In the view of Fabio Fernandes, Head of Communications at the Consumer Choice Center, a consumer advocacy group and nonprofit organization, consumers looking to gain a solid financial footing in this uncertain economic environment should try to reduce their spending habits on non-essential items.
“Inflation hurts low-income consumers the most since families at the lower end of the income distribution spend a substantial share of their income on core needs. Nearly 75% of expenditures for low-income families go to food, transportation, rent, utilities, and cellphone service.”
“Unfortunately, gas prices are still high in many parts of the United States, and there are very few things car-dependent consumers can do to minimize its impact on the household budget. Our suggestion is to plan your drive for when you’re running errands by tracing a route that would reduce needless extra miles.”
“Another obvious suggestion is driving less. The work-from-home trend is stronger than ever, and if your job allows, ask your employer to stay at home a couple of days a week.”
Inside the Home:
“When it comes to inflation on household items, the greatest villains are utilities. Consumers can save energy by reducing the number of times they do laundry or run the dishwasher, or even by changing a couple of degrees the thermostat.”
“Consumers who have been using the same providers for electricity, gas, and especially broadband tend to get too comfortable. If you live in an area with multiple providers for any of those services, don’t hesitate to call them and listen to their offers. New customers enjoy special prices and perks that old clients don’t, so looking at the competition might be a money saver.”
“Digital subscriptions can be a rabbit hole and a financial drain. Get rid of those charges you get every month for apps you don’t use and don’t necessarily need. Reducing the number of streaming subscriptions or consolidating into family plans can help you save the big bucks in a year. ”
“It’s the ideal time to negotiate your subscriptions or membership fees. Many companies are offering reduced prices or even a couple of months free when you try to cancel your subscription. However, don’t bluff. List the subscriptions and memberships you can live without and when offered a deal, consider the weight of the new price on your household budget.”
“Sound financial advice for consumers looking to save money when shopping is to go with a plan and stick to your shopping list. Consumers should be comparing prices, planning their meals, and clipping coupons to maximize their savings. These not only make budgeting easier but more importantly, most impulse purchases can be avoided this way.”
“There’s always the advice to buy in bulk. You can share the cost of large packages with friends and family and thus get excellent deals. Add to that coupons, store membership, and fidelity cards, and consumers could get additional discounts while accumulating points, or my favorite, getting cashback for every dollar spent.”
When asked about Buy Now Pay Later, Fernandes said: “Shoppers need to be aware that a missed installment payment could mean late fees and other penalties. It could also be reported to the credit bureaus and end up on a consumer’s credit report.”
“With soaring inflation, buying and paying now is much better if you have disposable income. Paying later sometimes means putting an additional burden on your household budget when inflation rises further, and wages can’t keep up.” Fernandes continued.
“The reality is that there is very little room in anyone’s budget for wants right now,” concluded Fernandes.