In our last column, we time-traveled back to childhood to identify early lessons about the meanings of money and material things, and we looked at connections between those lessons and the way we handle money as adults. If you see such links, and you’re not happy with their effects on your current financial life, it’s time to make the move from self-exploration to self-change.
The economy is a fickle, hysterical beast that shifts its mood quicker than I can go back and change adjectives, like I did three times writing this sentence. When considering the dramatic changes in the housing market and gas prices we’ve had in the last decade, I’m not sure why anyone would find economic forecasting fun at all. Then again, I’m an English major.
Anyway, despite how laborious predicting economic trends can be, it’s necessary to know if your basic amenities and luxuries are going to take a dramatic shift in cost, good or bad. Many sites, blogs, and economists have differing and often conflicting views on what things will cost more or less in the coming year.
Despite the bickering, the following list of good and bad pricing shifts for 2013 that are generally agreed upon by most financial future-seers. I’m starting each section with the good news, so if you prefer your bad news first I suggest you read this backwards.
The Good: Gas prices are expected to lower.
Although the biggest difference in gas prices and crude oil may not be seen until the end of 2013, the overall demand for oil is slowly but surely decreasing. This is for a number of reasons such as more fuel efficient vehicles replacing gas guzzlers on the roads, and Saudi Arabia pledging to keep prices low. The important thing is they are expected to stay at less demand as more efficient vehicles get released but…
The Bad: Car prices are expected to rise.
New laws in the auto industry require car companies to improve fuel efficiency in vehicles, and it’s unfortunately a costly movement. Any part that needs to be improved to make this happen raises the cost of the vehicle over all, including the 2013 Lexus CT 200h which will be upwards of $3,000 more than the previous model. So you’ll be helping the environment and saving cash in the long run but be paying a decent chunk more for the car itself.
The Good: Video game consoles are cheaper than ever.
Since Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U, hit stores a few months back consumers are in that brief window where current generation consoles are available for dirt cheap. With Microsoft and Sony rumored to be unveiling their new consoles within the year, online prices for Wii’s and Xbox 360’s are in the $200-$250 range and PS3’s around $250-$300; even the basic version of the new Wii U runs for just $300. Considering game consoles with Netflix, internet access, fitness programs and Blu-ray capabilities are the norm, now is the time to buy. But if you’re hoping to have a sweet new set up to play your games on…
The Bad: New model TVs and home theater set ups will be pricey.
Television and the sound systems that support them are only getting more impressive as time goes on, but more accessories and add-ons to these high end toys are only getting pricier as they advance. New age Ultra HD TVs are expected to run from $20,000-$25,000, a hefty cost if you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses. It’s important to mention that non-HD LCD TVs are cheaper than ever with the manufacturing behind them coming easier to mass produce products, but if you’re obsessed with being on the cutting edge you might want to hold out a bit longer.
The Good: iPhones are expected to be cheaper by the end of the year.
Apple is facing a tough decision in the coming year. With their last quarter showing the technology behemoth noticeably slowing down despite the release of the iPhone 5 and iPad 4, they’re obviously pressured to find a way to make up for the loss. A big market opening up for smart phones is developing in countries such as China, which is huge considering they’re just starting to buy smart phones, leaving a massive consumer base practically untouched. However, a person with an average income cannot afford Apple products like many Americans can. The result is a cheaper, plastic iPhone 5 geared towards the Chinese market. It’s important to mention this is just speculation, and despite big in-store discounts from Wal-Mart around the holidays, the odds of this happening in the US aren’t assured at all. This is unfortunate for current iPhone 5 owners because…
The Bad: iPhone accessories are going to be expensive.
The iPhone 5 has the new lightening connector, a different setup from every previous generation of the phone. The result? Every previous accessory made for iPhones is not compatible with the iPhone 5, so pretty much anything that needs to be docked. If you’re looking for a new phone and don’t care if you have the newest product from Apple, it may by easier to downgrade and not pay excessive amounts for new accessories. And now, starting with the bad news…
Even Worse: Grocery and food prices are expected to rise by potentially 4% this year.
With most of the US’s food problems stemming from the drought in 2012, cereal and other wheat products are expected to rise in price because of an overall lower yield. Along with the wheat, corn and grass normally expended to feed the chickens and cows ending up on your dinner table were reduced too. Farmers had to lower normal herd sizes to work with this problem, resulting in an expected rise in the cost of dairy products, beef and poultry. As hard as that may be to hear, rejoice in the fact that an old supermarket staple should be returning soon.
The Uplifting and Hopeful: Hostess snacks could return!
The currently bankrupt snack food company, maker of childhood classics like Ho Hos, Twinkies and Ding Dongs, has two companies bidding for their brand. A judge would have ultimate approval over any deal that was reached, but because groups are competing for Hostess, the Twinkie and other sweets can be taken off of the endangered species list. Just ignore what I said earlier about rising wheat prices and take this tiny victory.
As mentioned previously, the economy and the prices of your favorite products can fluctuate instantly, so stay on top of your economic news to see what happens. What products are you hoping to see get cheaper this year?