How Much Does It Cost to Live in The USA

How Your Pet Can Make You More Successful

Millions of people are turning to side gigs to make extra money and these can be more lucrative than you think.

From becoming an Airbnb host or working as an Uber driver to walking the neighbor’s dog, people are trying to make a little bit more to supplement their income.

If you’re working all the time and still finding it hard to stretch a dollar, it might be because the dollar you have isn’t worth quite as much as it once was.

What are you really spending compared to the 60s, 70s or 80s?

Recently, Wikibuy took a look at the rising cost of living over a few decades, looking at everything from the increasing cost of bacon slices to college tuition.

Ultimately, they found that the rising costs far outstripped increases in household income. Even when adjusted for inflation, a dollar simply has less buying power for purchasing goods and services.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) paints a clear portrait of the statistics associated with the inflation and deflation of the U.S. economy over the last 100 years.

Using the Consumer Price Index, the BLS measures changes in the average price of consumer goods over time. In addition, if you want to have some fun seeing how much your dollar is worth compared to a time in the past you can check out their inflation calculator.

While the calculator may show that $1,000 in 1940 is worth more than $18,000 today, that change is not close to enough to keep up with the rising costs of living.

Are you really getting a cost of living raise?

Prices of goods keep going up and earnings remain stagnant.

According to a Pew research study, there are a number of reasons that average wages purchasing power has not gone up even as salaries increase.

They point to rising inequality between the highest and lowest wage earners, higher prices for benefits, and the decline of labor unions as some of the major culprits.  

While the median income of Americans is higher than it’s ever been at around $61k, earnings are down almost 4.5% when compared with peak earnings vs cost of living in the 1970s.  

How Much Does It Cost to Live in The USA: Infographic

cost of living in america

Some relative pricing over history

There are several categories in which prices have steadily increased in the last few decades; take a look at them below.

Grocery prices

Rising cost of groceries is on many people’s minds and Wikibuy found that only since 1980 the cost of bacon has gone up close to 400%, tomatoes almost 200%, and white bread about 160%.

According to a USA TODAY article food prices have risen a staggering 26% in the last decade alone.

Reasons for increasing grocery prices include:

  • The use of products like corn for biofuel, making them less available for food products
  • Avian flu, which caused egg and poultry prices to rise dramatically (almost 30%)
  • Lower carb consumption in general has wreaked havoc with grain pricing
  • Organic products and gourmet food markets have led to a steady increase in the pricing of foods like spices
  • Rising costs for keeping livestock have meant growing beef prices — and as beef consumption lessens, prices get even higher

Gas prices

The price of gas peaked in 2012 at $3.80 per gallon on average and while oil prices have gone down in recent years, it hasn’t quelled the anxiety of economists who fear a continued dependence on oil is a problem.

Today, gas is around $2.45 per gallon, almost twice the cost of 40 years ago.

In 1994, for example, an average gallon cost $1.06, adjusting for inflation, today’s pricing of around $2.88 per gallon is 75% more than it should be.

Reasons for increasing gas prices include:

  • Rising oil prices and lessened oil output
  • Higher geopolitical risk when working with oil producing countries
  • Continued strong demand.

Housing prices

Housing has been outstripping inflation by nearly 100% something that has homeownership down and is pushing the average home buyer to much older than previous generations (at 44 years old).

However, rental costs are rising even more steadily, putting consumers in a bind.

With the average price for a house reaching to around $220k, people are having a more and more difficult time finding a way to put a roof over their heads.

Reasons for increasing housing prices include:

  • Larger demand for homes; according to a CNBC article published in June, the “inventory of existing homes [has] declined for 35 straight months”
  • Rising mortgage rates, which are set to rise to 5.0% by the end of 2019

Education prices

The average price of a college degree has increased over $60k in recent years. Since 1980 the cost has gone up over 230% something, which has led to a debt crisis of massive proportions for students.

The average student leaves college with loans of over $37k.

While the $1.5 trillion debt students are carrying in the U.S. is a drain on the economy, more and more people are investing in higher education. This is a good reason to try to find ways get a cheaper degree.

Staying at home while earning a bachelor’s, or taking online classes so it’s also possible to earn a degree around a work schedule are two ways that modern students are handling the added expense.

Reasons for increasing education prices include:

  • Increased demand: College degrees have become almost imperative for employment
  • Lessened state support: As state budgets decrease, the burden is put on schools and students

Wikibuy’s research points to further places where your money is no longer quite as good as it once was. But you can see this as an opportunity to be smarter about the money you are earning.

Take advantage of more earning possibilities and side gigs. You might find your hobby to be lucrative and you can make it full time.

It’s time to be savvy and find creative solutions. Consider budgets and savings while looking into ways to strategize getting the most for your hard earned dollars.

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