Eggs, electricity and eating out: How elevated prices compare to Empower spend data

Eggs, electricity and eating out: How elevated prices compare to Empower spend data  


Across news reports, social media and the dinner table, inflation has been at the forefront of consumers’ minds lately; two-thirds of Americans say their income isn’t keeping up with inflation, according to Empower research. Recent government data mirrors that reality and shows that high prices are no illusion. 

Enter the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index data, which measures the average difference in prices across various goods and services that a household would buy, over time. It’s a common indicator that economists and consumers alike can use keep a pulse on how the cost of living has been shifting. 

According to the most recent data,1 the grocery store is a prime spot where you’ll see price changes. For instance: 

  • The cost of a dozen eggs last month rose to $2.52, a drop of more than 62% compared to a record high of $4.82 per dozen in January 2023. 
  • However, that figure has been steadily rising due to challenges in the supply chain of producing eggsand retailers trying to adjust shelf prices with the ongoing demand. 

Even if shoppers didn’t snag a costly carton, they still found enough to replenish their fridges: People spent an average of $588 in January on groceries, according to anonymized Empower Personal DashboardTM data. For those who added some splash to their carts, soda and other nonalcoholic beverages came with an added pop, with prices rising 3.4% compared with a year ago. 

Here are a few other spending categories that may be taking a bite out of your budget. 

It’s electrifying 

With about half of Americans having planned holiday travel this past season, those returning home may have felt a chill after recharging from their time away. Government data shows how the price of electricity continued climbing higher in January, notching a 3.8% jump over last year. The United States has the highest electricity use on a per-capita basis of all major economies -- with each person using 12.87 megawatt hours3 of electricity annually. If you’re seeing a continued uptick in your power bill, you may need to re-evaluate your budget as energy costs (a variable expense) take up more space. 

What’s for dinner? 

Eating out can also be eating into your budget. It’s increasingly becoming a mainstay in daily life, with Americans now dining out for around 20% of their meals, according to Empower research. The economic data notes that the cost of food away from home rose 5.1% since January 2023. The study found people have an average weekly food budget of $145, so a shift in prices can impact a takeout or restaurant experience meant for convenience or entertainment. 

The road less traveled 

Gas prices have been a bumpy road over the past year, though drivers are seeing some relief at the pump. The price of a gallon of unleaded gas clocked in at $3.22 in January, continuing a steady decline from last year’s high of $3.99 in September. In January, Empower Personal DashboardTM users also saw a drop in their gas and fuel spending, with an average of $190, marking a 3.1% drop from the year prior. 

The bottom line 

It’s good to keep your eyes open and see wider trends in the economy, and paying attention can bring the focus to your personal finances. While consumers don’t hold the keys on macroeconomic factors, you can unlock ways to stay financially healthy. A second pass at calculating your monthly budget and considering your household goals could help you feel in control in an ever-changing financial world. 

Get the scoop on your money.

Stay current on planning, saving, and investing for life.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Consumer Price Index.” February 2024.  

2 CNBC. “Egg prices are on the rise again. Here’s why.” January 2024. 

3 Reuters. “World can't afford US-style home energy consumption habits.” May 2023. 


The Currency editors

Staff contributors

The CurrencyTM, a publication from Empower, covers the latest financial news and views shaping how we live, work, and play. We keep you current on ways to plan, save, and invest for life.

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