Inflation Bites Again: 16 Things You Can Start Cutting From Your Budget

Rebecca Holcomb


While the Federal Reserve expects an annual inflation rate of two percent yearly, sometimes inflation runs away and starts to climb to nine or ten percent or higher. In 2022, inflation jumped to the highest rate Americans had seen since 1981

Almost overnight, gas and food prices soared, making it hard for low-income families to afford the trip to work, let alone food for their tables. Making ends meet sometimes requires giving up the more enjoyable activities we don't think twice about. If you need help with what to cut from your budget, this list is for you. 

1. Takeout

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If it has been a while since you last ate out, take a trip through your favorite fast food joint and pay attention to the prices on the board. Takeout prices have risen exponentially since 2014.

They have outpaced inflation during the same time, with McDonald's leading the charge by doubling their prices. Popeyes and Taco Bell followed close behind with 86% and 81%, respectively. 

2. Trips to the Theatre

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Theater ticket prices have risen less than other sectors of the entertainment industry. However, the hit to your wallet is real when you factor in dinner and those extortionary theater snack prices. 

You'll save serious money by staying home, making popcorn, and watching that new film with surround sound. And if that isn't good enough, set up a projector screen in your backyard, sit in your comfy lawn chairs, and invite the neighbors to watch your new favorite movie. 

3. Weekend Benders

Group of friends drinking beer
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Alcohol is easily one of the most expensive luxuries people pay for, primarily due to the frequency of purchase. If a bottle of wine cost you $10 in 1952, that bottle will cost you $73.42 in 2024. That's serious cash for most people in 2024, and supplying the alcohol for those weekend parties can get pricey fast. 

If hanging out with friends requires alcohol, perhaps suggesting a rotating schedule for purchasing the alcohol would cut back on your expenditure. If you're only buying for yourself, try cutting back in other areas to offset the cost of your favorite malt beverage or wine category. 

4. Trips to Town

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When inflation starts to show, gasoline and all crude oil products are the first rising expenses. Natural gas, propane, motor oil, and even petroleum jelly will all see price increases. This expense pinches so hard because getting back and forth to work becomes much more expensive when wages don't increase.

One way to combat this rising cost is to cut the number of trips you take, especially for minimal return. For instance, when grocery shopping, make sure you take a list to remember everything you need. Making a second trip because you forget something you needed for dinner or that weekend get-together will bite into your available cash if you do it more than once or twice a month.  

5. Tech Upgrades

upgrading tech
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One pricey category that can save you some green when cutting back on your budget is tech upgrades. No matter what you spend money on, you'll pay through the nose if it involves any electronic equipment or computing device. 

Smartphone and television prices, for example, are up 23% and 17%, respectively. Computer and game system prices are also on the rise

6. Renovations

home renovations
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Home renovations are one area that will save you serious money if you can hold off until prices start to trickle back down. After the pandemic, dishwasher and refrigerator prices jumped 18% and 20%, respectively. Lumber prices are still 80% higher than before the world shut down. 

If you're renovating for cosmetic reasons, waiting a bit will save you considerably. Paying exponentially higher prices now isn't likely to translate into a much higher return if you're hoping to sell your home, as the housing market currently suffers from a massive increase in mortgage rates

7. Vacations

Family travel in car to sea beach
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Not surprisingly, vacations are more expensive now than in 2019, with a 15% rise in overall prices, and that's just the travel sector. Factors like airfare, gasoline, food, hotel stays, and the like may increase those costs. 

Suppose you're trying to decide between a vacation and a staycation. In that case, you'll want to consider all those factors to determine which is more financially manageable for you and your family. 

8. Car Upgrades

Car Advertising
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Cars get expensive. Even if you're working with a vehicle you own outright, regular maintenance alone can cost a mint. In 2022, car repair prices were up 23%, rising faster than overall inflation

Despite the recent fall in prices from 2023, car repairs are still astronomically higher than they were as recently as 2020. Between inflation and supply chain issues, prices will likely remain high for dealership and home car maintenance. 

