The consumer price index, a measurement of everyday goods and services related to the cost of living, skyrocketed to a new multi-decade high of 9.1% in the year up to June, according to fresh data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This translates to spending more on everything from gasoline and groceries to rent and clothing.
As such, many are looking for ways to stretch their dollar furthersays Danetha Doean economist, Webby Award-winning TV host and author of the Money & Mimosas personal finance website. “The current high inflation rates combined with the long-standing stagnant wages are driving folks to figure out ways to make their money last longer.”
“My biggest tip is to electronically track your spending on a weekly basis,” Doe continues, in an interview with USA TODAY.
“I call this a ‘money date,'” she says, “and I recommend using any personal finance app to stay on top of your week’s transactions [as] most folks are not aware of how much money they spend on a weekly basis.”
(No wonder Google says there’s been a spike for searched words like “cheap” and affordable” over the past few months.)
June CPI inflation report: Largest price increases include gas, butter and flour
Ways to save on mobile phone services
Considering 85% of Americans now own a smartphoneaccording to Pew Research Center, there are ways you can shave your monthly carrier costs, too.
In fact, there are many. Here are a half-dozen suggestions.
Look for ‘perks’: “If you’ve had the same plan for a year or more, research the latest to see if a new plan can save on things you already pay for,” suggests Nina Bibby, senior vice president of Verizon’s consumer segment marketing. These include bonus “perks,” such as getting free Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ streaming services for six months. It doesn’t hurt to ask your carrier what they offer, so you don’t spend money on a service you could be getting for free.
Eligible discounts: Contact your carrier to inquire about discounts you may be eligible for. Seniors (including AARP members) often pay less for mobile phone plans, along with reduced rates for active-duty military and veterans, first responders, nurses and teachers. In other words, be sure to contact – and press – your carrier for the best monthly price they can give you for calls, texts and 5G data (based on your needs).
Family plans and bundles: You can save on these services if there are multiple family members with the same carrier, so inquire about group discounts. That is, there should be an incentive to commit to more than one line under the same plan. On a related note, you can save by bundling with home services, if your carrier offers them, such as home internet and/or television. These services should be less when packaged together than paying for them individually.
Trade-ins, BOGOs: If you’re in the market for a new phone, don’t toss your old one in a drawer (thinking you will use it again one day), as many carriers let you trade it in and put the value towards a new device. Unless you want to hand it down to someone, get a discount on a new device by giving in your old one (and be sure to perform a factory reset first), or sell it first to a service like Decluttr gold Gazelle. Carriers sometimes have a “buy one, get one” deal for new or existing customers, or a “free phone” promo for signing up, but review the conditions of that contact ahead of time.
Are old iPhones worth anything? Trade-in values drop depending on software, C-band frequency
Change plans: On a related note, you might not be aware of promotions and new plans offered by your carrier, where you can get more (such as unlimited data) or pay less per month, or both. Often, we get complacent with our monthly services, or too busy to see if there’s something better, but it pays to stay on top of what’s new. “The best tip is to never settle. Everyone deserves a network they can rely on at a price they can afford,” Bibby tells USA TODAY.
AutoPay, paperless statements: Many carriers will give you a discount if you set up AutoPay, which means your account will be charged automatically every month (instead of you forgetting to pay). It may not be much, but it’s worth looking into (but make a note on your calendar on the day the charge comes out of your bank account or applied to your credit card). Some carriers will also give you a discount to opt for paperless billing, which saves them money on printing and postage.
Not all payments earn an autopay discount: Some telecom firms require them to come from a bank account or debit card