4 Tips To Deal With Inflation

4 Tips To Deal With Inflation

1. Stick to these 5 ‘must-buy ingredients’ for affordable grocery shopping

Okamoto, who is also the author of the cookbook “Plant-Based on a Budget: Quick and Easy,” says there are five “must-buy ingredients” that are both affordable to buy and versatile to cook: bouillon cubes, beans, potatoes, onions and canned chopped tomatoes or sauce.

Okamoto suggests using these five staples to make dishes such as black bean chili, stuffed sweet potatoes and vegetable and garbanzo bean foil packets.

But beyond what ingredients you buy, you can also take action at the grocery store to make shopping a little less pricey. Here are some tips for grocery shopping on a budget, including Okamoto’s own advice:

  • Look inside the aisles: Supermarkets will often display what’s on sale at the ends of aisles, but there are usually even cheaper options when you look at the shelves of the corresponding aisle, Okamoto points out. “Also, they place more expensive options at eye level since many people don’t take the time to look up or down to see what’s cheaper,” she says. “Look at the bottom of the shelf for the cheapest beans!”
  • See what’s sold in bulk: Some grocery stores will have items stored in bulk bins. “These bins allow you to purchase as much or as little as you need, and they’re especially cost-saving when shopping for spices,” Okamoto says. “You can also find dried beans in the bulk section.”
  • Check the price per ounce, not unit price: Though two cans of tomato sauce can have the same price, one may be larger than the other. “When doing a price comparison, make sure you’re looking at the price per ounce instead of the unit price, which is often displayed on the price tag in the supermarket,” suggests Okamoto.
  • Stick to buying only what you need: It’s easy to go overboard when grocery shopping (especially when shopping hungry), but you don’t need to fill your fridge. “Instead, create a meal plan before you shop and buy only what you plan on using,” Okamoto says.

Another way to take the sting out of your higher grocery bill is by paying with a credit card that rewards your spending. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers cardholders 6{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9}). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can then be redeemed as a statement credit to pay off your credit card bill. Plus, new cardholders can earn a $250 statement credit after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first six months — that means spending at least $500 per month in the first six months of having your card, which can be easy to achieve while prices are still high. Cardholders don’t have to pay an annual fee for the first year, after it’s a modest $95; see rates and fees. Terms apply.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    6{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9}), 6{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back on other purchases. Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. 

  • Annual fee

    $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

  • Intro APR

    0{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

But if you’re really cutting down your monthly grocery bill and don’t think you’ll hit the spending requirement to earn the welcome bonus on the Blue Cash Preferred Card, consider the Chase Freedom Flex℠. New cardholders can earn $200 cash back after spending just $500 on purchases in their first three months from account opening — which breaks down to about $167 per month on groceries. The Freedom Flex is a 5{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash-back card on rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate, and there are often grocery stores included as a category.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Information about the Chase Freedom Flex℠ has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    5{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9}), 5{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} on drugstore purchases and on dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services), 1{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

2. Consider high-yield accounts and bonds for your savings

UFB Preferred Savings

UFB Best Savings is a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Minimum balance

  • Monthly fee

  • Maximum transactions

    No max number of transactions; Max transfer amounts may apply

  • Excessive transactions fee

  • Overdraft fees

    Overdraft fees may be charged, according to the terms, but a specific amount is not specified; overdraft protection service available

  • Offer checking account?

  • Offer ATM card?

Yet, even with today’s high rates, these accounts can’t keep up with the rising cost of living. That’s why short-term bonds have generated a great deal of interest. These savings vehicles are less affected if interest rates rise quickly and can be reinvested at higher rates as they reach maturity. Short-term Treasury bonds are a good idea as they’re issued by the federal government and thus considered low risk.

Andrew Meadows, senior vice president at Ubiquity Retirement + Savings, especially likes I bonds as they’re designed to fight inflation. I bonds pay both a fixed rate return, which is set by the U.S. Treasury Department, and an inflation-adjusted variable rate return, the latter of which changes every six months based on the Consumer Price Index. Currently, I bonds pay 6.89{d0229a57248bc83f80dcf53d285ae037b39e8d57980e4e23347103bb2289e3f9} annual interest through April.

Meadows also points out that signing up for the automatic escalation feature in your employer-sponsored 401(k) can help you fight inflation over time while you build wealth for your future. With automatic escalation, your contribution amount will automatically increase each year up to a certain limit — putting your retirement savings on autopilot.

“We’ve seen more and more people sign up for this feature,” Meadows says. “Especially in a time of high inflation like we have today, the ‘time value of money’ becomes a reality.” The idea here is that saving more today will, over time, help bolster your retirement balance so it keeps up with the cost of living when you quit working.

3. Review your spending so you can make some cuts

There’s an app for that, too

For those who want to track their spending in a more automated way, consider an app like Mint — rated “best overall free app” on CNBC Select’s list of the best budgeting apps and best expense tracker apps. In addition to offering basic budgeting features, Mint also provides bill payment reminders, customized alerts when you’re over budget and a credit monitoring service. Read our full review of the Mint app.

“It is difficult to determine where you might be able to save if you don’t have a good sense of how you are currently managing your money,” adds Diahann Lassus, CFP and senior managing director-managing principal at Peapack Private Wealth Management.

Plus, we get used to spending on things we may no longer need or enjoy. “Lots of times we spend money on things that don’t improve the quality of our lives for so long that it becomes a habit,” Ivory Johnson, CFP and founder of Delancey Wealth Management, tells CNBC Select. A good example of this is paying for a recurring expense that you never use, such as a gym membership, streaming service or other subscription.

Johnson identifies other “low-hanging fruit” steps you can take as not paying for cable, making lunch instead of going out, buying a cheaper brand of something or DIY-ing instead of paying someone to do work in your home. Lassus agrees with this advice, adding that you can consider doing tasks you’d normally outsource, like house cleaning or lawn maintenance.

Subscribe to the Select Newsletter!

Our best selections in your inbox. Shopping recommendations that help upgrade your life, delivered weekly. Sign-up here.

4. ‘Scale back your lifestyle’ to save more

Fighting high prices can go hand-in-hand with having to make hard choices.

“Sometimes you have to scale back your lifestyle, whether that’s where you vacation, how often you buy cars or where your children go to school,” Johnson says. “Don’t worry about how it looks; chances are you’re not the only one on your block affected by higher prices.”

Beyond those big-ticket purchases, smaller everyday decisions also matter. “One area I try to keep an eye on is eating out,” Lassus says. Because food is more expensive, restaurants have passed on those higher charges to the customer. Cooking at home instead of dining out can make a difference in your spending each month, especially over time, she argues.

Bottom line

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.