How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

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Beverley
Posts: 151
Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:33 am

How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

Post by Beverley »

That thief that comes in the dark of the night and steals bits of your funds. It seems like it's a constant fight. It's what caused my parents to go into debt during their retirement years. Even after they paid off their home they still struggled to try to keep up.

Savings pay no interest. A $5000 savings account that pays maybe $1.50 a month in interest vs using your credit card to pay for $4000 in bills and items that pays almost $50 a month in cash back rewards (how crazy is that). I know LittleMiss also uses this same strategy. Of course if the balance is not paid off every month the rewards get more than eaten up by monthly interest charges. It takes a lot of self discipline to rein in spending and only spend what you would as if using a debit card or cash.

I periodically go through all of my statements line by line to see where I can cut back. Spending less means not paying rising prices.

I feel like I have been going back to the 1970's every time I go to the grocery store.

I am interested in learning how you all cope with this. Please tell us your tricks and strategies.

Bev

ownedbydogs
Posts: 596
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:26 am

Re: How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

Post by ownedbydogs »

I also use credit cards like Little Miss. when Ralph died Before I canceled his card I applied his 160.00 rewards to the bill. Then I had to get a card of my own. Applied and got 2 different ones. Each with a 200$ credit if I charged 1000.00 in 90 days. Still had the funeral bill to pay so split it up so I met their requirements. 400$ free money. Have an Amazon store card that pays bonus n Amazon rewards, and I do most of my shopping thru them. Haven’t paid interest in yrs, so you can make credit cards work for you. Just have the money before you spend.

HappyDaze
Posts: 1468
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 11:11 am

Re: How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

Post by HappyDaze »

Bev, I don't know if things I do are things other people want to do - I am pretty cheep, lol. I am considering reducing my retirement contribution (currently 10% and my employer contributes 7% - if I have to - but how sad is that!!).

It helps me out that my daughter is renting rooms from me - extra money each month - and she pays for her share of the utilities - so no extra cost to me there. She is also sharing her extensive food stash - because I think she thought she was preparing for a zombie apocalypse or something.

I'm honestly "nickel and diming" it - it's the only thing I can do besides get a second job - and I can't work food service, retail, etc. (the only evening/weekend jobs available) due to back/arm/knee issues. My dog sitting gig that usually pays me about $2,000 over a year's time has pretty much disappeared because of COVID.

Here are some "Weird and Extreme Things I Do to Save"

1. I am saving about $5 a week just by not giving the "garage cats" and the "cellar cats" anymore canned food with their dry food. Instead I buy boxes of milk and boxes of chicken broth at Dollar Tree and put "just a little bit" (warmed up) onto their dry food. They like it - and so much cheaper!! Now $5 a week doesn't sound like a lot but it's $260 a year!! Combined with some of my other "nickel and dime" strategies - it adds up.

2. I walk to work - even when it's 90 degrees, even when it's 20 below zero. I keep a comb and hairspray and headband in my desk at work for when the walk has been windy, etc. and I need a touch up. I also walk to the grocery store, dollar stores, library == everyplace -- whenever possible. My cost for gasoline is -- I'm not even sure but I'll be tracking it this year -- I think less than $50 a year.

3. Grocery Shopping - I go to three different stores - "regular" grocery where I scour the place from top to bottom for markdowns, Ibotta items that I have coupons for, discontinued items, etc. I visit the reduced bakery rack and the rescued produce stand. I get only this stuff and loss leaders. Found cashew milk marked down to $1.84 (from $3.99), bags of 3 and 4 red green and yellow peppers for .99 each, etc. Then I go to Save A Lot. I don't love Save A Lot - but it's good for basics like flour, canned tomato products, etc. Then I go to Dollar Tree. I'm not crazy about buying food from Dollar Tree - but they have bread, rice, beans, etc. The coffee is okay - and a better buy.

Dollar Tree can be tricky - sizes can be smaller or the same thing can be had at Save A Lot for .79 cents. These are the only things I buy. If I want lettuce but it's $2.29 a head and cabbage is on sale for .69 a pound, I get a small head of cabbage. If I want pears but there are 8 apples in a bag at the rescued produce stand, I get apples. I plan my meals around what I get instead of planning my meals and then getting the stuff. For example, last time I found boxes of whole wheat spaghetti for .88 cents - regular price $1.79 - that put 4 boxes into the pantry and spaghetti on the menu.

4. I don't pay to get my driveway plowed every time it needs it. I've paid twice in the 6 years I've lived here. I shovel as I can - and now DD is here and she shovels. I estimate the annual savings to be about $100.

5. I carry my utility payment, on foot, across town and put it in the drop box - saves a stamp. Saves me $6.60 a year and give me and a dog some exercise. Combined with other things I don't have to mail thanks to online banking and paying by phone, one book of stamps will get me through the year till it's time to send Christmas cards.

6. I stopped giving my grown children and their significant others birthday gifts. I buy a nice card and for my children I put in a few photos (I have TONS) from their younger years. There is NOTHING they need that I can buy them and none of them need my cash or check more than I do. Savings - about $70 a year. Since my daughter lives here now, I will also make her a birthday cake.

