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Thread: Is the cost of anything not going up?

  1. #1
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    Is the cost of anything not going up?

    Inflation may be less, but everything still seems to be going up in price. Verizon just increased my cell phone bill by $5 per month. My monthly bills have gone up by at least $200 per month since 2020. That doesn't include the high cost of food. It doesn't help that my wages are 15% less than they would be if they had kept up with inflation since I started in 2001. I track the price of Frito-Lay party size snacks at Walmart. The price just jumped up almost 10% more in the past couple of weeks. They had been under $4 at beginning of 2020 and the price is just about $6 now.

    I am not sure how I am going to buy a replacement vehicle in three to five years. My vehicle has been paid off since early 2020. A new minivan has doubled in price since I bought mine in 2016. Part of the increase is due to no more stripped down base models like mine. I would like electric, but the VW electric minivan looks like it will be over $50,000 and not eligible for federal tax credits. In Minnesota rust is the biggest reason to need a replacement vehicle. My 2016 Grand Caravan is starting to have rust on the back side of the liftgate which eventually will eat through the liftgate. My parents had a 2000 Grand Caravan that they had to send to the scrapyard at 133,000 miles as the top of the strut towers were dangerously rusted. I am already at 96,000 miles and I feel certain my vehicle will make it past 133,000 miles.
    Last edited by Brian Elfert; 03-23-2024 at 10:10 AM.

  2. #2
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    There are many things at play here...but one of the largest factors is supplier consolidation: fewer companies hold the whole market, making for less competition. And then there is Wall Street with it's short term expectations for profit increases. Prices are certainly up; but corporate profits are "to the moon". Did Frito-Lay need to raise the price of that snack package or did they do it because they could? And be sure you are also looking at the amount of product in the package. "Shrinkflation" is also at play...smaller quantities for the same money, followed by...a price increase when you least expect it.

    ----

    BTW, folks...don't let politics get into this thread. Not permitted.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    I hear you about things getting more expensive. 2x4x8s at Lowes are $3.58 now up here, so that's still pretty low.

  4. #4
    Not trying to pile on but you did just mention three things that most people in society need these days. Food, Phone and Car.
    These prices can be raised by the corporations, knowing full well that people will "find a way" and pay for them somehow. This is non discretionary spending, when it goes up for whatever reason, we feel it more.

  5. #5
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    On top of this, my brother literally moments ago told me he is looking at dropping his Verizon family plan and going with Comcast Mobile instead. I only pay $45 a month as a member of his family plan. My cost for a single phone with Verizon will more than double as there is no way I will go with Comcast Mobile for a variety of reasons. If a Verizon tower is overloaded MVNOs like Comcast Mobile get lower speeds and I suppose could go all the way to no service if super overloaded. I believe there is also no roaming and no extended access with an MVNO on Verizon. I use extended access for a trip to the Nevada desert every year.

    I won't switch to another carrier like T-Mobile because many at work have T-Mobile and report dead spots all over rural areas that Verizon covers just fine.

  6. #6
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    I have a TracFone plan that costs $200 a year, and mostly works pretty well. Occasionally I lose service, but not too often. I'm out in a very rural area, so that may also be a factor.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachary Hoyt View Post
    I have a TracFone plan that costs $200 a year, and mostly works pretty well. Occasionally I lose service, but not too often. I'm out in a very rural area, so that may also be a factor.
    Sorry, but I would go without a phone before I spent a penny with Tracfone. Nothing against anyone who is happy with Tracfone. I just won't use it myself.

  8. #8
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    I am NOT looking at moving away from Verizon. If my brother changes to Xfinity Mobile I will just have to figure out what to cut out of my budget to pay the extra $50 to $60 a month for phone service. People with only one line really get raked over the coals by Verizon. If I leave Verizon I would also have to pay the remaining $600 on my iPhone 14. I was going to pay up front, but the $200 promotional credit is only valid if you pay the phone off over three years with no interest.
    Last edited by Brian Elfert; 03-23-2024 at 11:22 AM.

  9. #9
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    We haven't had cell phones for years, so do not know about the cost of those. We live in an area where there is no signal, so it didn't do us much good. We didn't feel like paying close to $100 a month for two phones just so we could find each other while shopping for groceries.

    Most prices have settled down a bit out here. Eggs are still higher than we like. A lot of this is due to an avian flu wiping out chicken flocks. Most of the stores are now carrying more "cage free" eggs that are more expensive than the kept in a cage eggs.

    Frito-Lay products are often on sale here. Buy four and they are #2.29. Sometimes it is buy five at $1.99. Often these are linked with a "Digital Coupon." This is one way of tracking the shoppers. Soda pop is often "buy two get two free," sometimes the deal is better. This is also linked to the "Rewards Card" or "Digital Deal."

