New England Inflation Survival Guide – NBC Boston

With inflation at its highest level in 40 years, we are all struggling to make ends meet these days.

NBC10 Boston Consumer Investigative Reporter Leslie Gaydos is here with our inflation survival guide – money-saving tips to help you cut costs

Inflation Survival Guide Part 1: Get Organized

We’re seeing higher prices at the grocery store, at the gas station, at department stores, at restaurants – just about everything costs more these days.

And you can only tighten your belt so far.

“Look at your budget broadly to see if there are places you can cut back so you have more flexibility to accommodate these higher prices we’re seeing,” said Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at Nerd Wallet. to things like subscription services that you signed up for, any type of streaming, dining out, all those necessities that we spend money on. If there’s a way to cut there, then we may have more to put in for those higher prices.”

One way to potentially save a lot of money is to get organized. You’ll likely buy less if you know exactly what you have on hand and avoid buying duplicate items because you can’t find something.

“Organization is actually a huge part of saving money,” Palmer said. “And in some cases, if you can just dedicate, say, half an hour on the weekend, or plan your meals for the week, for example, that makes it so much easier to avoid last-minute takeout orders. Ordering takeout is a huge expense that people often get trapped in and it adds up so quickly.”

Keep an inventory of what you have in your fridge and use it before you have to throw it away. And make a list of the things you need to pick up.

“If you can plan your own errands ahead of time, bundle up and do as many as you can at the same time, that can really help ensure that you’re minimizing the amount of gas you buy,” Palmer said.

“In some cases, you can even coordinate with neighbors and friends and go carpool together for some of these errands.”

Organize your coupons and discount codes and create an online file to find them when you need them.

And plan ahead. Shop early for birthdays and holidays so you can watch sales and get the best prices.

DealNews.com posts the best deals and sales they find on just about everything every day. You can set up an alert if you’re looking for something specific, so you know when to buy at a good price.

“If you want to look at feature deals, or which ones are most popular or newest, you can easily sort the feed by that,” said Julie Ramhold, senior analyst at DealNews.com. “You can also filter by specific categories, so if you want to see what kind of clothing deals we have on the site, you can easily sort by that. You can filter for electronics and see if there’s a TV deal or a new cell phone deal or something.”

And pay your bills while you’re at it.

“If you miss just one bill payment, it can result in late fees,” Palmer said. “In the case of a credit card for example, it may even trigger a higher interest rate on any existing debt.”

Inflation Survival Guide Part 2: Take Advantage of Technology and Accumulate Savings

With the high cost of everything these days, you probably don’t want to hear that sales aren’t so great either.

“Not only are prices going up, but we’re seeing sort of lackluster deals that we wouldn’t normally see or you know, we’re just seeing a lack of them in general in certain areas,” says Julie Ramhold, senior analyst at DealNews.com.

“Some manufacturers, some companies in general are trying to cut costs or trying to save money where they can so they may not be willing to drop prices as low as we hope to see at this time of year or what we are used to. to have. “

So it’s more important than ever to be a savvy shopper, and apps can help.

“We really encourage people to let apps do some of that work for you,” said Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet. “For example, the Flipp app is Flipp for shopping, you just enter your postcode and it lets you know what the sales are for the week. So instead of having to go through the coupons yourself in the newspaper, you can use the app to buy them and maybe in some cases adjust what you buy based on what’s on sale that week, this can really help stretch your budget.

You shouldn’t buy gas without checking the GasBuddy app first, so you know you’re getting the best price in your area.

“The other thing to consider if you’re doing big shopping, you always want to shop around and compare prices,” Palmer said. “The ShopSavvy app can be great for scanning barcodes when you’re in a store to make sure you’re getting the best price.”

If you are shopping online, always look for promotional codes.

“Some retailers make it easier than others,” said Kristin McGrath, shopping expert at RetailMeNot.com. “Some make it so easy they’ll notify you at the cart level that a promo code is available and automatically enter it for you.”

Sites like RetailMeNot.com have a list of codes available for different retailers. And install a free shopping browser extension like Deal Finder or Honey. These extensions automatically apply promotional codes and coupons to your shopping cart when you shop online.

“Another thing I like to find and when I get it’s great are free shipping promo codes,” McGrath said. “Even if you save $6-7 on that shipping cost, it’s a good amount of change.”

Be sure to stack your savings using cashback sites like Rakuten, Ibotta, or BeFrugal. You will be reimbursed when you make a qualifying purchase.

“The best thing about using sites like Rakuten or Ibotta, you just need to install that browser, activate cashback,” Ramhold said. “It will open a ticket for you and basically they are just following up to see if you make a purchase. You will see cash back in your account within a few days as long as it is in a category they Some stores sometimes offer double or triple cash back, and if you’re already planning on making those purchases, this is a great way to really stack those savings.

“The other thing to think about is if you have a cashback credit card,” Palmer said. “In some cases, you can earn a cashback bonus for your grocery and gas expenses, so it’s a really good idea to optimize that as well.”

And don’t forget to sign up for preferred customer or rewards programs at your favorite stores. Retailers tend to be very generous to their members with special offers and sales because your loyalty is valuable to them.

Inflation Survival Guide Part Three: Negotiating and Thinking Outside the Box

In times of high inflation like this, sticking to a budget is crucial, but not easy.

“It’s really hard to say I have to cut back and do it, but unfortunately that’s just the reality that a lot of people are dealing with right now,” said NerdWallet’s Kimberly Palmer.

“We have to make tough decisions, and in some cases that means not going out as much as you want to your favorite restaurant.”

She recommends trying to find areas to cut back on that you won’t miss as much, like those recurring monthly costs we signed up for but don’t use much, like streaming services.

And look at the essential services you pay for and find opportunities to reduce those payments. It takes some effort, but calling and asking for a better rate or plan can pay off.

“If you see a competitor’s offer, call your supplier and see if you can match it,” said Julie Ramhold of DealNews.com. “If they don’t match that offer, chances are they’ll give you an introductory rate as if you were a new customer and you can lock in a lower rate for another year or two.”

And don’t be afraid to negotiate, it never hurts to ask.

“Whenever you come to an agreement, ask the other side, is that the best you can do?” said Jeff Cochran of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute. “Just a very passive statement like this or a question can get the other side to open up and say, ‘we can do a little better’.”

Even if you can’t negotiate a lower price, you may be able to get more for your money.

“In the retail environment, we’re not always going to change the price of items, but we may have the opportunity to improve our position with add-ons,” Cochran said. “Is that the best you can do on this flat screen TV? Well, you know, the price is set by the manufacturer, but maybe we can include some level of warranty. Maybe we can offer you the benchmark guarantee for the silver package price.”

If you are checking into a hotel, ask if there are any upgrades you are entitled to. Buy your favorite wine? Ask if there is a discount if you buy a crate.

Look for bargains at pharmacies and convenience stores, on Facebook Marketplace and eBay. And don’t forget the dollar store.

“The dollar store is really helpful for certain types of purchases,” Palmer said. “And so if you need paper supplies for example, or if you’re having a kid’s birthday party and you need party supplies, it’s really useful for those kinds of items.”

And think outside the box.

“We’ve heard a lot about people not only buying their own closets, but coordinating with their friends and having get-togethers where they swap clothes,” Palmer said. “They feel like they’re getting something new, but it’s free because you’re trading with friends…it can also be great for stretching clothing budgets.”

And let’s get back to this very important budget. Stick to it as much as possible and try to be intentional with your spending to resist impulse buying. It can be difficult to get your spending under control, but remember that if you fail, you can always rework your budget and get back on track.

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