It’s not your imagination. You really are being asked to pay like never before for everyday expenses.
Such as …
New American Cars. The average prices paid for many vehicles made by the likes of Buick, Chevrolet, and Chrysler have risen 20%, even over 30% from a few years back. Why? Not only are sticker prices higher, car manufacturer incentives and rebates have dried up.
Used Cars. The obvious alternative to a new car—a used model—may not be the solution. For those willing to forego that magical new car smell, buying used has been a way to let someone else take the depreciation hit related to the purchase of a brand-new vehicle. But used cars aren’t quite as cheap as they used to be: For example, a 2008 Chevy Impala with 45,000 miles on it was selling for $13,101 in April 2010, but $13,460 in April of 2011. Since January, used car prices have risen 20%, and a three-year-old Ford Explorer currently selling for a bit over $14K, on average, was selling for half that amount in 2007.
Gas. We haven’t reached all-time highs quite yet, but it’s getting close, and there’s indication that in the long run, gas prices will be closer to $5 than $3 a gallon in the U.S. When asked why they think gas prices are rising, American consumers point most often to two main reasons that have nothing to do with the state of the economy: war and greedy oil companies.
Fuel Surcharges. When gas prices go up, so do the costs paid by consumers for goods and services that depend heavily on fuel. This list includes everything from shipping to dry cleaning, flights to food delivery.
Coffee. Human fuel—a.k.a., java, Joe, coffee—is also reaching historic highs, with cost of a cuppa rising as much as 20¢ over the past few weeks.
Rent. For decades, the recommendation is that renters spend somewhere around 25% or less of their income on housing. Today, more than half pay over 30% of household income on rent and utilities.
Health Care. With each year and each premium increase comes a new all-time high. Add this to the roster of disturbing health care statistics: In 2011, the average total cost of health care for a family of four insured through an employer is $19,393, up $1,319 (7%) from last year.