Inflation Is Hitting Millennials the Hardest. Here’s How We All Can Fight It
It’s not easy being a millennial these days. For one thing, millennials seem to be feeling the pinch of inflation harder than other generations, such as baby boomers and Gen X.
Though overall inflation has slowed, inflation on some things like rent and certain foods is making it tougher to afford everyday costs. That’s also preventing a good chunk of millennials from investing their cash.
This Allianz study showed 65% of millennials are keeping their money out of the stock market because of inflation, but just 48% of baby boomers and 46% of Gen Xers are doing the same.
While this might feel like a safer bet in the short term, savings accounts pay less interest than potential long-term market gains through investing, and not taking part in the latter could squander financial growth.
But no matter your age, if you’re looking to cut costs, you’re going to have to think a bit differently about the way you shop.
14 Savvy Ways to Fight Price Inflation
Here are savings tips to help you fight price inflation on everyday purchases.
1. Comparison Shop Before You Head to the Grocery Store
Prices for individual products can vary wildly among retailers, so you can save a lot by switching to the store that charges the least for your staples.
After creating a list of your household’s needs, use one of these supermarket comparison spreadsheets or apps to get the most bang for your grocery budget buck — no matter what’s on your list.
Save even more by using an app like Tada to get cash back on your grocery shopping.
2. Do Meal Prep
Planning out your meals and making grocery lists based on a meal plan means you’ll be less likely to waste money on something that looks good in the store but you never get around to eating.
These meal planning budget tips can help you save money now.
3. Minimize Food Waste
When you’re paying more for food, the last thing you want is to let it go to waste. It’s like throwing your hard-earned cash in the trash.
Use these tips to reduce food waste so you’ll never have to toss out moldy cheese or stale bread again.
4. Shop Your Pantry
Before you go grocery shopping, make a habit of checking the shelves of your pantry first. Canned goods, pasta and other pantry staples tend to get forgotten in dark corners.
By taking inventory of what you already have at home, you’ll avoid mistakenly buying multiples of the same item. You might be able to shorten your grocery list (and spend less). You’ll also reduce the chance of food going bad before you remember to eat it.
Try a pantry challenge to use up what you already have at home instead of going out and buying overpriced groceries. Don’t just limit your challenge to pantry items. Check what you’ve got in the freezer and what toiletries you already have before buying more of the same stuff.
5. Choose Store Brands Over Name Brands
Name brand groceries are already priced higher than their store brand counterparts. And many times, you can barely tell the difference between the two.
With prices going up, switch to generic brands to lower your grocery spending. You may even discover a new favorite.
6. Buy in Bulk
While you’ll pay more money upfront for stuff in larger quantities, it’s actually a smart move to buy in bulk. Typically, you’ll pay less per item.
If you don’t need a three-box bundle of cereal or 10 pounds of macaroni noodles, you could always split your shopping haul with a friend or family member. Or you could just use this as an excuse to do less grocery shopping throughout the month.
7. Cut Back on Meat
Cutting back on meat will have a significant impact on your grocery bill because beef, pork and chicken tend to be some of the more expensive items in the store — inflation or not.
Going meatless a day or two a week and turning to cheaper alternatives, like beans and lentils, can help you cut costs. You can also find the cheapest meat to save more money.
8. Save Money on Produce
Even with prices going up, you can still find ways to save on fruit and vegetables — without growing them in your backyard.
Buying from local farmers and community supported agriculture programs, sticking to what’s in season, or choosing frozen over fresh are just a few ways to save money on produce.
9. Buy Reusable Instead of Disposable
Which is better: Buying something for $5 that you use once and throw away, or purchasing something similar for $10 but that you can reuse over and over again?
Reusable products cost more upfront than their disposable counterparts, but they’re usually a better deal because they last much longer. They’re also better for the environment, which is an added plus.
These nine comparisons show how buying reusable instead of disposable can help you save.
10. Challenge Yourself to Spend Less
Sometimes you need a reset on your grocery budget to help you see places where you can save that you hadn’t realized before. We challenged ourselves to feed two people for two weeks for $70. Yes, it’s possible, and it doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck eating ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches.
Check out this grocery list to feed two people for $35 a week.
11. Share Tools, Equipment and Space
Splitting the cost of something you’ll use only occasionally is a better deal than paying full price for something that’ll end up collecting dust most of the time.
Consider sharing pricy tools and equipment — like a stand mixer or a leaf blower — with a neighbor or nearby friend or family member.
12. Save on Car Expenses
Even if the price of gas has finally dropped a bit these past few months, signing up for a fuel reward program is still a great way to keep more money in your pocket.
In fact, by discovering savings on your car-related expenses, you’ll have more money to put toward items that are still pricier thanks to inflation.
And let’s face it, regardless of inflation, your current car insurance company is probably overcharging you.
Instead of wasting your time hopping around to different insurance companies looking for a better deal, you can use a website called EverQuote to see all your options at once. It could save you up to $610 a year.
13. Get Free Things From a Buy-Nothing Group
Getting free items from a local Buy Nothing Group means you can bypass high prices at a store — and you don’t even have to offer up anything in exchange. These groups focus on donations rather than trading or bartering.
Join your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook.
14. Fight Shrinkflation
“Shrinkflation” is a term coined to describe when companies reduce the size of a product but keep the price the same — it’s companies’ way of still carving out a profit when their production costs rise.
You can beat shrinkflation by simply paying more attention while shopping and be willing to change up your habits to become a savvy shopper.
Mike Brassfield is a senior writer and Nicole Dow is a former senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
Adam Palasciano, who contributed to this report, is a personal finance-obsessed and money-savvy individual who loves to create content on all things saving and making money. His work also appears on The Smart Wallet, FinanceBuzz, Yahoo! Finance, JoyWallet, GoBankingRates.com and The Money Manual.