15 Things That Shouldn’t Cost As Much As They Do

Sam Mire


These days, it seems like everything costs more than it should. Household debt rose by $184 billion in Q1 2024, signaling that rising prices are pushing more and more Americans further from financial freedom—or even solvency. Surveying the landscape of increasing prices, some disparities between items’ and services’ costs and values are more glaring than most. 

With everyone looking to save money and fight the insidious effects of inflation, it is helpful to know where the biggest rip-offs lie. While you may be unable to avoid paying for some of these low-value items and services, do your best to find the least bad deal. 

1. Fast Food

fast food workers
credit: depositphotos

No longer does the “value menu” mean “value menu.” Fast food has been a financial shelter (albeit one that often delivers adverse health outcomes) for the poor and penny-pinching populace. 

Yet, fast food prices are outpacing the overall rate of inflation. Whether you prefer Cheesy Gordita Crunches to Big Macs, your guilty pleasure (or former meal of economic necessity) is no longer a bargain or even particularly affordable.

2. Your Sweet Tooth

candy bars
credit: depositphotos

Inflationary trends keep signaling that it’s finally time to start that health kick. Sugar, in particular, is one of the fastest-appreciating assets in the world.

The cost of sugar rose by at least 40% in 2023. The price is slated to increase another 20% in 2024. El Nino damaging crops in Asia didn’t help, but it’s just one of the endless excuses consumers are hearing for the rising cost of everything. Stevia, anyone?

3. Housing

home renovations
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Opinions vary on whether the remainder of 2024 and beyond will see a cooling in the red-hot housing market. Lord knows buyers and renters could use one.

Because the demand for housing continues to outpace supply, buyers, and renters will likely continue to pay a premium to keep a roof over their heads. A tent has never looked so spacious or financially practical. 

4. Vehicle Repairs

Man repairing car
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It may cost you more to purchase a vehicle than it should, but you’ll also pay through the nose for oil changes, brake replacements, and auto body repairs. 

The cost of vehicle repairs rose by 20% between July 2022 and July 2023. Analysts attribute this above-average inflation to a shortage of workers in the sector and a shortfall of vehicle parts. 

5. Being a Disney Fan

Disney timeshares

It’s getting tough to feel the Disney magic these days. They’re renaming “It’s a Small World” to “It’s an Expensive World” soon. OK, that’s not true (as far as we know), but it is true that a one-day visit to Disney World in peak season costs 47% more today than it did in 2019.

Tack on price hikes for individual restaurants and merchandise in the parks, and it’s increasingly apparent that Mickey Mouse is one price-gouging rat.

6. Concerts

Enjoying concert
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Call it the Taylor Swift effect if you’d like, but it’s more likely the Fed and fiscal policy effect driving a surge in concert ticket prices.

Prices for concert tickets have risen in developed nations from the USA to Canada and England, where they are high and the secondary market commands as much as 100% the original ticket price. Authorities warn that the cost of seeing top acts will not become any more affordable until 2024.

7. Streaming

Credit: Depositphotos

Remember when the entertainment industry’s transition to the streaming model was hailed as an affordable, personalized alternative to cable? 

Cable-cutting now seems like a Trojan horse that prompted the Balkanization of our media options. 2023 accelerated the trend of streaming services raising their rates substantially, with Netflix setting the market pace. The crackdown on account sharing has only made the price leap more dramatic.  

8. Pools

Swimming pools
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The cost of installing an in-ground pool rose by about 30% between 2020 and 2022. The ongoing upward pressure on material and labor costs means installing a pool is not markedly more affordable than at post-pandemic highs.

Is there a nearby pond you could cool off in? For most, the economics of building a pool don’t add up at a time when many are cutting back.

9. Fido’s Food

Man with dog
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Between March 2022 and March 2023, the cost of kibble leapt by 14.4%. Some dog owners saw an even greater price hike, and the trend has only continued. Dog food sellers are seeing massive revenue from food sales and admit that inflated prices are largely to credit.

Everything is costing more, including on the producers’ side. Yet, while the never-ending money printing is driving inflation, the consumer can’t know if dog food manufacturers are charging far more than they need to. We suspect they are.

10. Boats

Island murano in Venice Italy. View on canal with boat and motorboat water. Picturesque landscape.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It’s a bit surprising that demand for boats has surged when many households are struggling to pay for bare necessities, but that’s the case. This is one reason for articles titled “Will boat prices ever come down?”

Both used, and new boat prices have shown a sustained price hike. Perhaps renting a vessel for a day on the lake is more financially prudent than buying your own. 

11. Used Cars

Renting car
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In mid-2023, news outlets reported that used car prices were “surging” and that now might be the time to buy. This appeared premature, as prices for used vehicles largely fell through the remainder of 2023.

However, trends show a resurgent uptick in the cost of buying used cars, trucks, and SUVs. The sizable inflation in post-pandemic used vehicle prices and a renewed upward surge means you must be discerning when browsing Car’s Used Car Emporium lot. 

12. Home Renovations

home renovations
credit: depositphotos

Many Americans have tried to fight inflation by investing in tangible assets, including their homes. However, those homeowners have paid a premium for the investment.

As of mid-2023, the cost of bricks had risen by 25%, and that is hardly the exception in the construction industry. A worker shortage and the rising price of everything have contributed to a near doubling in the cost of renovation jobs in the past few years.

13. Sporting Events

Sports Stadiums
credit: depositphotos

Linguistically, creative economists have called the price surge for entertainment events “funflation.” That’s right, you can’t even have fun without paying more than you should.

In late 2023, the cost of attending sporting events had increased by 25% from the previous year. Professional sporting leagues aren’t known for prioritizing the consumer’s financial well-being (see $25 beers and marked-up merchandise as evidence), so we shouldn’t expect that Chiefs-Ravens game to be any less costly in 2024 or beyond.

14. Getting a Buzz

Friends drinking beer
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Some have referred to it as booze-inflation, while others might call it the rising cost of having a good time. Whatever you want to call it, the cost of adult beverages is rising faster than your blood alcohol concentration at Oktoberfest.

While alcohol has seen a steady rise in price over the years (as with everything), that trend accelerated in 2020. Except Bud Light, you’re paying more than you should to catch a buzz. Those with less money to spare appear to be cutting out the booze altogether.

15. Auto Insurance

Woman driving car
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

For many, insurance policies generally mean more money paid in than paid out. This has never been more true for vehicle owners suffering a sustained 22.6% year-over-year cost increase.

You can shop around for more favorable rates. You’ll likely find that Progressive, GEICO, and the other insurers are on the same page regarding charging more than you deserve to pay.

16 Things to Cut From Your Budget To Help You Save a Couple Thousand

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Could you use a couple of thousand dollars in your bank account to pay bills or build a nest egg? Most would say yes. Saving that kind of money may seem daunting, but it’s easier than you realize. You probably spend money each day on things that are nice to have but that you don’t need. It may seem like a few dollars here and there, but those dollars add up over time. Reducing or cutting these things out of your budget quickly adds to big savings.  

16 Things to Cut From Your Budget To Help You Save a Couple Thousand

15 Items Surging Under the Effect of Inflation

Couples budgeting
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A cognitive disconnect exists between official inflation figures and consumers’ shriveling bank accounts. While the Consumer Price Index (CPI) reported a 3.5% rise in the cost of goods and services between March 2023 and March 2024, many suspect some numbers-cooking is making that figure appear as low as possible.

15 Items Surging Under the Effect of Inflation

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