A red increasing stock market arrow knocking over a grocery bag

With food and energy prices rising at the highest rate since 1981, many Americans are considering ways to reduce their spending to help them ride out this current period of inflation. While there is no magic formula to avoid rising costs altogether, there are many small things you can do to save money that can add up quickly—maybe even enough to offset the higher prices we are all experiencing. While many are taking more austere measures like selling their cars and cutting restaurants and takeout, there are many other things you can do to reduce the effects of inflation, while minimizing its impact on your daily life. In this post we’ll discuss a number of clever ways to save money, as well as banking products you can use to easily add a little extra money to your pocket. Keep reading to learn more!

Vegetables in a supermarket

Reduce Food Expenses

Food prices are expected to go up 10-11% this year, according to the USDA Economic Research ServiceReuter’s explains that this is primarily due to supply chain issues created when businesses shut down during the pandemic, widespread drought, as well as wheat shortages. And don’t forget those rising fuel prices, which make it more expensive to transport goods. As Fox 6 notes, “The trucking company ultimately has to pass those costs on to you.”

Fortunately, a 10% increase is not insurmountable; with some smart spending choices and a few hacks, you can overcome the recent price differential and maybe even save some extra money, too. Here are some ways you can trim your food expenses to minimize the impact of inflation for your family:

Shop at Your Local Farmers’ Market.

When you buy seasonal, local food direct from growers you are cutting out the middleperson while limiting the amount of fuel needed to transport your food. Oftentimes prices at farmers’ markets and roadside stands are lower than your supermarket, while the food is fresher and lasts longer, reducing waste, and supporting our local economy. If you haven’t been to the Oshkosh Farmers Market or Fond du Lac Farmers Market lately, stop by next Saturday!

Buy in bulk.

When you have items that you use regularly, it makes sense to purchase them in bulk, where you will usually pay less per unit. Even though the upfront cost may be higher, the pennies you save per serving can really add up over the course of the year. For instance, if buying an item you use everyday (like cereal) in bulk saves you 10 cents per serving, for a family of four you’ll save almost $150 a year! You’ll also require fewer visits to the store, reducing fuel consumption and impulse purchases, too. When buying in bulk, lean toward shelf-stable food items, as well as hygiene and cleaning products, and only things you are already familiar with and know you will use. Before you head out to Costco, check out this helpful list of the best 21 items to buy in bulk from Woman’s Day.

Use coupons.

You don’t have to know all the tricks of Extreme Couponing to still be able to save significantly with coupons, promo codes, and discounts. Use rebate apps like Ibotta for in-person and mobile shopping, and coupon code plug-ins like Honey for online shopping. And checkout this list of coupon sites for both online and in-store shopping. If you’re making a big purchase, many stores will give you a 10-15% off promo code on your first purchase for signing up to an email newsletter (simply unsubscribe later). And make sure you’re signed up for the rewards or loyalty program at your favorite stores—and check out the weekly circular to see what deals are available, stocking up when it’s an item you use.

Inside a clothing store

Cut Back on Clothing Costs

Late summer through early winter is prime clothes-buying season, from back-to-school shopping to winter holiday gift giving. Although clothing prices are rising at half the rate as food (about 5%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), taking advantage of the money-saving techniques below can help your budget beyond the impact of price increases, giving it a little bit of breathing room. The best ways to save on clothing costs include:

Buy used.

Shop consignment shops and second-hand stores in person for general items when you don’t have a specific brand of item in mind; great local choices include Frugal Fashion in Oshkosh and Main Street Fashion in Fond du Lac. Online resellers like eBay and PoshMark are great places to buy specific items. And check out Facebook Marketplace for lots of children’s clothing based on size.

Shop around online.

Use Google’s shopping search to compare prices across many major online retailers for specific items, like shoes. And the same coupon apps and websites that we recommended above to save money on food costs can be used for clothing, too!

Lastly, consider selling your unused clothing.

Taking clothing to consignment shops or selling on some online platforms like ThredUp will give you cash or credit to buy items through the same retailer. And selling your clothes independently on Facebook Marketplace or at a yard sale can also put a significant chunk of money in your pocket. Check out this guide from Money Crashers to maximize your yard sale profits.

