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

Inflation Slows but Continues To Bust Household Budgets

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

Cautiously Optimistic

Inflation finally fell on a monthly basis for the first time in almost three years, according to the latest numbers from the Labor Department. December's rate fell to 6.5%, down from 7.1% in November. Overall, inflation decreased 0.1% in December, compared to the 0.1% increase in November. Though there have now been six straight months of decline in the inflation rate, it's still only a slight relief after hitting 40-year highs, with prices through the roof everywhere from the grocery store to the gas pump. The 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: 4.5%

Unless you’re vegetarian, many meals are going to cost more, driven by the higher price of meat. Breakfast sausage is up 9%, frankfurters are up 18.2%, and even lunchmeats are up 15.1%. Prefer poultry or seafood? You’ll pay 12.2% and 5%, respectively, more than last year.

RelatedCheap and Easy Ideas for Getting Supper on the Table

Dealer New Cars Stock

New Cars and Trucks: 5.9%

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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Couple and sofa

Household Furnishings and Supplies: 7.3%

Sprucing up your home will cost you big time right now. Living room, kitchen, and dining room furniture is up 6.3%, and we especially hope you don't need new rugs — the price of floor coverings is up 12.5%.

RelatedHome Decor Products on Amazon That Buyers Adore

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

Energy: 7.3%

Looking at utility bills is never fun, but it has been even less so this year. The cost of electricity is up 14.3%, and that’s the very least of it. Natural gas costs 19.3% more than last year, and fuel oil is a painful 41.5% more.

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: 8.3%

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 11.8%, the cost of food away from home is up 8.3% compared with last year. Full-service meals are up 8.2%, while fast food isn't much better: Limited-service meals are up 6.6%. Vending machine snacks cost 14.8% more.

Ruby Red Leaf Lettuce

Fresh Vegetables: 9.8%

With New Year's resolutions in full swing, many consumers are finding adding more fresh veggies to their diets to cost 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 24.9% increase. Potatoes cost 12.9% more than last year, and tomatoes 9.1%. 

New winter tires for sale in store

Car Parts and Equipment: 9.9%

Car prices are high right now, so fixing and maintaining what you have is a smart move. Still, it's also much costlier than last year. One particular pain point: fluids including oil and coolant, which are up 19.1% from 2021. The price of tires is up 8.7%. The cost of motor vehicle repair, meanwhile, is up 19.5%.

shelves of refrigerated milk in store

Milk: 12.5%

A breakfast-table staple, milk continues to creep up in price and that's unlikely to change immediately: The Agriculture Department forecast a drop in production through 2022 from ripple effects in the agricultural markets attributable to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, though it expects milk production to increase in 2023.

Scanning parcel barcode before shipment

Delivery Services: 13.3%

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 has 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 13.3% increase in costs in December, it's still down from the 16.4% increase in September. 

Yard Work Tool In a Shed
A. Hart/istockphoto

Tools, Hardware, and Supplies: 13.8%

The snow is falling, and if you're looking for new yard equipment to shovel out your driveway, 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.

Refreshing hot cup of coffee at a cafe
Variety of ice cream and sorbet. Containers with ice cream top view.

Ice Cream: 15%

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 15%. 

canned corn

Processed Fruits and Vegetables: 15.5%

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 18.4% more, while stocking your freezer with peas and green beans is up 16.4%.

Rolled butter

Fats and Oils: 23.2%

Who can blame us for heaping on the butter or salad dressing in a time of crisis? And the prices of these staples are up big time. Margarine, in particular, is up a whopping 43.8%, while butter will set you back 31.4% more.

Travelers in a train station during pandemic Covid 19

Airfare: 28.5%

After a slight easing of prices in summer, the cost of flights once again soared in the fall. High fuel costs mean airline passengers are unlikely to see major drops in ticket prices anytime soon, though fares did drop slightly compared to November.

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