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 like the baby boomers, Gen X — and even Gen Z, people younger than them.
That’s one of the main findings of Country Financial’s latest financial security index, a survey of more than 1,000 Americans that was taken in February 2023. The survey asked about inflation, which rose 6.4% in January compared with the previous year.
The survey found that, due to high inflation, millennials are more likely to have taken money out of their savings, put less money in their savings or investments, or delayed a major purchase or vacation.
Millennials — most of whom are in their 30s — are getting hit by huge price hikes for rent and used cars, among other things. Millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to have borrowed money from friends and family than Gen Xers or baby boomers, the survey found.
“Young people can’t afford to spend the way older generations do,” Fidelity Investments points out. “This is the first time millennials are experiencing such high inflation.”
No matter how old you are, if you’re looking to stabilize your rising 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 between retailers, so you can save a lot by switching to the store that charges 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.
This expert meal prep advice simply lays out how to get started planning your meals in advance.
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 have a tendency 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 and 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.
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. Being better for the environment 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 you hadn’t realized before. We challenged ourselves to feed two people for two weeks for $65. 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 $33 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.
If, instead of equipment, you have space to share — whether it’s a spare room, an empty garage or a parking space — you could actually earn an extra $300 a month by using a website like Neighbor to connect with your, um, neighbors.
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.