How to Beat Inflation: There ARE things you can do


By Jim Walker 
Signal Staff Writer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index increased 8.3% for the 12 months ending in April. The energy index rose 30.3% over the last year, and the food index increased 9.4%, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending April 1981. And, the information for May, just released, showed the CPI rose even more, to 8.6%. 

Inflation is currently causing U.S. households to pay hundreds of extra dollars per month, or thousands more per year, on expenses. This is especially hard on low-income households, for whom spending on housing, groceries, energy and transportation requires a higher percentage of their income. 

Naturally, inflation and soaring fuel prices have us all worried, but there are things we can do to reduce the impact of these on our lives. In general, we can fight back by cutting grocery, transportation and other expenses, auditing our budgets, and avoiding debt. 

American Consumer Credit Counseling Inc. is a nonprofit debt management company that provides consumers personalized counseling, solutions for debt consolidation, and financial education. Daily on the front lines of the battle against inflation, so to speak, who better to offer some insights on winning it? Peter Mullen is an ACCC community outreach coordinator, and here he shares some valuable tips. 

“Inflation is eating away our buying power,” Mullen said. “Three things are key to reducing that: (1) have a budget, (2) seek good information, and (3) plan ahead.” 


“It’s critical to understand the basic financial information for anything you want to do,” Mullen said. “That includes what’s coming in, what’s going out, and what’s available afterward.”  

Of course, seeking information is part of creating a budget and adjusting it. “Information is power,” he said. “You can influence the money in and money out.” 

Money in: Even under current economic conditions, there are ways to increase your money coming in. “We are in a gig economy,” Mullen said. “Look for opportunities and be open to them. Get side jobs or sell online. Buy at thrift stores and yard sales.” And he added, “Where I live, there is a garment district where you can buy clothing by the pound. Buying this way, a shirt might cost you $2 or $3. You can fix it up, add buttons, maybe, and then sell it for $40 or $50.” 

Money out: “When it comes to bills, there are always things you should do,” Mullen said. “Ask questions, do research, push back. Remember that businesses are in competition. You can leverage competitors. You can go with cable company A or B.” And, knowing that, the cable companies may negotiate. Also, look at what’s in the budget heavily influenced by current inflation, such as travel, and anything involving gas or transportation. “Buy local and save,” he said. 

In terms of reducing money spent, Mullen offered a pyramid description of what you should think of first when considering purchases. The pyramid, created by Sarah Lazarovic, has what you should consider first, using what you already have, at its base, and what you should consider last, to buy something new, at the peak. Ascending in between are borrowing, swapping, buying at thrift stores, and making your own. 

Plan ahead 

Planning ahead can save you money in many ways. This is especially true when it comes to meals, Mullen said. “Why do people go out to eat or get takeout?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s because, at the end of the day, they are tired and want their food easy and fast.” Mullen’s alternative is to “use your time instead of your money. When you are fresh in the morning, maybe brown up some pounds of ground beef, peppers, and stir-fry foods from the freezer. You can make this for multiple meals and freeze it. Then you can microwave each meal as you need it. It saves you money, and time and effort when you are tired.” 

Reduce debt 

“Paying down debt is a more efficient use of money than investing at this time,” Mullen said. “The debt interest rates are so much higher than the earned rates. And the cash flow you have left over each month is under attack by inflation.” But can you also shrink your set payments? You might be able to defer student loan payments or auto loan payments. You can consolidate your payments for multiple credit cards. And what would a creditor rather have, some money or no money? “You might respectfully request to pay $100 instead of $200,” he said. “If your debts are large, you might consider a debt management plan. You’ll have more cash left over each month.” 

Worry less 

Maybe put off any big-ticket purchases for now, and we definitely have to keep our eyes open and make smart financial decisions, but we don’t need to obsess on the current economy. Things will change. “Inflation is cyclical and temporary,” Mullen said. “For now, tighten a little. We’ll get through.” 

Visit American Consumer Credit Counseling Inc. at or call 800-769-3571 for a budget counseling analysis to those suffering from debt issues. 

Other Tips to Beat Inflation  

Food and staples 

• Cook at home more often and create a meal plan each week to avoid impulse shopping or relying on takeout during the week. 

• Minimize prepared food delivery. 

• Eat less meat. 

• Build meals around pasta, rice, dried or canned beans or potatoes. 

• Use more canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. 

• Use store-brand products whenever possible, rather than name brand. 

• Comparison shop and/or buy staples from bulk stores, such as Costco and Sam’s Club. 

• Use coupons and purchase discounted items. 


• Work from home or carpool whenever possible. 

• Use public transport or bike when possible. 

• Combine errands into as few trips as possible and avoid trips that aren’t really necessary. • Shopping online may be cheaper than driving to the store. 

• Keep auto tuned, oil changed and air filter clean. 

• Keep the correct tire pressure. 

• Don’t drive around with unnecessary weight in the car. 

• Accelerate and decelerate gently. 

• Join a gas station or grocery store rewards program. 

• If you can, purchase your gas when prices are best (possibly midweek or early morning). 

• Use your Costco membership for gas savings. 

• Compare prices with an app such as GasBuddy … otherwise avoid gas stations immediately off the highway or in the most affluent neighborhoods. 

• Use a credit card that offers the best reward on fuel purchases. 

• Pay with cash or a debit card. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS