We're paying a lot at the pump, at the check-out lane, to travel, EVERYWHERE! It's so important to have a budget and stick to it but sometimes, that's even not enough! If you are like so many others, struggling to budget through this inflation period, here are some helpful tips offered by our group of certified LLCU Financial Counselors that might help you ride this wave!
BEST PLACES TO LOOK TO BUDGET FOR INFLATION:
GAS! Top of the list for everyone right now is how to budget and save for rising gas prices. Here are some ways:
- Download the “Gas Buddy” mobile app. This keeps a record of current prices at stations near you and you can choose the lowest.
- Look for rewards programs that offer discounts on fuel. Many gas stations will offer discounts with their rewards program, such as Circle K, Exxon, BP. Also, check with the places you shop, like Kroger, Sams, Costco, etc. Many offer fuel rewards and discounts.
- Avoid gas stations near highways and high traffic intersections.
- Ride sharing is key. Traveling to work meetings, kid’s sporting events, find families to carpool.
- Mechanically, you can save fuel by using your AC less, don’t leave your engine running idle, change air filters, get tune-ups, go the speed limit, don’t accelerate too quickly from stops.
ELECTRICITY. Watch your thermostat at home. Turn it is up 2-3 degrees higher than you normally would and close all blinds and shades in your home. Use oscillating or ceiling fans to keep rooms cool, this helps keep the rooms cooler and your AC kicking on less often.
FOOD & GROCERIES. Planning is key. If you have a busy schedule (baseball, softball, etc.), BRING your meals in a cooler. If you’re short on time, even just bringing a loaf of bread and a package of lunch meat will save you money. Also, if your kids are home for the summer, set strict rules on snacking. Every kid wants food when they feel bored, but just set out their snacks for the day and when they're gone, they're done! This will keep your kids from "boredom grazing" which can get very costly. For grocery shopping, hit up the dollar stores and discount shopping stores and try the generic or store-labeled brands of your favorite items. Many will surprise you in quality and will save you money. This is especially true for summer items like sunscreen, bug spray, etc.
EXPENSE REVIEW. Take a close look at your monthly expenditures to find ways to save. Here are a few common things that can be trimmed up pretty quickly:
- Review your subscriptions that auto-renew. Whether they are app subscriptions on your phone, cable and/or streaming services, etc.
- Get a quote to refinance your home or auto loan. Most financial institutions offer free quotes to see if they can save you money.
- Get a quote for your home and/or auto insurance. That is often an area we just allow to roll over and it could save you money to switch and have your coverage reviewed.
- Phone plan. Review your plan and check that you have the best plan and aren’t being charged too much.
- Consolidate your debt. Don’t throw too much money to a high interest rate of a credit card. There are options, like a Home Equity Line of Credit, that provide you with a way to consolidate credit card debt and pay a lower interest rate, putting more money toward the debt.
VACATION. Costs for gas, airfare, hotel stays are all very high right now. So, for your family vacation, think outside of the box. Camping is a great family bonding experience, and it saves ton of money. Choose somewhere with great fishing so you save on meals. Not big on camping?...plan a vacation of multiple day trips. Central Illinois has so many gems that can be explored, (Alerton Park, Starved Rock State Park, Abraham Lincoln Museum), choose a new location each day. You save on hotel costs and get to sleep in your own bed each night! Visit enjoyillinois.com for ideas.
SUMMER ACTIVITIES. If your kids participate in sports, camps, etc., find ways to purchase used equipment (locally, Play It Again Sports), and ask for scholarships for fees. Many youth leagues offer them, as do camps, etc.
Still need more ideas and help? Set up a FREE appointment with any LLCU Financial Counselor to go over your budget and make a plan. Email email@example.com, call 1-844-222-7788, or live chat at llcu.org, to set up an appointment. We're here to help!