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Crazy car insurance costs

Abney’s viral video takes place in his car, so it’s only fitting that he took aim at two extortionate driving expenses: insurance and gas.

“My car insurance from four-years-ago until now — with no tickets, no wrecks … NOTHING on my driver’s record — has gone from $130 to $240 per month,” he said, clearly exasperated.

This comment, in particular, triggered a string of heated comments — with many sharing similar experiences of rate hikes, seemingly for no reason directly related to their personal driving record.

Car insurance prices soared to a 47-year high in December, jumping by 20.3% from a year earlier, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation data. This was the 16th straight month of annual price gains over 10%.

Insurers have blamed the gains on macro challenges like higher costs of repairs, labor, replacement parts and healthcare (post-accident), among other things — but that doesn’t make good drivers feel any better about paying more for protection.

Several commenters on the TikTok video suggested Abney shop around for cheaper car insurance quotes. That’s certainly one way to ease this common pain point. Remember also to shop for discounts and loyalty programs, as many insurers will grant special pricing if you insure more than one car or if you combine (or bundle) your auto and home insurance policies together.

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Sky-high rental costs

Abney says his rent “at a luxury apartment complex” has almost doubled — from $1,200 to $2,100 — in the last four years. And that’s “not even including utilities.”

The angry TikToker is by no means alone in struggling with this. The cost of renting an apartment remains about 25% higher than it was in 2019, according to Realtor.com data. At first, this was due to a pandemic-driven surge in demand and a shortage of inventory, which enabled landlords to hike their prices.

Later, as inflation surged and the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates to get the economy under control, sky-high house prices and mortgage rates shut many Americans out of homebuying, once again putting pressure on the rental market.

These elevated prices are taking their toll. According to Zillow, the median renter now needs an annual income of $79,264 to comfortably afford rent (spending no more than 30% of income on rent) — which is a 40.6% jump above pre-pandemic times.

Unfortunately, individual renters have little control over rental costs — unless you move to a cheaper part of town or a different state. But while prices remain punitively high, there are ways to manage your money so that you don’t slide into the red.

For instance, consider adjusting your budget to realize your higher rental costs and cut out any unnecessary expenditures. It's worth paying down any high-interest debt as soon as possible and looking for ways to boost your income.

An ‘angry’ grocery shop

Abney gets really mad when talking about the cost of groceries.

“I went to the grocery store yesterday and got three bags of chips, some ground turkey and some vegetables and it was $67 — WHAT?!” he says. “A guy can’t even buy a can of dip for less than $8. $8 FOR A CAN OF DIP!”

Food at home inflation increased by 1.3% through 2023, according to government data — with cereals and bakery products, nonalcoholic beverages, fruits and vegetables leading the way.

According to a recent Axios Vibes survey, the weekly grocery shop is where Americans feel most affected by inflation — with almost two-thirds of respondents reporting some sort of negative reaction, like anger or anxiety, while food shopping.

The comments on Abney’s video are telling. One person notes how “everything is getting smaller,” while another points out “$20 is the new $5,” and one simply states: “I can barely afford to think.”

While the food inflation index is improving (slowly), you can manage your costs by substituting brand-name foods and items with generic ones and cooking food from scratch rather than buying ready-made meals. Also, consider using a cash-back credit card to earn rewards on your purchases.

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Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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