If you think you’re paying more for basic necessities now, compared to just a few years ago, you’re right. Mark Dotzour, chief economist and research director at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, compiled a list of critical goods and services, tracking changes in cost from December 2008 to March 2014.
Food we eat at home is up 9.5 percent.
Uncooked ground beef is up 30.6 percent.
Bacon and sausage are up 32.3 percent.
Eggs are up 12.5 percent.
Hot dogs are up 10.2 percent.
Ice cream is up 5.9 percent.
Carbonated drinks are up 4.6 percent.
Coffee is up 7.1 percent.
Homeowners/tenants insurance is up 18.1 percent.
Electricity is up 9.7 percent.
Water and sewer service is up 35.4 percent.
Garbage and trash collection is up 14.6 percent.
Appliances are down 9.2 percent.
Clocks and lamps are down 27.5 percent.
Dishes and flatware are down 25 percent.
Gasoline has gone up 117.3 percent.
Tires have gone up 7.5 percent.
Car insurance has gone up 24.1 percent.
Motor vehicle registration/license fees are up 18.1 percent.
Airline tickets are up 31.7 percent.
Intercity public transportation is down 2.1 percent.
Men’s apparel is up 10.8 percent.
Men’s suits are up just 3 percent.
Women’s apparel is up 12.3 percent.
Shoes are up 8.8 percent.
Prescription drugs are up 19.6 percent.
Physicians’ services are up 14 percent.
In-patient hospital costs are up 41.6 percent.
Nursing homes and adult day care are up 19.5 percent.
Health insurance premiums are up 9.6 percent.
Televisions are down 67.2 percent, but cable TV and radio services are up 16.3 percent.
The cost of pets and pet accessories are down 3.2 percent, but the cost of pet food is up 8.5 percent.
Sporting goods are down 2.5 percent, but admissions to sporting events are up 10.7 percent.
Cameras are down 28.3 percent.
Toys are down 25.1 percent.
Cigarettes are up 49.7 percent.
Newspapers and magazines are up 26.1 percent.
Postage is up 27.4 percent.
Telephone services are unchanged.
Personal computers are down 39.2 percent.
The takeaway from all of this, according to Dotzour: never get sick and never travel by car or airplane. Always ride the bus, but just within your city limits. Focus your diet on ice cream, hot dogs and carbonated drinks. For a splurge, have a cup of coffee. Buy a new television, camera and computer every year, because the prices fall every year. Buy lots of clocks and dishes. Stay away from the post office and magazines. Have the family come to visit you; let them pay the airfare and gas. And whatever you do, DON’T SMOKE.
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