9. Subscriptions

subscription overload
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As recently as 2022, Americans estimated an average monthly spend of $86 on subscription services. Despite this best guess on spending, most Americans also overpay by an average of $133 on those same subscriptions. This misinformation means that most of us can easily cut a few subscriptions without missing out on the streaming services and apps we use most often. 

To save even more:

  1. List active subscriptions and their current monthly costs.
  2. Start cutting the ones you haven't used (or can't remember ever using) and work up to those you use occasionally.
  3. Keep your regular (constant use) subscriptions active and cut the waste with everything else. 

10. Bye Bye Brand Names

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While President Biden denounced “shrinkflation” as a rip-off, consumers are hitting back at name-brand companies by switching to store-brand items instead. Using the cost-cutting measure, companies tend to shrink the amount of an item in the package rather than charging more. 

This practice is known as “shrinkflation,” which usually only occurs when inflation is high. If you want to save money on everyday items, consider generic options for basic necessities. 

11. Lottery Tickets

Couples winning lottery
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Most people dream of winning the lottery. However, if the amounts shown in the Mega Millions and state lottery jackpots are any indication, plenty of people are losing much more than they'll ever win. 

It's so easy to splurge on a boost of lottery tickets when payday comes. This mentality can quickly suck hundreds of dollars in potential savings from your cash flow. Instead, pay yourself first and put that money in a savings account or mutual fund. After paying your bills next, you'll know what you can spend on lottery tickets without any sticker shock guilt.

12. Delivery Fees

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The delivery fee business in America is booming, generating more than $350 billion in revenue in 2024. Of that, online food delivery accounts for $95 billion. 

Even if you're not paying for Uber Eats or Grubhub, food prices in the U.S. have steadily risen since 2010 and jumped $5,703 annually per U.S. household in 2022. In 2024, the United States Department of Agriculture expects homemade food costs to drop by .6%, while you can expect takeout and fast food to rise by 4.9%. 

13. Coffee Runs

Take Away Coffee
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In 2022, 14.4% of Americans polled spent more than $40 a month in coffee shops over a year, which equals $480 on coffee takeout. This amount is more than double the average American's annual spending on roasted coffee. 

However, with 62% of Americans saying they drink coffee every day and most tracking at least three cups every day, those coffee runs can slaughter your savings. If you must drink coffee, try purchasing it for home brewing and adjust your tastes to make it less often. 

14. Season Tickets

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
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No matter what sporting event you enjoy, paying for those professional team tickets can run you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Even if your team isn't sitting at the top, stadium seats get exponentially more expensive the closer you get to the field or court. 

In 2022, the National Football League (NFL) tied the Major Baseball League by hosting the most attendees at a live sporting event. The two professional sports beat out the NBA (National Basketball Association and the NHL (National Hockey League). Save hundreds of dollars by paying for a premium sports service and watch the games from the comfort of your home. 

15. Excess Purchases

Harrison, New Jersey - March 9 2017. Inside a convenience store at a gas station
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My mom loved collecting teddy bears. She wasn't particular about the style and only cared that they were cute. She'd display them all over her apartment, and every time a special occasion came up, I'd pick one up for her to add to her collection. 

Eventually, those collections start to take over and quickly become cash killers. If you're looking to trim your budget, collector items and other excess purchases, like a second or third pair of sunglasses or new sneakers you don't need, can all take a back seat to making ends meet and saving for a rainy day. 

16. Parties

Kids Birthday Party
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When warmer weather calls, we all love to break out our summer hosting gear and throw an epic party. Whether you've got a set of summer birthdays, a new pool going in, or want to host family and friends for a good time, parties add up

Food, time, electricity, drinks, and other party essentials can become a financial drain if you're hosting every weekend. Pull back a bit and have one really great party in the middle of summer. And if you can't help yourself, toss a back-to-school/work palooza as summer comes to a close. 

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