America hasn’t seen inflation such as is raging at present since 1982. Last month’s Labor Department report pegged inflation at 7.9 percent, yet another record high among several months of record highs. Fuel prices have risen more than a dollar in the first fourteen months of the Biden Administration, and grocery prices are up by just over one percent on a month-to-month comparison. Americans have seen wage gains, but the surging inflation is eroding any increases people may have previously seen in their pocketbooks.
While these figures are dire – and have many contemplating how they will survive – particularly if they live paycheck to paycheck – financial expert Dave Ramsey offers some advice on how to save money during these economically perilous times.
1. Consolidate errands.
Although this advice seems too simple, if drivers will notate how often they leave the house for a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, or to pick up a necessary ingredient when cooking dinner, these short miles can add up quickly – and they can actually cost you more in fuel than you’d expect.
It’s no secret that city miles are tougher on an engine than highway miles, but drivers might not be aware that these stop-and-start trips that may be ten miles or less round-trip can affect your gas mileage as well. In fact, your vehicle’s fuel efficiency may drop three or four miles per gallon for these short trips to town.
Start by being prepared before making that trip to the grocery store. List the things you’re out of so that you’re sure to pick those items up during your shopping trip.
However, if you run out of milk or another necessary grocery item, try to run any other possible errands while you’re running to the store. Need to drop off a bill one day this week? Go ahead and take care of that errand while making a milk run.
You may also want to make a habit of picking up groceries on your way home from work.
2. When on the highway, use the cruise.
Dave Ramsey says that using cruise control can save you between seven and fourteen percent on fuel mileage per trip. However, this does depend on your geographic location. If the area in which you live offers fairly level, flat highways with few curves, then setting the cruise can save you a great deal on fuel economy. However, should you live in an area that is hilly, drivers won’t see too much in the way of fuel savings.
Cruise works much the same way that highway miles are more fuel efficient in cars than in the city. When drivers maintain the same speed consistently, fuel efficiency is at a maximum.
3. Check your tire pressure.
It’s important to first note the proper tire pressure for your car’s specifications, then check your current tire pressure to see if it lines up with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
When tires run low on air, fuel mileage decreases; however, be careful – particularly during hot summer months – not to overinflate your tires. This does nothing for fuel economy, although an urban myth holds that it will. Also, keep in mind that during the summer, tires will expand and possibly register with a higher amount of tire pressure.
4. Carpool when possible.
You may want to set up a carpool with work colleagues who live in your neighborhood, but couples who work near one another in the city may want to ride to work together in order to save on fuel.
5. Research and join a loyalty rewards program.
Many grocery or warehouse stores offer a loyalty program that often allows for fuel savings (think Kroger or Sam’s Club). If you shop at these places often and purchase fuel there as well, consider joining one of the stores’ loyalty programs for members. You could save five, ten, fifteen cents or more per gallon after making purchases that you’d normally make anyway.
6. Join loyalty programs and cut those coupons.
Most every big box grocery store offers an app to its shoppers, and these apps often offer coupons for popular items. Some grocery store apps even track how much you spend, then offer a small amount off of a future purchase for spending a set amount ($5 off the total after a shopper spends $200, for example).
You’ll also save money when using coupons provided by these apps. Apps offer customers an idea of what is on sale on any given day, and many of these apps allow customers to double the coupons from time to time.
In an era when inflation has hit a record high, consumers may need to be creative to save money. However, with a a little planning and some dedication, Americans have opportunities to save money if they’ll try out these simple tricks for keeping more in their wallets.