Families across America are cutting back on everything from summer vacations to restaurant treats and trips to the hair salon as they face the highest inflation rates seen in 40 years and punishing prices at gas pumps and grocery store checkouts.
DailyMail.com spoke to householders across the country to find out how they are managing with inflation at 9.1 per cent – and prices of grain, meat, transport and petrol still high.
A family of five in Maryland cancels pizza parlor outings, a New Jersey couple misses their monthly filet mignon treat and an Idaho family of four plans to raise chickens and leave their SUV idling in the driveway. Meanwhile, a California couple vacationed with relatives on the East Coast this year instead of jetting off on another trip to Spain.
Some blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for the inflation. Others pointed to the ebbing coronavirus pandemic, the supply chain snarl-up and the fighting in Ukraine bringing the global economy to a standstill.
With another interest rate hike likely, more than three-quarters of Americans expect the financial crisis to last until the end of the year, according to a survey by financial services firm Primerica.
About three-quarters are cutting back on restaurants and takeout, about half are cutting back on groceries and 42 percent are pushing back on retirement plans, according to the study of 1,384 adults with household incomes between $30-$100K.
Here’s how families across America are managing the crisis:
Gas prices make trips to softball away games too expensive for 18-year-old Idaho twins
Jennifer Liebrum’s family has had to cut back on long-distance driving across Idaho, which means softball away games are in the rearview mirror for 18-year-old twins Devon and Gracie.
Jennifer Liebrum, 56, of Bellevue, Idaho, who works with special needs children, and husband Tyler Peterson, 51, a farrier, enjoyed driving their twin 18-year-old daughters, Devon and Gracie, around the area for softball games.
Sports vacation travel ended when the cost of a full tank of gas jumped from $70 to $160. Their household income is $50,000-$100,000.
‘They canceled the team, because we weren’t the only ones in trouble,’ said Liebram.
An SUV is now idling in the driveway. Families are increasingly walking and cycling in an effort to ‘get through this crisis,’ she added.
Groceries used to cost $100 a week, but a recent shipment of a two-day supply was $170 – prices that made Libram feel like he was ‘going to a jewelry store’.
Even driving 60 miles to the nearest Costco to load up on more affordable products stopped making sense because of gas prices.
‘We’re thinking of bringing back chicken, which I hate,’ she joked.
‘We are preparing to bring two girls to life. And now those savings are for survival.’
They are the sixth generation to live in the valley and ‘part of the pioneering group that established this place’, Libram said.
Billionaires like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates descend on the region each year in private jets for the nearby Sun Valley conference, a networking extravaganza for tech and media moguls.
Once a month filet mignon treats are out for a New Jersey family
Thomas Crowell’s New Jersey family is struggling with inflation and the couple’s retirement plans have been pushed back, but the wedding of son Connor, 25, at the end of the year is a highlight on the calendar.
Thomas Crowell, a 58-year-old benefits consultant from Forked River, New Jersey, says he has ‘cut back on splurges’ like the delicious filet mignon stakes that he and his wife Chris, 57, an administrative manager, used to enjoy each month.
Even excluding meat and poultry, a weekly grocery bill of $250 has ballooned to “well over” $300, and filling up the gas tank has gone from $45 to $70, Crowell said. Household income is between $100,000-$150,000.
Their son Jack, 21, lives at home, but Connor, 25, has moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and is getting married later this year.
The Florida and Caribbean vacations the family once enjoyed are in the rearview mirror.
‘We used to go to mom and pop restaurants three times a week, we’ve cut back on that,’ Crowell said.
Worse, the couple’s retirement savings have been ‘eaten up’ as stock prices have ‘crushed,’ Crowell said.
“We don’t know how long or how deep this recession will be,” he said.
‘When will it be possible for us to retire?’
The country is “paying the price” for early overspending in the Biden administration, he added.
A California couple switches European vacations for relatives on the East Coast
Megan Aaron, 36, struggles to pay for gas, food and daycare for two-year-old daughter Harper, but the family is still ‘lucky’ to be able to make their rent and put food on the table.
Megan Aaron, 36, a theater worker from Los Angeles, California, husband Tim, 43, a paralegal, and daughter Harper, two, didn’t have expensive vacations to Spain or Mexico this year.
Instead, the family vacation was at a relative’s house in Massachusetts.
Weekly grocery bills have jumped from $170 to $220 and gas prices in California are among the highest in the country.
For Harper, daycare at $1,400 per month would greatly benefit a household income of $100,000-$150,000.
To make ends meet, Aaron is more careful with leftovers. She visits her hairstylist less often and has gone back to her natural brunette locks without highlights to save cash.
‘It was really challenging,’ Aaron said.
‘Cutting out the luxuries we can no longer afford.’
Downsizing to a car has been ‘logistically challenging’, she added, but the biggest problem is how the volatile economy makes it difficult to buy a home and plan for the future.
‘We are very lucky that we are able to afford our rent, daycare and major expenses. We’re not afraid of being homeless or not being able to put food on the table,’ she said.
‘But it makes our lives a bit uncomfortable.’
Trips to the pizza parlor took off as the Maryland family hunkered down for months of belt-tightening
Summer camp for 11-year-old twins Danila and Natalya Neubauer and their families was canceled this year. Instead of going abroad for summer vacation, the Neubauers spent a week on the Delaware shore.
Sigurd Neubauer, 41, an online publisher from Maryland, his 45-year-old doctor wife, his 11-year-old twins Daniela and Natalya, and son Cyrus were hit with the first blow of the financial crisis during a family trip to a pizza parlor. Four.
The Twins had to skip summer camp this year because the prices ‘rocked through the roof,’ Neubauer said. Household income is $100,000-$150,000.
Average camping costs have more than doubled to $178 a day from about $76 last year — putting them out of reach for many Americans.
International travel was off this year, and summer vacation was spent on a beach in Delaware for a week.
The father of three is skipping his morning trips to Starbucks and making coffee at home instead.
Both mom and dad drive hybrid cars, which means a full tank went from about $25 to $40.
While cutting back on restaurants, the family has focused on healthy activities like tennis and swimming.
“This economy is going to be with us for a long time,” Neubauer said.
He blames inflation on geopolitics and rising global food prices and other ‘structural problems that every US president has to deal with’.
Inflation in the United States rose to 9.1 percent in June, the highest since 1981 and above economist forecasts.
President Joe Biden (pictured in Israel on Wednesday) called rising inflation ‘unacceptably high’, but said prices were falling and tackling inflation was now his top priority.