High prices starting to pinch? Skip the latte in favor of tea -- you can use the tea bag twice. And booze it up at home rather than at a bar.
Those are a few of the suggestions investment firm Merrill Lynch has for people trying to save money at a time when gasoline prices are soaring and consumer prices are more than 3 percent higher than a year ago.
"For every luxury product or service going up in price, there is a competing item itching to take the business away whose price is either going down or decelerating," Merrill Lynch Chief North American Economist David Rosenberg said in a note to clients.
Coffee prices are up 13 percent, but tea has risen only 2 percent. Unlike a tea bag, you probably don't want to use coffee grounds more than once.
Going out to a restaurant is 3.1 percent more expensive than last year, but groceries are up just over 1 percent.
So eat at home. Just skip the veal (up 3.4 percent) and the fish (up 2.1 percent) and go instead for pork (flat on the year) or chicken (up just 0.2 percent).
It's better to drink at home as well. Bar tabs are up 2.9 percent, but wine, beer and other tipples will cost you just 1.3 percent more than last year if you pour your own at home.
If alcohol is not your thing, go for fresh fruit juices. Their prices have held steady, whereas soft drinks have risen 3.2 percent.
Feeling bored? Forget about a trip to the ballpark to make you feel better. Sporting events tickets have soared 7.5 percent in the past year.
"So be a participant rather than a spectator," Rosenberg suggests. "Sports equipment prices are down nearly 1 percent in the past year. Besides, it's healthier for you."