The reasons why these items cost more isn’t always what you think.
These 11 Things Cost A Lot More All Of A Sudden Thanks To Inflation
Don’t let inflation blow up your budget.by Megan LiscombPersonal Finance Editor
Consumer prices have been going up, and people are talking about the dreaded i-word: inflation.
In a nutshell, inflation is a way of measuring how much the average cost of goods and services is rising. It’s expressed as a percentage, and generally the Federal Reserve aims to keep inflation at around 2%. But things like high demand and lower supply for goods and services, like we’re seeing in many areas at the moment, can drive prices up faster.
To help you protect your wallet, I rounded up 11 things that cost more right now and emailed with Taylor Tepper, Senior Financial Analyst at Forbes Advisor, to get some expert money tips on what to do when prices start to rise.
Taylor Tepper says that gas prices are rising for a couple of reasons. “This time last year there was a huge cut in demand for oil and gas thanks to lockdowns and social distancing restrictions, not to mention coming off the heels of a Saudi-Russian oil price war. Now more people are traveling and returning to work, and so prices are higher. The price of a barrel of oil (WTI) this time last year was about $40, compared to almost $75 now.”
So what can you do about it? Try using apps like GasBuddy that can help you find the cheapest gas in your area and offer free gas rewards. If rewards credit cards are your thing, a card that offers great cash back or other rewards for filling your tank could help take some of the sting out of higher prices. And Tepper notes, “The price of a gallon of gas costs a lot more than it did a year ago, but about what it did two years ago,” so though it might look like a price hike, last year’s prices were actually the outliers.
Feel like your grocery bill just keeps going up? It’s not your imagination. Everything from bread and meat to peanut butter and fresh veg has shown price increases driven by the rising costs of gasoline and energy. If you want to cut down your bill, we’ve rounded up some grocery shopping tips that people say have saved them a ton. You might also be able to find better prices on produce by shopping local at a farmer’s market or subscribing to a CSA (community supported agriculture) box.
3. Toilet paper
As of April, the price of toilet paper was up 16.3% from last year, which is bad news for everyone who poops. If you’re looking to cut down on this cost, you might consider investing in a bidet so you won’t need to buy as much TP in the long run. Buying in bulk is another way to save, but if you don’t have a ton of storage space, you might split up a big pack with a friend or neighbor. And if you know someone who hoarded an ungodly amount of toilet paper last year, it can’t hurt to ask if you can take a few rolls off their hands.
Lyft and Uber prices have been going up, mainly because they currently have a shortage of drivers. If you need a ride, you might be better off calling a cab the old-fashioned way, taking public transportation, hopping on a bike or scooter, or offering a friend gas money in exchange for a lift.
5. Restaurants and fast food
Restaurant prices have been going up too. Most famously, Chipotle recently raised their prices 4% across the board in a move that the chain says is meant to cover raising wages for their employees (though some experts think the price hike is actually a move to preserve high executive pay). So what can you do about it? Scaling back how often you eat out can obviously lower your spending, and other little hacks like avoiding apps and desserts can cut your bill too. Personally, when I do eat out, I’m avoiding chains and grabbing meals from small, local restaurants instead. That way, even if I splurge on some takeout, the money goes to a business in my community that I feel good about supporting.
Travel was cheap last year, but with restrictions lifting and pent-up demand surging, plane ticket prices are shooting back up. But there are still deals to be had. “Many airlines are having trouble filling some premium seats thanks to lower business travelers. While this doesn’t mean you can get an awesome seat to the beach for cheap, you might have more luck in once-popular business travel routes, especially internationally,” Tepper says. Any travel rewards credit cards you have can also come in handy, and if you’re still in the planning stages of a trip, you might wanna check out one BuzzFeeder’s favorite cheap travel hacks.
In the first few months of this year, Airbnb rates were up 35% over the same time last year. And even with rising prices, there’s a shortage of available listings, especially among larger properties outside of urban areas. So if you’ve got your heart set on staying in an Airbnb this summer, book your trip ASAP. You can also check on alternative rental sites like Vrbo and Vacasa, though once you add in the cleaning and rental fees, their rates can also be pretty high. Otherwise, if you’re looking for deals on a place to stay, you can always compare rates on hotels, motels, and hostels at your destination, though hotel rates are reportedly on the rise as well.
8. Rental cars
“The price of a rental car is up almost 110% from this time last year…part of it is the fact that rental companies sold a bunch of cars last year in response to the pandemic, and now there are fewer to rent out,” Tepper explains. “Fewer cars and more travelers means higher prices.”
Rental cars are another case where the benefits on any travel rewards credit cards you might have can come in handy. Or you might consider scaling back your travel budget in other ways, like eating fewer meals out or doing less activities. Finally, depending on your destination, you might consider using alternatives like public transportation to get around.
9. Used cars
Used car prices have been climbing as well. Production of new cars slowed down during the pandemic, and in April this year the average cost of a used car went over $25,000 for the first time. If you’re in the market for some new used wheels, you might find a better deal by skipping the dealership and buying directly from the owner, or check out these expert car-buying tips.
10. Home appliances
Pandemic slowdowns and supply chain issues are also driving up the price of home appliances like washer/dryers and refrigerators. If your once-trusty fridge is on its last legs, you can still find OK prices out there. Be on the lookout for summer sales, coupons, and deals, or check around for a refurbished fridge at a local used appliance store or see if you can find one on Facebook Marketplace. But if you can wait a few months, chances are that as production ramps back up, prices are likely to mellow out.
11. And finally, clothing
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Apparel is up 5.6% from a year earlier, especially men’s pants and shorts and women’s dresses, as well as jewelry,” says Tepper. If these price hikes are making you extra bummed about retiring your quarantine sweats, you might want to check out some tips on finding the best deals every time you shop. Thrift stores and fast fashion can offer good prices if there’s an item that you absolutely need for work or school. If you’re just in the mood for a wardrobe refresh and you don’t want to drop any cash, you might also save by setting up a clothes swap with your friend group.