But it isn't all bad news when it comes to cars. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost of gas is expected to decrease in 2014, averaging $3.43 a gallon, just seven cents less than the average cost of fuel at the pump in 2013. Gasbuddy.com, a website that helps consumers find cheap gas, is predicting even less expensive fill-ups at $3.40 a gallon in 2014.
Pay TV. Cable television has hiked its rates considerably in recent years: According to The Wall Street Journal, the average cable bill jumped from $48 in 2001 to $128 a month in 2011. Expect satellite TV, which has been increasing prices around this time each year for some time, to start off 2014 with higher prices.
Both DirecTV and Dish Network are raising their service fees; prices vary depending on the company and packages, but between mid-January and early February, customers can expect to pay about $2 to $5 more a month.
Why the rise in prices? Numerous factors are at play, but most analysts blame it on the rising cost of content. The networks charge the cable companies for the cost of programming, and that cost is passed onto the consumer.
Stamps. As you've likely heard, the price of a first-class stamp will rise three cents on Jan. 26, bringing the cost of mailing a letter to 49 cents. This is a temporary price hike, designed to last two years, and Forever Stamps can be purchased at 46 cents until Jan. 25.
Why the rise in prices? The upward march of stamp prices isn't being blamed on fewer consumers using regular postal mail – although that doesn't help. Rather, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved the believed-to-be temporary increase to help offset $2.8 billion in losses the U.S. Postal Service has taken, stemming from the 2008 recession.
It can be depressing to see prices climbing – especially for those who are cash-crunched or nostalgic for $1-a-gallon gas and 22 cent stamps. But keep in mind that it is actually a good thing for the economy if prices rise – somewhat.
"The benefit of increasing prices is that they encourage spending and economic growth. People are motivated to buy now, otherwise they may have to pay more for the same goods later. The companies selling these goods can then give more people jobs, and the virtuous circle continues," says Gemma Godfrey, the head of investment strategy at Brooks Macdonald Asset Management Ltd., based in London.
But if the idea of higher prices helping the economy doesn't cheer you up, you could do something fun to take your mind off your troubles, like go see a movie. But perhaps you should go soon. Last summer, filmmaker George Lucas theorized to an audience at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts that the day might not be so far away when people go to a movie theater and pay $50 for a ticket.