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Tips to save cash at the grocery store, gas pump

With inflation at a 40-year high, paychecks aren't going as far.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With inflation at a 40-year high, people across the Carolinas are having a harder time making ends meet. Whether it’s at the pump, grocery or retail store, people are paying more.

The Federal Reserve is attempting to cool off the economy by bringing up interest rates. But a panel of experts from Duke University’s economics department thinks it might get worse before it gets better.

For many people, it’s becoming a never-ending cycle, putting money in the bank just to take it out.

“I’m just working to pay bills,” Ashley Edwards said.

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Rising inflation is making it nearly impossible for some to break the cycle.

“The majority of this cart right here is actually generic items because it makes it cheaper on the shelf and cheaper out of pocket,” Seth Schneck said.

Economists think costs will continue to tick up, even though the federal reserve is taking measures to bring down demand and cool off the economy.

“This is a really hard balancing act," Connel Fullenkamp, a professor with the economics department at Duke University, said. "The Fed wants to cool inflation off, but in order to do that you have to get people to borrow less and consume less and of course, if they do these things, it could tip [the] economy into recession."

He thinks the Fed waited too long.

“They have to raise interest rates faster and by a much higher margin and those things tend to decrease [the] probability of a soft landing,” he said. “Personally, thinking tip into recession probably early next year. The good news is it’s probably going to be a fairly mild recession.”

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Consumer analysts say now is the time to pay attention to finances.

Julie Ramhold with DealNews.com said the first step should be an audit of expenses, checking every cent that goes in and out of a bank account.

“From there, it gets really easy to kind of cut out the things that you realize you don’t need as much,” Ramhold said.

Once a budget is established, there are a few tips to save money right away, especially at the grocery store.

“Start shopping for generics,” Ramhold said. “I know some people are probably very loyal to name brands, but generics have come a long way in the past few decades. They’re not so noticeably different now.”

While the days of physically clipping coupons are gone, there are several apps offering deals and cash back. Ramhold recommends Ibotta and Checkout 51.

“If you’re looking to save on groceries and don’t mind adding an extra step to sort of the routine of making your list, this is a really good move to make because the apps are free," she said. "All you got to do is sign up, set everything up, and then you’ll earn cash back on valid purchases."

Ramhold also suggests buying in bulk at a warehouse store. They can offer savings on paper products or beauty items.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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