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Families across the United States are feeling the impact of inflation. Now at their highest level in 40 years, rising costs are forcing families to cut spending everywhere they can, from grocery shopping to vacation trips.
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GOBankingRates spoke to six parents from a wide range of household sizes about their top budget secrets – here’s how these families are fighting inflation.
Visit the library
Hillary Swetz, owner of HomegrownHillary, has a family of four including herself, her husband and two small children. Swetz said her family loves visiting the library to check out books, movies, craft bags and receive free library passes.
Additionally, Swetz said their local library offers a “library of things.” “We can check out a backpack full of birding supplies, pairs of snowshoes, coding kits and more,” she said.
Visiting the local library provides households with plenty of entertainment options, including books, audiobooks, toys, and puzzles just waiting to be borrowed for free. Families can easily cut down on entertainment expenses, like streaming subscriptions, with a free library membership. Once you’ve received your library card, visit your local branch to see what they have to offer.
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Avoid buying ready meals
Many parents we spoke to cited meal prepping as one of their biggest budget secrets for fighting inflation. In addition to meal prep, other cost-saving recommendations included preparing and freezing meals ahead of time, investing in bread machines to bake your own bread, creating a garden, and l learning conservation techniques for preserving fruits and vegetables.
Laura Durenberger, creator and founder of Reduce, Reuse, Renew, lives in a household with three people and three cats. Durenberger recommends families reduce convenience food purchases.
“These little snack-sized crackers, applesauce packets and granola bars are definitely handy to have on hand,” Durenberger said. “But they often cost more and produce more waste than buying a bigger package and splitting it yourself.”
To save money and reduce waste, Durenberger recommends using a reusable snack bag to reduce the need to buy single-use plastic bags.
Upgrade to more affordable wireless internet
Wireless Internet is one of the most overpaid bills for many households.
Samantha Brandon, founder of SamanthaBrandon, has six in her household: four adults with grandparents and two children. Brandon said she was able to upgrade to fixed wireless internet for just $50 a month through a phone provider.
Review your existing wireless plan to see if there are cheaper options, or research other providers that offer more affordable wireless Internet access.
Invest in Costco Travel
Pam Howard, owner of Our Adventure is Everywhere, is the mother of two teenagers aged 15 and 18. Howard recommends Costco members use Costco Travel to save on their travel needs.
“Costco Travel always has the best prices,” Howard said. “Use Costco for car rentals and you can add a second driver at no additional cost.”
Use credit card points for travel
“I rarely pay for flights or hotels through strategically opening credit cards and using points to book our trip,” Howard said.
Use the points on your credit card to book flights and hotels and don’t forget to pay the card balance each month. “Otherwise, it’s no longer free to travel!” Howard said.
Grocery shopping before a trip
Families who love to travel can save money on meals and snacks by doing a few errands before hitting the road.
Kim Swanson, founder of Traveling Swansons, has three children aged 9, 13 and 15. Their family loves to travel and Swanson is able to save money while traveling by shopping for groceries at the start of a trip.
Stock up on drinks, snacks, and quick items for breakfast and lunch. This helps to minimize the number of times your family dines out per day, saving your family money and allowing you to spend more time on fun and memorable family activities.
Organize an exchange
If your family needs certain children’s items — like toys, gear, or clothing — Durenberger recommends arranging a child swap to save some extra money.
“The exchange can be between you and a friend, your neighbors or even the community,” Durenberger said. “Get rid of lightly used clothes that no longer fit and toys you no longer play with, and get new ones for free!”
Cash out on drive-up or order pick-up services
Betsy Brook, founder of Little Beauties Home, has a family of five. Brook recommends looking at stores that offer special offers for drive-up or order pick-up services.
“Target, for example, offers exclusive offers for savings on order pickup on food, household and clothing items every week,” Brook said. “Every penny counts, so saving around 15% by ordering and picking up a few items each week is a great way to save money.”
Brook also recommends online and take-out orders and said she makes about 95% of family purchases by this method. “It not only saves time, but the money saved by not buying or adding things your kids see and ask for while shopping is a bigger savings than you might think.”
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