21 Inflation Hacks Used by Real People
Harrison Pierce is a writer and a digital nomad, specializing in personal finance with a focus on credit cards. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in sociology and is currently traveling the world.Read full bio
At a Glance
Inflation has created immense struggles for households across the country this summer. People spend hundreds of dollars more each month than in previous years on necessities like food and gas. We rounded up some of our favorite inflation hacks that can keep extra money in your wallet at the end of the month.
How we found these inflation hacks
It’s a tough time for Americans and their money. A new report finds that 60% of credit card holders have been carrying balances on their cards for at least a year. This is a 10% increase from 2021. Even though gas prices got a little better in July and August, prices of groceries, shelter, and medical care increased.
That is why we wanted to hear from real people about what they are actively doing to combat inflation. Rather than just scouring the internet for suggestions, we decided to ask our community. We posted on social networks and asked, “What are some inflation hacks that you use to keep more money in your wallet when prices are so high?”
From what we heard, some results were surprising, while others were not so much. Many had no clue where to begin, while others focused on hacks related to gas and grocery. Whether conscious or not, people are feeling the impacts of inflation and are being strategic in how they respond.
All the hacks you need to know
Many of the ways that people are fighting against inflation relate to food. According to information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 10% of the average person’s disposable income is spent on food, split evenly between food at home and eating out. Food price inflation is slower than transportation and housing inflation but higher than in apparel, education, and medical care. Food spending is a big part of our monthly budget, and inflation has hit hard, so what are people doing about it?
Here are the best food-related hacks:
- Slow cooker meals
- Meal prepping
- Be very intentional at the grocery store – only buy what you will end up eating
- Eat and drink less
- Cook food that’s in season and local
- Getting more canned goods, beans, rice
- Avoid spending money on unnecessary things like alcohol
- Avoid food waste at all costs
- Go to multiple grocery stores to find the cheapest products
- Dumpster diving for unopened food
Eating out less and focusing on what you purchase at the grocery store seems to be the consensus. Hiwot Ekuban from North Carolina says she makes slow cooker meals. These meals can make food for the whole family while keeping costs low. Similarly, Elise Kacan from Texas only cooks food in season and that is locally sourced. These foods are typically cheaper to purchase and help support small businesses in the area. If local food is hard to come by, Peyton Stoner focuses on food that will not go bad quickly, like canned goods and rice.
Some apps reward spending and help you find the lowest prices around.
- Upside app
- Gas buddy to get the cheapest gas
- Use restaurant/fast food/retail apps
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Patrick Cartwright uses the Upside App, which allows users to earn cash back at over 50,000 locations throughout the country, including major gas and fast food chains. A similar app is GasBuddy, which Stoner uses to help her find the cheapest gas in the area and earn cash back on future gas purchases. Alyssa Roth said she uses apps from fast food chains like Mcdonald’s and retail stores that send customers promotions, like buy one, get one food deals or coupons for money off merchandise. You can also negotiate some bills online automatically with websites like Billshark. They can help with cable and internet and have a high success rate at getting some money knocked off your bill.
Inflation hacks are all about strategy and personalization. What works for some people won’t work for others, so try out new things until you find what works for you.
- Never hold cash. Put into appreciating assets like stocks, real estate
- Detailed monthly budgets
- Set up auto payments for bills and credit cards
Kelly Black mentioned that she never holds cash and only invests in appreciating assets like stocks and real estate. This is an excellent hack for those with enough money to spare each month, as it helps your money become “inflation-proof.” If you hold onto cash, that money is worth less than it was two years ago. When you put it into stocks or other inflation-guarded assets, not only does the money not lose value, but it gains value.
Apart from investing, many are working on scrutinizing their monthly budget and seeing which things can go. Many people set up free trials for streaming services and then forget to cancel, permanently adding that service to their monthly budget until they remember to cancel it. A great strategy is to print out the last 90 days of credit card and bank statements and look at each item to see where you can cancel or cut back.
You can also set up auto payments for credit cards and other monthly bills to avoid late payment fees or overdraft fees, which can add up in a hurry. You can also focus on paying off high-interest credit card debt, adding hundreds to your monthly budget. To help pay off these cards, you can consolidate them to cut down on interest or use points to pay off the balance. These investing and finance hacks will ensure you are smart with the money coming in and out of your accounts.
- Nothing – teach me
Unfortunately, financial literacy is low during a time of ultra-high inflation. Multiple respondents, like Emma Coggins and Taylor Hobgood, said they did not know of any inflation hacks and asked for help implementing some into their budget and lifestyle.
- Move to a less expensive area
- Driving less, carpooling, public transport
- Trade clothes with friends
However, after further discussion, there are a few things that people are subconsciously doing to help fight back against inflation. Things like opting for public transport or sharing rides can cut down on gas, trading clothes with friends of the same size or style, or just decluttering their life, so they have less maintenance and upkeep of their apartment.
Being a little creative can thrive during these times of high inflation. It might not be the easiest thing in the world, but it is certainly doable. Be intentional and focus on areas where you know you can cut back spending, then try out some new options. The goal is to make more money and spend less money each month, so you can also consider getting a temporary side hustle on weekends or nights that can give you a boost. Whatever option you choose, know that we all deal with the same thing.