Mira Silverwood

22 Basic Necessities People Can’t Afford Anymore

The concept of thriftiness is nothing new, with most families cutting back on treats from time to time. But with the cost of living increasing everywhere, even basic necessities are becoming out of budget. From extortionate water bills to health insurance, here are 22 necessities people are struggling to afford. 

Health Care

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The cost of health care in the US is one of the country’s greatest challenges, with more people than ever foregoing treatment. The insurance-dominated landscape of American health care has meant prices have been high for years. But now, astronomical hospital bills mean more people are trying to treat themselves at home 

Hygiene Products

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Everyone has the right to stay clean, but this is becoming more of a privilege than a necessity as hygiene products surge in price. High inflation has hit the industry hard, with deodorant and feminine hygiene products becoming increasingly unaffordable. 

Housing

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Having a roof over your head is one of life’s most basic necessities. But as housing prices soar, more families than ever are struggling to find a place to call home. Several factors contribute to this nationwide issue, including lower interest rates and higher construction costs. 

Medication

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Compared to the rest of the globe, medication costs in America are worryingly high, with many people unable to afford their prescriptions. The lack of government regulation has made the problem worse, with pharmaceutical companies monopolizing certain drugs. 

Groceries

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Many Americans leave the supermarket in a state of shock these days, in awe of how costly their grocery list is becoming. A combination of supply chain disruptions and high ingredient prices has caused grocery prices to jump by 25% in the last 4 years. 

Dental Care

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Every year, millions of Americans avoid visiting the dentist due to anxiety over the cost. While basic procedures such as cleaning are more affordable, larger more urgent problems will set you back a pretty penny. 

Education

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The steady decline in public funding means going to college is more expensive than ever. Unfortunately, youngsters are simply unable to afford their education and are increasingly anxious about post-college debt. 

Owning A Car

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Public transport may not be cheap in the US, but it’s more affordable than owning a car. Once considered a necessity, the cost of running a vehicle is getting more and more expensive. High fuel prices, insurance, and supply chain issues are just some reasons people can’t afford a car.

Rent

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The lack of affordable housing in the US has been a long-term, and the problem is getting worse rather than better. Rent prices have reached a high not seen since the 1980s, rising by 18% in the past 2 years according to one study

Electrical Bills

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In the modern age, access to electricity is essential to live comfortably, but with rising bills, this could soon become another luxury. Delays to expand America’s electrical grid, alongside the rising cost of natural gas, have contributed to the problem.

Water Bills

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In addition to expensive electric bills, water bills are rising faster than inflation, with Americans paying an average of $104 per month. Families are taking shorter showers than ever to reduce the cost, with some households bathing once per week. 

Holidays

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Taking time off work to recharge is essential to avoid burnout, but with vacation prices soaring, Americans are more likely to skip their annual holiday. Every component of the classic vacation has become more expensive, whether you’re going abroad or staying local. Since the pandemic, airfares, hotel rates, and petrol have become worryingly expensive. 

Fresh Fruit

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A punnet of berries or juicy oranges was once a staple of American households, but fresh fruit is becoming harder to afford. With frozen, canned, or dried fruit being significantly cheaper, families are having to choose processed produce over fresh options. 

Rainy-Day Savings

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Emergency savings are essential in the current economic climate, with experts suggesting we have enough stashed to live for 6 months. But with the cost of living higher than ever, many people are living paycheck to paycheck. 

Therapy

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Talking therapy is a valuable resource for many, but for some, it’s a lifeline that they shouldn’t have to live without. Whether it’s online chats with a therapist or in-person sessions, cost remains the main barrier to therapy access across the US.

Child Care

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For parents working full-time hours, child care is an essential service but is one that could cost them over $8,000 per year. Since 1990, the cost of daycare has almost tripled, causing parents to sacrifice their careers so that they can stay at home with the kids. This often means they have less money for other necessities, such as rent and groceries. 

Insurance

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Life insurance provides peace of mind, offering financial protection in case the worst happens. But with policies at a premium, many people are lacking adequate coverage, or cannot afford a policy altogether. 

Cleaning Supplies

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Due to the high cost of living, our definition of what constitutes a household essential is changing. While keeping our homes clean is necessary, the products needed to do so are becoming more expensive. Costs are increasing market-wide for basic cleaning supplies, including bleach and detergent. 

Gas

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Buying a car is expensive enough, but the cost of getting it on the road is set to rise even higher. Gas prices in America have been skyrocketing since tensions in the Middle East affected supply. The rising cost of oil has driven the price per gallon to above $5, which is unfeasible for many car drivers. 

Home Repairs

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From unexpected leaks to a break-in, house repairs often require a professional to take a look. But with higher material costs, limited competition, and labour shortages, the price of making our homes safe is increasing. 

Eggs

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Once a cheap source of protein, eggs have become depressingly expensive, with many people crossing them firmly off their shopping lists. Due to a resurgence of bird flu scares the price of eggs jumped by 4.5% in March 2024, with a dozen costing around  $3. 

Meat

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Despite the growth of veganism, meat remains a core part of most Americans’ diets and was once the basis of a cheap meal. In recent years, grain prices have surged and the cost of meat with it, causing people to simply go without. 

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