I remember the good old days when I could spend $100 on groceries and get through the month. I recall the sales and savings. Sadly, those days are nothing more than romantic memories, and the rising costs we all see at the checkout are not going away anytime soon.
Inflation is taking its toll from California to New York and everywhere in between.
Unfortunately, it is not only food costs that continue to rise steadily. Everything is more expensive. No matter where you look, prices continue to increase, despite steps to cool inflation, such as lower interest rates and government programs. We are all struggling to pay bills, get basic necessities, and put food on the table.
These rising costs are most prominent when it comes to food. A trip to the grocery store, once a relaxing outing for any mother, has become a personal battle that causes tremendous stress.
Consider that the average annual food costs for an American family increased by 11.4% in 2022 compared to the previous year. Yet, looking back over the last 20 years, the historical level of food inflation was a mere 2%. (Source)
What is happening? And more importantly, what can we do about it? It is impossible to keep up. People just don’t have the money.
While some hold on to the hope that prices and inflation will level out, one thing is certain; everyone feels the effects.
How will you survive if costs continue to rise?
Luckily, there are always ways to combat economic effects and prepare for the future, especially regarding food. You have options. What’s better is that it is never too late to start preparing for tomorrow.
Whether you are already struggling or you want to prepare just in case, there are many things you can do to give yourself a headstart and some security.
Preparing For A Changing World And An Uncertain Future
No one knows what tomorrow holds. While we have always existed in an uncertain world, the risk seems higher today than ever before. Should a natural disaster strike, we face a financial crisis, or should something completely unexpected occur, will you be prepared?
Ideally, you would have already started preparing for a crisis. Thankfully, it is never too late to jump on the train and secure a spot in the future. With never-ending price increases and a precarious financial market, self-sufficiency has never been more critical.
There are many ways to prepare for uncertain times. From stocking up to saving money, we will outline some of the best practices in preparation so that you can build your nest egg and keep yourself and your family safe, no matter what the future holds.
Save Money By Cutting Costs
While swapping brands to save a mere few cents may seem silly, every penny truly counts. In today’s financially-strapped society, if you can save a buck, you should do it.
Purchase products of a cheaper brand, make your coffee at home and wash your own car. Any small actions that can help you put money in the bank are essential to your success in a crisis.
Cut The Cord On Cable T.V.
If you are still paying for cable, it is time to join the rest of us in 2023. Most of the shows you watch are probably available online for free or at least cheaper than your ever-increasing cable bill.
Consider finding an alternative for television, such as an Android service, and cut the cord with your cable provider.
Cancel Auto-Pay Subscriptions
It seems that everything is run on subscription these days. If you are anything like me, you sign up for something and forget about it. Meanwhile, large companies are laughing their way to the bank while you unknowingly continue to pay 9, 10, or 12 dollars a month for something you rarely use.
Try turning off the auto-pay feature on your monthly subscriptions and set them to manual renewal instead. This simple act forces you to acknowledge the cost and assess whether it is a product you need.
Reduce Energy Costs
My family is notoriously leaving lights on, falling asleep while watching television, wasting water, or turning up the heat. All these bad habits add up. I see the additional costs reflected in our monthly bills.
While it may be challenging to change your habits, it could be the thing that saves you when times get truly tough.
Look for ways to lower your utility costs and contact the company for advice. Many companies offer free incentive programs to help consumers limit their usage and spending.
Grow Your Food
I’m no farmer. However, fed up with the ever-increasing cost of vegetables, I recently decided to dig up my backyard to make room for a large garden.
Growing fruits and vegetables at home is way easier than you would think. What’s better, growing a few fruits or veggies could save you substantial money.
Even if you lack a large yard, consider growing things like tomatoes, cucumbers, leaf lettuce, herbs, and peppers. These plants can be grown almost anywhere and require very little space. In fact, many can be grown in buckets, pots, or small containers on a balcony.
