SaveBudgeting

How to Find Bargains During an Inflationary Year

Brittany VanDerBill  |  September 19, 2022

It seems like prices are soaring on everything these days. Is there anything you can do to save money? Two experts dish on bargain hunting during an inflationary year.  

Thanks to inflation, prices for everything are up at least 8%, and some a lot more. Even simple acts like taking a trip to the grocery store or stopping for gas have become downright painful. For many fixed costs, there’s often nothing we can do when prices rise (after all, we have to drive to work) but there are countless ways we can score deals on other things. Here’s a look at how we can stretch our dollars a bit further during these inflationary times. 

WHAT DOES BARGAIN HUNTING LOOK LIKE DURING AN INFLATIONARY YEAR?

Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae.com, says bargain hunting will look a bit different for each person. Some people might be “extreme couponers” while others are “casual savers.” Ultimately, she feels that “with inflation as high as it is, it’s important for everyone on a budget to look for ways to save in whatever way works for them.”

Karen Hoxmeier, Owner of MyBargainBuddy.com, suggests getting more creative when you’re bargain hunting these days. For instance, she suggests buying things at end-of-season sales—she recently spotted summer clothing on sale for as much as 80% off.  Hoxmeier is a fan of scouring the clearance section, where she looks for birthday and holiday gifts throughout the year. 

She also recommends buying second-hand items, such as through Facebook’s Marketplace or Nextdoor, and refurbishing items rather than replacing them when possible. She’s even had some luck with bartering, having traded a week’s stay at her cabin for a video game table. 

USE BROWSER EXTENSIONS OR APPS

Bodge regularly checks out browser extensions and apps. One of her favorites is Slickdeals.net, which is a website, app, and browser extension. She appreciates their deal alerts which give you a heads up when a specific item is on sale. Her other current favorites are CouponCabin.com and Rakuten.com

Of course, there are plenty of other options out there as well. Bodge advises, “No matter what site you prefer, make sure you install their browser extension because otherwise, you are leaving money on the table.”

CLIP THOSE COUPONS

Hoxmeier says, “I highly advise looking for a coupon whenever you shop online.” She notes that websites such as RetailMeNot and Offers.com list many coupons for online retailers. 

However, she cautions, “Grocery coupons are another matter. Most times, they just get you to buy something you weren’t going to get in the first place, so you might save 50 cents, but you spent $5 on something you didn’t need.” Instead, she’s “a bigger proponent of watching store ads and planning meals around what is on sale, stocking your pantry or freezer with items you use regularly when they do go on sale, then stacking a coupon on top of a sale if you’re able.”

Bodge notes that deal sites can help you find and track digital coupons. “But those circulars that land in our mailboxes are just as reliable as they’ve ever been, so if you’re more of an analog person, make sure to look at those circulars.” And she advises signing up for in-store rewards programs which may give you “targeted coupons” either on your receipts or via email and text message.

ARE DOLLAR STORES A GOOD IDEA?

Both Bodge and Hoxmeier agree that dollar stores can save you money in certain cases. Hoxmeier says they’re “great for things like greeting cards, gift bags, and candy.”

Bodge adds that “things like party supplies, some school supplies, name brand beauty products, and glassware can be an excellent value.” However, she observes, “You can go wrong at dollar stores by buying things like toys or electronics that break after a couple of uses…”

USE THE RIGHT CREDIT CARDS

Savvy shoppers should also pay attention to what credit cards they’re using on purchases. Bodge observes, “One thing that a lot of consumers don’t do is use the right credit card for what they are purchasing, as many credit cards offer the opportunity to earn points or cashback on purchases.” 

She admits some of the point programs get complicated, but one of her “favorite cards is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa for Amazon shoppers, where you can earn 5% back on every Amazon purchase and 1 or 2% on everything else.” She points out that Target’s Red Card has similar perks, and she enjoys American Express’ Gold Card; it lets you earn 4% on food expenses, “which really pays {off} right now with grocery prices as inflated as they are.”

BARGAIN HUNTING FOR INFLATIONARY TIMES

Bargain hunting can certainly pay off, and perhaps now more than ever with inflation causing prices to soar. Whether you choose to use browser extensions, clip coupons, or start shopping at dollar stores, finding a bargain will be much easier with these expert tips.

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