17 Essential Everyday Items People Now Struggle to Buy

Inflation and supply chain issues have made certain everyday items prohibitively expensive or hard to find in recent years. Between the pandemic, international conflicts, and rising production costs, purchasing even the most basic items has become unaffordable or difficult for some Americans. Here are 17 such increasingly rare or expensive essentials.

Fresh Vegetables

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According to Popular Science, the cost of veggies increased by a whopping 80% from 2021 to 2022. This price surge is due to unfavorable weather impacting growing conditions, higher farming costs, and supply chain issues. This has made it difficult for families to access the most nutritious, low-calorie grocery items, leading to a reliance on less healthy alternatives.


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ABC News reports, “The price of bread jumped 11.5% in June compared to a year prior, marking a cost increase nearly four times higher than overall inflation.” Rising wheat prices and supply chain disruptions are to blame, primarily due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (the world’s 5th largest wheat exporter).


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ProPublica blames rising housing costs on slow, expensive building methods and the rising costs of both labor and materials. In some areas, rent has risen so steeply that lower-income households have been forced out into more remote or less favorable areas. For others, it has greatly increased their monthly financial burden.


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The cost of eggs has skyrocketed recently and almost doubled from 2022 to 2023. Although rising poultry feed costs and increased demand aren’t helping, CNBC reports that the main culprit is the deadly avian flu. With the high numbers of egg-laying hens affected by the outbreak, this crucial source of protein is becoming unaffordable for many lower-income families.


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Fuel prices tend to fluctuate at the best of times, yet continual conflict, increased transportation costs, rising demand, and dwindling supplies have now made this essential product increasingly unaffordable. Higher gasoline prices can be especially catastrophic for those who rely on cars for commuting and severely impact monthly budgets.


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Dairy products, particularly fresh milk, have become more expensive due to increased cattle feed costs and a surge in demand. The Economic Times explains that the pandemic led to a lull in demand, prompting farmers to underfeed and reduce their herds. When demand surged again, they couldn’t meet demand, leading to insufficient production and a significant price hike.


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The cost of essential utilities, like electricity and heating, has risen in line with higher overall energy prices and increased consumption. Far from being a luxury expenditure, families have to limit their use of electricity, natural gas, and heating oil, even during extreme weather conditions of numbing cold or blistering heat.


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Prices of beef, pork, and chicken have all risen since before the pandemic, with Reuters stating that chicken, in particular, had experienced record price hikes. This rise has been driven by increased feed costs, production problems (like reduced hatching rates), supply chain disruptions, and a higher overall demand.

Internet and Phone Services

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Despite being essential for modern lifestyles and communication, the cost of in-home Wi-Fi and telephones has risen beyond inflation. The problem seems to be unique to the U.S., with CTN reporting that American consumers pay, on average, 40% more for such services than other countries around the world. The small number of high-priced providers is largely to blame.


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For any working parent, this service is an essential part of everyday life, yet the costs of capable childcare have seriously started to strain the budgets of many working families. The rising costs of rent, utilities, and qualified labor are pushing operational costs up, and this rise translates to increased fees for parents and guardians.


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Investopedia says Americans now spend an average of $13,000 a year on healthcare premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses. The trend shows no signs of stopping either, potentially pushing more and more households into a financial situation where they have to make choices between healthcare and other necessary expenses.


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Just as with childcare, the costs of tuition, school supplies, and higher education have all risen, putting pressure on families and students and making education unaffordable for a growing number of young people. For those pursuing higher education, rising living expenses have also contributed to a need for greater borrowing and heavier burdens of student debt.

Car Repairs

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The complexity of modern vehicles, with hybrid engines, onboard infotainment, and sophisticated security systems, has contributed to a rise in the cost of repairs and car maintenance. Some car owners are struggling to keep their vehicles in good condition, affecting their reliability and longevity and impacting their finances in the long term.


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The price of clothing (especially kids’ clothes and shoes) has risen sharply in recent years, with Forbes reporting a 5–7% rise in apparel prices from 2020 to 2021. Rising costs of materials, production, and transportation have all impacted clothing manufacturers, who are passing these elevated costs onto buyers.

Prescription Medication

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What can be more essential than the correct dose of medication? Sadly, the cost of prescriptions has risen steadily over the past decade, with the pandemic prompting a spike in prices. This can have significant health implications, particularly for those suffering from chronic conditions that require ongoing treatment.

Home Repairs

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Maintaining even the humblest of homes has never been so expensive, making some homeowners hesitate to pay out for necessary maintenance. This can make their homes less safe, dry, and comfortable. The cost of services like plumbing and electrical work has risen so steeply that some consumers are resorting to home fixes or less reputable tradespeople.

Public Transportation

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With a hike in gasoline and electricity prices, many areas of the U.S. have experienced a significant increase in the costs of public transportation, like bus and train tickets. For anyone relying on these services for commuting or attending school, this previously budget mobility option has become less and less affordable.

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