3 Budget Changes to Fight Inflation

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Inflation has been rampant. Here's how to adjust your spending to cope.

Key points

  • Inflation has soared in recent months, making everyday bills more expensive.
  • A few savvy spending changes could be your ticket to battling inflation and coming out unscathed.

For months now, Americans have been feeling the pain at the pump, the supermarket, and just about everywhere. Inflation has soared since mid-2021, and in November, it reached its highest level since 1982. As a result, workers' paychecks are getting stretched thin, and many people are running the risk of landing in debt just to stay afloat -- especially those living paycheck to paycheck without any money in savings to fall back on.

If you've been hit hard by inflation, the good news is that some savvy budgeting changes could help you get through these tough times and avoid getting hurt financially. Here are three changes to consider immediately.

1. Buy generic brands

You may spend a certain amount of money each month on things like groceries, household products, and medications. But if you're willing to swap out name brands for generic alternatives, your costs could quickly shrink.

Many supermarkets offer store brands at a much lower price point than the brands you see heavily advertised on TV. And often, those products are comparable in quality and taste. Similarly, generic medications generally do the same job as name-brand ones -- sometimes at a fraction of the cost. Asking your doctor to switch you over to generics could reduce your healthcare spending in a meaningful way.

2. Spend less on restaurants and takeout

For many people, restaurant meals are a much-needed and much-deserved treat. And they can definitely come in handy when life gets busy and there's limited time to shop for food or cook.

But restaurants are also notorious for charging huge markups on the items they serve. If money has gotten tight due to inflation, cutting back in this particular spending category could really be crucial. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to eliminate restaurant meals altogether. But if you normally order in twice a week, scaling back to once a week could make a big difference.

3. Cancel services you can do without temporarily

You might enjoy working out at the gym or having numerous TV channels available thanks to your cable package. But if you're able to give those things up temporarily, you can get through this bout of inflation without landing in debt.

Think about the things you spend money on that you enjoy but can somewhat easily live without. Keep in mind that even small changes can add up and spell the difference between racking up debt and avoiding it. There may, for example, be a $10 monthly music streaming service you like having. But if you're spending $10 more a month on gas, canceling that service until fuel costs come down isn't unreasonable, even if it's not a ton of money at stake.

The good news about high levels of inflation is that they won't last forever. The bad news is that rampant inflation may still be with us for quite some time. These spending changes could help you get through the next few months without suffering too harsh a financial hit in the process.

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