Involve America

Cost of Living

Price tags just keep getting bigger and bigger. Whether it’s food, clothes, gas, or rent, everything costs more these days. The price of everything is rising and what we’re earning simply isn’t keeping up. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, data for the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas up to the end of March 2011 continued to show sluggish job growth and weak housing markets. This national economic data suggest that economic recovery is slowing down. While real estate prices hit new lows in all large metropolitan areas, the cost of living is increasing, not just for the things we want to buy, like tickets for concerts and sporting events, cable, or spring break packages, but for everyday necessities as well.

Consumer Products

During the end of 2010 and into early 2011, grain prices reached historical highs, leading to hefty increases in the price of food staples such as bread, pasta, and baked goods. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of cars, airline tickets, sporting goods, prescription drugs, postage, fresh vegetables, meat, dairy products, and soft drinks also rose in the first quarter of 2011. In March 2011, the world price of cotton peaked at its highest level in more than 140 years, mostly due to unfavorable weather conditions and made worse by the government of India’s ban on export cotton. And, you know what high cotton prices mean ’ your next pair of jeans is going to cost more than you think.

Gas Prices

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that gas prices have been volatile and high. According to AAA, the highest record average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.114 on July 17, 2008. In August 2010, the average price for regular unleaded gasoline was $2.750 per gallon, and gas prices exhibited a steady rise until peaking in May 2011. As of August 15, 2011, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.594 (as of August 15, 2011).

So, why are gas prices so high? According to a survey of 1006 adults conducted by Pew Research Center and the Washington Post from April 28 to May 1, 2011 thirty-one percent of people polled think that greed or the push for higher profits is the main reason behind soaring gas prices. Roughly 20 percent of survey participants blamed ongoing wars or unrest and 12 percent cited economic or market reasons.

In The News

Consumers Cut Back on Haircuts, Morning Coffee
A recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that consumers are cutting back on little luxuries, like name brand medicines, coffee, and bottled water. more >>
Back-to-School 2011: 4 Items That Will Cost More
Lunch foods, sneakers, denim, and underwear will all be more expensive this fall. more >>
Consumer Price Index - June 2011
Data on changes in the prices paid by urban customers for a representative selection of goods and services during the month of June 2011. more >>
Young Adults Feel Empowered by Debt
A new study shows that, among young adults ages 18 to 27, educational and credit card debt is associated with higher self-esteem and a greater sense of control. more >>

Useful Links

National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE)
The only private, nonprofit, national foundation wholly dedicated to improving the financial well-being of all Americans. more >>
A site where users share their stories about how impulse buying wasted their money. more >>