How to cut back on your everyday expenses to beat inflation

Taking stock of the kitchen, meal planning, buying in bulk and online shopping can help reduce your supermarket bill

Abu Dhabi, UAE - May 29, 2008 -  Carrefour Shoppers in Marina Mall. (Nicole Hill / The National) 
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There’s no escaping it — costs of consumer goods are increasing during this current period of inflation. Many people are feeling the squeeze on everyday purchases.

Most people aren’t excited about doing the weekly grocery shop or filling their vehicle with petrol, but these are necessary expenses. It can feel frustrating when these prices increase, but there are ways to reduce your spending on these essentials so you can free up more cash to enjoy yourself, pay down debt or save for the future.

Tips to lower grocery bills

Take stock of your kitchen: Before you do your grocery shopping, take an inventory of your kitchen. You might find that you already have ingredients to make a few meals to reduce your shopping list. It is also wise to prepare your shopping list in accordance with the aisles of the grocery store. For example, if toiletries are in the first aisle, list your personal items at the top of your list. This will help you stick to your list as you move around the shop.

Plan, plan, plan: If you’re trying to cut back on takeaways, meal planning is key. There are many ways to do this — some people list items to buy on a whiteboard in their kitchen, while others prefer writing it down in a notebook or updating a digital document. Whichever method suits you, do it at the same time every week so it becomes part of your routine.

How to fight temptation: Grocery shops are notoriously effective at tempting you to purchase impulse items. A few tips to come out of the grocery store with your budget intact include never shopping when you’re hungry and limiting your supermarket visits to once a week. Also, make sure you look up and down the shelves as often the most expensive goods are stored at eye level to encourage people to select them.

Bulk buy and cook in batches: If a non-perishable item that you use regularly is on offer and you have the space to store it, then it makes sense to bulk-buy. Cooking meals in batches and freezing portions can reduce the amount of ingredients you have to buy.

Online shopping: When I switched to online grocery shopping, I found it much easier to compare prices of brands than scanning through busy supermarket shelves trying to match items with their labels. Shop in the comfort of your home and make use of online discount codes to make further savings.

How to save on fuel costs

Give your car a break: The most obvious tip to save on fuel costs is to use your car less. Try challenging yourself to not use your car for one or both days of the weekend by planning activities around your home.

Plan your trips: If you use your car for errands, activities or events many days a week, you might benefit from some extra planning. For example, if you have to go to the bank, post office and attend a medical appointment and all are located in the same area, plan to tick all these items off your to-do list on the same day.

Take care of your vehicle: Although it may cost money upfront, ensuring your car undergoes regular service can reduce fuel consumption and prevent expensive repairs. It’s also worthwhile to check and adjust your tyre pressure at a petrol station free of charge. Every 1 per cent decrease in tyre pressure correlates to a 0.3 per cent reduction in fuel economy, not to mention an increase in the risk of accidents, studies suggest.

Lighten the load: The more weight your car is hauling, the more petrol it will use. Take some time this weekend to clear out any books, toys or unnecessary items from your vehicle.

Avoid rash driving: Avoiding rapid accelerating, decelerating and hard braking can reduce fuel costs by 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

Life is for living and while it’s not healthy to obsessively cut down on everything, being intentional with essential spending is a good hedge against inflation.

Everyone is different and has a unique set of circumstances, so try something out and if it doesn’t work, try something else until you find a balance between convenience and cost that works for your budget.

Alison Soltani is the founder of LeapSavvySavers.com

Updated: May 24, 2022, 4:00 AM
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