The High Cost of 2013

New year, fresh start, put the past behind and look ahead.  Unfortunately, the view isn’t all that improved from last year.  In fact, the view from the cliff looks so not like a Cheap Thrill.  Oh, there are predictions:  milk will go to $7/gallon; gas will soon follow that; meat and poultry will be near unaffordable.  Well, let’s just look at what we already know for now.

Have you taken a look at the insert in your M.U.D. bill this month?  Water and sewer combined rates are increasing 25%!  Effective now!  I used their slick, 4-color chart (how much did that cost?) to calculate that based on our usage, our rate goes up that much.  That’s the rate, not the overall bill, so that means that the taxes on that will increase, too, by25%.

The M.U.D. increase is based on usage.  I think with the drought conditions, and from my conversations with lots of people in lots of different areas of the metro, consumers actually made purposeful efforts to conserve, and used less water last year.  So, we used less, but the rate increased, and dramatically.  That flies in the face of “supply and demand.”  Do you think that the rate will ever go down?  M.U.D. is the ONLY water/sewer provider in the metro, unless you have a well — conclude as you will.  (Let me point out that the M.U.D. board is elected, and guess who gets to vote?  We do!)

The price of gas has gone up .10/gallon in the past two weeks, from my own observation (2.97 pump price up to 3.07 yesterday).  You can check out OmahaGasPrices.com for their numbers.  I’m not hearing about this on the news, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  We’ve all heard the drill how to save gas usage ourselves, but that increase will continue to affect everything we buy because of transportation costs.

While predictions are dire for food costs around the corner, I’m still finding great deals on everyday staples at the grocery stores.  All I can do is repeat:  buy and eat seasonally, take advantage of freezers and pantries, and PLEASE consider supporting your local food pantry, such as Project Hope.  (There are lots of families in true need in our very own communities.)  Milk prices are still less than $3/gallon on sale (2.88 this week at Wags or 2.99 at Baker’s).  But I have found that processed foods have really gone up in price.  Repeat:  cook from scratch as much as you can for health and savings.

The pundits and experts are saying (on national news channels) that the price of meat, poultry, eggs and dairy will go up because of the one-two punch of floods and drought.  The wheat and corn crops are down, and “we feed our cattle and chickens corn.”  Ahem.  There are grass-fed options out there, and while they’re usually a bit more expensive, they shouldn’t increase as much as the conventional products if that is the case.  They may actually stabilize the market, I’m thinking.  Keep your eyes open for deals on grass-fed, free-range and local products.

I’m just going to touch on taxes for a bit, because they will greatly affect our financial situations, yet things are still so unsure, no matter what was just voted.  (Realize that the fedgov won’t even have the fed tax code for 2012 finalized until February or March this year; how will we even know how the 2013 decisions will affect us?)  It’s going to be one thing after another, no matter what your income level.  Know that local taxes overall will increase for us (not the rate, but the amount out of pocket).  The higher prices get, the more tax on them, even if the rate stays the same.  Like the water/sewer rates.  The City of Omaha will be seeing an increase in tax revenue, period.  We will do well to keep an eye on those figures, hold officials accountable, and make sure there is no piggyback legislation increasing local taxes in the next couple of years.

These are just some of the ways that 2013 is going to affect us financially.  Knowledge is power, and now we can plan.  Adjust.  Take positive steps to keep our households running and our families fed.

What are you doing differently this year to weather the financial storms upon us?  Leave us a comment.

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