Time to Stock Up?
If any of your money-related resolutions involve sticking to a budget in the coming year (and we hope they do!), we have good news and bad news. The good: Many economists predict that the price of gasoline will actually decrease in 2014. The bad: Prices for a lot of other basic staples are expected to rise. Here are five big ones you’ll be shelling out more for this year — and why.
Gorcery-Store Food (Including Bread, Produce and Chocolate)
This year, food prices are expected to rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Price Outlook. And to add insult to injury — chocolate is one of the foods that is expected to rise most in price, due to increasing butter prices. Aalst Chocolate, a Singapore-based chocolate maker, told CNBC that it was forced to increase prices by 30 to 40 percent last year. You can also expect to pay more for breads, cereals and other wheat-based items, in response to a rise in wheat and wheat flour prices. And prices for pork could climb 5 percent or more.
Want some milk with that more expensive wheat-based cereal? Be prepared to pay more for it too. Milk and other dairy products are expected to increase in price for a while, according to the USDA. During the last part of 2013, the farm price for fluid milk rose 4.9 percent and the wholesale dairy index rose 1.1 percent. The USDA report suggests that retail prices will continue to rise, at least in the short term.
The makers of electronic gadgets rely on minerals that must be sourced from the earth, and the supply of those minerals is “constricted by China for political reasons,” Gregson says. “California will have a tough time reopening its mines for eco reasons. This means the price of electronic goods will rise.”
Some Apple analysts have already predicted that the iPhone's next incarnation may cost $50 more than earlier models. (On the bright side: Blackberry’s CEO just announced that his company hopes to lure iPhone customers away with the release of a new smartphone this year that will cost less than $200.)
The housing market began rebounding in 2013, with housing prices increasing 12.5 percent in October from the year before. If you’re looking to buy a house this year, economists say you can expect to pay more than you would have last year. Economist John Burns predicts a 6 percent increase in housing prices in 2014. Others predict smaller increases in the actual cost of housing, but rising interest rates will likely make the out-of-pocket costs of purchasing a home go up.
During 2014, the prices for shipping services via the U.S. Postal Services are scheduled to rise by 4.2 percent. Beginning on January 26, the cost of a first-class stamp will rise three cents to 49 cents. However, you can save three cents per stamp by stocking up on “Forever” stamps before the price increase. That means you can buy stamps at the current price of 46 cents and they will remain valid forever.