Getty Images; Jennifer Streaks; BI

  • High inflation is making everything more expensive and making consumers rethink their budgets.
  • I’ve decided to buy only things that are on sale this year, and it’s saving me money.
  • This article is part of “My Financial Life,” a series helping people live and spend better. 

High inflation has been making everything more expensive and putting a real squeeze on people’s wallets. Many people are looking for long-term ways to save money and increase their financial stability. I’ve been reviewing how I spend money and looking for ways to save or spend smarter.

You could stop spending entirely — no movies, meals out, or new clothes — and upend your life to save money. (Gary Pilnick, the CEO of WK Kellogg Co., has gone so far as to suggest eating cereal for dinner.) For most of us, that’s not realistic and definitely not desirable.

So if you’ve already reduced your streaming services, cut down on meal delivery, and kissed your local dry cleaner goodbye, what else can you do?

My answer is simple: I don’t pay full price for anything. I’ve made a commitment to saving money on everything I buy for the next year, and it has helped me immensely with my spending. I spend more intentionally, and I ask myself if I really need each item I buy.

I use coupons to shop less and save

I’m not really a coupon person, but every grocery store I shop at has a weekly circular that lists its specials — this can come in handy when it’s time to shop for more expensive items like meat or seafood. As we head into summer, with the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays, those circulars will be helpful when budgeting for barbecues and parties.

I also have a Costco membership. I save at Costco on things I know I’ll need that I can get in larger quantities, like paper towels, toilet paper, and dishwashing liquid, so I don’t have to go to the grocery store every week.

I keep tabs on fluctuating furniture prices to get the best deal

I’m the sort of person who needs to absolutely love each piece of furniture they have, and I value both function and looks. I recently moved apartments and am in need of a few new pieces. Instead of running out and buying them, I’m taking my time and waiting until those items go on sale. For example, my new couch retailed for $695 — instead of purchasing it right away, I waited two months and bought it when it went on sale for 40% off. 

I also take advantage of the fact that many furniture and home-decor websites allow you to sign up to get an email or text when an item goes on sale. I have sale notifications set up for a bookcase and an end table. Of course, once you give a company your email address or phone number, you’ll get marketing notifications — but if it lets me save $300 on a couch, I’ll take it.

I find the best sales and only buy timeless clothes

It’s easy to justify spending a lot on clothes — you do need them, but not every month. When I decided I’d buy only clothes on sale, I also created a capsule wardrobe. Since all those clothes can work with each other, I have several outfits from a small set of clothes.

I can add on if needed. I have a list of items I’d like to add to my summer wardrobe — a blazer here, a linen shirt there, and a new bathing suit. What matters most to me is that I get it all on sale.

I’ve never been a full-price shopper, but I haven’t always paid close attention to what I’m spending. I’ve learned that I don’t need anything right away if I plan ahead, which has made me more thoughtful about my spending choices. And I’ve been able to maintain my savings goals.

Everything around me has increased in price, but I can still enjoy my lifestyle. I didn’t have to sacrifice joy — I just pay less for it.

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