Buyer beware

Posted January 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm

BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks

From time to time, products go up in price. It’s how the world works. But lately, it seems the national news has been feeding us with worry coming into 2013. Here are some of the everyday and luxury items I took note of… Buyer beware!

Meat products. Many people in the Midwest are what society calls the “meat and potatoes” kind of people. You walk into Fareway and the meat department is always busy!

Well, for the vegetarians out there, the increase in meat prices won’t be a problem. On average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts meat prices will go up by 3 to 4 percent this year. Why? Do you remember the drought most of this country endured this past summer?

Due to the drought, corn costs rose dramatically. Corn is used to feed livestock. It’s a domino affect.

Satellite TV. Dish Network customers are living without our local KCRG affiliate. There have also been disagreements between satellite companies and sports channels, most recently involving the Big Ten Network.

Well, it seems those price disputes are going to have satellite customers seeing higher bills this year. Depending on the distributer, customers’ bills will increase anywhere from 4.5 to 8 percent.

Are these channels something you could live without?

Sporting events. Now, I don’t purchase tickets to Major League Baseball events, but for those of you who indulge in this great American pastime, expect to see your ticket fees increase for many of your favorite teams: New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners.

Rather than have spectators buy tickets for select games here and there, the MLB wants to see fans buy season tickets or ticket packages. Hiking up the single ticket price may be a way to accomplish this task.

However, there are some teams (such as the Boston Red Socks and Chicago Cubs) that are not raising ticket costs. So it’s a pick-and-choose kind of game.

Groceries. Aside from hitting the store for meat items, staples such as milk, cheese and eggs are something we can’t live without, even if it means paying more at the register.

The 2008 farm bill was set to expire at the start of the New Year, but Congress did something right by reinstating that bill. While the farm bill keeps the cost of dairy products down, the U.S. Department of Ag is still projecting dairy prices to go up by at least 4 percent this year. Again, more side effects of the drought.

Mail. Many people are taking advantage of automatic payments online these days, but there are still those of us (myself included) who stick to snail mail.

Before the month of January is over, expect to see standard postage go up to 46 cents and postcard costs to hit 33 cents. Shipping costs will increase by about 4 percent as well. The ever-popular priority mail, which many used to send Christmas gifts this holiday season, could go up by as much as 9 percent!

All of this is being linked to the record downturn of the USPS this past year, at almost $16 billion.

Public transportation. Many of us in small town Iowa don’t use public transportation, but for those living in college towns and bigger cities, this popular form of transportation may not be so popular at higher costs.

The Chicago Transit service is looking to raise fees by 120 percent! A monthly pass will go from $80 to $100.

The New York public transportation system, on the other hand, is increasing the cost of a single ticket by just 25 cents.

Taxes. The word is music to our ears. Taxes go up all the time. I doubt we’re shocked by the matter.

Aside from the ever-feared fiscal cliff disaster, employees in general are paying more in taxes, an increase of 2 percent. Depending on how much you make, more will be taken out of your paycheck in taxes.

Smartphones. Depending on the company, some smartphone users will see a jump in the cost of using or purchasing a smartphone.

Value plans (with perks such as unlimited minutes and texting) are going up in cost, as well as special offers. So shop around for the best deal before you buy on impulse.

Cars. If you don’t need that brand new car this year, do without.

Cars for 2013 could go up by as much as $1,000, and more.

While you will pay more for the new model, manufacturers are also adding more features. You pay for what you get. If you want all of the bells and whistles, you’ll pay for it. Is that retractable sunroof and automatic start really worth it?

Healthcare. With taxes rising, it’s no secret healthcare costs are going up as well. No matter how you feel about the “Obama-care” deal, it’s here and employers and employees are literally paying for it.

Analysts project premiums to increase by 6 percent on average. For the employee, healthcare costs could jump by $500 compared to 2012.

With higher healthcare fees, people are postponing trips to their doctor and hospital to avoid the higher bills.