Prices Are Rising in the Wake of the Pandemic: What Consumers Need to Know

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on May 22, 2021

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An upward trending line drawn on a chalkboard with dollar signs under the line.

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The cost of many goods and services is going up. And at a time when so many people's finances are shaky, that's not great news.

Remember the days of paying $5 per roll of toilet paper early on in the pandemic? Well, they may not be behind us. A major lumber shortage is causing everything to rise in price, from new construction homes to toilet paper. And while we may not see the ridiculous price per roll we did back in March of 2020, our personal finances could still be heavily impacted.

In fact, there have been a host of supply chain disruptions in the course of the pandemic that could make a lot of things more expensive in the near term.

There's a shortage of chicken, for example, that's causing restaurants to raise prices, which customers will have to bear. Other agricultural products, like corn, are increasing in price, and since corn is used in a lot of food items, we can expect supermarket bills to increase. Diaper prices have also gone up recently, leaving new parents in the lurch. And let's not ignore the ever-climbing price of gasoline, which may get worse in time for summer, when more people are apt to be on the road.

If you're suddenly finding that a lot of your bills are rising, you're not going crazy -- things really are getting pricier. Here are a couple of ways to cope.

1. Reassess your budget

The cost of common consumer goods may be going up, but paychecks aren't necessarily following suit. While Americans did recently see a round of $1,400 stimulus checks hit their bank accounts, much of that money has already been spent, and if your stimulus is already gone, you may need to adjust your spending to accommodate rising costs.

To this end, it's important to take a look at expenses in your budget to see if there's room to cut back. If it now costs you more money to fill up your car so you can get to work, that's not really a negotiable expense -- you need to show up to work to get paid, and you can't exactly negotiate with gas station attendants to cut you a break.

What you can do, however, is cut back on other expenses to allow for the fact that some essentials are costing more. That could mean canceling your cable package for a bit or buying fewer take-out meals, which are more expensive than groceries.

2. Get a side job

If your income is getting stretched even thinner in light of rising prices, supplementing it with a second job is a smart bet. These days, there are lots of jobs you can do at your own pace (like crafting or web design) and on your own schedule (like driving for a rideshare company), so it pays to see what gig makes the most sense for you.

Also, one thing you should know is that restaurants in particular are desperate for workers. If you can fit some restaurant shifts into your schedule and feel comfortable interacting with customers, it could be a good way to boost your earnings and better keep up with rising prices.

Unfortunately, the pandemic's reach extended to supply chain disruptions that are now making consumers pay more for a host of things. If you're having trouble keeping up, rework your budget and see if it's possible to boost your income. Hopefully, in time, prices will come back down, but this way, you can tide yourself over until that happens.

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