Striving 2 Save: Houston, feeling the squeeze as inflation rages, prices soar? Here’s how to save a few extra bucks this week

Inflation is at the highest level in four decades

File image of a crumpled dollar bill (KPRC 2/Canva)

Prices have increased faster than at any other point in four decades. The cost of gasoline rose an average of 48.7 % in the past year. Airline tickets are up 45.9%, used cars and trucks nearly 38%, eggs 32.2%.

Nearly everyone is feeling the squeeze.

I know I am. The image at the top of the article is an accurate representation of how I feel anytime I’m forced to think about money lately -- crumpled, pinched and thoroughly worn out. Anytime I fill my tank or shop for groceries, ABBA’s 1976 hit “Money, Money Money,” plays on and endless loop in my head. Sure, the song is catchy, but all the uncertainty and endless worry about finances is exhausting. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

When I asked locals how they’re coping with rising prices, dozens detailed the stress they’re under and the sacrifices they’ve made to get by. Several are cutting out meat. One woman in Katy is making her own laundry detergent. And a retiree in Spring started taking his daily medication every other day.

In effort to make sense of all the uncertainty, each week, we’re breaking down how inflation is impacting our area and offering tips and recommendations to help you save money. Scroll below for the latest on gas, groceries and budget-friendly Bayou City fun.


⛽ Prices at the pump? Yeah, they’re a pain in the gas.

The European Union recently agreed to ban most Russian oil imports, an aggressive and punitive sanction against Moscow for its war against Ukraine. This will severely impact the Russian economy, but what does it mean for American energy prices?

Over the weekend, the national average for regular gasoline reached $5 a gallon, up 58 cents from a month ago and nearly two dollars from a year ago. At numerous Houston-area gas stations, the price is even higher.

The high cost is taking a toll on many Houston-area residents.

“My wife and I are on SSI,” Richard, 68, of Spring, Texas wrote in a recent KPRC 2 survey. “With less than a cost-of-living raise we have been forced to make a lot of changes in our life. Spending now only on necessary items, reducing driving to absolute minimum and any other things we can to make it by. . . I can truly say I never saw prices like we face going so high.”

You can watch current gas prices at stations across the Houston area here on the Gas Buddy app. Click on the locations to the right to find your specific area or neighborhood.

The KPRC 2 Investigative team shared these 12 meaningful things you can do right now to save money on gas.

Here, KPRC 2 Traffic Expert Anavid Reyes goes into depth on an app that helps you save money at the pump. When Reyes tested it out, she saved $4 in the first two uses.

Though gasoline is nearly always more expensive in the summer because the demand for fuel rises, this year, fuel prices have risen so high in part due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions.

Ann Bluntzer, Executive Director of the Ralph Lowe Energy Institute at TCU, appeared on KPRC 2+ this week to share how the ongoing Ukraine-Russian conflict will impact American gas prices going forward. For her insights, watch the video above or head here.

We’re ending this painful gas price talk on a sweet note. Every Wednesday through Labor Day, Krispy Kreme will lower the price of a dozen Original Glazed doughnuts to the national average for a gallon of gas that AAA reports each Monday. A dozen glazed doughnuts typically cost around $11. This week, its costs $5.01. For more on the deal, head here.

MORE: This is what fuel is costing people in Houston area, across the US as summer travel season ramps up


🥩 You’re a carnivore?! In this economy?

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 15, 2021 photograph, beef is displayed in the meat department at Lambert's Rainbow Market, in Westwood, Mass. U.S. producer prices surged 10.8% in May 2022, from a year earlier, underscoring the ongoing threat to the economy from a bout of inflation that shows no sign of slowing. Thursday, June 14, 2022 report from the Labor Department showed that the producer price index which measures inflation before it reaches consumers rose at slightly slower pace last month than in April, when it jumped 10.9% from a year earlier, and is down from an 11.5% yearly gain in March. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The foods that makes it into our fridge and onto our dinner plates cost nearly 12% more today than it did this time last year. Inflation has not struck every aisle of the grocery store at the same rate. The cost of animal products is rising fastest.

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs now cost 14.2% more than they did a year ago. The price of eggs, in particular, increased 32.2%. By comparison, the price of produce, fruits and vegetables, is up 8.2% from May 2021.

Rising prices and tighter budgets have driven several Houston-area residents to change their diets.

“Hamburger meat or any red meats are now meant for wealthy people,” Michelle P., a retiree from Conroe, Texas, wrote in a recent KPRC 2 survey. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are ridiculously priced. I’ve had to buy potassium supplements and multivitamins for my mother and myself. Since we are senior citizens, fresh everything is vital to our health and now my 85-year-old mother suffers from severe body cramps. Vitamins are in no way a supplement for fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Read more survey responses here.

Meat eaters on a budget might consider taking advantage of this peculiar rotisserie chicken hack. For surprising reasons put forth in this article, the grocery store staple has resisted price hikes.

MORE: ‘I can’t remember what meat tastes like’: 18 Houston-area residents share how they’re coping with inflation


🏊‍♂️ Bayou City fun on a budget

File image of a child at the beach (Pixabay)

Summer just started, yet somehow you’ve already run out of ideas to keep the kids busy? Worry not. Here, we offer some low-key, low-cost suggestions that won’t break the bank. Heat averse? Worry not. Many of these options are inside.

Another cost-cutting measure we suggest -- memberships. When you visit Houston and Texas attractions this summer, consider whether you and your family might benefit from a membership. If you plan to visit the attraction more than once over the next year, a membership may actually save you some money. Here we break down 15 memberships to some of the most popular attractions in the area.


💰 How is inflation affecting your spending?

Are you feeling the squeeze? We want to know how you’re coping with rising prices. If you would like to share your experiences, fill out the form below.

We may use your response in an upcoming newsletter or story.


How do you trim your budget? Drop your tips in the comment section or share them with me at bzamora@kprc.com.


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.