Happy family camping out by a lake

Save Money on Your Vacations

While summer vacation season might be over, many of us are just starting to make plans for our fall and winter getaways. With recent flight prices about 34% higher than they were pre-pandemic, you might be looking for ways to save money on your next trip.

Enjoy a “nearcation.”

Instead of traveling far and squandering your money on gas prices or plane tickets, consider all that Wisconsin has to offer, especially during the fall months when Fox Valley is at its most scenic. Some local attractions to explore include:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, the famous architect’s stunning 800-acre home, school, and studio.
  • Harley-Davidson Museum, “an unrivaled collection of Harley-Davidson® motorcycles and memorabilia on two floors of exhibits, a 20-acre, park-like campus, one-of-a-kind shopping and dining experiences and a full calendar of activities.”
  • Wisconsin Dells, a nearby vacation destination home to water parks, theaters, museums, wildlife preserves, and the beautiful Lake Delton.
  • Lambeau Field, where you can not only catch your favorite team, but also check out the more-affordable stadium tour.
  • State parks, like gorgeous Copper Falls or Big Bay, where you can soak up the beautiful Wisconsin landscape and save money over hotels by snagging a campsite.
Use a travel rewards card to offset expenses.

If you don’t currently have a credit card with travel rewards, like our Everyday Rewards+ personal credit card, now is a great time to get one. For every dollar you spend, you will earn points to use for travel expenses, from flights to hotel rooms. Many card companies, like VISA, even offer special discounts just for cardholders. Just make sure to pay off that balance each month—if you don’t, interest charges will eat up all the money you earn in rewards.

Go off-season.

If rental or hotel costs and airfare are getting too pricey at your favorite spots during the high season, consider visiting at a different time of year. For example, as Yahoo! Finance points out, “Prices for travel to Mexico usually drop by 20%-50% between the Monday after Easter and the middle of December.” Not only will you enjoy lower prices, you will also have the pleasure of viewing the location like a local, instead of the hustle and bustle of tourist season (just check the weather report first!).

Other Ways to Save

Beyond saving money on your purchases, there are other ways to shield yourself from the temporary financial repercussions of inflation. One way to do that is to ensure that your own financial situation, like carrying too much high-interest credit card debt, isn’t costing you more money than it needs to. And if you have a little extra cash, see how you can make your hard-earned dollars work for you with interest-bearing accounts. Here’s are some low-risk ways you can use the right financial products to save money and increase your income:

Purchase a Certificate of Deposit (CD).

CD’s are a risk-free investment that are backed by the FDIC and guaranteed a fixed rate of return. With terms ranging from 6 months to 4 years, you can find one that fits your needs.

Open a Money Market Account.

Money market accounts are a type of bank account that allows a limited number of transactions allowed per month. The upshot is that they have higher interest rates that are linked to tiers—the more money you have in your account, the higher your interest will be.

Open a High Interest Checking Account.

Instead of letting your balance sit in an interest-free account, open a high interest checking account which gives you all the services of a checking account, plus a competitive interest rate.

Start an IRA.

If you are ready to start saving for retirement, consider opening an IRA, which offers great interest rates that can really help you build your nest egg. With a Traditional IRA, you can earn a federal tax deduction for your yearly contributions.

Consider Debt Consolidation.

If you have a lot of high-interest loans or credit card debt, you could end up paying more in interest than their original value. Consolidating your high-interest debt with a personal loan could save you thousands in interest costs.

Helping Our Customers Since 1934

Fox Valley Savings Bank has been around a long time—in fact we’ve weathered nearly 90 years of market ups and downs. During that time we’ve helped our customers to make smart financial decisions, offering valuable services as well as time-tested advice. And we’d love to do the same for you!

Whether it’s opening a savings account or consolidating debt with a personal loan, we have the right product for you. And if you’re looking to create a strategy to manage your money and build your nest egg, our FVSB Financial Services team can assist you with investment, retirement, and other financial planning. Visit us at one of our locations in Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, or Waupun or contact us to make an appointment for a complimentary financial review today!