Thanks to COVID-19, shortages of goods and workers have pushed inflation to its highest levels in decades. And, today’s already mind-blowing prices are expected to continue to rise.
The Federal Reserve is no longer suggesting that high inflation will go away soon, and various forecasters are predicting that it will continue to squeeze your portfolio into the New Year.
What can you do? A good retaliation strategy is to take advantage of simple ways to stretch your money and get more out of it.
Here are 10 ideas to put some cushioning in your budget, so you can show inflation who’s boss.
1. Reduce the cost of your debt
High interest debt from credit cards and personal loans can take a heavy toll on your bank balance, especially if you only make minimum payments each month.
To reduce the cost of this debt, you can take out a debt consolidation loan. You’ll trade in all of your current balances – on credit cards, loans, everything – for a single monthly payment at a lower interest rate.
You can borrow money without collateral at rates as low as 5.95%. Depending on how much interest you are currently paying on your debts, consolidating them could save you thousands of dollars and help you free yourself from debt years earlier.
2. Track down your long lost money
You know where all your money is, right?
In fact, people are moving on and forgetting about the money in old accounts all the time. It is so common that Americans currently have more than 40 billion dollars in the unclaimed funds that await them.
Does it belong to you? Look for MissingMoney.com, which will show if you’ve left money in an old checking or savings account, or if you’re entitled to unclaimed life insurance policies from deceased relatives. (You’ll want to be a lot more careful when purchasing your own life insurance policy.)
You should also check with the IRS if you are missing any tax refunds. You can change your previous tax returns for up to three years if you were entitled to a refund but failed to claim it.
3. Refinance for a cheaper student loan
Payments on federal student loans have been on a long hiatus, but if you owe student debt to a bank or other private lender, you’ve always been required to pay your regular monthly minimum.
The good news is that interest rates on student loan refinances are at an all-time low, even below 2% in some cases. So, you could pay off your current debt with a new, cheaper refi loan.
When you refinance a student loan at a lower rate, your monthly payment goes down, so you can pay off your college debt faster.
You can find quotes from multiple lenders within minutes, so shop around and make sure you’re getting the best rate possible.
4. Use technology to save when you shop online
If you do most of your shopping online, and nowadays, who doesn’t? – you probably go to the same website over and over again. You know the one.
But Amazon doesn’t always offer the best prices, and no one has time to check the prices in every store.
You can let technology do that for you. You can download a free browser extension that will automatically find you deals and discount codes every time you shop online.
You can also set price drop alerts for your favorite products, so if they’re on sale you’ll be the first to know. Installing the add-on only takes a moment and could save you hundreds of dollars per year.
5. Play the market with as little as $ 1
If you’ve never put money on the stock market, you might think that owning a part of a well-known business is out of reach. After all, stock prices have been climbing higher and higher over the past year.
But a popular investing app will let you buy companies like Google and Tesla for as little as $ 1 – and when they cash in, so will you.
You can invest in fractional stocks, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and cryptocurrencies, and you won’t have to pay any commissions.
6. Lower your auto insurance bills
If you have a car and aren’t looking for cheaper insurance every six months, you could easily be paying hundreds of dollars a year in excess.
Comparing the rates of multiple insurance companies may seem like a lot of work, but some websites do the trick for you. You could find a better deal within minutes.
You’ll answer a few quick questions and be presented with the best quotes from hundreds of auto insurers. This way you can find the lowest price available on the coverage you currently have.
7. Stop paying so much for home insurance
Home insurance rates have gone up for many Americans. But if your bill seems too high, you may be able to cut it down to the right size by doing some good old fashioned shopping.
Don’t get married to a policy that might cost too much. Instead, go online and compare quotes from hundreds of insurers to find a better price.
Answer a few basic questions and you’ll instantly see the best deals available in your area.
You could save almost $ 1,000 per year on your home policy by comparing rates, while still maintaining the same level of coverage you currently have.
8. Switch to a high deductible health care plan and HSA
If you’re in relatively good health, and your medical expenses usually don’t go beyond checkups and exams, a high-deductible health plan could save you money.
Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance covers the rest. The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums will be.
Also note that switching to one of these health plans will make you eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA), a tax-advantaged account for medical expenses. The funds in the account grow tax-free, and as long as the money is used for qualifying health care expenses, it can be withdrawn tax-free.
You will want to do online comparisons to find the high deductible health plan that offers the right coverage at the lowest rate.
9. Get paid when businesses behave badly
When companies do the wrong thing, they get sued – and sometimes their customers are compensated.
A site called ClassAction.com will show if you are eligible for a refund for any product or service that has been falsely advertised, defective, or overpriced.
Recent settlements have involved Apple, Tesla, Juul, and other companies. Many class action claims can be completed online in a matter of minutes, although it may take up to a year to receive your refund.
Eligibility criteria will vary depending on the lawsuit, but in some cases you may not even need a receipt to be reimbursed.
10. Earn money with your change
Another way to use the stock market to help you fight rising inflation is to put your money to work.
You can use a popular app that helps you develop a diversified portfolio by investing only your “spare currency” from daily purchases.
Inflation can eat away at the value of money, but your currency is far from worthless. If it’s saved and invested correctly, it could turn into hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.