How to Stretch Your Dollar During Inflation: Advice From a Shopping Expert

It’s been decades since we’ve seen inflation cause prices to soar. From gas to food to housing, it seems every category is hitting consumers’ wallets and hard. So finding deals and stretching your dollar is more important than ever. To fill us in on some tips on how to do that is our Managing Editor and online expert, Casey Runyan.

Can Deals Help Consumers Get Through Inflation?

Consumer prices are rising at their fastest pace in decades and inflation is making itself known to everyday consumers…whether through the food they buy, the gas they use or the housing they need for shelter. The Consumer Price Index jumped 7.9% in February relative to a year earlier, the largest 12-month increase since January 1982, per a report this month by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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What does this mean for consumers looking for deals?  Well, the definition of a ‘deal’ has changed…hopefully for the short term. For example, where a seasonal, Spring item like a deck box might have typically gone on sale for 40% off, the consumer may now only see a 25% off opportunity due to inflation hitting multiple parts of the final price tag, including: soaring gas and shipping prices…and let’s not forget the supply chain issue still remains causing prices to remain higher than usual.

So you may see deals, but they also shift with inflation rates and are not going to be as lucrative as what was seen 12 months ago.

What Can Help Consumers Stretch Their Dollar During This Time?

Well, unfortunately there will be areas where we cannot control budget impacts…like on commodities such as fuel and food.  However, there are others that tend to be top of mind for consumers during this time of the year where you can make more cost-effective choices to help ease budget pressures.  

Home Improvements

Think ‘upgrade’ rather than buying new. It’s amazing what you can do with just a can of paint. We’re actually seen an explosion of users searching for and purchasing Rust-Oleum on our site…which definitely signals that consumers are looking for ways to cut corners on their home improvement budget.

woman ordering online with a credit card

For example, instead of purchasing a set of expensive cabinets, save money by changing the doors, doing a paint refresh, or swapping out old hardware for new. And of course, nothing makes you appreciate what you already have than some good old-fashioned spring cleaning. Reclaim space that has become cluttered with some inexpensive organizers, and everything will feel new, even when it isn’t.

 

Patio Furniture

This is another seasonal item consumers are currently for and one of the hottest in demand categories on our site. If a full patio set isn’t in the budget right now, consider alternatives for making your outdoor space shine in the time being.

  • Look more at patio decor items such as string lights that add some ambiance to your evenings;
  • Change out furniture cushions and pillows to makeover the look; OR
  • Consider upgrading older, faded patio umbrellas with fresh and vibrant color replacements to chill in the shade.

wicker patio furniture

Casey also loves using gardening as an easy way to bring life to an outdoor space. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a number of things you can grow easily from seed, including flowers, veggies, and herbs.

Domestic Travel

People are getting up and out of their homes this year which is very exciting.  They want to be on the road and traveling again as in year’s past. We’re actually seeing luggage searches up on our site by 131% year over year which tells us the intent to travel is high.

However, we are also seeing that eager travelers are still a bit nervous to book international trips.  They do not want to get caught overseas during a Covid outbreak and be forced to quarantine. So domestic travel has been favored…consider visiting nearby state parks and checking out major cities within driving distance…yes, gas prices are currently high, but these are more cost-effective choices than international travel at this time. 

Another good way to stretch your travel budget is by booking during off-peak season in order to get the best price.  So consider going to Hawaii in June rather than in March, or Alaska in October instead of July.

Finally, cruises are also incredibly well-priced right now, but we expect that to change in the near future. The industry is still overcoming some negative perceptions from the pandemic, but our travel expert recently went on a cruise and said he felt very safe.  The ship was constantly being cleaned and had a reduced capacity of travelers making it less crowded. So if you are eyeing a cruise and love the price, we suggest you buy it now. 

What Else Should Consumers Consider?

Be careful of ‘shrinkflation’. This is the practice of manufacturers downsizing a product while keeping it the same price so that they can pass the cost to the consumer.

For example:

    • Doritos has five less chips per bag
    • The Bounty triple pack now offers 147 versus 165 sheets; and 
    • Gatorade recently replaced its 32oz size with a 28oz bottle for the same price…equivalent of a 14% price increase.

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The media did a good job of exposing this trend, but manufacturers are not going to actively educate consumers  on deploying this tactic…so be aware when shopping that you may be paying more for less.

Where Can Consumers Find More Tips?

Everyday, we are tracking the latest ways to navigate through the impacts of inflation to make it easy for shoppers. Head to BradsDeals.com and follow our blog, More for Less where you’ll find more advice on shopping tips and tricks, and how to stretch your dollar during these trying times.

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