7. My cell phone plan is "pay as you go" through Tracfone. I pay about $120 a year. I don't need data on my phone when I'm away from home. IF I do - for example if I have to go someplace and need google maps, I can purchase extra data.

8. DD wants to have a garden this year. She has seeds from her zombie apocalypse stash. I'm going to ask my neighbor who gardens (not the awful guy) for some dirt - he always has extra dirt. We have lumber for frames (was in garage when I moved in). I told her I am NOT spending any money on this venture - we can work with what we have, plant her seeds and see what grows.

9. I estimate that I pay over $1,000 a year to the people who mow the lawn. I'm going to look through my bills and get an exact amount. Then...I'm going to have a chat with them and see if they will give me a discount for paying cash in advance for the entire spring/summer/fall. For example, if I pay $1,000 and offer them $800 in advance, that's a 20% discount and $200 extra dollars in my pocket and gives them money up front for their expenses. An alternative to this is to look for an "old beater" of a riding mower and have my daughter mow -- but I'd rather not go that route - then you have the storage, the upkeep, the gas, etc. for the mower.

10. I don't buy baggies, plastic wrap, tin foil, paper towels, paper napkins, etc. I save bread bags,cereal box liners, paper bags, containers that food comes in, peanut butter jars, etc. to use for food storage in the frige and freezer. I even take them to work with my lunch in them. I do have a roll of parchment paper for baking - it will last me a year or longer. I don't know how much this saves - I've always done it this way.

11. I don't pay for cable or any streaming services. I stopped renting DVDs from Redbox and stopped buying them at the Dollar Tree, yard sales, etc. There is enough free stuff to watch on youtube - including movies. Savings - hundreds a year - I don't even know.

12. You know I'm conservative with the heat - to the point of being cold. That's a personal decision - as are all of these - and I've not denied that I am wayyyyy beyond frugal and into CHEAP! So far, this winter hasn't been bad. I turn on my dining room heater (middle of house) to 60 when I wake up. If I'm home, I turn it back to 50 after it warms up. If I'm going to work I turn it OFF. My bedroom heat gets put on about an hour before I go to bed - 60. When I'm ready to get in bed I turn it OFF - and I stay warm all night. My kitchen heat comes on automatically when the temperature in the kitchen hits 50 - it can't be turned off.

I don't really know how much this "saves" me - I do know that my whole utility bill (water and electric) for the entire year (BEFORE DAUGHTER MOVING IN) was well under $1,000 - actually about $880 in 2019. I haven't paid the final bill for 2020 yet. My last bill for 2020 is $140.58. The chart DD and I made says my highest last bill of the year was $90 (that's rounded up to be in her favor actually) - so she will pay me $50 on that in addition to her rent. I know she really cranks her heat up sometimes - which is fine by me if that's how she wants to spend her money.

ChristmasTrees
Posts: 2294
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:53 am

Re: How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

Post by ChristmasTrees »

This topic is going to be so interesting. Sheila....you ROCK! I would however be REALLY cold in your house. I am much better in the cold than in the heat..but as I get older..I find I get cold at night.

I also use my credit card and pay it off in full every month. It used to be that the rewards were a better deal if you opted for a gift card..but now with my card it is equal so I just apply the dollar amount to my balance.

I am trying so hard to not waste a single scrap of food..but it gets away from me sometimes. The wasted food bothers me more than the money I spent on it.

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Jackielou
Posts: 9218
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2015 7:51 pm

Re: How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

Post by Jackielou »

Bev, I have been thinking and thinking about this since you asked the question.

Up until the past few years we haven't really been hit by inflation too badly, and yes our investments were not making much in the way of interest over the last couple of years, but there were still deals to be found.

Now interest rates are in the pits, and our investments are becoming due for renewal. I think money might be a bit tighter until we get used to the fact that inflation is moving at a very high rate.

I seem to find myself shopping the sales a great deal more, using up whatever I can and making up substitutions when I run out of something.

Like the shelf stable milk I bought is being used for baking and cooking. It is expensive, but if I just use it for those functions I save on regular milk and still get lots of uses out of a carton of the shelf stable milk.

I have also started to purchase more veggies that are less likely to go bad. Things like rutabaga, carrots, brussels sprouts, cabbage and celery. I still buy cucumbers when they are on sale and the same with lettuce and more fragile greens. I use them up as quickly as possible though.

I actually think that we all will be counting our pennies over the next while. At least until things steady and the virus is under control.

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MackerelCat
Posts: 3437
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:44 pm

Re: How Do You Keep Up With Inflation?

Post by MackerelCat »

I had gotten our expenditure for three adults for a week of groceries down to $80 per week or less before COVID through shopping several stores and getting bread at the bakery outlet store. But the bakery outlet shut down the same day in March that I bought the last large package of toilet paper I saw for a couple of months! So COVID has definitely had a say in inflation.

I know that we basically eat plainer, cheaper meals now to keep costs down. It frustrates Homeless Buddy, who is a trained chef, but we're eating what we can afford. I go to one store that has excellent protocols about making people use masks and providing sanitized carts and buy everything there. That means the grocery total is higher and I'm not going to Family Dollar for cat litter and paper goods, so those are more expensive.

So I guess the answer is we're dealing with inflation by buying less and cutting expenses every way we can.
Mackie

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