We often talk about saving up for a rainy day. Welp, the rainy days are here folks and it's pouring. From chicken to eggs and cooking oil, these price hikes are slowly chipping away at our wallets. Many parents may think that they're already being frugal, but at the end of the month when you check your bank account balance, you and your spouse may often wonder: "Where did it all go?"\u00a0 Even if you don't think you spend that much each day, it all adds up by the end of the month\u2014something that experts often call, 'death by a thousand cuts'. Here are some things parents can do about recent price hikes: Reassess your Budget Every family has a budget, even wealthy ones. You normally try not to go over a certain amount of expenses every month unless it's from an emergency or necessary purchase. But if you're from a lower income group, it would be wise to get another look at how much you spend as a family. Many Malaysian households may not necessarily keep a tight spreadsheet of expenses in and out, but it would be wise to start one if you really want to start saving more. A good way to see where you can wind down your expenses is to look at the previous month's spending. This is easier if you keep a track record of your finances, such as receipts, card or e-wallet transactions, and banking statements. Know Where to Shop We all have a favourite go-to store for things like groceries. But inflation has changed this fact for many families and for good reason. If you're currently overspending, it may be time to go look for another shopping haunt. Some farmer's market for instance may be much cheaper than supermarket chain stores. But this is where you need to do your research because that may not be the case in certain areas. So try and make it a habit to try new stores and supermarkets every time you go on your grocery hunt. Or better yet, download their latest catalogues so you can compare prices without leaving home. This goes for baby things too like diaper and formula. We all want what's best for our babies but being frugal when needed doesn't necessarily make you a bad parent. Beware of Bargains We're all suckers for a good offer. Buy one free one? Sure. 50% discounts? Absolutely. Clearance sales? Say no more. But be careful about these dangerous deals that may end up costing you way more money for things you don't actually need. The same is true for coupons which force you to buy items over a hundred Ringgit just to qualify for the price cut. Moreover, some stores also practice unethical price tagging where they make it seem like there's been a huge discount when the discounted price has actually been the original price all along. So the next time you're out buying household essentials, be wary of these offers and only buy them if they will actually save you money. Remember to always compare market prices to check if you're being duped off your hard-earned cash. Check your Utilities One of the many financial sinkholes you don't think about is your electricity bill. If your television or laptop isn't consuming the most out of your utilities expenses, then it may be your air conditioner or water heater. Next is probably your lighting and washing machine. So any chance you get to minimise the use of these appliances, take it. But reducing isn't just about turning the switch off. There's also this thing called phantom energy which I'm sure you know about but have never learned what it's actually called. Basically all the electrical appliances that's currently plugged into your walls still consume a small bit of energy even if they're turned off. This energy is phantom energy and it will still add up every month to your electricity bill. So don't forget to unplug these 'energy vampires' before they suck your wallet dry. Limit Outings This goes without saying. But even when you do have to go on inevitable excursions to the outside lands, like for grocery shopping, be sure to make a list. Lists ensure you stick to a plan so you don't go off course and start shopping to your heart's content. Also, you may want to avoid bringing your children along for quick runs, especially if they're young toddlers. They will only end up being tempted by the dolls, sweets and other child things that supermarkets have sneakily arranged to be just within the reach of children. These "checkout temptations" can result in tantrums which will often lead to unnecessary (and unhealthy) purchases. Go Offbrand Many families stick to tried and true household brands because of the quality. And one of the essential items that are currently going through price hikes is food. It's important to try out different brands, especially if they're cheaper than your go-to ones. We often stick to trusted brands out of nostalgia more than anything likely because it's what our parents and their parents before them have used for decades. Taste-wise, they may not even be that different from other less popular brands. So the next time you buy groceries, try and go off-brand, just for a few items. But don't forget to read the nutrition label before you do. They may be cheaper but that doesn't mean they're healthier. Going off-brand also goes for things like clothing, haircuts, personal grooming accessories, stationery and other items. Downsize This doesn't necessarily mean move to a smaller more affordable home unless you're already in the process of doing so. Even in this economy, downsizing your home isn't wise, because you may still end up hiring movers who will end up charging you exorbitant amounts. But there are ways that you can downsize without uprooting your family.. Start by cancelling any subscriptions or moving to a cheaper plan: this includes phone, Internet, satellite TV, gym memberships, housekeeping, and yes, even streaming subscriptions like Netflix or Spotify. These services may also experience price hikes, so it's a good idea to cut them off before they really eat away at your finances. If you're currently paying a mortgage, consider applying for a deferral. This arrangement lets you postpone payments to your house until you're more financially stable. Get Your Kids Onboard Downsizing for inflation doesn't just apply to parents. Encourage your children to winnow down their finances too if they're old enough to handle money. If you want to make things easier, make a game out of it. For instance, if your kids managed to save more than half of their lunch money in a week, you'll add half to that amount. This not only teaches your kids to save money, but will also give them a preview on healthy spending. The next time they ask for toys, or clothes, or gadgets, ask them to use their own money. Once kids become liable for their own expenses, they will think twice about frivolously burning their savings on unnecessary items. This will also teach them a few things about needs and wants. The Rainy Days Are Here Inflation comes and goes, but the aftermath always leaves us a little worse for wear. Price hikes are just the tip of the iceberg. If you've been good and saved a ton of money from the previous few years, you may be all set for all these ridiculous price hikes. But this doesn't mean you should blow all your savings on frivolous whims, or overindulge every weekend. Tragedy could strike at any moment and you may end up needing to use your money for emergencies or other important things. So, always be on the lookout for new ways to save money. And with all the previous tips mentioned, you should be able to weather the coming months with less difficulty. Who knows, you may even have some leftover for that family trip you've always wanted. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!