6 Parents Share Their Budget Secrets for Fighting Inflation

African American family having fun outdoors.
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Across the United States, families are feeling the impact of inflation. Now at a 40-year high, rising costs are forcing families to cut expenses everywhere they are able, from grocery store trips to hitting the road for vacations.

GOBankingRates spoke to six parents from a wide range of household sizes about their top budget secrets — here’s how these families are fighting inflation.

Visit the Library

Hillary Swetz, owner of HomegrownHillary, has a family of four, including herself, her husband and two toddlers. Swetz said her family loves to visit the library to check out books, movies, craft bags and receive free library passes.

In addition, Swetz said their local library offers a “library of things.” “We can check out a backpack full of bird-watching supplies, pairs of snow shoes, coding kits and more,” she said. 

Visiting the local library offers households plenty of entertainment options including books, audiobooks, toys and puzzles just waiting to be checked out for free. Families may easily cut back on entertainment expenses, like streaming subscriptions, with a free library membership. Once you receive your library card, visit your local branch to see what they have to offer.

Avoid Buying Convenience Foods

Many of the parents we spoke to cited meal prep as one of their biggest budget secrets for fighting inflation. In addition to meal prep, more savings recommendations included making and freezing meals ahead of time, investing in bread makers to bake your own bread, starting a garden and learning preservation techniques to preserve fruits and vegetables.

Make Your Money Work for You

Laura Durenberger, creator and founder of Reduce, Reuse, Renew, lives in a household with three people and three cats. Durenberger recommends families reduce convenient food purchases. 

“Those small, snack-sized crackers, applesauce pouches, and granola bars are certainly handy to have on hand,” said Durenberger. “But they often cost more money, and produce more waste, than buying a larger packaging and dividing it up on your own.”

For extra money saving and waste-reducing, Durenberger recommends using a reusable snack bag to reduce the need for purchasing single-use plastic bags.

Switch to More Affordable Wireless Internet 

One of the bills many households overpay the most on is wireless internet. 

Samantha Brandon, founder of SamanthaBrandon, has six in her household: four adults with grandparents and two children. Brandon said she was able to switch over to fixed wireless Internet for only $50 per month through a phone provider. 

Review your existing wireless plan to see if there are any cheaper options, or research other providers that provide more affordable wireless internet.

Invest in Costco Travel

Pam Howard, owner of Our Adventure is Everywhere, is the mom of two teens ages 15 and 18. Howard recommends Costco members use Costco Travel to save on their travel needs. 

“Costco Travel consistently has the best pricing,” said Howard. “Use Costco for car rentals and you can add a second driver for no additional cost.”

Use Credit Card Points for Travel

“I rarely pay for flights or hotels thanks to strategically opening credit cards and using the points to book our travel,” said Howard.

Use credit card points to book flights and hotels — and remember to pay off the card’s balance each month. “Otherwise, it’s not free to travel anymore!” said Howard.

Make Your Money Work for You

Go Grocery Shopping Before a Trip

Families that love to travel can save money on meals and snacks by doing a little grocery shopping before hitting the road. 

Kim Swanson, founder of Traveling Swansons, has three kids ages nine, 13 and 15. Their family loves to travel and Swanson is able to budget money while traveling by going grocery shopping at the beginning of a trip.

Stock up on drinks, snacks and quick breakfast and lunch items. This helps minimize the number of times your family dines out at restaurants per day, saving your family money and allowing you more time to spend on fun, memorable family activities.

Host a Swap

If your family needs certain kids’ items — like toys, gear or clothes — Durenberger recommends hosting a kids swap to save extra money.

“The swap can be between you and a friend, your neighbors or even the community,” said Durenberger. “Get rid of gently used clothes that don’t fit and toys that are no longer played with, and get new ones for free!”

Cash In on Drive-Up or Order Pickup Services

Betsy Brook, founder of Little Beauties Home, has a family of five. Brook recommends looking into stores that offer specials for drive-up or order pickup services.

“Target, for example, has exclusive order pickup savings offers weekly on food, household and clothing items,” said Brook. “Every penny counts, so saving 15% or so by ordering and picking up a few items every week is a great way to save some cash.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Brook also recommends online and pickup ordering and said she does about 95% of the family shopping through this method. “This not only saves time, but the money saved by not impulse buying or adding things your children see and ask for while shopping, is a bigger savings than you may think.”

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