    When I was in the midwest, people often had two vehicles. One would be left in a garage during the winter and they would drive a beater during the "months of salted roads." We don't get as much snow in my area. (okay, this made me look up some statistics)

    We do not use as much in WA as is used in MN > https://www.researchgate.net/figure/...fig4_260226441

    From Wikipedia:

    The Salt Belt is the U.S. region in which road salt is used in winter to control snow and ice. States in the salt belt include Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington DC.[1][2][3] Other states such as Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Utah are also considered part of the Salt Belt but use less corrosive substances.

    Road salt is a common cause for corrosion of automobile parts, and cars in the salt belt often experience more rapid rusting compared to other regions of the country, rendering them unsafe as brake lines, electrical wiring, and structural components are adversely affected. Manufacturer recalls for corrosion issues often target only vehicles operated within Salt Belt states.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Belt

    The underling and bold emphasis is mine. Many states have environmental groups that have been active in changing the chemistry used for road salt.

    As far as wages go, many of my employer's labor contracts included an annual COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment). I'm retired on a partially fixed income. Even that contains a COLA.

    I know about raising car prices. I bought a new truck in 2021. That was a year when the car dealers had a hard time getting vehicles due to parts shortages caused by a thing called a "Global Pandemic."

    Candy and I went out yesterday and had a late breakfast, it cost about $35 including the tip. I remember when with a generous tip it was less than $10 for the same or similar meal. I can remember nickel candy bars and 10 cokes from a machine. I remember when cigarets from a machine were 23. The companies actually paid someone to cut a slit in the celophane and put two pennies inside for change. I remember when those two pennies could buy something.

    I remember talking to my dad about buying something and he didn't like the price. Even as a young man I knew enough to ask, "have you ever known prices to go down?"

    Some prices may go down, but once the corporations know people will pay more it takes some strong competitor to step in with lower prices to get others to drop theirs.

    We are living in a time when many influences are changing our world. One thing I like may be going away, butter beans or lima beans. Due to changes in the weather they have become scarce. I still have a few cans left. I like them with ham and maybe a few herbs or onions. I may have to buy them dry or grow my own.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #10
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    I agree with Jim's comments. When I retired in 2019 I was a Purchasing Manager for a mechanical industrial products company and most of my work was with suppliers based in China. Cost us @ $5000 to move a 20ft container from port to port, that included all the duties and transportation costs, delivered to the warehouse door, etc... During the pandemic I heard from many this cost had quadrupled or more. Companies had to pass this on, but the modus operandi is to keep the market price and put any increased profits from costs going down to the company vs passing this on in unit pricing.

    Paying CEO's based on profit and share price has driven cost cutting, in the extreme, and my personal opinion is they are running out of ways to drive the stock price up to increase their compensation so, price increases and less competition. This is why they use cash to buy back stock, drives the stock price up, bigger share price for those that hold the shares. Only way prices come down is if we, the consumer, don't purchase items going forward. I know we all need food, but we can switch to vegetables etc... Tyson and many manufacturers are doing what the oil companies have done for years, supply and demand. Tyson is closing plants, reducing supply, which drives prices up.

    We don't eat as much red meat as we used to, healthier for us not to, so fish and chicken and other good healthy sources of protein. I am type II diabetic and chips, pretzels are a no no, apples it is.

    Brian
    Brian

  11. #11
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    May 2020 was the end of production of the Dodge Grand Caravan. I had considered getting a new Grand Caravan back then and I wish I had done it. I could still buy a brand new one for $21,000 to $22,000 back then. That would have gotten me past 2030 before needing to pay the $40,000 price for a new minivan. The only issue with the 2019/2020 Grand Caravan SE is they removed the Stow N' Go seating in the SE model so I would have had to use up considerable garage space to store the seats.

    You can buy a used rental Chrysler Pacifica for a decent price, but they all have mileage just over 60,000 miles. I prefer not to buy a vehicle that is a third to half used up already. Used minivans are also NASTY! No matter how well they are cleaned up they have stains all over the seats and the carpet from kids spilling stuff everywhere. I considered a used late model minivan the last time I made a purchase, but every one I looked at was full of stains. The used ones also cost more than new because they were not the base model.

  12. #12
    Bananas are still cheap. I eat one every day.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    We haven't had cell phones for years, so do not know about the cost of those. We live in an area where there is no signal, so it didn't do us much good. We didn't feel like paying close to $100 a month for two phones just so we could find each other while shopping for groceries.

    Most prices have settled down a bit out here. Eggs are still higher than we like. A lot of this is due to an avian flu wiping out chicken flocks. Most of the stores are now carrying more "cage free" eggs that are more expensive than the kept in a cage eggs.

