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The Inflation Survival Guide: Prices Are Higher Than Ever, So We Asked a Finance Expert How to Save on Household Basics

2022 has been a busy, dramatic year for news headlines thus far. One of the most pertinent ones to all of our lives? The sky-high inflation rates unheard of since the 1970s and 1980s. The Consumer Price Index, a market calculation of the average change over time of prices paid for certain goods and services, increased in 7.9% through February, the fastest pace of annual inflation in almost 40 years. Increases in a few key areas contributed to this rise — including rent, food and gas prices. So, basically everything most of us need to live.

Here at SPY, we’re in the business of buying things online — from the top watches to for your wrist to the best massage gun. We’re also all about saving you money with the best deals and insider info on discounts across the web. Prices are high everywhere, so we decided to ask a financial expert all about the current economic situation, and when we can expect to feel some relief at the store and the pump. We’ve also included some must-know budgeting tips to get through this pricey time, and some bargain household basics available to order online.

  
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A graph comparing the average Consumer Price Index over time, a key marker of inflation. Courtesy of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Why Are Prices So High?

So, why are prices so high? We have a rough idea, but wanted an expert’s perspective on the current economic situation to help explain why we’re having to dig for deals on everyday basics like paper towels in the first place.

Ryan Sweet is the Senior Director of Economic Research at Moody’s, a financial analytics and research firm. He shed some light on why average prices are up for so many everyday essentials, and how it’s the perfect storm of a few different factors.

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“Sudden higher oil, natural gas, agricultural and metal prices are conflating with already painfully high inflation caused by the pandemic disruptions to supply chains and labor markets. A number of household items prices are rising as transportation costs have risen. Also, demand for a number of household items has been stronger than supply, pushing prices higher,” said Sweet.

Backups at key ports around the U.S and trucker shortages have made shipping things more expensive, and the hoarding tendencies Americans established early on in the pandemic haven’t abated, leading to a classic mismatch of supply and demand, and higher prices.

  

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Courtesy of U.S. Energy Information Administration

Why Are Gas Prices So High?

Contrary to critics’ widespread blame, the gas price spike has little to do with Biden, the U.S. government or U.S. public policy, and a lot to do with the oil companies.

Oil firms are trying to avoid overproducing, and regulate supply and demand in light of limited oil supplies from Russia due to sanctions resulting from their invasion of Ukraine. Even before the war started, oil prices were rising in light of the world weaning itself off fossil fuels.

Oil prices had largely been sinking for years leading up to and into 2020, and oil companies have paid the price. Years of lost profits has made oil companies stringent about their margins in today’s climate, which has unfortunately negatively impacted the American consumer.

Unfortunately, Sweet Predicts Prices Will Continue to Rise…

“U.S. gasoline prices are set to rise further because of past gains in the global oil prices. Our rule of thumb is that every $10 increase in the barrel price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil will increase U.S. retail gasoline prices by 30 cents per gallon. Therefore, the Russian military conflict with Ukraine has boosted retail gasoline prices by $1 per gallon,” said Sweet.

Added that “The cost to consumers is high. Every 10-cent increase in the price of gasoline costs consumers a combined $11 billion or more over the course of a year. Also, higher gasoline prices will weigh on consumer sentiment and boost inflation expectations.”

  

When Can We Expect Prices to Lower Again?

I asked Sweet when we can expect prices to lower again, and he described a mix of elements within and outside of our control. Or, rather, the U.S. government’s control.

“Inflation should also moderate back to the Fed’s target of close to 2%, but this will take longer, until late 2023. For this sanguine outlook to come to pass, the pandemic must continue to fade—with each new wave of the virus less disruptive to the economy than the one before it—and the worst of the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine on oil and other commodity prices must be at hand,” said Sweet. So, basically two major global events entirely outside of your control need to simmer down.

“It is critical that the Fed gets monetary policy more or less right, which means quickly normalizing interest rates over the next 18 months. We also need to catch a break, so that nothing else goes materially wrong for the economy,” Sweet added.

So, it’s going to be a while. What is under your control? Where you spend your money during this crunch time. Here are a few tips to help you save despite everything being more expensive.

