By Naveen Athrappully
As inflation continues to remain elevated, more Americans are finding it difficult to pay their bills, according to a survey by LendingTree.
The survey found that 40 percent of Americans are now less able to afford monthly bills, a slight increase from the more than 38 percent from the same time in 2021. Sixty-two percent found it difficult to pay at least one bill. Fifty-four percent of individuals with a household income of less than $35,000 per year and 42 percent of households earning between $35,000 and $49,000 were struggling to pay bills.
“Unless they’ve been able to increase their income, millions of Americans have had to make sacrifices because of inflation to pay the bills. Perhaps the worst part is that inflation likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That means that short-term quick fixes won’t cut it,” said Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst for LendingTree.
Women were more likely to be struggling with bill payments, with 46 percent admitting to the situation compared to 33 percent of men.
Housing costs were the top issue for Americans, with 18 percent of the respondents struggling to pay their mortgage or rent. While 13 percent were having trouble paying utility bills, 11 percent had difficulty with credit card payments.
Sixty-one percent of Americans who were late in paying their bills during the past six months said they didn’t have enough money to cover the costs. Among those who paid bills late, 46 percent delayed their utility bills; 36 percent delayed their credit card bills; and 34 percent delayed their internet or cable bills.
Compromising on Food, Holiday Shopping Impact
Some Americans are now eating less due to inflation in a bid to provide for their loved ones. In an interview with Fox News, Jesus Montiel from Wyoming said that he is surviving on two cups of ramen noodles a day while his wife Krista also cut down on her food consumption.
“I only eat maximum of one meal and two snacks throughout the day, so I can make sure my daughter has enough food as well to eat at home without putting us in too much of a financial bind,” Krista Montiel said. Jesus Montiel feels the Biden administration “could be doing more” to control food inflation.
In January 2021 when President Joe Biden assumed office, 12-month food inflation was only 3.8 percent according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In August 2022, 12-month food inflation was running at 11.4 percent.
Elevated inflation rates are also expected to affect holiday shopping. A report by Adobe Analytics forecasts online sales between November and December this year to only rise by 2.5 percent compared to the 8.6 percent increase a year ago.
“As the cost of basics like food and gas go up, consumers become much more price-conscious shoppers … and that influences consumers’ plans to wait for discounts and shop a little more vigilantly over the course of the season,” said Taylor Schreiner, senior director for Adobe Digital Insights.