Et Tu, Netflix? Recent Price Hikes & Savings Tips
By Andrea Woroch
And another one bites the dust. Netflix announced its intention to increase the online streaming service by as much as $2 per month for new subscribers. Current subscribers are safe from the increase according to the company, at least for now.
The creator of “House of Cards” isn’t the only service to increase prices this year. In fact, food staples and other streaming services are part of this troubling trend. Here are several price hikes you should be aware of, along with a few strategies to cut back your spending to avoid feeling cash-strapped.
While price hikes on airfare during the summer months isn’t abnormal, it appears small city dwellers are feeling the squeeze even more these days. As airlines look to cut costs, they set their sites on smaller markets, resulting in higher prices for fewer seats and routes. Travelers who don’t mind paying for convenience — like nonstop flights or last-minute ticket purchases — will also pay a premium going forward.
The $20-per-year price hike for Amazon Prime users went into effect recently, though current subscribers won’t feel the sting until renewal time. The online behemoth cited increased transportation costs as one of the main reasons for the price increase. If you’re considering a Prime membership — or reconsidering one — check out this analysis from CNET to help you decide if the service is cost-effective for you.
That Burrito Bowl with cost up to 5 percent more than usual once summer rolls around. That’s because the wholesale cost of beef, cheese and avocados has increased to such heights that even consumer-focused Chipotle can no longer handle the pressure to its profit margins. The company doesn’t feel the price increase will deter loyal customers who patronize the Mexican food chain for the experience and fresh ingredients.
$3.99 per month for unlimited, ad-free streaming is a pretty smokin’ deal for loyal Pandora users. However, that rate is about to expire as the company implements a new pricing strategy that drops its annual subscription option in favor of per-month-pricing of $4.99. The dollar increase takes effect in May for new users. The price hike is due to higher royalty rates from performers, which have increased over 50 percent during the last five years alone.
Beef and Pork
Drought conditions have driven up the cost of feed, reducing herd sizes and raising the price of beef. Meanwhile, a devastating disease wiped out millions of piglets, contributing to increased pork prices. Carnivores can expect fork over an additional 4 percent for a pork chop or boneless chuck.
Not one to be left out, gasoline prices are already on the rise despite the summer-travel season being a few weeks off. The oil production boom in the U.S. should keep retail prices competitive, but increased exports have reduced the supply available for domestic users and increased costs by over 4 percent compared to this time last year.
Though rising prices on some of these essential goods and services seem to be out of your hands, you can take control of your spending in other ways to offset the growing costs. This is a great time to review your saving strategies and consider employing these smart money moves:
• Stop paying for services you can get for free. For instance, taking out cash from a non-affiliated ATM is going to cost you double the fees, up to $10 at times. Get in the habit of taking out enough cash to suffice for the week or opt for free cash-back services offered at many national stores like CVS and Trader Joes. What’s more, you can switch your landline to an Internet home phone provider like Ooma for free, saving you approximately $40 per month.
• Don’t overlook coupons to reduce necessary purchase costs. Whether you’re shopping for a birthday gift or upgrading a home appliance, get in the habit of checking mobile coupon apps like Coupon Sherpa to find any available deals. Target also offers the in-store coupon app, Cartwheel, which makes it easy to find coupons at checkout for instant savings.
• Track prices and buy at the right time. Considering that retailers fluctuate the prices on goods and services depending on demand and how often a certain shopper browses a product, knowing when to buy isn’t always easy. However, you can keep up with sales using Hukksterwhich alerts you when an item you’ve been eyeing drops in price or a coupon becomes available.
• Look for gently-used options first. Buying secondhand is not a new concept but it can get overlooked when it’s time to shop. From clothes to electronics to sporting goods, you can save a ton of money buying used. In fact, you can even buy previously-owned gift cards for less through sites like GiftCardGranny.com, where you can save 5 to 30 percent on cards to retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues and even airlines.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.