The pandemic has sparked shortages of goods and workers that have pushed inflation to its highest levels in decades. But you've already seen what that looks like, if you recently bought groceries, gassed up your car or went shopping for furniture or a new TV.
Prices are surging, and don't look for relief anytime soon. Various forecasts anticipate that stiff inflation will hang around into the new year.
One strategy for fighting back against rising prices is to take advantage of some simple ways to make and save more money in your daily life.
Here are 13 ideas on how to effectively give yourself a raise — and kick inflation to the curb.
1. Cut the cost of your debt
High-interest debt from credit cards and personal loans can be a major drain on your bank balance, especially if you’re making only the minimum payments each month.
To break free from your debt ASAP, you might take out a debt consolidation loan. You’ll trade in all of your current balances — on credit cards, loans, everything — for a single monthly payment at a lower interest rate.
You can borrow money with no collateral at rates as low as 5.95%. Depending on how much interest you’re currently paying on your debts, consolidating them could save you thousands of dollars and help you become debt-free years sooner.
2. Hunt down your long-lost money
You do know where all your money is, right?
Actually, people move on and forget all about money in old accounts all the time. It's so common that Americans currently have more than $40 billion in unclaimed funds waiting for them.
Is any of that yours? Search MissingMoney.com, which will show if you left any money in an old checking or savings account, or if you’re entitled to unclaimed life insurance policies from relatives who have passed away. (You'll want to be much more careful when you buy your own life insurance policy.)
You also should check with the IRS to see if there are any tax refunds you're missing. You can amend your previous tax returns for up to three years if you were eligible for a refund but neglected to claim it.
3. Refinance to a cheaper student loan
Payments on federal student loans have been on a long pause, but if you owe student debt to a bank or other private lender, you’ve been on the hook for your regular monthly minimum all along.
The good news is that interest rates on student loan refinances are close to all-time lows, so you can pay off your current debt with a new private loan that's cheaper.
When you refinance a student loan to a lower rate, your monthly payment goes down — allowing you to pay off your college debt more quickly.
You can find quotes from multiple lenders in just minutes, so shop around and make sure you’re getting the best rate possible.
4. Use technology to save every time you shop online
If you do most of your shopping online — and nowadays, who doesn’t? — you likely go to the same website again and again. You know the one.
But Amazon doesn’t always have the best prices, and nobody has time to price-check every store.
You can let technology do that work for you. You might download a free browser extension that will automatically find you deals and coupon codes every time you shop online.
You also can set price-drop alerts for your favorite products, so if they go on sale, you’ll be the first to know. Installation of the add-on takes just a moment, and could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
5. Turn your old playthings into a payday
Got a closet full of collectibles? Well, maybe the time has finally come to say goodbye that stuff and sell it online — because it might be worth more than you think.
For example, some of your toys from the 1970s and '80s could fetch hundreds of dollars — maybe even thousands — if you’ve kept them in good condition.
Selling stuff on eBay is relatively simple, but if you’ve never done it before, check out this handy guide on how to get started.
6. Slash your car insurance bills
If you've got a car and aren't shopping around for cheaper insurance every six months, you could easily be overpaying by hundreds of dollars a year.
Comparing rates from multiple insurance companies may sound like a lot of work, but some websites do the shopping around for you. You might find a better deal in just a few minutes.
You'll answer a few quick questions, and be presented with the best quotes from hundreds of car insurers. That way, you can find the lowest price available on the coverage you currently have.
7. Play the market with as little as $1
If you’ve never put money into the stock market, you might think owning a piece of a well-known company is out of reach. After all, stock prices have been climbing higher and higher over the last year.
But one popular investing app will let you buy pieces of companies like Google and Tesla for as little as $1 — and when they profit, so will you.
You can invest in fractional shares of stocks, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and cryptocurrencies, and you won't have to pay any commissions.
8. Use artificial intelligence to find a better job
Employers are struggling to fill positions right now, meaning if you need a job or are interested in finding a new one, you can afford to be picky.
You might try a free online job board that uses artificial intelligence to match your skills, education and experience with the best jobs from more than 8 million postings.
You will also find valuable information on more than 35,000 job titles, including the credentials required and the criteria recruiters look for in a top candidate.
9. Stop paying so much for home insurance
Homeowners insurance rates have been rising for many Americans. But if your bill seems steep, you might be able to cut it down to size with some good old-fashioned shopping around.
Don't stay married to a policy that might be costing too much. Instead, go online and compare quotes from hundreds of insurers to find a better price.
Answer a few basic questions, and you’ll instantly see the best deals available in your area.
You could save close to $1,000 a year on your homeowners policy by comparing rates — while keeping the same level of coverage you currently have.
10. Switch to a high-deductible health plan and HSA
If you’re relatively healthy and your medical expenses generally don't go beyond physicals and screenings, a high-deductible health plan could save you money.
Your deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance covers the rest. The higher the deductible, the lower your premiums will be.
Also note that switching to one of these health plans will make you eligible for a health savings account (HSA), a tax-advantaged account for medical expenses. The funds in the account grow tax-free, and as long as the money is used for eligible health costs, it can be withdrawn tax-free.
You'll want to do some comparison shopping online to find the high-deductible health plan offering the right coverage at the lowest rate.
11. Get paid when businesses behave badly
When companies do the wrong thing, they get taken to court — and sometimes their customers get compensated.
A site called ClassAction.com will show if you qualify for a refund for any product or service that was falsely advertised, defective or price-gouged you.
Recent settlements have involved Apple, Tesla, Juul and other companies. Many class-action claims can be completed online in a few minutes, though it may take up to a year to receive your rebate.
The criteria for eligibility will vary depending on the lawsuit, but in some cases you may not even need a receipt to get reimbursed.
12. Turn your hobby into a lucrative side gig
Everybody's got a hobby. What's yours? You could use it to score some side gigs and supplement your income during this time of soaring prices.
The world’s largest online marketplace for digital services makes it super easy to get paid for doing what you love, whether it's drawing, writing or even voice acting.
It’s sort of like using a dating site: You just create a profile describing what you bring to the table, and people will find you based on what they’re looking for.
Once you start completing gigs and racking up positive reviews, you can bump up the price of your services and earn even more.
13. Make money with your digital spare change
Another way to use the stock market to help you battle rising inflation is by putting your pennies to work.
You might use a popular app that helps you grow a diversified portfolio by investing just your "spare change" from everyday purchases.
Inflation may be eating away at the value of money, but your pocket change is far from worthless. If saved and invested properly, it could turn into hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.