10 Common Items That Have Become Unaffordable, And It’d a Disgrace

From backyard gardens to breakfast tables, the cost of everyday items is on the rise, impacting everything from streaming services to snacks. As prices climb, Americans are reevaluating what essentials like organic milk, home-delivered meals, and even a simple frozen pizza are worth in their daily lives. Here are 10 items that are shamefully unaffordable to average consumers.

Olive Oil

Olive oil, a kitchen staple, has seen prices soar recently, nearly doubling. Beloved for its role in cooking and dressing salads, it’s also essential for healthy Mediterranean recipes. Its popularity stems from its originality and health benefits, making it a must-have. However, people can no longer afford it.

Streaming Services

Streaming services’ costs are climbing as viewers ditch cable. Each platform’s unique offerings force fans to juggle multiple subscriptions. This fragmentation means more expense for those chasing their favorite shows across various services, turning what was once a cheaper alternative into a pricey necessity that is out of reach.

Lumber

Soaring lumber prices are turning DIY backyard projects like raised garden beds into luxury items. Once a cost-effective way to grow veggies, building three simple beds now attracts a $1,000 price tag, often more than the produce itself. Yet, gardening does offer stress relief and fresh air benefits.

Potato Chips

Chip prices are crunching wallets, with regular bags nearing $5 and family sizes at almost $7. Ironically, today’s “family size” matches what was once standard. In America, chips are not just snacks but cultural icons at parties, picnics, and game nights, integral to casual fun.

Christmas Tree

Sky-high prices are pushing holiday enthusiasts from real to artificial trees. Natural trees, once a must-have holiday item, offer an authentic, pine-scented ambiance that many cherish. Their texture and fresh scent evoke nostalgia, making them the preferred choice for living the festive spirit.

Eggs

Egg prices have continued on an upward trend since the bird flu spike, but their nutritional punch keeps demand strong. Packed with protein, vitamins, and essential minerals, eggs are a breakfast favorite. Their versatility and health benefits ensure they’re valued more than many other staple foods.

Home Delivery Food

Home delivery has woven itself into the fabric of American dining, offering convenience at a steep price. A $10 fast food meal easily triples with delivery fees, excluding tips. While many opted for the ease of meals delivered straight to their doors, the costs are pushing them away from it.

Cereals

Cereal, the standard American breakfast, faces rising costs, even among usually budget-friendly store brands. No longer the bargain it once was, cereal remains a morning ritual for many. It’s been cherished for its quick, effortless prep and variety, but its spot at breakfast tables nationwide is threatened.

Organic Milk

Organic milk’s appeal lies in its purity and nutritional edge, often containing more omega-3s and antioxidants. Despite a $2 price hike, its production without synthetic hormones or pesticides keeps it in high demand. For health-conscious consumers, it remains a top pantry choice that is no longer within their wallet’s reach.

Frozen Pizza

Frozen pizza, a go-to for quick American dinners, is nearing a $10 price tag, sparking outrage. Even as costs climb, the appeal of a ready-to-bake pie straight from the freezer endures. It’s the convenience and variety that kept it a favorite for the longest time until the prices went up.

10 Ways Billionaires Avoid Taxes That Would Land the Average Person in Jail

Taxes might be an inevitable certainty for most of us, but for the ultra-wealthy, hefty tax bills are anything but. There are some truly ingenious and often controversial methods billionaires employ to minimize their tax obligations, from clever stock strategies to exploiting legal loopholes. Each of these revelations not only showcases their financial acumen but also sparks debates about the tax system’s fairness.

The Ultra Wealth Effect

Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, and Jeff Bezos have famously minimized their tax liabilities through a strategic non-sale of their stock holdings. The key is the U.S. tax system’s focus on taxing income, not wealth. By not selling their stocks, these billionaires avoid creating taxable income, meanwhile accessing their fortunes through loans, which are not taxed. Buffett advocates for his wealth to benefit charity, emphasizing his adherence to the law, while Musk’s response is cryptically minimal.

