6 Things Only the Rich Can Afford Now
America emerged from the pandemic lockdowns to find that life had gotten much more expensive while they were hibernating. The 40-year-high inflation that followed the COVID crisis has since eased up — but relief has been slow and uneven.
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With the first quarter of 2023 now nearing its end, gas prices have fallen, the auto industry is nearly back to full inventory and even trips to the grocery store trigger less price anxiety than they used to.
But for every bright spot, there are other things that the average person has been priced out of buying — at least on any sort of regular basis.
Some are big things that always required a little saving but are now beyond even the uppermost reaches of the typical household’s budget. Others are small pleasures that were once a familiar part of day-to-day life but have since become rare delicacies for special occasions.
Some of them you eat, others are things you do or places you go — but all represent a diminished standard of living for people who can no longer afford things they’d gotten used to having.
The Incredible, Unaffordable Egg
The new year brought a string of unusual headlines about people reverting back to America’s agrarian roots as chicken coops began popping up in suburban backyards.
The trend wasn’t about a national longing for a simpler way of life. It was a reaction to the fact that eggs were suddenly an expensive delicacy.
The price of eggs jumped by nearly 60% in 2022, more than any other individual food product. The News & Observer reported in January that the average wholesale price per dozen was over $7 in some states.
In mid-February, Money reported that prices were finally starting to fall, but only at the wholesale level so far. For now, sunny-side up is still something you have to write into your monthly budget.
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Cyclists Are in for a Bumpy Ride
During inflation’s peak in June 2022, Market Prospects reported that bike shops were raising prices to keep up with the ever-climbing cost of raw materials, which already had ballooned by 50% by that time. The price of aluminum — which accounts for 30% to 40% of a bike’s total production cost — was up by 63% over May 2021.
While BikeRadar predicted in January that prices will fall on some models in 2023, the industry-wide situation “is still not looking rosy.”
According to BSX Insights, the average cost of a bike in 2023 is $500 — more like $1,000 for mountain bikes. Even the average kid’s bike will now run you $240.
The House of Mouse’s Ever-Growing Cover Charge
Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are always happy to proclaim they’re going to Disneyland — and maybe they can afford it.
At the end of last summer, the New York Post reported that Disney World Prices had risen by 3,871% over 50 years since 1971 — much faster than wages, rent and gasoline, all of which climbed by less than 1,000% during the same time.
In October 2022, Business Insider reported that Disney was hiking the price of its most expensive day pass once again, this time by $15 from $164 to $179. With increases between 9% and 10.5%, the price to visit Mickey and company was outpacing the general rate of inflation once again heading into 2023.
Remember When Campgrounds Were an Affordable Hotel Alternative?
Around this time last year, RVTravel reported that campgrounds and RV parks were experiencing a huge uptick in demand. COVID had put a premium on open space and fresh air, and campgrounds that were usually ghost towns during the traditionally slow weekdays were suddenly operating at full capacity Monday through Friday.
RVers who cherished the spontaneous drive-and-arrive freedom that drew them to the lifestyle now had to plan ahead and make reservations.
The trend toward pricey camping outlasted the pandemic. In December, camping information and booking website The Dyrt reported that widescale efforts to expand capacity and extend the season hadn’t been enough. About half of the country’s campgrounds had raised prices in 2022 and a similar percentage was planning to do the same in 2023.
Living in the Dark Is Starting To Sound Pretty Good
The most recent CPI report told consumers what they already knew: They’re paying more to heat their homes, cook their food and see in the dark than ever before. The report showed that general inflation rose by 0.5% in January — right on the heels of a 0.1% increase in December — for a total of 6.4% over the year before.
But energy costs rose much, much faster.
One of the key drivers of the continuously high overall inflation rate, energy costs climbed not by 0.1% or 0.5%, but 2% in January — an increase of 8.7% over the already high prices of January 2022.
Concerts Are a Full-Time Business Again, but Can You Afford a Ticket?
According to ticket sale site Audience Republic, the cost of attending concerts and music festivals has been rising much faster than the rate of inflation since at least the 1990s. Overall, entertainment prices have more than tripled since then.
But 2021 added rocket fuel to that trend, which stood out even in an industry known for raising prices at every turn. The reason? Concert and festival promoters had to make up for a lost year when nationwide shutdowns put many of them out of business. They’re still making up for it.
For example, in 2013, $250 could buy you seats next to the stage at a Paul McCartney stadium concert. By the end of 2022, that same entry fee was barely enough for the nosebleeds.
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