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The big squeeze

Rising taxes, rising costs, and the impact on the Whistler standard of living

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It’s tough to budget for gas — it all depends on whether we make a lot of trips to the city or visit other parts of the province. In the last three months of 2007 our gas bills averaged $121.12 a months, while the average in the last three months (April, May, June) was $172.74. It’s hard to say how much of that has to do with the $0.40 price increase since January and how much has to do with our driving habits, but by discounting a few fill-ups that were made on special trips I can conservatively estimate that our fuel bill is up around $35 a month or $420 a year. With those special trips it could easily be another $50 a month or $600 a year in added expenses.

While car ownership costs are about 10 times higher than taking transit when you factor in depreciation, the alternative also costs more these days with Whistler and Valley Express rates increasing on June. 1 to recoup higher diesel and operating costs. A single adult fare increased 50 cents to $2, while the 30 day pass went up just $5.

Next to transportation, our next biggest expenses is groceries. Again, it’s hard to say how much is spent because some trips to Costco pick up enough staples for several months while other months we go to the grocery store every other day. In December we spent another $150 on specialty foods for entertaining that we would never buy in a typical month.

Still, considering that I plan to pig out again this Christmas, I estimate that our household grocery bill is now around $510 a month and climbing, up from about $460 a year ago. And while there is a wide selection of data out there to choose from, all indications are that prices are expected to continue to rise.

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture listed the following increases from May 2007 to May 2008 — eggs are up 28.32 per cent, milk is up 15.37 per cent, beans are up 64.29 per cent, corn is up 46.7 per cent, lentils are up 147.73 per cent, rice is up 50 per cent, soybeans are up 72.75 per cent and wheat is up 80.33 per cent, to name just a few common staples. Keep in mind that the measurements were made at bulk buying rates, either purchased by the bushel or by the hundredweight.