Griping about how things cost more than they used to is a mark of age, and we'll all be going a little more gray in 2018.
Whether it's Apple (AAPL) - Get Report , Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report , Disney (DIS) - Get Report , Red Robin or the federal government, forces beyond the average consumer's control are making it more expensive to buy just about anything in 2018.
Check the monthly Consumer Price Index reports, the Department of Agriculture numbers, Kiplinger's, Core Logic's Home Price Insights and you'll find the same thing: Rising prices and the forces behind them. As supplies wane, demand grows and different variables put pressure on both, those monitoring the goods and commodities you buy seem to be drawing a 45-degree line upward.
That's already making some industries nervous. Cox Automotive notes that Federal Reserve interest rate hikes are resulting in higher automotive lease lease payments and fewer new leases. Though the average monthly payment has increased by $12, that pain has been far more severe for customers with less-than-sterling credit.
"The monthly payment matters," says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive. "When rates rise, many consumers do not have an option to pay more."
Especially when they're having their pocket picked by multiple hands. Back in October, Netflix announced that it was raising the price of its standard video streaming plan from $9.99 to $10.99. That came after a 2016 price hike from $7.99 to $9.99 that drove nearly 500,000 customers away from the service and prompted Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to say the following in a letter to investors:
"Whatever the price is for something, people don't like for it to go up."
Unfortunately for consumers, the cost of streaming is only increasing. Disney is pulling its content off of Netflix at the end of next year and launching its own service. Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Report , meanwhile, feels it's a fine idea to charge $18 for its own service, while independent Philo strings non-sports cable channels together for $16 a month.
As consumer site DealNews notes, it'll cost you more for the devices to stream that video as well. The $849 Google (GOOG) - Get Report Pixel 2 XL smartphone is a jump from last year's $769 model, while the $929 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is up from $850. Don't expect many tears from Apple users, as the $999 iPhone X is well above the $769 cost of last year's iPhone 7 Plus.
We'd say you should consider getting out more, but the Global Business Travel Association says that airfare prices are expected to rise 3.5% and hotel prices are expected to rise 3.7% in 2018.
The average vacation cost for a family of four runs already costs $4,580, which would add an extra $150 or so with those price hikes. Couple that with the National Park Service's plan to double entrance fees to certain parks and Disney and Universal's continued them park admission hikes (67% to 88% per park in the past decade) and you might be tempted to keep your cash at home.
Even that's a pricey proposition, as the costs of home construction, remodeling and repair were already rising before the 2017 hurricane season and have soared afterward. Tack on a 22% jump in the cost of lumber after the U.S. government threatened a tariff on Canadian wood products, and staying home isn't an option, either.
As it stands, DealNews says it's going to cost you more just to live this year.
- The Consumer Price Index estimates that grocery prices will rise by 1% to 2%, witch poultry and avocados getting much steeper price hikes.
- Rather eat out? The CPI says those costs will rise 2% to 3% next year.
- The price of brand-name prescription drugs with no generic equivalent have increased by 18% a year and will only continue to do so as drug patents cling to their 20-year lifespan.
If you're looking for some relief, DealNews points out that the price of televisions, soda, used cars, electric vehicles and home solar power are all falling. However, if you don't plan on sitting in a solar-powered RV watching television, drinking root beer and waiting for the Tesla to charge, 2018 is going to come at a premium.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.