Everything has a high price. Why Is It So Difficult to Afford Basic Goods and Services?

Everything has a high price. Why Is It So Difficult to Afford Basic Goods and Services?


Inflation is not the only factor contributing to the rising cost of living.

For my So Money podcast, a part of the CNET Money series Priced Out: Coping With the High Cost of Living in America, I spoke with four experts to discover more about the causes of the current economic instability that too many US households experiences.

Even while recent inflation has made things worse, the fundamental problems that compel millions of families to live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay for necessities like housing and healthcare are long-standing and essentially systemic.

The failure of lower and middle class families to achieve financial stability and security becomes a hurdle in their path to achieving other goals including saving, investing, retirement planning, furthering their education, and taking part in cultural or recreational activities.

These audio episodes and the Priced Out feature series on CNET Money discuss how actual individuals are coping, finding innovative solutions, and turning to their communities for support. We also discuss the fundamental policy adjustments that must be made as well as the necessary instruments and sources for navigating a dynamic economic environment.

money, health, and medication

I began the conversations by introducing Emily Maloney, the author of Cost of Living, a collection of writings about her life experience dealing with sickness, money, and medication, from the perspectives of a patient and a professional—an EMT, an emergency room tech, and a drug rep. She spoke on her experiences as a survivor of the challenges many Americans encounter when accessing the healthcare system and provided necessary guidance that can help us avoid unnecessary costs and worry.

calculating the cost of gig employment in terms of money

We then look at the dangers of gig labor. Even while the gig economy is marketed as a way to work, for the many contractors who work for Uber, TaskRabbit, and other businesses, it falls short of offering essential protections and adequate compensation. Business and a healthy work-life balance. Hustle and Gig author Alexandrea Ravenelle, an associate professor of sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill, joined the discussion to highlight the erratic nature of gig labor for millennials by discussing their own experiences.

What the inflation statistics conceal

What’s the most accurate way to assess today’s cost of living? Why don’t reliable statistics like the unemployment rate and consumer price index accurately reflect the current state of the economy? Former comptroller of the currency and current head of the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity, Gene Ludwig, was my company. We discussed his alternative metric, the True Living Cost, or TLC, which takes into account housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, technology, and other ancillary costs to provide a more accurate picture of the struggles that families earning below the median income and those making less than the median income face.

Why the middle class is suffering

Alissa Quart, a multi-published author, expressed her final thoughts after years of covering financial struggle. Why It Is Unaffordable for Our Families: Squeezed America is Quart’s best-known composition. We discussed the “middle precariat,” a group of professionals from the middle classes who are having trouble with their debt, their employment, or their money. We talk about inequality, how pressure is put on younger generations, and how to work for a better future.

Priced Out: Managing America’s High Cost of Living

For additional information, check out all the articles in CNET Money’s Priced Out series.

  • Many Americans struggle to pay for their prescription medications. Next, what?
  • Eldercare is Expensive and Taxing on Families’ Emotions
  • Food cost increases aren’t indicating a slowdown. Here Are Some Ways Communities Are Intervening
  • It Should Not Be This Expensive to Have a Baby. What Parents Are Doing
  • Due to the rising cost of child care, parents are being pushed to make challenging decisions.
  • The cost of housing is intolerable. How Americans Who Own Homes and Renters Are Adjusting
  • Military Families Are Dealing With A Housing Crisis Of Their Own. How They Manage to Get By
  • Why Medical Care Is Too Expensive: How Patients Can Advocate for Lower Prices
  • How Patients Can Advocate for Lower Prices: Reasons Why Medical Care Is Too Expensive