Blame Recurring Services for Americans Feeling Poorer

It’s not the trucks. If Americans feel poorer, it’s because an increasing share of income is spent on various recurring services or upkeeps, such as:

Hidden forms of inflation, on top of CPI-inflation, such as tip-inflation, shrinkflation, ‘enshittification’, planned obsolescence, etc. Restaurants and brands imperceptibly cut back on quantity, whilst keeping the packaging size unchanged and raise prices.

Everything-as-a-service, which are also notoriously hard to cancel, or people forgetting to cancel. In the mid 2010s’ and especially post-Covid, companies figured out they can make more money by charging less for the actual product, or even giving it away, and then requiring a recurring fee to unlock its functionality.

This is why VPNs and web hosting companies (e.g. Wix, Squarespace, and NordVPN) spend so much on advertising, because of people forgetting to cancel or not using it. The price is low, so people are more inclined to forget to cancel or dispute the charge if overbilled. It’s similar to gym memberships, cable TV, or AOL, but in respect to almost everything in life now.

Or upkeeps in the form of insurance, healthcare, tuition, car payments, credit card bills, etc.–all or most of which have outpaced CPI-based inflation. Services such as Uber Eats and Door Dash can get very expensive. The nickeled-and-dimed metaphor really does ring true here.