Feeling the Pinch? How Inflation Is Changing the Price of These 13 Essentials

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You'll be hard-pressed to find any item that is getting more affordable. Consumer goods are getting less affordable daily, from Rice Krispies to rice cookers. However, inflation is more visible in some sectors than others, and we have the data to tell you where your dollar is losing value most quickly.

1. Cooking at Home Is More Expensive Than Usual

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Penny pinchers know that cooking at home, rather than eating out or ordering in, is one of the surest ways to pump your bank account. However, grocery items have inflated by 11.8% in the past year. The cost of dining out has increased by 8.3% during that time, suggesting that the financial benefit of eating at home is shrinking. Dairy, bakery products, and nonalcoholic beverages have seen the most drastic price increases.

Good news, serial restaurant frequenters! You have another excuse to keep your stove dormant while you head to Outback Steakhouse for the third time this week. 

2. You're Not Imagining Your Bloated Electric Bill

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The cost of electricity has increased by more than 15% in the past year. We can't separate America's move away from abundant fossil fuels and the rising energy cost, as this is the classic supply and demand relationship.

3. Natural Gas, Naturally Expensive

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Those who rely on natural gas in their homes and businesses have seen their money vaporize in the past year. The cost of natural gas has increased by nearly 20% in the past year alone. 

4. At Least You Can Still Afford the Shirt on Your Back

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If you want to give away anything for free, consider the shirt on your back. Apparel has seen modest price increases in the past year, rising by only 2.9% as other goods appreciate far more rapidly.

5. The Used Car Market Finally Comes Back Down to Earth

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The used vehicle market is one of the few moving in the right direction, with an 8.8% price decrease over the past year. This decrease may mainly reflect how out of control used vehicle prices became during the pandemic. Also, the financial crunch that most Americans feel has ruled out the possibility of purchasing a vehicle altogether

6. Gimme Shelter (For Cheap, Please)

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If you followed Mick Jagger's advice and told a landlord “Gimme Shelter,” you'd find yourself paying about 7.5% more than you would have a year ago. Some housing markets are more desirable than others, so your exposure to housing inflation depends on where you live. 

7. Getting from Point A to Point B Requires a C-Note

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The cost of transportation services has increased by 14.6% in the past 12 months, making it one of the most inflated economic sectors. You're not getting a good deal whether Ubering, riding the bus, or flying. If you're looking to save a buck, just stay home.

8. Medical Services Won't Put Your Bank Account on Life Support

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Though notoriously expensive, medical services have only increased by 4.1% during the measured period. However, most insured people know that healthcare is one of the costliest services with the worst return on investment. You should still avoid riding in the ambulance or having that elective surgery until inflation simmers down a bit (if it ever does).

9. Your Kids Are Going To Need Way More Lunch Money

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Shockingly, the price of school lunches has increased by more than 254% in the past year. That mystery meat your kid once bought for a dollar is now $2.50. Considering that many families rely on school lunches as a cheap source of nutrition (nutrition might not be the right word for it, but still), this is an incredibly alarming trend.  

10. Get Your iPhone at a Steep Discount

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It seems as if most consumers have caught onto cellphone manufacturers. They must know that the difference between this year's iPhone and last year's iPhone is indecipherable because the cost of smartphones has decreased by 23.4% in the past 12 months. This fact aligns with a clear trend: What we need most is more expensive, while what we need least is not.

11. You Can't Drink Your Way Out of These Inflationary Times

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Those inclined to drink their financial worries away can't truly escape them. Every time you purchase a bottle of wine or whiskey, you're facing sticker prices that have risen by 4.5%, on average, over the previous year. 

12. Rest Is Getting More Expensive

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The average cost of ordinary furniture—couches, dining room furniture, barstools—has increased by 10.3% over the past 12 months. You can't even sit on your rear end without being reminded that life is more expensive.

13. Caffeinate at Your Own Financial Peril

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The cost of coffee has increased by 14.6%. The elixir that allows us to make more money is costing us money. If there is a more depressing reality about the eroding value of the dollar, I challenge you to find it.

Author: Sam Mire

Title: Popular Culture and Film Writer

Expertise: Film and Television, Life Advice, Comedic Writing, Movies, DIY Handiwork, Books, Current Events and Popular Culture


Sam Mire is a freelance writer with over seven years' experience writing about entertainment, global events, American law, and sports. With a Journalism degree from the University of South Florida, Sam focuses on popular culture, film and television, and general life advice in his role for Wealth of Geeks.