The cost of technology goes down steadily, making HDTVs and Blu-ray players today a much better deal than they were a year ago. It's too bad that most other things rise in price. Don't say you weren't forewarned! Here's a list of 20 things that will most likely cost more in 2011, presented to you with plenty of time to stock up now.
But first, we also went out with our video camera to the "Big Show" of the National Retail Federation to see what retail experts think about prices going up and down, because we have also compiled a list of 12 Things That Will Cost Less in 2011, with exact predictions on how low the prices will go. Here's what people had to say:
- Car insurance — Rates are now at an average of $1,000 per year, but going up faster than inflation. That's especially so because insurers are adding on new high-tech monitoring abilities and pass along the costs. So not only are you going to pay more, but your privacy controls are going to go down.
- Chocolate — There is a veritable chocolate crisis going on in the world, and that has as much to do with global finance as it does to do with weather. Cocoa is at a 30-year high and demand is only growing. Expect to see fancier presentations even of basic chocolate — meaning smaller boxes for bigger prices.
- VoIP services — Now that taxes have hit the voice-over-IP market, rates go up as fast — or faster — than the traditional telephone service providers. It doesn't help that new free VoIP services over smartphones provide killer competition. Expect struggling companies, like Vonage, to keep raising rates directly, and or just tacking on extra fees.
- Airfare — Even if you see an abundance of ads for $1 fares and the like, don't believe the hype. The total cost for traveling on an airplane is going up, and will continue to go up in 2011. Airlines have had such success with added fees for baggage, seating, snacks and blankets, that they're not yet done imagining other things to charge you extra.
- Cars — The heavy discounting that was prevalent during the recession and crises among carmakers is past now, so expect to pay more if you want to buy a new or a used car in 2011. Sales are up so far in 2010, and that means that carmakers are not as desperate as they once were. And don't expect a bailout from the Feds.
- Nintendo 3DS — The 3DS is coming, and it's not going to be cheap! The price will likely be in the $300 range in the U.S., based on the pricing announced in Japan for the February release of the device. That's a lot more than any other hand-held gaming device on the market. What will you get for your money? An 8-ounce hand-held game system with great resolution, three cameras, and wireless connectivity.
- Health Insurance — It's a no-brainer that health care costs are going up, so if you haven't been paying attention through the last several elections, you're going to have sticker shock come your next open enrollment period in 2011. Brace yourself, and review the recent changes to the law in the health care reform bill.
- Breakfast — Grain prices have been skyrocketing, and that's going to have an effect on your morning cereal, your milk, your eggs and your bacon. The cows, hogs, chickens and food processors are all competing for the same product and driving prices up.
- Coffee — The world's coffee supply is contracting, and prices are soaring. Coffee futures jumped 40% last year, and there's no end in sight for the rise. Even the smallest coffee shops are being hit by the price increases, meaning a more expensive cup of Joe for you.
- Music — In all the great excitement about the Beatles finally coming to iTunes, it probably escaped the notice of a lot of people that individual songs were priced at $1.29, not the typical 99-cents of the last few years. Don't think that's just because it's the Beatles. Apple starting raising prices in 2009, and you'll be seeing prices edge higher throughout 2011 on digital music-buying sites.
- Dollar Menus — This change has been coming for a while, but the fast food chains have been reluctant to pull the trigger once and for all to up the cost of their value menus to more than a dollar. McDonald's has already started to dismantle its dollar menu, and it's going to happen wholesale pretty soon.
- Credit Cards — Thought credit card reform measures would mean it would cost less for you to use your credit cards? Think again. Just like the airline industry tacking on extra fees, credit card issuers are making up any deficit from the new rules in other fees that they're still allowed to charge. And in some cases, they're doubling-down, meaning it's costing you more.
- Refinancing — The dream of "no-cost" refinancing is a lost cause these days, when banks are clamoring for any fee they can possibly get and the housing market is still in the dumps. Coming up in 2011, you're going to pay more upfront for refinancing, which may make it hard to fathom even though interest rates remain low.
- Sports Ticket Prices — Almost every major league sports team — and a lot of minor league ones too — are still passing along the costs of new stadiums and extras to their customers. For the Yankees, for example, that means tickets will be up 47% for non-premium seats in 2011. The most expensive field-level seats will be $260.
- College Tuition — There is no end to the rise in college tuition, it's one of those things that just keeps going up and up and up, way faster than inflation. That's particularly daunting at time when savings accounts are depleted and so many parents are out of work. For the 2010-11 school year, tuitions are up almost 8% from the previous year for public 4-year colleges and 4.5% at private colleges. That will only go up again for the 2011-12 school year. (At least student discounts can help offset the costs a bit.)
- Water Rates — Check any municipality in the United States and you'll likely find residents with higher water bills in 2011. It's a factor of the economy, and cities having to squeeze money out of every stone.
- Postage Rates — Even if the post office says there will be no more postal rate hikes soon, do you believe them? The USPS is actually fighting for a 5.6% increase in rates, which was denied by the Postal Regulatory Commission. Don't bet on that ruling sticking for very long, so stock up now on Forever stamps.
- Gold — You might have thought Cash4Gold sites were cheesy scams, but you might think about melting down some of your old jewelry if you're watching this commodity. Prices per ounce just keep going up and up. It's a bit of a roller coaster ride if you're looking for an investment, but if you're thinking about selling some gold, 2011 will be a good time.
- Ammunition — You might not think of ammunition prices as something to worry about, but if you're a hunter or if you're concerned about the budget of your local police precinct or the nation's military, you might want to pay attention. Ammo prices have been going up steadily over the past several years, and will rise again in 2011, all because the metals they're made of are going up in price and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are increasing demand.
- Movie Ticket Prices — Movie ticket prices go up every year, but 2011 could be a time of major increases for two key reasons: online streaming and 3D. The popularity of streaming movies through subscription services like Netflix has cut deeply into movie studio profits from DVD sales and from cable OnDemand purchases, so they have to make up the difference somewhere. The advent of 3D means that studios can tack on extra fees for the experience, even if viewers would rather watch a regular 2D movie.
Beth Pinsker is dealnews' Editorial Director. She was most recently the Editor of WalletPop.com, and has been a life-long bargain hunter. Follow her on Twitter — @bethpinsker. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
Photo Credit: The Truth About via Flickr.