The consumer price index, a measure of daily goods and services tied to the cost of living, soared to a new multi-decade high of 9.1% in the year to June, according to new data released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That translates to bigger expenses, from gas and groceries to rent and clothes.
As such, many are looking for ways to stretch their dollar further, says Danetha Doe, an economist, Webby Award-winning television host and author of the personal finance site Money & Mimosas. “The current high rates of inflation combined with long-standing wage stagnation are pushing people to find ways to make their money last longer.”
“My biggest piece of advice is to electronically track your spending on a weekly basis,” Doe continued in an interview with USA TODAY.
“I call it a ‘money date,'” she says, “and I recommend using any personal finance app to stay on top of your transactions for the week. [as] most people don’t know how much money they spend each week.
Americans are not just spending more on fuel, food and clothing, but also on services, such as home electricity costs, video streaming platforms and health care costs, including increase in dental services.
(No wonder Google says there’s been a spike in search words like “cheap” and “affordable” over the past few months.)
June CPI Inflation Report: The largest price increases are for gasoline, butter and flour
Ways to save on mobile phone services
Considering that 85% of Americans now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, there are also ways to lower your monthly shipping costs.
In fact, there are many. Here are half a dozen suggestions.
Look for “benefits”: “If you’ve had the same plan for a year or more, research the latest one to see if a new plan can save on things you’re already paying for,” suggests Nina Bibby, senior vice president of consumer segment marketing at Verizon. These include bonus “perks,” such as getting Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ streaming services free for six months. It doesn’t hurt to ask your carrier what they offer, so you don’t spend money on a service you might get for free.
Eligible discounts: Contact your operator to inquire about any discounts you may be eligible for. Seniors (including AARP members) often pay less for cell phone plans, as well as reduced rates for active duty military and veterans, first responders, nurses, and teachers. In other words, be sure to contact – and tap – your carrier for the best monthly price they can offer you for calls, texts and 5G data (depending on your needs).
Family plans and bundles: You can save on these services if there are multiple family members with the same operator, so ask about group discounts. In other words, there should be an incentive to commit to more than one line under the same plan. Along the same lines, you can save by bundling home services, if your carrier offers them, such as home internet and/or TV. These services should be cheaper when bundled than paying for them individually.
Covers, BOGO: If you’re looking for a new phone, don’t throw your old one in a drawer (thinking you’ll use it again one day), as many carriers allow you to trade it in and put the value back to a new device. Unless you want to hand it over to someone, get a discount on a new device by giving away your old one (and be sure to do a factory reset first), or sell it first at a service like Decluttr or Gazelle. Carriers sometimes have a “buy one, get one” offer for new or existing customers, or a “free phone” promotion for signing up, but review the terms of this contact beforehand.
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Change plan: Along the same lines, you may not be aware of promotions and new plans offered by your carrier, where you can get more (like unlimited data) or pay less per month, or both. Often we get complacent with our monthly services, or too busy to see if there’s anything better, but it’s worth keeping up to date with what’s new. “The best advice is never to settle. Everyone deserves a network they can rely on at an affordable price,” Bibby told USA TODAY.
AutoPay, paperless statements: Many carriers will give you a discount if you set up AutoPay, which means your account will be charged automatically each month (instead of you forgetting to pay). It may not be much, but it’s worth looking into (but make a note in your calendar of the day the charge will be debited from your bank account or applied to your credit card). Some carriers will also give you a discount for opting into paperless billing, which saves them money on printing and postage.
Not all payments qualify for an autopay discount: Some telecom companies require them to come from a bank account or debit card