12 ways to beat inflation on gas, groceries and more

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Even if the outlook for inflation has improved a little in recent weeks, you may still feel a pinch in your wallet. Maybe you’ve taken a few basic steps — using coupons at the supermarket or dining out less often — to stretch your dollar, but if you want to do more, here are 12 ideas for fighting inflation.

Get free mulch. Accepting free loads of woodchips from local tree trimmers is an easy way to save money on gardening, says Kate Russell of the daily garden. Mulch protects the soil, feeds the plants, and looks great, but it can cost around $15 to $65 per cubic yard. Instead of shelling out money, take advantage of the fact that many tree trimmers will drop off a free charge to avoid the fees most municipalities charge them to dispose of removed trees and branches at local dumps or recycling centers. recycling. “All you have to do is leave your name and number with a local tree trimmer and make your driveway available when they have a charge,” says Russell.

Join a Buy Nothing group. The Buy Nothing Project was created so people could donate items to others in their communities – and it’s all free. “Before you buy anything new, see if anyone in your area can donate an item,” says Julianna Poplin of the habit of simplicity. Find your nearest group on the Project without buying anything app or by searching for Facebook groups.

Plan a day without expenses. “Don’t use cash. Do not use your credit card. Don’t put your hand in your pocket for anything” for a whole day, says Andrew Gonzales, president of businessloans.com. Once you get used to not spending money for a day, try spending it twice a month, once a week, or even for an entire week. “If you’re prone to impulse buying, this is a great way to hit the financial reset button,” Gonzales says. “It gives you more control over where your money goes and makes you more aware of what you’re buying when your no-spend day is over.”

Buy frozen foods. “Frozen seafood is generally less expensive than fresh seafood, and there’s no rush to cook it,” says Jenna Helwig, food manager at really simple magazine. “Frozen berries last much longer than fresh, but they’re just as nutritious and perfect for smoothies.” You can save $2 on 10 ounces of frozen raspberries compared to fresh,” she adds. “And you would have to buy several bunches of fresh spinach to have as much as in a box of frozen foods.”

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Reduce salon costs. Find out if your salon offers discounted prices for haircuts, coloring, and other services when training new stylists. Some designate a day/time of the week or month or post dates on social media. “And, if you live near a beauty academy or cosmetology school, you may be able to get services at a deeply discounted rate,” says Susan Jones, senior wealth manager at Plancorp. “For example, Boca Beauty Academy [in Florida] …offers a haircut and color from around $30, well below the going rate of $150 or more at other salons in the area.

Buy discounted gift cards. It’s rare to find a discount on gift cards. But when you do, it’s an opportunity to stretch your budget, says Bryan K. Chavez, national offers editor at Live on the cheap. However, only buy cards for retailers you already frequent; purchasing every discounted card you find will void any savings. Although Chavez finds most of his discount cards online at sites such as PayPal and new eggit also took advantage of grocery store promotions and direct offers from retailers and restaurants.

You can also find gift cards at stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club, where discounts range from around 5-25%. “Part of my strategy is to set money aside each month for use in December, when gift card discounts are most plentiful,” Chavez says. “Each year, that gives me about $600 for a shopping spree with a gift card. For me, it’s like prepaying for goods and services for the following year at my favorite places to eat and shop. , but at a reduced price. With this plan, I am able to make a “profit” of about $150 every year.”

Use it or lose it. It can be difficult to keep track of recurring payments, especially if you use autopay. Make a list of your subscriptions, such as streaming services, gym memberships and meal kits, says Erin Ellis, financial advisor at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union. “Go through each one and if you haven’t used it in a month, cancel it,” she says. “Cutting out these unnecessary expenses can lead to big savings.”

Shop used. Check thrift stores, garage sales and online marketplaces for deals on used furniture, clothing, toys, gifts and home decor. Jane Topolovec-Vranic of Maintaining my craft habit, a DIY and decorating blog, found two nearly full cans of brand name paint on Facebook Marketplace for just $20, which she used on an accent wall in her bedroom. And rather than buy faux leather over $20 a yard for a craft project, she snagged a men’s leather jacket at a thrift store for $4. When deconstructed, it provided over ½ meter of genuine leather. “Look for items that are new or in good condition and budget in advance so you don’t overspend,” she says.

Grow your own herbs. “Why pay $5 for three sprigs of rosemary when you can have fresh herbs all year round?” says professional gardener Jen McDonald, founder of garden girls, a design firm in Houston. Parsley, sage, chives, thyme, rosemary, and oregano are easy to grow year-round in a sunny window, and they yield a bountiful harvest. A pot, soil and starter plants will cost around $20.

Reduce energy consumption. Utility bills are another place you can cut costs by making simple changes around the house. A microwave consumes up to 80% less energy than an oven, for example. Or a toaster oven typically uses 33-50% less energy than a conventional oven. According to the Department of Energy, washing dishes by hand costs about $40 more each year than running a fully loaded dishwasher. By replacing the five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs in your home with Energy Star certified products, you can save up to $75 per year. And if you plug your electronics into a power strip and then turn it off when not in use, you can earn up to $100 more per year.

Dive into drugstore skin care. If you shop at beauty stores such as Sephora or Ulta, try the beauty sections of other stores – Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target -. Heather Muir, director of beauty at Real Simple, says that while the packaging may not look as luxurious, brands such as Olay, owned by P&G, have huge budgets for research and development, so their ingredients and technology are as good as — or better than — expensive brands.” For example, instead of an expensive moisturizer, try Olay or CeraVe. “Apart from saving money, you might be pleasantly surprised because some work even better at a much cheaper price,” she says.

To slow down. Tire friction and air resistance mean that speeding increases fuel consumption. Although automobiles achieve ideal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage often drops dramatically at speeds above 50 mph, says Will Gogolak, assistant professor of finance at Heinz College at Carnegie University. Mellon. “It is well quoted that every 5 miles per hour over 50 miles per hour is equivalent to paying 7-10% more per gallon for gasoline, or about 27 cents based on national average gas prices of [about] $4 a gallon.

Denver-based writer Laura Daily specializes in consumer advocacy and travel strategy. Find it on dailywriter.net.