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Budgeting? A Look at Early 2019 Price Increases

Contributed by: Heath Combs

Budgeting_PhotoLast year – in terms of price increases – was a pretty good year for consumers. Companies were unwilling to pass along rising costs, like shipping, to customers. That appears to be coming to an end in 2019. Here's a few that are - or may be - on the horizon. 

Postage

Already some high-percentage increases have hit consumers. A first-class stamp increased on Jan. 27. It now costs $0.55 per stamp, an increase of 10%. If you still mail checks to pay your bills each month you could save a lot of money by having your bills drafted directly from your Truliant Federal Credit Union checking account each month.

Visit a Truliant branch and a representative can help you set up the process. When you add the costs of checks, postage and time, mailing bills is an unnecessary drain on budgets.

In addition to first-class stamps, the United States Postal Service has increased shipping costs across the board, ranging from 3.9% to 5.9%.

Gasoline

With bright red price signs at gas stations, it’s easy to track the ups and downs of gas prices. Several months ago there were gas prices just a shade below $2 a gallon, and most were in the $2.07 range. Now most of the prices are in the $2.39 range for regular. 

It’s important to remember that this price is cheap compared to 2012 when gas prices were approaching $4 a gallon.  Whether the recent move of 30 to 40 cents a gallon is a problem for you depends on how much you budget for gas. A $0.40 increase – with the average person using 500 gallons of a gas a year – amounts to an increase of $200 a year in your budget for gas.

Prescription drugs

Prescription-drug prices may be – or already are – the worst price-increase story of 2019. Thirty drug makers have announced that they are increasing prices in 2019. Increases on many drugs will range from 5% to 10% – others are increasing the prices more and some less.

The key for consumers is to identify the drugs they are taking and then research the expected price increases so you can make adjustments to your budget before the prices increase.

For many families, drug price increases are significant. Insulin, a life-saving drug for people with diabetes, went up nearly 300% from 2002 to 2013. For some patients that means rationing or skipping doses. When faced with those kind of significant increases, family budgets can easily be busted and very difficult choices need to be made.

Streaming services

In the middle of January Netflix announced price increase of 13% to 18%. The basic plan is now $8.99 a month, the standard plan with HD quality is $12.99 and the premium cost is $15.99.

Netflix is huge with 148 million subscribers worldwide and 60 million in the U.S. So its price increases influence a lot of budgets. But Netflix increases also give other streaming services the opportunity to ponder their own increases. 

This is a good time to take stock of your streaming subscriptions and add up the totals. It’s also a good idea to see what your cable company has done or is planning to do in terms of price increases.

Looking ahead

The North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) has requested a 17.4% increase in homeowners’ insurance rates from the North Carolina Department of Insurance, effective Oct. 1, 2019.

The average homeowners insurance rate in North Carolina is $1,075, so an increase of 17.4% would be an average of $187 a year.

The rationale for the new pricing is increased losses and hurricane losses. Last year they asked for an increase of 18.9%, but were only granted an increase of 4.8%. So keep watching the news to see what increase is accepted for 2019.

On a similar front, the NCRB submitted an annual auto insurance increase of 7.6%. This increase would also be effective Oct. 1, 2019.

The average auto insurance premium in North Carolina is $865 per year. A 7.6% increase would amount to $66. 

In 2017 the NCRB requested an increase of 13.8%, citing a “dramatic increase” in costs and losses since 2014. They were given an increase of 2.2%.

Truliant can help

Need help with budgeting? Truliant can sit down with you at one of our branches and suggest some simple strategies through our No-Cost Credit Review - contact information is at the page - to help manage the one thing that rarely goes down: prices. Or call 800.822.0382 to speak with a specialist by phone.

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