How to Adjust Your Budget as Start-Up Subsidies Disappear

Ghosting isn’t just for dating apps anymore.

Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, DoorDash, Grubhub, and the like are leaving you hanging like that guy on Bumble who talked to you for three months then stopped responding out of nowhere before even getting a chance to not like you IRL. These apps aren’t going anywhere, of course, but their prices and fees are rising faster than the temperatures in Death Valley.

According to research by Rakuten Intelligence, Uber and Lyft prices were 40% higher in April 2021 than they were a year earlier.

Even in the before times, delivery apps would cost you a pretty penny: New York Times analysis found in February 2020 that a Subway order could see a markup of up to 91% on a food delivery app compared with the price in the restaurant. But food delivery apps have increased their fees steadily since last year.

These affordable, sometimes too-good-to-be-true experiences—dubbed the Millennial Lifestyle Subsidy by New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose—helped today’s 25- to 40-year-olds live above their means in some ways for nearly a decade. But now these start-ups that have offered convenient pseudo-luxury lifestyle experiences at a relatively low cost are trying to, you know, actually be profitable.

With these price increases likely here to stay, how can you adjust your budget to keep these apps among your most used?

Don’t spend it all in one place

It’s OK to splurge now and then, but it shouldn’t be a regular thing. It’s important to find a balance. If you go all out on a fancy dinner, take the train to and from the restaurant rather than dropping even more on a ride-hailing service.

If you factor splurges into your budget, rather than pulling a “put it on my tab” impulse purchase, you can avoid slipping into the ol’ debt cycle.

If you’re already deep in debt and trying to climb out of the hole, consolidating your debt can go a long way toward digging you out. Debt consolidation loans allow you to combine multiple debts into one monthly payment, presumably with a lower interest rate.

Use a budgeting app

The thought of creating a budget and sticking to it might seem intimidating and overwhelming, but budgeting apps can help ease some of that anxiety.

Products like Mint allow you to link your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, and property to help track your spending and evaluate your net worth.

More than one-third of people say they miss credit card payments because they simply forgot. That’s a more common reason for missing a payment than not having the funds to pay the bill. Budgeting apps also can serve as a reminder to pay your bills.

Track your spending over time

If you’re *waxxed and vaxxed*, your spending probably is significantly different now than it was last summer. You might’ve been more conservative with your spending and maybe you even stayed within a defined budget in 2020 (what a concept!).

If you’ve thrown caution to the wind more recently with FOMO kicking back in, take a step back and reevaluate your budget. Make sure you’re bringing in more than you’re spending and covering the costs of your needs before your wants.

After all, we could all use a little chaaaaange.


-Rakuten Intelligence

-New York Times

By Casey Musarra

Casey Musarra is a personal finance writer with over a decade of writing experience and a credit score hovering near 800. She has written several hundred articles on topics ranging from taxes to debt-free living. Previous bylines include and

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