  

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Licensed From Adobe

How Can You Save Money During Rising Inflation?

When we set out to write this piece, we were hoping there’d be a code we could crack for SPY readers to purchase what they need, online or in-stores, at pre-inflation prices and we wouldn’t have to do the difficult, tedious work of budgeting, trimming the fat and having self-restraint.

Turns out, that’s the best advice out there for the current moment. So here are a few budgeting tips to keep in mind as we weather the storm. Sigh.

1. When You Hit the Grocery Store, Have a Plan and Stick To It

Gas prices are what they are. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done there, except for more biking and walking, and less driving.

One of the places we can really tighten the purse strings is at the grocery store. Meal planning your breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week is also going to save you money by limiting unnecessary or impulse spending.

List out your meals, check your fridge and cupboards for what you already have and make a list of missing ingredients. Then, practice some willpower at the store and stick to the list. Or, better yet, order your groceries online via Amazon Fresh or other services, so you’re not tempted by that extra snack walking through the aisles.

2. Designate One Day for Online Shopping

Impulse shopping online is another habit we need to control at the moment, to compensate for other areas where our wallets are being squeezed. A tip our editors use when we’re too tempted is to designate one day a week for checking out of online shopping carts. You can add things to your Amazon cart at any time, but pick a day where you pull the trigger. If it’s been a few days since you’ve added an item, you may realize you don’t actually need it and save a few bucks in the process.

3. Don’t Sleep on the Deals

Now’s a great time to pay special attention to deals, discounts and savings, which are always happening somewhere on the web. We’ve got plenty of deals-related content here on SPY we’re frequently updating, including our Amazon deals round-up, Dell deals and iPad deals, among many others.

Read More: The Best Deals to Shop Today

  

Cheap Household Basics

We’re always searching for the lowest, best prices on everything from kitchen appliances to grooming essentials. We’ve found cheap household basics that are perfect for stocking up on, and easy to order online, so you can save yourself a trip to the supermarket and know you’ve got your bases covered, at least for the next couple of months. One budgeting tip that’ll never go out of style? Paying less for the same thing, and stocking up on an everyday essential for as little as $5.00.

Keurig Donut Shop Coffee Pods (72-Pack)

If coffee is a household essential, and it definitely is in our house, then stocking up on affordable coffee pods is a great way to save money on a daily basis. Combined with a Keurig coffee maker, you can brew a fresh cup of coffee for just $0.42 per cup.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

Sparkle Pick-A-Size Paper Towels 6-Pack

This 6-pack of paper towels is available for just $6.83 at Walmart, a steal compared to other brands. Each sheet is perforated so you can choose between a half and full sheet for your daily tasks, enabling you to extend each roll as much as possible and save more.

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Courtesy of Walmart

  

Angel Soft Toilet Paper 48-Pack

Ah, toilet paper. A commodity all of us are more privy to hoard after the great shortage of March-April 2020. Let’s avoid doing that again, shall we? There’s plenty to go around. After scouring the best prices at our go-to online retailers, we found this Angel Soft 48-pack to be the cheapest, at just $27.78. This comes out to just $0.29 per roll.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

Ajax Triple Action Liquid Dish Soap — 90 Fl. Oz.

The cheapest household dish soap we could find is this 90-ounce bottle from AJAX available at Walmart for less than $5.00. This comes out to just 5.5 cents per fluid ounce, a bargain that’ll set you up for a while. We might not love doing the dishes, but knowing you got a great deal on soap will help ease the process.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

Save 36% on Grooming Gear at Amazon

Today, Amazon has savings on everyday grooming essentials from brands like Dove, Dollar Shave Club and Degree. This is a good excuse to stock up on basics that you’re going to buy eventually. Amazon also offers additional savings on many bath and beauty products if you sign up for recurring delivery.

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Courtesy of Amazon

  

Where Else Can You Find Deals on Everyday Items?

The SPY team is always curating lists of the best deals, and we’ve got tons of ways for you to save. Below, you’ll find links to some of our top deals shopping guides. All of the posts below are updated regularly, so you’re sure to find something you need that’s on sale. In addition to household basics, we can also help you save on big-ticket items like laptops and smartphones.

  

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