Despite the recent announcement that inflation had hit an all-time low, many consumers are finding that low wages or less-than-expected wage increases are seeing their overall income eroded through the higher price of living. With expected protests over fuel prices happening later next month and the army on standby to deliver tanker consignments to petrol stations, other workers have found that in real terms, they are getting less out of their wage packets each month and having less to save or cover bills.

 - Transportation costs are rising. In addition to the increase on fuel, rail companies have posted recession-busting increases on ticket prices, despite posting regular multi-million company profits and receiving taxpayer cash through Government subsidies. With an annual season ticket from the coast to the capital (including the Underground) costing in excess of £4,000 a year, many are finding any wage increases swallowed up by travel and have faced an effective pay freeze for several years. With rail transport in the UK amongst the most expensive in Europe and customer satisfaction with the overall service at a record low, many are now seriously considering lower-paid jobs out of the capital to reduce their commuter bill.

 - Fuel costs as mentioned are also on the increase. In addition to those driving on a regular basis, the costs to heat and power homes are also flying in the face of inflation and supposed regulation of the industry prices. With increased turmoil in the Middle east affecting output, and investment in nuclear energy taking a serious setback after the shortcomings of current reactor design were exposed in the recent Japanese Tsunami disaster, reliance has once again been shifted onto fossil fuels for energy and the increased competition for resources has helped drive prices up.

 - Household groceries are also topping the weekly or monthly bill. Despite every major supermarket retailer jumping on the consumer-centric "we're all in this together" bandwagon, several tactics at inflating prices have been exposed by consumer watchdogs, and it's difficult to assess what genuine costs are being inevitably passed on to consumers from increased delivery and transportation expenses, and what's simply being gouged from loss-leaders and "roll-backs" from prices that have only featured in shops for a number of days. The trick is to keep a copy of a previous receipt and keep track of what average price commonly-bought products are. This way, suddent jumps in prices (as much as 30-40% on some products) can be avoided.


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