It’s no secret that higher prices are impacting Americans across the board, with the current inflation rate at 8.2% as of September — the highest in 40 years. That means seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, have to be extra careful about minding their money.
The best things in life are free, but, with the current financial situation in the U.S., fewer things are. Companies seem to be always searching for new ways to nickel and dime their customers.
Luxury hotels often advertise the range of free amenities that come with their expensive resorts, but many large chains have begun charging “resort fees” to offset their own costs.
Perks that used to be included with your stay — such as spas, fitness centers, and pools — now come with an additional fee, even if you don’t use them. Minibars, which used to contain some complimentary items, are largely buy-only.
When booking your next hotel stay, inquire about any additional resort or service fees. Hotels will often advertise a nightly rate and note in the fine print that a resort fee may apply.
Like hotel chains, airlines have found clever ways to add charges beyond the price of your ticket. Decades ago, a seat on an airplane came with free meals and beverages, but that luxury is most often confined to first- and business-class seats. Some budget airlines won’t even give passengers free water!
Just as upsetting, most airlines now charge extra for baggage. Some airlines now charge for both carry-on and checked baggage, which seems excessive considering it costs them nothing for you to carry your own bag onto the plane.
When booking your next flight, inquire about these fees. A low ticket price may entice you, but all the extra fees may make a higher-priced ticket a better deal.
Air for Tires
Veteran drivers are probably used to driving to their local gas station and simply asking the attendant to turn on the tire pump. In recent years, however, most stations have added a charge to make extra cash.
Most compressed air stations at gas stations are equipped with payment stations, usually coin-operated and costing up to $1.50. At least many of them accept credit cards, right?
The U.S. got its first ATM in 1969, allowing people to make basic financial transactions without a human teller. A couple decades later, ATMs were everywhere, and most of them allowed users to conduct their business without a fee.
In the 1990s, however, ATMs began charging fees to use them. Today, ATM fees are often about $3, and many financial institutions also charge an additional fee.
There’s hardly a way to avoid the charges. Some banks allow customers with high enough balances to be reimbursed for the fees, while others have larger networks of ATMs. The only way to completely avoid the fees is to stick to your banking network’s ATMs.
When national parks first opened, they were entirely free. Since then, however, many have begun charging entrance fees ranging from $5 to $35, depending on the park. The funds are used to protect and maintain the parks (a good cause, indeed), but the fees can quickly add up.
In the past two decades, many cities have banned or restricted the use of plastic and paper bags because of their detrimental effect on the environment. Since not everyone has their own supply or reusable bags, grocery stores still offer paper or plastic bags for an added fee. The fee — usually no more than 10 cents — is to encourage purchasing a reusable bag.
We all loved when online newspapers made buying a physical copy of the Times unnecessary. But bringing the world to millions of people’s phones and laptops is a costly business, and the internet has made news less profitable than ever. As a result, most online newspapers have added paywalls that restrict your viewing after a few free articles, requiring a paid subscription for full access. Be sure not to sign up for anything you won’t use consistently!
Today’s inflation situation is making it harder for everyone to get by, and companies accustomed to record profits are adding fees to keep up. Unfortunately, they’re not always open about it, and count on people assuming things are free. Paying attention to what has changed can help you avoid needless spending.
Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here