Most people would think spending 11 years climbing the ladder in your career would afford you some breathing room in your budget — but many young professionals are finding that’s simply not the case.
Recently, TikTok user Sam (@sam.breezie) received over 680,000 views on a TikTok where she claims she had more disposable income in 2012 working a minimum wage job than she does now making nearly $100,000.
“The cost of living in 2023 is so bad that I’m pretty sure I actually was better off financially in 2012,” says the British Columbia-based TikToker.
In the video, she mentions she pays $1,650 in rent now — compared to just $350 in 2012. And with student loans and a car to pay for, she says she has barely any money left over. Whereas back in 2012, she was able to go out for dinner and go shopping.
Commenters overwhelmingly echo her sentiment. “Went from $36,000 a year at the start of COVID to $80,000 a year,” one commenter says. “I’m in the exact. Same. Financial. Position.”
Sure, inflation changes the value of a dollar, but is it really that significant? In this case, the data seems to indicate that while prices have gone up, it’s not exactly that dramatic across the board. Regardless, Americans feel stressed over their finances. Here’s how to find savings on three major living expenses that have been throttled by inflation the past year.
Here, Sam was right on the money. 2023 has food prices that would astound our 2012 selves. The consumer price index (CPI) for food increased 3.3% in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With ground beef up 20%, orange juice costing $10 a gallon and Hershey planning to raise chocolate bar prices, it’s no wonder that 60% of Americans say they’re struggling to some degree to comfortably afford groceries, according to a 2023 report from research company Attest.
But savvy shoppers have options to save. Couponing, food splitting and bulk buying are just some of the many methods you can use to find a little breathing room in your food budget.
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Finally, boomers and Gen Z can agree on something: nobody can afford rent. This year has seen the shelter CPI rise by 6.7% — and it’s hurting both age groups.
The number of older adults experiencing homelessness has increased at a rate “not seen since the Great Depression.” Meanwhile, wage stagnation and high inflation has kept a third of Gen Z living at home, according to a 2022 study by credit score platform Credit Karma.
Even homeowners aren’t entirely off the hook, as the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases have created a domino effect for mortgage rates. Many homeowners won’t even sell their homes now for fear of losing their fixed mortgage rate.
Though you can’t control the rent or mortgage rates, you can find other ways to trim your housing expenses. For example, if you haven’t reviewed your home insurance policy in over six months, you might want to look around to see if you can get a better rate.
You might also consider renting out any extra space — whether that’s your garage, an extra room or even your pool. These days, between Airbnb and Swimply, it’s easier than ever to make a little bit back from everything you put into your home.
Gas and energy
Right now, gas is sitting at $3.248 per gallon — lower than 2012’s peak, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Gas prices aren’t even as high as they were in 2022. And the BLS reports that the gasoline index actually went down in October by 5.1% with fuel oil dropping a significant 21.4% that month. This was after the category had skyrocketed up 10.6% in August and increasing by 2.1% in September.
However, winter is lurking around the corner. As with last year, it would be smart to prepare for higher energy expenses as the shorter days set in. You may want to explore other ways to keep your energy/gas bill down. like figuring out your state’s off-peak hours and finding draining devices.
Driving less is another option to cut your gas bill, but that’s not realistic for a lot of Americans. However, there are a few simple ways to slash this expense without having to hitchhike to get around.
Finally, if you’re feeling the crunch of living expenses right now, it might simply be helpful to understand you’re not alone. And this is certainly a problem many households are struggling with — just ask the nearly 1,300 commenters on Sam’s TikTok.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.