I came across this article recently on MSNBC.com and as I read through it, I couldn’t help thinking one thing:
There are simple, tangible ways to combat the rising costs on these items.
The news loves to show (and show and show and show) the problems without offering any solutions (perhaps that’s their job). Yes, prices have gone up on a lot of things. Yes, the economy isn’t as super fabulous as it once was. But you really can work with the situation and lessen the financial pain.
I’m going to take the same 13 things noted in the MSNBC.com article and mention some ways that the rising costs can be managed. They can be managed.
It’s no secret that airfares have been rapidly rising recently (a half dozen times this year by $4 to $10 each, according to the article). But a good (OK, maybe not good, but better) deal can still be found:
- Once you know your travel dates, set up airfare alerts. Any time your airfare drops (or rises) you’ll get an email.
- Fly discount airlines.
- Don’t be an airline loyalist. Go with whoever has the best deal.
- For each airline you fly, sign up for their frequent flyer program. Keep track of all your accounts and mileage. Eventually, you’ll have some free tickets coming your way.
Apparently, the price of chocolate has gone up. If it’s too expensive, don’t…eat…it. Chocolate isn’t a necessity in life.
But, one of the best ways to save on the cost of chocolate is to buy it in bulk (bars, chips, etc). When you buy individual chocolate candies, you’re also buying the packaging. So buy in bulk and make your own chocolatey treats.
According to the article, “Coffee prices jumped 27 percent between December and March as companies passed along their record cost of unroasted beans.”
Buy bulk, baby. Skip the Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts/McDonald’s specialty drinks (they’re so bad for you anyways) and brew your own coffee at home.
4. Fast Food
Looks like we’re going to see a rise in the cost of fast food, based on the higher cost of ingredients. While my initial piece of advice would be to skip most fast food all together (very little substance there), I know that’s not always a helpful solution. So here’s some more food for thought:
- Buy an Entertainment book. These usually have fast food coupons in them.
- Check out fast food places on holidays and such, when they’re offering a free something-or-other.
- Choose from the value meals.
- Check your newspaper or other inserts for coupons. They’re always there.
- Write letters or emails to your favorite places. Chances are they’ll reply and send you some coupons.
5. Fruits and Vegetables
“Even adjusting for seasonal factors, the cost of fruits and vegetables has risen 23 percent in three months,” according to the article. I believe it. I’ve seen the prices at the grocery store. But you can lessen the cost by:
- Going to farmer’s markets. You’re buying local produce from folks you know (or can get to know) and sparing the cost of transporting the food.
- Starting a small garden of your own. Never buy a tomato again!
- Buying in bulk at bulk stores. I hear there are good deals to be had on produce at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
- Signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and get a regular share of produce for what is usually a great deal.
- Eating in season. We’re so used to having whatever item we want available all year long. But when we purchase something out of season, it usually costs more than it would at the proper time.
Furniture is costing more because the cost of materials has risen. My solution? Get crafty and make your own furniture. It’s not as hard as it looks to take up sewing, woodworking, etc. And the only cost is materials.
Where I live, the gas prices are incredibly high (higher than the national average). This is probably one of the most difficult costs to keep down. We all need to go places, and we all need gas for our cars. But, you can try to:
- Organize your driving. Map out your stops in a logical order, and do less trips.
- Find the local gas station with the best price and fill up there.
- Walk wherever you can.
- Bike wherever you can. It’s getting to be nice weather out. It’s the perfect time to bike places, and it’ll help you to beat the summer gasoline increases.
- Carpool. I can’t say this enough. Share rides with people.
- Purchasing gas gift cards at discount prices. Check out sites like GiftCards.com, Plastic Jungle, and Gift Card Granny. They may be hard to snag (because they’ll probably go fast), but it’s worth a shot.
8. Household Products
Oh, pish posh. Make your own. Make your own laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, cloth diapers, and more. It’s easy to save on this stuff if you put a little bit of work in. And frankly, the things you make will be better for your health anyways.
Yikes. Can’t skimp here. We need car insurance, homeowners/renters insurance, health insurance, and more. It’s a necessity in this day and age. My best suggestion for you? Don’t be brand loyal. Shop around.
It’s another case of ingredients costing more. I suggest buying a juicer and learning how to make your own juice. It’s healthier (no added sugar or preservatives), and if you buy produce in bulk, it’ll be cheaper too.
11. Packaged Foods
My initial suggestion would be to not buy as many packaged foods. Do we need to go over the health benefits of eating a more fresh, organic, and raw diet? But I know it’s not feasible for everyone.
So how about trying couponing? Perhaps now is the time to live the couponing lifestyle. There are tons of blogs that will help you figure this out, and Grocery University is a great program to pick up if you’re a beginner.
12. Soft Drinks
OK. I have to say it, and I can’t give any other options. Stop drinking soda. It’s horrible for you, really. Quitting soda is hard (so I’ve heard – I’ve never liked the taste of it, so I’ve never been a drinker of it). A lot of people go through withdrawal symptoms. But it’s worth it. Drink more water, fresh juice, and even red wine. But please – give up the soda.
I feel like this is the most random one on the list. Shop around. My husband and I just bought a set of new tires for our car, and we saved by doing our research and waiting until there was a big sale to make our purchase.
That’s my advice. What about yours? Have any ideas on how to save in these 13 areas?
Image Credit: Newton Free Library