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Simple Steps to Avoid Rising Prices in 2011

We are only two weeks into the new year, and already there are signs of prices creeping up on everyday items.

So what can you do to avoid higher costs on many of these items?

CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis shared the following areas and where you can save.

A Trip to the Grocery Store
The USDA forecasts a two percent to three percent hike in the cost of all foods in 2011. Higher corn and soybean prices are the main force behind the increase. Remember, farm animals have to be fed and when those costs go up, so does what you pay. Expect a big spike in the dairy case and meat counter, where pork alone is forecast to rise between three percent and four percent.

If it's any comfort, in 2008 food costs overall rose more than 5.5 percent. And you still didn't lose weight.

Solution: Sign up for sites that offer grocery coupons. Shop the weekly sales and the manager's specials. Plan your meals for the week and make a list of what you need before you go to the market. Don't buy impulse items, even if they're on sale. Consider a grocery co-op if your neighborhood has one. Don't be afraid to try planting a vegetable garden, at least for your fresh herbs.

Gas and Heating Costs are on the Rise
Gas: Oil's back near $100 a barrel and that means the cost of your gasoline and likely your home heating are rising, too.

Solution: Always keep your car tuned up and in good repair. Poorly tuned car can use up to 25 percent more gas. Check tire pressure frequently and keep tires properly inflated. You can lose up to six percent in gas mileage for every single pound your tire is under-inflated. Don't carry unnecessary items in your car. Every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile per gallon. Buy at wholesale clubs - Costco and Sam's Clubs - can often save you more than 10 cents a gallon. Or, if you don't like the wholesale clubs, get a gas credit card. You'll get a one percent to five percent discount when you buy that brand of gas. Also, slow down. You'll save two miles per gallon driving 55 miles per hour, rather than 65 miles per hour. That adds up.

Heating Costs: For every degree you set your thermostat back over 8 hours, you'll save about one percent on your heating bill each year. Turn it down 10 degrees, and that's 10 percent off your yearly bill.

Spend much of your time in only one room of your home? Using a space heater there, while keeping the overall house temperature lower, can save you significant cash. In fact, keeping the thermostat at 62 degrees and putting a space heater in one room can save about $200 a year.

Clothing Prices on the Rise
Cotton prices are on the upswing and already seeing it in the cost of clothes, and will see it even more. Cotton is now 80 percent more than it was at the start of 2010. Most clothing companies are going to have to pass it on to you, the consumer.

Solution: Swap what you have with friends, neighbors, relatives. - Check off your size, favorite brands (choose from 537 labels, such as Ann Taylor and Levi's), and clothing preferences (dresses, denim) and you'll receive a weekly or daily e-mail alerting you to online sales. For higher-end things, rather than buying, rent on sites, such as Also, log on before you hit the stores. About to head out to Nordstrom (or Bloomingdale's or Lord & Taylor)? Go to the store's site first to look for specials, like unadvertised in-store sales and buy-one-get-one-free offers.

Tip: Before you place an online order, look for discount codes at and

Health Care Costs Rising
Health care reform doesn't necessarily change the premiums. The federal government will not have the authority to reject rate increases, but it will review them in states that do not already do so. If an increase is deemed unreasonable, the finding will be posted on websites for Health and Human Services and the insurer. Insurers then will be asked to submit a final justification.

Solution: High deductible health insurance plans can lower your premiums by 40 to 50 percent, compared to a conventional co-pay plan. But, in exchange for low premiums, you pay a high deductible as the name suggests - anywhere from $1,200 to $11,900. So you'll be paying out of pocket for routine doc visits, emergency room trips -- until you hit the deductible. These plans are ideal for younger, healthier workers with no significant pre-existing conditions. Think of it as emergency health insurance.

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