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ST. GEORGE- Inflation has risen 8.6% since May 2021, according to data released this month by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An average family of four spends about $700 more per month on the same things they bought a year ago. Inflation is most visible at the gas pump and at the grocery store. While price increases affect every family differently, most consumers are feeling the pinch and are changing the way they spend to accommodate the spike in costs.
One way to combat rising food and gas prices is to take advantage of grocery apps and fuel rewards programs. Consider these tips.
1. Stick to your budget. Download grocery apps on your smartphone to plan groceries or place a pickup or delivery order. Apps can help monitor grocery bill totals and help you stay within your spending limit. Plus, they can help you avoid adding more than you need to your grocery cart since you don’t see the attractive items on the aisles or end caps. These items are usually the culprits of pushing shoppers over their spending limit.
2. Use all coupons for cumulative savings. Many grocery apps include in-app coupons or special offers where the coupons are loaded into your account, saving you money on often-purchased items. These savings are in addition to manufacturer offers and promotions. The key is to add these coupons or savings to your account before checking out. Shoppers can often use both digital and traditional paper coupons, so remember to use both if available.
3. Earn points for gift cards and other perks. Some shopping apps offer the ability to earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards at grocery stores, restaurants, or even PayPal. Apps like Ibotta, Shopkick, and Fetch help shoppers earn points by adding coupons or promotions before they shop. Many can be used in addition to paper or digital coupons from grocery apps.
These apps allow shoppers to use their phone’s camera to scan items while in a store looking for promotions or bonus points and can also provide paper receipts after a shopping trip. Over time, shoppers can redeem those points for gift cards or PayPal credits, helping to offset spending in other budget categories. An average user can earn between $10 and $20 per month or more, and frequent users can earn up to $100 per month.
4. Use the app consistently. Grocery and shopping apps work best when used consistently. Pick an easy-to-navigate app that you’ll remember using. Plus, choose one that will transfer points to gift cards or credits that match your spending habits.
5. Join a fuel rewards program. Fuel reward programs tied to grocery stores or warehouses are one of the best ways to reduce spending at the pump, aside from carpooling or reducing driving. Join a fuel rewards program for a gas station that’s right for you. When comparing debit or credit cards with fuel rewards, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully and pay off the card in full each month.
Written by MELANIE JEWKES, extension professor at Utah State University.