high this year, many people are looking for ways to outpace these extra costs and save where they can. Whenever I think of saving more money and making my dollar work better, frugality comes to mind. Back when I was drowning in lots of debt, I decided to adopt a frugal lifestyle to help me get by and it helped tremendously.
The same thing can be done if you’re looking to tackle inflation. Here are 6 frugal living tips to help you battle inflation.
1. Create a Meal Plan
Eating more meals at home and brown-bagging your lunch is great, but these actions are made easier when you meal plan. There have been many times when I told myself I would eat at home and even did the grocery shopping. Only I’d get overwhelmed or run out of time and still spend extra money on restaurant meals.
Start creating a weekly meal plan so you know what’s for dinner and can even start prepping ahead of time. Plan your lunches and meals based on the items you purchased and use one day each week for planning. You can even write your meal plan out each week and develop some go-to meal options to make it easy.
2. Limit Food Waste
Meal planning will help you limit food waste automatically, but this is also something to consciously focus on as well. The price of certain foods such as eggs, ground beef, and dairy products has skyrocketed this past year. If you want to battle inflation one of the best frugal living tips to consider is making the most of your food and tossing out as little as possible.
Jot down the shelf life of certain food items especially produce and check often to make sure you’re utilizing the foods in your fridge before they go bad. If possible, spend 15 minutes each week just checking items in the fridge and sell-by dates. This will help guide your meal planning for the following week as well.
Use scraps and chicken bones to make broth for soups and stews. You can also freeze foods and even preserve fresh herbs. If you have fruit that could be going bad, use it to prepare a dessert-like cobbler or mix it in your pancake batter for breakfast. There are so many creative ways to repurpose and utilize all of the food you buy and many of those ideas don’t require a ton of time.
RELATED: How to Meal Prep on a Tight Budget
3. Choose One Day For Errands
Gas prices are really hard on a lot of people these days. It costs much more to fill up than it did two years ago. This only means we all need to be more strategic about how we drive. While you may have to drive to work each day or drop your kids off somewhere, try to limit most voluntary driving or at least consolidate your trips.
Choose one day of the week for errands and try to set your schedule up to visit one general area. For example, you may choose Sundays to pick up groceries and do any car maintenance if you shop at Walmart and they have auto care services.
Or, perhaps you’re visiting a friend and need to get household items at the store near their house. Try to shop at more stores that sell general items such as groceries, household supplies, toiletries, electronics, and more. That way, you can fulfill most of your shopping requests in one place without burning gas.
4. Lower Your Cell Phone Plan
Most people have a smartphone, but that doesn’t mean you should be paying a ton of money each month. One of the best frugal living tips to generate savings in your budget is to switch to a prepaid cell phone plan. There are tons of quality companies out there to choose from.
These options allow you to keep your smartphone and all the features you love. At the same time, you’ll enjoy a much lower bill and more flexible terms. Right now, my husband and I use Total Wireless and spend $90 per month for just three lines. Tello and Republic Wireless are other great options to consider for prepaid plans as well.
5. Earn Cash Back and Rebates on Your Purchases
If you’re not earning cashback on your purchases, you’re missing out on money. There are too many rewards programs and apps that will pay you money back for your regular purchases.
Use Ibotta or Fetch Rewards to earn rebates on items from your favorite grocery stores. Then, use Rakuten for cashback on your online purchases. GasBuddy and GetUpside are apps that can help you earn cashback on your fuel purchases.
Rebates help you battle inflation by essentially scoring a discount on items you had to buy anyway. These apps and websites are easy to use and just take a few minutes to earn.
6. Slash Your Utility Bills
It’s easy to get used to paying whatever the balance is for your utility bill each month and never considering ways to cut costs. Using less of your heat or electricity is not the only way to cut the cost of your bills. Trip and Billcutterz are just two free sites that help you negotiate lower bills. This includes household bills and insurance rates as well.
These sites don’t charge any upfront costs because they share a percentage of the annual savings they help you generate. You can also call your utility company to see if they have any savings programs available ComEd has a summer savings program where you can earn rebates for not using your AC during peak times. Nicor, a gas company, also has savings programs including a free in-home assessment and they also provide customers with a free savings kit to use in their home.
Summary: These Frugal Living Tips Will Help Your Money Stretch Further
Inflation can definitely make money tighter. Frugal living tips are some of the best lines of defense you can apply to how you manage your finances whether prices are inflated or not. Determine your level of frugality along with how you want to try to save money and still live comfortably and meet all your other financial goals.