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Hey everyone, it's Karen here! If you have't heard of it already, let me introduce you to a new phrase - shrinkflation. What the heck is that, you may be asking? It's a practice where manufacturers, instead of raising their prices, shrink their package size. It's not a new thing, but we're definitely seeing more of it these days, as prices on just about everything are rising. Manufacturers are facing their own challenges since the cost of producing goods and transporting them have gone up. They have decided that customers will be less likely to notice smaller packages than higher prices. And they're probably right. Manufacturers don't want to risk raising prices and losing customers. But how might this be affecting you, and what can you do about it?

To be clear, skrinkflation is legal, provided the cost and quantity of the product are clearly labeled. So the good news is that you do have access to the information you need to be an informed consumer (I'm really trying hard to find a positive spin here!) The food products most likely to be shrinking these days include snack foods, cereal boxes, and beverages. This offers an opportunity to wean yourself off packaged foods because, while retailers might be able to make granola bars smaller, they can't shrink a pound of apples. Decreasing reliance on packaged and processed foods can certainly save money. But we have to acknowledge that time = money. You will almost always pay more conveneince. But if buying precooked chicken means you'll actually bring your lunch to work (because you rarely make time to cook chicken), then that may be worth the extra cost. If you don't bring your lunch at all, you'll probably buy something out to eat (which will definitely cost more!) So you have to look at the big picture when it comes to cost and convenience.

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself against shrinkflation is to compare unit prices of the same type of product (e.g. cost per ounce of yogurt). By using this metric, you can really compare apples to apples, in terms of price. If you are like me, you might be partial to specific brand name products, but if you are open to other brands or generic brands, you can definitely save some money.

I don't usually recommend Reddit as a source of reliable evidence for anything, but the crowdsourcing happening on that platform in regards to shrinkflation is impressive! You can check out this Reddit message board to see users' examples of how shrinkflation is affecting a variety of goods. As GI Joe used to say back in my day, "knowing is half the battle!"