Brace yourself for sticker shock this fall! Here are five common expenses that are on the rise, and tips for minimizing the monetary bite.
You’ve likely seen the headlines: expect hikes this this fall on everything from oranges, bacon and milk to cheese, butter, chocolate and more.
What to do: Start by clipping coupons — studies show that the average family can save up to $1,000 per year. Also give generic brands and private labels a try. A family that spends $100 per week on groceries could save up to $1,500 annually with this strategy, according to Consumer Reports. Finally, buy alternatives such as turkey bacon instead of bacon, and margarine instead of butter.
Did you know that the average cost of a domestic round-trip ticket reached about $510 in the first half of 2014? And that doesn’t include extra fees such as checked luggage, fast-track security lines, early boarding, additional legroom and other perks that can add from $9 to $299 to the cost of a flight.
What to do: While some “gotcha” charges are unavoidable, airline-affiliated credit cards that offer benefits such as discounts on in-flight entertainment, meals and more can translate into big savings. You should also buy your ticket about six weeks in advance for the biggest savings.
As the economy recovers, apparel demand is rising, yet supplies are tight. Plus, we’ve been up against some of the worst weather patterns since the 1930s, and cotton crops have been totally destroyed. Given that nearly three-quarters of all garments sold in the United States contain cotton, prices have risen — up about 5-8 percent this year — and are expected to continue increasing.
What to do: Shop consignment, and dig deep into your own closets — and even your friends’ closets. Clothing swaps are big right now. They’re a great way to declutter your closet and update your wardrobe, all while hanging out with your favorite people.
Not only are prices on the rise, but so are mortgage rates. Zillow’s chief economist, Stan Humphries, predicts rates will rise from their current level of just below 4 percent to 5 percent by the end of 2015.
What to do: If you’re on the fence about buying a home, think about entering the market sooner rather than later. After all, waiting can be costly. Even a small, 1-percent increase in rates reduces your purchasing power by a whopping 11 percent.
To put this into further perspective: if you could afford a loan of $400,000 at a rate of 4 percent, an increase to 5 percent would mean you could afford a loan of just $356,000.
While electricity rates vary widely from one state to the next, the reality is that due to more stringent regulation and other factors, they’ve been rising just about everywhere over the past decade, jumping by the double digits in many states, even after accounting for inflation.
And there’s no end in sight. In fact, National Grid recently warned its customers that they should expect their electricity bills to be as much as 37 percent higher than last year – starting in November.
What to do: Your home’s biggest electricity guzzler is air conditioning and heating, accounting for as much as half of your energy bill. Make sure your systems are running at their highest efficiency by having annual professional cleanings and checkups. Schedule a service call now.
In the meantime, become as energy efficient as possible. Steps such as installing programmable thermostats, lowering the temperature when you go to bed, or using a high-efficiency furnace or boiler can reduce your bill by 10-30 percent.