How Will Inflation Impact You in 2018?

We look at five key sectors -- food, energy, college, health care and housing -- and how much prices are expected to increase in the new year.

Looking for some good news in the new year? We have it: Price increases should be fairly modest throughout 2018.

The Federal Reserve projects an inflation rate of 1.9 percent for 2018, just below the Fed’s stated inflation target of 2 percent annually. In other words, the dreaded days of the early 1980s — when inflation rates soared into the double digits — are not about to return any time soon.

Here’s a look at inflation expectations in a few key sectors:

1. Food

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Retail food prices are expected to rise between 1 percent and 2 percent in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA says:

While fats and oils and processed fruits and vegetables could potentially decline in price, prices for meats, eggs, and dairy are expected to increase.

However, before you complain about the price of steak, keep this in mind: Deflation throughout 2016 and part of 2017 has put 2018 food prices on a track to be lower than they were in 2015. Who says there’s no good news for today’s consumer?

2. Energy

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects gas prices to average $2.51 per gallon in 2018. That represents a modest decline from the end of 2017. And remember, you can always save more no matter what the price is at the pump. For tips, check out “5 Simple Ways to Slash the Rising Cost of Gas.”

Meanwhile, the cost of home heating oil is forecast to climb from $2.52 to $2.77 per gallon. Natural gas prices are expected to drop from $11.13 to $10.92 per thousand cubic feet. Electricity prices are expected to rise from $12.89 to $13.23 per kilowatt-hour. This would be a good time to put in a request for mild weather, or better, make some of these free or cheap energy-saving moves.

3. College

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The College Board says that in this current school year (2017-2018), tuition and fees for a four-year public college at in-state rates are up by 3.1 percent, while room and board also is up by 3.1 percent. Tuition and fees at four-year private schools is up 3.6 percent, while room and board for them is up 3 percent.

For more on saving money during your college years, check out:

4. Health care

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Health care costs are increasing faster than costs in other sectors of the economy, though the rate of increase is flattening, at least for now. Consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers expects health care costs to rise 6.5 percent in 2018 — “the first uptick in growth in three years.”

5. Housing

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Housing prices are expected to climb 4.1 percent, according to Zillow’s survey of 100 experts. Most housing markets have been red-hot in recent years, although a few are still suffering a hangover from the fallout of the Great Recession.

If you are in the market for a home, educate yourself before you attend your first open house. The following stories can help:

Has inflation been a factor in your buying habits? What price changes are you seeing in your daily life? Share with us in comments or on our Facebook page.

Ari Cetron contributed to this report

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