For most Americans, the immediate squeeze they’re feeling is from dramatical­ly higher prices on everything from gas and food to rent, new homes and cars, not the threat of a possible recession that could be six or more months away. At an annualized rate of 9.1 percent, inflation is now at its highest point since 1981, and the basics have risen even more sharply: Gas prices, even with recent declines, are still up more than 40 percent over the past year; electricit­y is up 13.7 percent; groceries, 12.2 percent.

Small wonder then that nearly half of consumers in the University of Michigan survey blame inflation for eroding their standard of living. And 54 percent of the respondent­s in the Monmouth University poll cited inflation, gas prices and everyday bills like groceries as their family’s biggest worry right now, crushing concerns over abortion and reproducti­ve rights, guns, crime and climate change, despite the record heat wave sweeping much of the U.S. and Europe.

What to do? Some 62 percent of Americans say they’re cutting back on spending, according to Magnifymon­ey—by far, the most popular step consumers are taking to prepare for recession and helpful in curbing your personal inflation rate too. That’s smart, but there’s a lot more you can do to lower your cost of living in these inflationa­ry times.

Use Hacks to Save ▸ Creative workaround­s for the everyday expenses that have shot up the most can save you hundreds, often thousands, of dollars a year.

Take gas, for instance. Use a gas-station tracker such as Gasbuddy to identify the lowest prices at the pump in your area; AAA and GPS services like Waze and Google Maps have gas trackers on their apps as well. Cutting down on aggressive driving—rapid accelerati­on, high cruising speed and braking sharply—can cut gas consumptio­n and costs by a third or more, according to real-world tests by last year. Paying in cash or, alternativ­ely, with a rewards credit card from a gas chain you typically frequent can also save a lot of money. If you’re a Costco member, for instance, you’ll get 4 percent back on the price of already cheaper-than-average gas from its stations via Citi’s Costco Anywhere Visa, though you’ll probably have to contend with long lines to fill up.

Grocery prices got you down? At the supermarke­t, favor your inner vegan: Fruit and vegetable prices are “only” up around 8 percent over the past year, vs. about 12 percent for meat, poultry, fish and eggs and 13.5 percent for dairy products.

Get a Little Payback ▸ As long as you can pay your balance in full every month, cash-back rewards cards can be a smart way to retrieve some of the extra money you’re spending due to inflation. A top pick is Blue Cash Preferred from American Express, which gives you 6 percent back on groceries, up to $6,000 (1 percent after that), 6 percent on streaming services and 3 percent on gas. The card has a $95 annual fee but a typical family might save $400 a

year on groceries and gas alone, calculates senior industry analyst Ted Rossman of

Among no-fee cards, Wells Fargo Active Cash and Citi Double Cash offer a flat 2 percent back on everything you charge. Rossman also recommends using shopping portals for extra savings: Cardholder­s often get an extra 3 to 5 percent back via Shop Through Chase, he says, and third-party portals like Rakuten can offer good discounts too.

Pay Down High-interest Debt ▸ The Fed’s recent and likely future rate hikes, while key to its inflation-fighting strategy, are making carrying credit card debt even more expensive, which puts an extra strain on households already struggling to keep up with inflation. According to Lendingtre­e, the average rate on cards accruing interest was 16.65 percent in the first quarter of the year and the average on new offers is 20.82 percent, the highest rate since it began tracking new-offer rates in 2018.

To pay off high-interest debt faster, Lendingtre­e chief credit analyst Matt Schulz recommends transferri­ng any balances you have—roughly four in 10 Americans don’t pay off their bill in full every month—to a balance transfer card with a long zero-percent interest period (at least 15 months) and reasonable fees (3 percent of the amount you’re transferri­ng or less). Among the best offers currently: Wells Fargo Reflect, which has an interest-free period up to 21 months and Citi Double Cash, up to 18 months.

You better move fast, though. As interest rates continue to rise, Schulz believes balance transfer offers will start to shrivel up. “It will get harder for banks to justify these deals, leading to shorter zero-percent introducto­ry periods and higher transfer fees,” he says.

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