    Frito-Lay products are often on sale here. Buy four and they are #2.29. Sometimes it is buy five at $1.99. Often these are linked with a "Digital Coupon." This is one way of tracking the shoppers. Soda pop is often "buy two get two free," sometimes the deal is better. This is also linked to the "Rewards Card" or "Digital Deal."

    When I was in the midwest, people often had two vehicles. One would be left in a garage during the winter and they would drive a beater during the "months of salted roads." We don't get as much snow in my area. (okay, this made me look up some statistics)
    It is a requirement to have a cell phone for my line of work. I would lose my job without having one. My employer used to pay for my phone, but they switched to T-Mobile and I wanted to keep Verizon so I switched to paying my own. My employer will not allow those who left the corporate plan to rejoin, nor will they pay the same amount of money towards a different carrier. A mobile phone makes my life so much easier in general that I would not go without. I can receive important phone calls without them going to voicemail on a land line and playing phone tag. (No, I am not the jerk that talks on the phone while in line at the store, or answers the phone during meetings. I will step out of line to answer the call or send the call to voicemail.)

    I suspect the cage free thing is because of California. California requires cage free eggs and surrounding states likely get caught up in that. Last year we stopped at Costco in Salt Lake City on a road trip and thought Costco charged too much for eggs since Costco always sells cage free and/or organic. We stopped at Walmart in Reno, NV and all of the eggs were cage free. The price was double what eggs cost at home at the time and no less expensive than Costco.

  14. #14
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    Some food prices have gone down a little bit, and the package size stayed the same. The cost is still higher than January 2020, but better a small price decrease rather than continued increases. A grocery store chain in Europe earlier this year stopped carrying Pepsi products due to yet another price increase from Pepsi. I looked at their online website and it appears the only Pepsi products they carry are single serve like you get at the register, and 1.5 liter bottles. They don't carry Pepsi in cans, or multipacks of bottles like they carry for Coke. They also stopped carrying most Frito-Lay products which is the same company.

    Grocery pricing is different in France. Grocery stores sign contracts with suppliers between Jan 1 and March 31st. The prices are fixed then from April 1st through March 31st of the next year. Apparently, contracts can include revision clauses, but only 20% do. Stores can still do promotions, but the law requires sale prices to be at least 66% of regular price, and only 25% of the total sales volume of an item can be at a promotional price. I didn't see anything that says if suppliers can reduce package sizing instead of price increases during the contract term.

  15. #15
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    I have always considered myself lucky with inflation. I remember stories of fellow workers who had been retired 20 years and their retirement was eaten up by inflation. When I retired in 1999, inflation remained very low overall, for 20 years. My retirement has a COLA maxed at 3%, same as the older guys and I have so far done pretty well. Now I will start feeling the inflation much more, as I am limited to that 3% COLA.

    This round of inflation is starting to look like the late 70's when interest rates for mortgages were well over 10%, and property taxes were doubling in one shot. I had bought a new home in '73 and there were model homes nearby that the builder kept open for over seven years as he built more homes in the area. I went over and picked up the brochure for the homes about every six months. The brochure never changed, just the prices. I paid $40,950 for our house in 1973, and the same house in 1978-9 was over $80K. Fortunately for me, I bought it while I could afford it. From that date on, I have always lived in houses I cannot afford to buy were I starting out from scratch.

    This sounds ridiculous but we had a desert shack we could move to if we could not make the payments, as it was a stretch when we bought it. Payments were $226, not including taxes. Within five years of buying it, they would have been tripled because of the price increase plus the higher interest rates. We lived there 32 years, and I sold it to my daughter at a deal ($600K) in 2006. It has almost doubled in price since that point. I agree, ridiculous.

    So, who makes the money on inflation? Government. When we sold it, we got another home and paid higher taxes than before, while she moved in and also paid higher taxes than she had, of course her old home was sold and......etc.

    Advice to the younger ones: Some sort of hedge against inflation is a worthy goal. I never studied the stock market, or other financial goals, but my dad encouraged me to get a rental if a good deal comes along.

    Example... I found a steal on a condo in Phoenix. A long way from home, but the son of a good friend lives nearby, and I am glad to let him make most repairs and decisions, as he is trustworthy. Bought it about ten years ago for $37K (there were empty places all over town then), and rented it out for $600 a month. Now it is worth $200K, and I still rent it for $1100. I keep the rent low as I have a great tenant for the last six years, and want to keep him.

    Now, at 81, I depend on rentals as my hedge against inflation.
    Last edited by Rick Potter; 03-23-2024 at 1:53 PM.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

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