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The costs of consumer products have skyrocketed as Americans deal with supply chain issues and increasing demand for everything from gas to televisions.
Shopping with online hacks at Amazon and other stores can definitely help your bottom line when you’re trying to find ways to stretch your paycheck. But do you know which products to avoid before your budget takes a direct hit? Here are a few to keep an eye on as you navigate shopping ahead of the holidays.
(Note: All figures are from the Consumer Price Index, released Oct. 2021)
Hotels and motels, up 25.5%
Families opted for quiet, at-home holiday celebrations last year. But with more Americans traveling this year, the demand for places to stay has led to an increase in the costs for hotels and motels. On the bright side, if you’re flying to your destination, airline fares are actually down 4.6% compared to a year ago, so you may be able to save some cash that way.
Car and truck rental, up 39.1%
If you’re not flying to your next destination, you’re still going to see an increase in transportation costs. An increase in travel has put a strain on a rental market that is already stretched thin due in part to a decrease in the supply of new and used vehicles.
Used cars, up 26.4%
The automotive industry has been hit hard this year due to a global shortage of semiconductors, which are the computer chips used to run modern vehicles. That’s led to a shortage of new cars on dealer lots, which has had a cascading effect on the used car market as well. New cars also have been impacted, with a 9.8% increase in prices — if you can find one.
Motor oil, up 11.3%
So you’ve decided to hold onto your current vehicle and just get regular maintenance on it instead of paying the exorbitant prices to buy a new one. That’s going to cost you, too. Motor oil, coolants, and other fluids to maintain your car have all gone up in price. And those tires you want to replace before the winter? Those have seen a 9.2% rise.
Gasoline, up 49.6%
Last year at this time, most of us were avoiding large family gatherings to spend the holidays at home. But a year later, prices are spiking due to a perfect storm of consumers driving more, oil-producing countries cutting back on supply around the world, and U.S. refineries not being able to keep up with demand. The hardest hit is unleaded regular gas with a 51.3% increase compared to premium gas with a 39.8% rise.
Steak, up 24.2%
You may have had some sticker shock the last time you checked the meat counter at your local grocery store. Things like chicken, pork, and beef have all seen increases in costs compared to a year ago with steak seeing the biggest increase. But not all foods are equal when it comes to inflation, so consider the dairy aisle or the fruits and vegetables section of your grocery store, which have seen only modest increases.
Restaurants, up 5.3%
Food costs have also affected your bill when eating outside of the home. The rise in costs can also be attributed to not enough workers to fill openings at restaurants, causing a sharp increase in wages to attract workers. Check your monthly budget to see if eating at home more often can save you some extra cash in light of these increases at restaurants.
Moving and storage, up 7.9%
Home prices skyrocketed over the summer as consumers got back into the real estate market. But now those families have to actually move into their new spaces, or put their belongings in storage as they move out of their old places. All of that moving around has caused prices for both moving and storing belongings to go up.
Apparel, up 4.3%
Clothes, like other commodities, are taking a hit because of the cost of raw materials. A surge in cotton prices due to heatwaves and drought has led to apparel companies passing that extra cost on to consumers. Plus, many of us are going out again and need to ditch our sweatpants and loungewear for work clothes or new holiday outfits, which has put a strain on clothing supplies.
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Furniture, up 12%
Americans spent more time at home during the pandemic, which inspired many of us to change our living spaces. But those changes put pressure on furniture supplies. That pressure has now caught up with consumers who are having trouble finding things like sofas and mattresses.
Utility gas service, up 28.1%
The cost to heat our homes has gone up as temperatures have gone down, and it’s only going to get worse. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has already warned Americans about rising heating costs ahead of a potentially colder-than-normal winter. “The higher global and domestic energy prices that are resulting from economies beginning to grow again are going to translate into larger household bills for energy this winter,” said EIA Acting Administrator Steve Nalley.
Electricity, up 6.5%
Electricity, like gas, is taking a hit as more and more people move indoors for the winter. If you’re trying to figure out how to not overpay your monthly electric bills, consider calling your electric provider and discuss switching to a budget plan to even out your monthly bill over the course of a year or make a move to cleaner energy sources.
Televisions, up 10.4%
After spending more time than usual at home binging on streaming shows and movies, you may think it’s time to upgrade your entertainment set-up. You’re not the only one. But televisions are another consumer product being hit with a double whammy of supply chain issues and an increase in demand ahead of the holidays.
Laundry appliances, up 14.9%
Appliances of all kinds are seeing upticks in costs, including dishwashers, refrigerators, and washer and dryers. If you plan to buy an appliance, consider shopping at an independent retailer over a big-name chain, and do research online to find the most affordable prices or prioritize your must-haves.
But all hope is not lost, and there are ways to stem the hit your budget may take from rising costs. Think about using a reward credit card to help you earn points or cashback bonuses. Audit your finances to find the ways to cut back or save money to help ride out everyday cost increases. Also, sit down and look over any potential debt you may be carrying. You can use clever ways to crush some of those lingering debts to mitigate any problems with your budget due to inflated costs somewhere else.
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