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How Starbucks, Uber and Obama Are Making You Go Broke

If you're barely making ends meet, higher pricing can have an impact on your household budget. For that reason, it might be a smart idea to get in the habit of limiting your electricity and power usage now.
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By Valencia Higuera, Contributor

There's nothing fun about being stuck in a financial rut. Your income might only cover the bare essentials, making it difficult to save for retirement or pay off debt. It can feel as if you're spinning your wheels and getting nowhere. So when the price of a service you use increases, you feel the pinch.

Here's a look at different ways Starbucks, Barack Obama and Uber can affect your cash flow and keep you broke.

1. Starbucks

Can't start your day without your favorite Starbucks drink? You might be fully aware that you're overpaying for a cup of Joe, but it's an indulgence you're not apologizing for. To each his own. But if you're living paycheck-to-paycheck, recent price hikes at Starbucks might have you re-thinking your coffee habit.

In July 2015, Starbucks increased the price of most of its drinks by 5 to 20 cents. The price of a large brewed coffee in most stores jumped to $2.45. Since the change primarily only affects hot beverages, the retailer believes price increases impact less than 20 percent of customers -- at least until the fall when customers start replacing their cold selections with hot ones.

You can argue that Starbucks' price increase is a small price to pay for your favorite coffee -- and maybe it is. But given how the coffee retailer also raised prices nationally last year, this trend might continue from year to year.

"The company claims that the average price increase will only be roughly 1 percent, but that can depend upon the drink," said David Bakke, consumer expert at Money Crashers. "If your favorite cup of Joe happens to be a Venti Caffe Americano, you'll be paying a little over 10 percent more. And if you drink one of those five days per week, your annual costs go up by $75. That might not keep you broke, but it's not going to make paying your monthly bills any easier."

2. Uber

If you hate public transportation and hailing a cab, but you like the idea of sitting back and letting someone else worry about the driving, Uber can become your best friend. Download the Uber app, request a ride, and in most cases, a car can be at your door in minutes. But Uber isn't always cost-effective.

Sure, paying $5 to $10 per ride might seem like a drop in the bucket, but depending on how often you use the service, the cost of ride-sharing adds up quickly -- especially if you request a car when there's a high demand. If there are too many riders and not enough drivers, surge pricing goes into effect and you'll pay more for a ride.

Even if you feel Uber is a convenience you can afford, the company's rates are subject to change at any time. This might happen sooner rather than later since the California Labor Commission recently ruled that Uber drivers are actually employees and not independent contractors. If Uber has to reclassify their drivers as W-2 employees, the repercussions could be costly for the company, reports Business Insider. To compensate for added expenses, the company could possibly increase its prices for customers.

You might make out better driving yourself or learning to appreciate low-cost public transportation. If you have to use a ride-sharing service, you might save money using Lyft. According to a new report by SherpaShare, "Uber drivers in the U.S. collect an average $13.36 per trip, while Lyft drivers took in an average of $12.53 for each ride," reports Time.

3. Obama's Policies

In nearly eight years, President Obama has expanded health insurance coverage, ended the war in Iraq and supported same-sex marriage. Some might say these are excellent accomplishments, yet some of his policies might be keeping you broke.

Affordable Care Act

Health care reform gave more people access to health insurance. But unfortunately, some insurers estimate increases as much as 20 percent to 40 percent -- or more -- in certain states. The reason: "new customers under the Affordable Care Act are sicker than expected," reports CNBC. One health advocate from Oregon told the news site that rate increases will be bigger in 2016, causing some people to wonder if health insurance is affordable and whether it's worth the cost.

Higher premiums can cut into the average American's disposable income, making it increasingly harder for some to juggle their household expenses and save for the future.

Clean Power Plan

The Affordable Care Act isn't the only Obama policy affecting your pocket. Some experts are saying the president and Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) climate change plan will raise electric bills and eliminate jobs.

Obama's plan involves cutting back carbon emissions from power plants and continuing to blend ethanol in U.S. gasoline. The Washington Times reports that federal data indicates electricity prices will increase and then stabilize, and an Energy Information Administration report notes prices could go up by as much as 7 percent.

The White House, however, denies these claims. In a blog post, the government said EPA's climate plan "will actually shrink electricity bills $85 each year for the average household, and save consumers a total of $155 billion from 2020 to 2030 by increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs in the electricity system."

Whether your bill goes up or down, it's better to be safe than sorry. If you're barely making ends meet, higher pricing can have an impact on your household budget. For that reason, it might be a smart idea to get in the habit of limiting your electricity and power usage now.

The Takeaway

You can't control how much a health insurance provider charges or the cost of energy, but you can control how much you spend on costly conveniences like Uber and Starbucks. It's easy to say we don't earn enough to save for retirement or build an emergency fund, but the problem might not be your income -- it might be your spending habits.

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