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Heather explains that, in place of olive oil and bread, she now buys the cheapest vegetable oil and has learned to bake bread.

Hard to blame her given the extent to which the cost of food has increased in the past few years. Since 2020, grocery prices have increased by 25%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI).

The price of a 750-milliliter bottle of Bertolli’s extra virgin olive oil increased from $9 in October 2022 to $11 in October 2023 — a nearly 22% increase, according to New York Times reporting on data by IRI (now called Circana). The spike is due in part to a drought in Spain, the world’s largest olive oil producer.

The cost of a loaf of bread hasn’t gotten up as much but still saw a nearly 6% increase from February 2023 ($1.90) to February 2024 ($2.01), according to the CPI.

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Fun presents

In the past, Heather says, she used to take her kids out on a Saturday and get them a toy — just for fun. But now, that’s no longer possible.

Fun is something of a luxury item for many. Even at-home streaming subscriptions have become a splurge: Consumers spend an average of $219 per month on subscription services, whether that be Netflix or clothing delivery, according to a 2022 study by C+R Research.

But there is good news on this front: Reuters reported last year that the 2023 holiday season had some of the lowest toy prices in years.

Do you have to cut everything?

Heather has cut quite a few items out of her budget. Though that’s a good saving technique, it does make life a little dull. Even Heather is frustrated with this austere way of living.

“I’m broke and I’m tired of it,” she says in one of her other videos.

Heather has been trying out various side hustles — taking surveys and enrolling in cash-back programs — to make a few extra bucks.

Indeed, this is a good way to add more cash to your wallet so you can actually enjoy your olive oil or buy your kid a small toy on the weekend.

Many side hustles can be done from home and fit around a full-time job, such as executive assistants, real estate investments or online tutoring.


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About the Author

Sabina Wex

Sabina Wex


Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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