Find creative ways to grow food yourself, whether in a garden or containers, and save some money by avoiding the produce section at the grocery store. For more helpful information, check out this guide on how to make a year-round self-sustaining garden, that will keep you and your family well fed.
Stock Up On Staples
When people think of prepping, they are often put off by images of large hoard piles. While being prepared should mean you have everything you need no matter what happens, it is not as chaotic as it may seem.
Stocking up on essential items and ensuring extra food is available is a great start. You can always think ahead, even if you are not ready to begin a full-blown stockpile in a dedicated space.
When an item is on sale, consider buying extra to put away. Stock up on essential items, like toilet paper, paper towels, and laundry soap, and always ensure there is extra food, especially non-perishables.
Ideally, you would be able to survive without having to leave your house for at least three months, but having enough to get through even a few days is better than nothing.
Do Some DIY
Preparing for the unknown means you need to be creative, and what is more creative than a DIY project?
If you make some of the things you need at home instead of buying them from others, it can save you money each month and really make a difference in the long run.
You can create many items at home. For example, you can create a simple water heater that requires no electricity, and helps you save money on your electricity bills.
You can also make DIY fishing gear, fire-starting kits, a water filtration system, various stoves, traps and alarms against intruders and many other incredible items.
Although you probably can’t avoid the grocery store entirely, you can shop smart and save money.
Depending on where you live, stores often offer coupons that can help you stock up and save money. Sales allow you to purchase products at lower prices.
Besides sales and coupons, the brands you buy impact expenses. Always check if there is a cheaper, off-brand version of a product.
While off-brands are not always more affordable, they are usually the same product. Parent companies often manufacture popular off-brands. Why spend $10 on something when you can pay $5?
Don’t go grocery shopping hungry
Walk into the grocery store with a rumbling belly, and you will walk out with a cart full of junk.
Be sure to shop when your stomach is full, and you have time to focus. You do not want to rush yourself into purchasing products you do not need.
You should never enter a grocery store without a plan.
Supermarkets tend to have a way of tricking shoppers into filling their carts. Avoid this trap by planning your shopping trips and following a list.
Avoid the outer edges and end caps
The outer edge of a grocery store is your worst enemy. The rim of a grocery store holds popular products retailers are pushing. End caps (the displays at the end of each aisle) are highly competitive and perfectly planned to persuade. Stick to the center aisles if you want to bag yourself some savings.
Check the discount bins
Many stores feature discount bins. These are often filled with dented, damaged, or almost expired products. Always check for a discount section and see if you can buy anything on markdown.
Know your sale dates
Sales are essential to savings. Knowing which days the sales start and end is helpful. Some stores even offer promotions on different days of the week, such as seniors day.
Rewards cards can be a great money-saving tool. Find out which stores offer rewards, and consider signing up. Most are free.
Often the company wants an address, phone number, or email to send promotional material, but it may be worth the savings.
Set a strict budget
A budget is also helpful. I make a list and calculate costs based on sale prices when grocery shopping. I will transfer the funds to a prepaid card or separate account to avoid overspending. If the money is not accessible, you can’t spend it.
Utilize discount food apps
Try to utilize discount food apps if possible. Where I live, we have the Flash Food app. This ingenious app lists discounted products you order online to pick up in-store. It is a great way to save on things you need. Look for a similar app in your area and celebrate some savings.
One thing I’ve learned as a parent is that kids should not come to the grocery store. When you shop alone, you are more likely to shop wisely.
Similar to coupons, sales, or rewards, price matching can help you save money. If your store allows you to price match, I suggest you do. Often an item will be on sale at one store but not at another. If you can’t travel all over town, price matching guarantees you get the sale price. There are price-matching apps that make it easy.
Although prices are rising as quickly as your blood pressure and show no signs of coming down any time soon, you can save money. You can survive these uncertain times by becoming more self-sufficient and saving cash when possible.
Being prepared for the future is about more than your stockpile. It is about planning and preparing, no matter the situation.
I would love to hear how you save money in these challenging times. Share your tips and ideas with me in the comments, and stay safe.
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