The $5 Billion IRA

Peter Thiel’s approach involves a Roth IRA—initially designed to aid average Americans in saving for retirement—where he parked undervalued PayPal shares in 1999. This account has since ballooned to $5 billion, shielded from taxes. The maneuver, skirting the edges of IRS regulations, highlights the potential for immense tax-free gains, raising questions about the intended use of such retirement accounts.

The $1 Billion Parlor Trick

Jeff Yass of Susquehanna International Group maneuvers to convert short-term trading gains, which are taxed higher, into more favorable long-term investment returns. This strategy has reportedly saved his firm over $1 billion in taxes over six years, underscoring the lengths to which some will go to reduce their tax rates, all within the bounds of the law.

The Magic of Sports Ownership

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer leverages the ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers to his tax advantage. Despite the team’s profitability, tax rules allow for deductions akin to depreciating equipment, thereby diminishing reported income. Interestingly, such strategies result in much lower tax rates for owners compared to their players or even stadium staff, highlighting a stark contrast in tax burden distribution.

The Real Estate and Oil Businesses Can Both Be Tax Havens

Stephen Ross, a real estate mogul and owner of the Miami Dolphins, and an unnamed oil tycoon utilize industry-specific tax breaks to nearly erase their taxable income while continuing to enrich their portfolios. These sectors offer vast opportunities for legally avoiding taxes, from depreciation to specific write-offs related to operational losses.

Even a Billionaire’s Hobbies Can Pay Off at Tax Time

From thoroughbred racehorses to luxury hotels, the ultrawealthy turn their leisure pursuits into tax-saving ventures. Owners of top racehorses and billionaires like Ty Warner, who invested in iconic hotels, benefit from massive tax deductions that often lead to years without paying federal income taxes.

Taxes Too High? Change the Tax Laws

Some billionaires go a step further by influencing tax legislation. Major contributions to political campaigns have led to substantial tax cuts, notably the “big, beautiful tax cut” for passthrough businesses, significantly reducing the tax liabilities for the ultrawealthy, proving that policy changes can be a powerful tool in wealth preservation.

Why Tech Billionaires Pay Less Than Hedge-Fund Managers

The disparity in tax rates among the rich is also influenced by the nature of their income. Tech billionaires, benefiting from long-term capital gains tax rates, tend to pay less compared to other high earners like hedge fund managers, who often receive income taxed at higher rates. This differentiation in tax treatment underscores the complexities and inequities of the system.

Brother, Can You Spare a Stimulus Check?

Ironically, some billionaires reported incomes low enough to qualify them for government stimulus checks during the 2020 pandemic relief efforts. This paradox highlights the extreme measures some take to reduce their taxable income, at times positioning them among the economically needy on paper.

How Wealthy Families Pass Billions to Heirs While Avoiding Taxes

The estate tax, intended to affect only the wealthiest, often misses its mark due to trusts and other estate-planning tools that shield vast fortunes from taxation. This practice allows wealth to be transferred across generations without significant tax penalties, perpetuating wealth disparities and raising questions about the effectiveness of current tax policies in addressing inequality.

How You Might Need to Adjust Your Retirement Plan in 2024

You’ve diligently saved for retirement, following all the “golden rules.” But then, 2024 hits. Inflation skyrockets (reaching a staggering 7.5% in early 2023!), and suddenly, your carefully crafted plan feels a little, well, wobbly. Don’t panic! The good news is that you can still secure your golden years with some smart adjustments. Here are 14 crucial changes to consider for your 2024 retirement plan, keeping inflation and the ever-evolving economic landscape in mind:

Rethink Your Retirement Age

Traditionally, the retirement age hovered around 65. However, with rising healthcare costs and inflation, some people might need to delay retirement to accumulate a larger nest egg. A 2023 Pew Research Center survey revealed that 23% of Americans aged 65 and older are still working – a trend likely to continue as people adjust to economic realities. Consider if working a few extra years aligns with your overall retirement goals.

