After a whirlwind year that has seen inflation skyrocket, rates may finally be cooling down. The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows the cost of various goods and services increased 8.5% in July 2022 (as compared to July 2021). Clearly, this is still a spike, but it's less of a rise than economists feared and moving at a slower pace than in previous months.
In all, it's not promising news, but it's not exactly cause for celebration. Inflation is still an unwieldy beast.
"The lower-than-expected pace of inflation is a welcome relief to markets, but in absolute terms, inflation remains far too high," said Phillip Neuhart, director of Market and Economic Research at First Citizens Bank Wealth Management. "One month does not make a trend and the Fed is likely to continue to tighten monetary policy until it is clear inflation is in a persistent downtrend."
Inflation Could Be High For 3 More Years
And it could be a while until this downward trend sets in enough for consumers to feel it.
"While we are encouraged by the easing in commodity, energy and gasoline prices, the 10.5% increase in food and the 7.4% jump in the cost of housing both will continue to act as a drag on overall household disposable income," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP. "In our estimation, it will be two to three years before inflation is anywhere near the Fed's 2% inflation target."
With inflation still crippling our wallets, it's imperative for consumers to trim costs wherever possible. We've explored a few key ways to save money at the pump, the supermarket and more.
Shop the Grocery Store and Big Box Sales
"Hands down this is one of the easiest ways to save on groceries and other household essentials," said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. "Most grocery stores and big-box retailers will have weekly sales that you can take advantage of for stocking up on items that you use regularly.
"Be sure to peruse the ads before you do your regular shopping trip to ensure you get the best deals and it can help to lower your grocery bill significantly."
Use Cash Back Apps (Even for Gas)
"Apps and browser extensions like Rakuten, Ibotta, and Checkout 51 are all great for shopping for a variety of products, including things like clothing,'" Ramhold said.
"The latter two are also great for groceries, and Checkout 51 even offers cash back on gas."
Buy Store Brands
"Opting for store brands will often be cheaper than choosing name brands," Ramhold said. "In the case of groceries, many store brands are just as good if not better than their name-brand counterparts; meanwhile, opting for store brand clothing at stores like Target can mean paying reasonable prices for quality clothing that will last."
Map Out Your Trips
"Whether you're driving yourself around or taking public transit, it's best to plan your trips to be the most efficient they can be," Ramhold shared. "That means thinking about what errands you need to run and then mapping out a route, as well as considering what you're doing at each location."
"For instance, if you're taking public transit, ensuring you map out your destinations in a route that makes sense can mean spending less on fares; if you're driving around, planning your trips to be more efficient will mean using less gas overall, which means spending less at the pump," she continued.
Run Errands During Times of Low Traffic
"Whether you're shopping for groceries or running a bunch of general errands, doing so during times of low traffic can help to save money," Ramhold suggests. "For instance, if you go to the grocery store when it's less busy, you may find that you can take your time and pick up the items you need without having to worry about fighting crowds, which means you'll be able to choose mindfully and find the best deals without feeling rushed."
She continued, "At the same time, if you need to drive all over town, by doing so when there is less traffic on the roads, you'll theoretically use less gas as you won't be stuck in traffic; you also may be able to save time because you won't be slowed down by having to deal with heavier traffic on the road."
Tame Your Energy Bill
Energy bills tend to soar in the summer thanks largely to our increased usage of air conditioning, but there are a number of habits we can implement to lower that hefty expense.
Consumers should consider weatherproofing their home *an upfront cost that pays off in the long run), installing a programmable thermostat and unplugging electronics when they're not in use.
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 7 Easy Ways To Save On Groceries, Gas & More Amid Continued Inflation