• I used to be able to fill up my gas tank for $40. Now it costs $90.
  • I’m anxious about inflation, but these 5 apps help me keep my spending in check.
  • I set a 10-minute time limit for food delivery apps like Postmates to curb spending on takeout.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 9.1% inflation rate from June 2021 to June 2022 — the fastest it’s climbed since 1981.

Like any other brunch-loving millennial, I’m freaking out about inflation. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2020, I could fill up my gas tank with $40 —  now it costs $90. My fears of food scarcity are triggered when I see the rising cost of groceries at the store.

Even though I feel helpless against the rising cost of living in LA, these five apps are helping me keep my spending in check.

1. GasBuddy

GasBuddy compares gas prices in your area so you can fill up at the cheapest gas station. GasBuddy users update gas prices on the app, and you can even see when the price was last updated. At some stations, gas is $7 a gallon. Filling up at the cheapest gas stations in my area gives me a tiny slice of peace.

2. SpotHero

Having lived in New York for five years, there are two things I absolutely loathe about LA: looking for parking and paying for parking. Some parking spots in this city cost $20 an hour — $4 more than the $15.96 an hour minimum wage in this city.

SpotHero allows me to scour the area for the cheapest parking spots so I don’t have to waste gas looking for parking.

3. Chipper

I owe $96,000 in student loans, and my monthly payments for my private student loans are $637. When the federal student loan payments come back in September, I’ll owe an additional $302 a month. My biggest worry about inflation is how I’ll be able to afford my student loan payments in September.

Chipper is a free app that deposits your spare change directly to your student loan account. Unlike Navient and NelNet’s online platforms, Chipper makes it really easy to track your debt repayment journey. Thanks to Chipper, I actually feel like I understand my student loans for the first time since I started taking them out in 2010.

Obviously, my spare change isn’t going to make all of my student loan debt go away, but having all the information I need about my student loans and repayment options handy in one app gives me peace of mind.

4. Venmo

When my friends pay me back for coffee, lunch, or dinner, I keep the money in my Venmo account and treat it like another savings account, or a sinking fund specifically for hanging out with my friends. This is a habit I started earlier in the pandemic when I was barely making ends meet.

This helps me save money by not dipping into my checking account every time I want to spend money with friends. It also makes it easier to decide if I actually have the money to go out. Instead of doing the mental math and checking what automatic payments are still going to come out of my checking account, I just need to look at my Venmo balance to see that I’ll be able to afford going out.

5. Screen time limits for food delivery apps

On iPhones, there’s a setting that allows you to limit your time on certain apps, like social media. You’ll find the feature under Settings > Screen Time > App Limits. I set time limits for food delivery apps like GrubHub, Postmates, and DoorDash.

I noticed that the bulk of my time ordering food is spent indecisively scrolling through takeout options. Usually, after spending 30 to 45 minutes trying to decide what to eat, I’m unhappy with what I end up getting because I skimped and chose a cheaper restaurant, or a fancier option didn’t deliver a fulfilling portion.

Instead of beating myself up for my takeout choices, I decided to nip the whole process in the bud and set a 10-minute time limit on food delivery apps. This way, when I order food, it’s because I’m craving something specific — not because I’m bored or too lazy to cook.

I used to get takeout once or twice a week, but now I only order takeout once or twice a month because my timer method is so effective. Instead of wasting another 45 minutes finding the best deal across the apps, I’d rather spend that time making a meal with what I already have at home.

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