Social Security Benefits Delay

Social Security benefits can be a crucial source of income in retirement. However, claiming benefits too early can significantly reduce your monthly payout. The Social Security Administration offers a handy online tool to estimate your benefits based on your claimed age. Delaying Social Security benefits even by a few years can significantly boost your monthly income throughout retirement.

The Housing Hustle

Housing costs are a major chunk of most retiree’s budgets. A 2023 Freddie Mac survey found that the national median home sale price reached a record high of $407,600. If you haven’t already, consider downsizing to a smaller, more affordable home to free up cash for other retirement expenses. Renting your current home and moving to a lower-cost-of-living area could also be an option.

Healthcare Headaches

Medical expenses are a major concern for retirees. A 2023 Fidelity study estimates a healthy 65-year-old couple will need an average of $315,000 to cover healthcare costs in retirement. Review your health insurance options, including Medicare and supplemental plans, to ensure you have adequate coverage and explore ways to minimize future healthcare costs.

Side Hustles

The traditional idea of “retiring” might be evolving. A 2023 AARP survey found that 40% of retirees continue to work in some capacity, often through part-time jobs or freelance gigs. Consider a side hustle to supplement your retirement income and keep yourself active and engaged.

Re-evaluate Those Lattes

That daily coffee habit might seem harmless, but with inflation, every penny counts. A 2023 Charles Schwab survey found that skipping a daily $5 latte and investing it instead, with a 7% annual return, could grow to over $130,000 by retirement! Reallocate those small, daily expenses towards your retirement savings and watch your nest egg grow faster.

The Inflation Matchmaker

Many employers offer matching contributions to your retirement savings. It’s essentially free money! But are you contributing enough to maximize the match? In 2024, the IRS allows contributions of up to $22,500 to a 401(k), with an additional $6,500 catch-up contribution for those over 50—factor in inflation and consider contributing the maximum you can afford to snag the full employer match.

Your Investments Matter

Not all investments are created equal, especially in an inflationary environment. A 2023 study by The Investment Company Institute found that the average expense ratio for actively managed mutual funds is 1.22%. Research low-cost index funds with expense ratios closer to 0.10%. A seemingly small difference in fees can significantly impact your retirement savings, especially when considering the potential erosion of purchasing power by inflation.

Unexpected Emergency Expense Fund

Life throws curveballs. Having a well-funded emergency fund is crucial to avoid dipping into your retirement savings for unexpected expenses. Experts recommend an emergency fund covering 3-6 months of living costs, but with inflation on the rise, consider increasing that buffer to account for rising healthcare costs and other potential emergencies.

Tax-Time Tweaks

Tax implications can significantly impact your retirement income. A 2023 Tax Foundation report highlights the tax code’s complexity, especially for retirees. Consult a tax advisor to ensure you take advantage of all available deductions and tax-friendly retirement accounts to maximize your retirement income.

The Geographic Gamble

Location, location, location! Retirement costs can vary dramatically depending on where you live. A 2023 Bankrate study found Sunbelt states like Florida and Arizona are popular retirement destinations due to lower living costs. Consider relocating to a more affordable area to stretch your retirement dollars further.

Mind Your Debts

Carrying debt into retirement is a heavy burden. Prioritize paying off high-interest debts like credit cards before you retire. The interest payments can eat away at your retirement savings significantly, especially with inflation eroding the value of your dollars.

Digital Dollar Diversification

The world of finance is constantly evolving. Consider a small portfolio allocation towards alternative assets like cryptocurrency or real estate investment trusts (REITs) to hedge against inflation and diversify your holdings. However, approach these investments with caution due to their inherent volatility.

Regular Retirement Reality Checks

Don’t be afraid to revisit your retirement plan regularly. Use online retirement calculators to factor in inflation and adjust your savings goals and withdrawal strategies accordingly. A realistic and adaptable plan will ensure your golden years truly shine.