As prices rise, CredAbility offers strategies to reduce consumer spending on food and gasoline
ATLANTA, March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Despite declining incomes and challenging economic times, the cost for food and gasoline continues to rise. As gasoline inches closer to $4 per gallon and the cost of many basic food items has also increased, consumers are looking for ways to save on these expenses.
For consumers seeking basic budget counseling from CredAbility, overall monthly spending on groceries was down about 2.5 percent in February compared to the same month last year. Spending went from $332 in 2010 to $323 in 2011. Spending on gasoline, however, was up more than 7 percent—from $179 in February of 2010 to $192 this year.
"Gas and groceries are among our basic necessities," said Michelle Jones, senior vice president of counseling for CredAbility. "Both our commute and putting food on the table are getting more expensive and, for families already struggling to make ends meet, these added costs only make it more difficult."
As the cost of filling our tank and our pantry continues to go up, CredAbility offers tips to help consumers save at the pump and in the grocery store.
Saving on Gasoline
- Look for opportunities to carpool – Work with neighbors and co-workers to share the expense of getting kids to school and driving to work.
- Telecommute – If your job requires little more than a computer, try and work from home one or more days per week to cut down on commuting costs.
- Look for the lowest prices – Websites, such as www.gasbuddy.com, keep track of gas prices throughout the country and post them. You can also download an app for your smart phone and get prices on the go.
- Look for discounted gas or rebate options – Some retailers offer discounts on gas for shopping in their stores or using a specific card. Winn-Dixie's Fuelperks program offers consumers 5 cents per gallon discount (up to 20 gallons) at participating stations for every $50 in groceries purchased.) Other retailers also participate in the Fuelperks program; visit www.fuelperks.com for more information. Costco offers a cash back rebate on gasoline purchased with the Costco American Express Card. Wal-Mart offers 3 cents off per gallon discount if you use a pre-paid gift card or store credit card.
- Pay cash for gas – If you don't know how much you are spending in gas, or you are struggling to pay off gas purchases made on a credit card each month, use cash to pay for gas.
- Lighten your load – If you have a trunk full of stuff, you are getting fewer miles per gallon. Empty your trunk and save.
- General tips – Keep the appropriate air pressure in your tires to get the best gas mileage. Reduce the cost to cool down a hot car by using a sun-shade in the front window and parking in a shady area. Plan your day so you can combine trips and drive fewer miles. Drive the speed limit—speeding reduces your miles per gallon.
Saving on Groceries
- Make a list, and stick to it – While grocery shopping can be expensive, it is often the unplanned purchases that put the bill over the top. Plan your menus for the week and make a list of things you need before you go to the store.
- Take advantage of coupon savings, special purchases, and buy one-get one promotions – Coupon savings are usually worth the cost of the Sunday paper. In addition to manufacturer's coupons, sites like www.couponmom.com compare in-store specials at many grocery chains. A great sale or double or triple coupon values may make it worth the trip to a store you don't usually go to. For staple items with a long shelf-life, stock up during sales. Avoid buying things you wouldn't normally buy just because you have a coupon.
- Use technology to help you save. There are many apps to help you organize your lists, find coupons, track prices at stores in your area and more. Grocery Pal shows you what's on sale at your local retailers. Apples2Oranges allows you to compare prices on various sizes to see which offers the better deal. Grocery Gadget can help organize your shopping list and track prices for maximum savings. Most apps are available for multiple devices.
- Buy in bulk, sometimes – It may be cheaper to buy 3 dozen eggs, but only if you don't end up throwing out a dozen because they have expired. Compare prices on bulk purchases. Consider shopping for bulk items with a friend and share the cost.
- Eat before you shop – Shopping on an empty stomach will always cost you more at the store. Have a snack before you go and you'll be less tempted to impulse buy.
- Don't limit your shopping to eye level – Many lower cost items, including store brands, are stocked on higher and lower shelves while higher priced items are at eye level.
- Don't assume items are cheaper because they are a larger size or displayed separately – Take a calculator along to determine the price per ounce or pound so you can get the best deal. And remember, larger is not always better. Buy only what you will use.
- Save on eating out – While it may add slightly to your grocery bill, packing your lunch can save you a hundred dollars or more per month when compared to eating out.
CredAbility is one of the leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies in the United States, serving clients in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, in both English and Spanish. In addition, we provide in-person counseling through our branch network of 28 offices located across the southeast.
Founded in 1964, CredAbility is a family of Consumer Credit Counseling Service agencies that includes CCCS of Greater Atlanta, CCCS of Central Florida and the Florida Gulf Coast, CCCS of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, CCCS of East Tennessee, CCCS of Jackson (Mississippi) and CCCS of Upstate South Carolina.
The nonprofit agency is accredited by the Council on Accreditation and is a member of the Better Business Bureau and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Governed by a community-based board of directors, CredAbility is funded by creditors, clients, individual donors and grants from foundations, businesses and government agencies. Service is provided 24/7 by phone at 800.251.2227 and online at www.CredAbility.org