Inflation Continues To Bust Household Budgets

Man choosing frozen food from a supermarket freezer., reading product information


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Man choosing frozen food from a supermarket freezer., reading product information

Inflation Returns

Annual inflation clocked in at 6% in February, a hair below January's 6.4% rate, meeting analyst expectations. Even though inflation slowed overall, the consumer price index still rose 0.4% in February, according to the Labor Department, which means relief is slight after hitting 40-year highs last year. Prices have gone through the roof everywhere from the grocery store to the gas pump. The government's latest numbers break down the price increases in painful detail, and we've combed through them to find some of the most sobering.

Related: Steps to Take to Outsmart Inflation, According to Experts

Buying meat at a supermarket.

Meat, Poultry, and Fish: 3.8%

Though the price of beef and bacon are down 1.4% and 5.9%, respectively, the price of poultry and other meats is still way up. Frankfurters rose 11% with lunchmeats not far behind at 10.4% higher. Poultry gained 9.5% overall, with whole turkey and other uncooked poultry up the most at 12.6% more than last year.

RelatedCheap and Easy Ideas for Getting Supper on the Table

Ruby Red Leaf Lettuce

Fresh Vegetables: 5.3%

Many consumers are finding adding more fresh veggies to their diets costs more than they may have anticipated. Salads in particular are hard on the wallet since an insect-borne virus wiped out crops in California, leading to a 10.4% increase in lettuce prices, though that's down from over 17% in January. Potatoes cost 13.5% more than last year, though tomatoes cost just 3.4% more, a welcome decrease from January.

RelatedVegetables That Offer the Same Health Benefits as Kale

Dealer New Cars Stock

New Cars and Trucks: 5.8%

Need new wheels? You're probably already prepared for sticker shock. The chip shortage hit car dealers hard, driving up prices and making it all that much harder to negotiate. These days, paying sticker price may even be a good deal, experts say. 

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New winter tires for sale in store

Car Parts and Equipment: 6.1%

Car prices are high right now, so fixing and maintaining what you have is a smart move. Still, it's also much costlier than in the past. One particular pain point: fluids, including oil and coolant, which are up 12.1% from 2022. The price of vehicle accessories, not including tires, is up 9.4%. The cost of motor vehicle repair, meanwhile, is up 17.7%.

Couple and sofa

Household Furnishings and Supplies: 6.3%

Sprucing up your home will cost you big time right now. Buying new rugs and floor coverings costs 8.4% more, and we especially hope you don't need new curtains — the price of window coverings is up 9.7%.

shelves of refrigerated milk in store

Milk: 8.1%

A breakfast-table staple, milk continues to creep up in price thanks to a drop in production from ripple effects in the agricultural markets attributable to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And since milk is up, that also means the price of cheese is up even more at 9.4%. 

Female staff at McDonald's deliver food to customers through the door of the car at the pick up point in Bangkok, Thailand

Dining Out: 8.4%

If you’re seeking relief from the high cost of groceries by eating out, it's understandable, but you’re not getting much of it. Though the overall cost of food at home is up 10.2%, the cost of food away from home is up 8.4% compared with last year. Full-service meals are up 8%, while fast food isn't much better: Limited-service meals are up 7.2%. Vending machine snacks cost 15% more.

Refreshing hot cup of coffee at a cafe
Yard Work Tool In a Shed
A. Hart/istockphoto

Tools, Hardware, and Supplies: 11.7%

Spring is starting, and if you're looking for new yard equipment to clean up after winter, we’ve got bad news: Getting handy may cost you this year, and higher demand this time of year doesn't do your budget any favors.

Male Power Line Technician Holding Tablet to Record Electrical Meter, Looking at Tablet

Energy Services: 13.3%

Looking at utility bills is never fun, but it has been even less so this year. The cost of electricity is up 12.9%, a 1 percentage point increase over January. Natural gas costs 14.3% more than last year, and fuel oil is 9.2% more, though that's thankfully down from 27.7% more in January.

Variety of ice cream and sorbet. Containers with ice cream top view.

Ice Cream: 13.9%

Sorry, ice cream lovers. The rise in milk and other dairy prices has also led to a rise in your Cherry Garcia, gelato, and favorite ice cream novelties by 13.9%, though that's down from 16.3% in January. 

canned corn

Processed Fruits and Vegetables: 14.2%

Processed fruits and vegetables have gone up in price more than fresh fruits and vegetables over the last year. Canned fruit and vegetables like mandarin oranges or creamed corn cost 14.7% more, while stocking your freezer with peas and green beans is up a whopping 21.4%.

Scanning parcel barcode before shipment

Delivery Services: 14.4%

If sending something across the country has given you sticker shock lately, you're in good company. Fuel and inflation surcharges are common, and even Amazon started charging third-party sellers a fee that is may trickle down to consumers. The good news is that though those adjustments resulted in a 14.4% increase in costs in February, it's still down from the 16.4% increase in September 2022. 

Rolled butter

Fats and Oils: 19.4%

Who can blame us for heaping on the butter or salad dressing in a time of economic misery? And the prices of these staples are up big time. Margarine, in particular, is up a whopping 39.8%, while butter will set you back 20.7% more.

Travelers in a train station during pandemic Covid 19

Airfare: 26.5%

After a slight easing of prices last summer, the cost of flights once again soared in the fall and winter. High fuel costs mean airline passengers are unlikely to see major drops in ticket prices anytime soon, and fares increased slightly since January.

Still life image of brown and white eggs in cardboard egg cartons