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Daniel

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As it turns out, consumers might be the guilty party in the inflation mystery. We've at least been aiding and abetting. "Inflation is coming from demand," says Wolfers.

In spite of inflation, demand hasn't really blinked. Companies have been raising prices and we have been paying them. In fact, in many parts of the economy, spending has been rising right along with prices.

We're not necessarily buying more because we have more money, though. Our collective savings has been shrinking and household debt has been on the rise. It's possible we're spending money we don't have to keep up with rising prices.

That is likely not sustainable. And when our buying slows down, Wolfers says, companies will start lowering prices to entice us to buy: Prices will fall and inflation will ease. But, until demand drops, companies will push prices up as much as they can. It's elementary.
 

Daniel

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If you’re struggling to save a few bucks each month, you’re in good company. About a quarter of Americans say they have less than $1,000 to cover an emergency according to a Prudential survey of full-time employees. Between student debt, rent, and your cell phone bill, saving for big goals like buying a house or car can seem like a pipe dream...

Here’s how to go about it:

Decide that no amount is too small

You don’t have to get a big raise or commit to an austere budget to start saving. “Pay yourself first. I don't care how broke you are… I don't care how much debt you're in,” said Frank Byrd, chief investment officer at Fielder Capital in New York City.

How do you do that? Start by setting as little as $5 a week aside and putting it in an interest-earning savings account separate from the checking account you use to pay bills. Just putting your savings in one place can motivate you to add to it since you can watch your efforts pay off.

When it comes to retirement savings, don’t be overwhelmed by how much you “should” be saving. Focus instead on what you can save. If you’re taking a percentage of your pre-tax earnings out of your paycheck, no amount is too little: “I have always said, hey look start at one percent. You’ll get in the game,” Ted Benna, creator of the 401(k), told NPR in June.
 
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Daniel

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One of the most common pieces of advice to save on groceries is to buy seasonal or frozen fruit as well as frozen meat and veggies.

Another common tip for budgeting is to buy online so there is no surprise at checkout:


"Use your local grocery store's pickup service. I've found this works well for me. I get anxiety going into the store, then I get overwhelmed and forget things. Large stores like Walmart have free pickup options where you don't have to shop inside the store. It can be extremely convenient."
 
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Daniel

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Shop around

Finding the best deals means shopping around and comparing prices on products at different stores. One might have better prices on eggs, but another might be cheaper for fish.

“I do not have allegiance to any one supermarket. If you’ve got the best price, you’re my best friend at that moment,” said Edgar Dworsky, a former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts and founder of Consumer World, an education resource.

But don’t just compare prices among the same types of stores. Supermarkets, big box outlets, wholesale clubs, discount grocers and dollar store chains all have different prices and promotion strategies. Check out co-ops and farmers’ markets too.

“People can save a lot of money if they know how these stores are set up,” said Victor Martino, the founder of grocery consulting firm Third Wave Strategies. He recommends shopping at at least two different store formats.
 

Daniel

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Shop from a list:

 

Daniel

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Some of my favorites from 100 Frugal Habits to Live By, If You’re Trying to Save Money:
  • Buy new inserts for your shoes.
  • Double a meal you’re cooking and freeze half.
  • Save leftover coffee for making iced coffee.
  • Use rags—made from old clothes or linens—rather than paper towels.
  • Cook whole chickens rather than buying chicken parts.
  • Stretch meat by making soups, pastas, and bowls with it.
  • Cancel all unnecessary subscriptions, digital and physical.
 

Daniel

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Local gas prices (US & Canada):



Cost-of-gas trip calculators:

For the US:


For both US and Canada:

 

Daniel

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Cheap options for cooking at home: Soups, chili, Mexican foods, Asian stir frys, pasta dishes, breakfast foods, casseroles, and roasted veggies/potatoes.

Peanut butter and beans are the cheapest sources of protein I know. In my 20s, I rarely cooked and sometimes liked oatmeal as a quick, cheap meal. I remember in my mid 30s being a fan of frozen burritos.

Savory oatmeal options:
30 Recipes using oats-a cheap pantry staple (soups, meatloaf, meatballs)

The easiest way for me to save money is to just eat out less, except for cheap places like Taco Bell or a coffee subscription at Panera Bread. I have gotten bored of restaurants anyway as my cooking skills have improved.

Using kitchen towels instead of paper towels helps a little. For saving money at Walmart or the grocery store, the best general advice seems to be using cash or grocery pickup. But I haven't saved much money that way. Walmart and some grocery-store chains have promo codes for first-time pickup orders.
 
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