Unexpected Costs Increases

Today’s lunch-time reading brings a trio of stories about price increases, and why they are occurring:

  • Birthday Balloons. If you want to give floating balloons for a special event, expect to be paying a lot more. Helium is in increasingly short supply and its price is rising dramatically. Forget oil. We can find natural substitutes for oil. Helium, on the other hand, is a nonrenewable resource produced by the radioactive decay of thorium and uranium, and there aren’t really good substitutes (Hydrogen is too explosive, and you can’t go too far up the table before you hit Oxygen). Why do we have less helium. Blame the natural gas surplus. The most economical way to capture helium is to separate it from natural gas. And producing less natural gas also means less helium.
  • Dry Cleaning. Where do you think the costs are in dry cleaning? The labor? The chemicals? The machines? The plastic bags? One hidden cost no one thinks of are the wire-hangers. The prices of the (usually vietnamese made) wire hangers are going up, and thus dry cleaning prices are going up.
  • Funerals. You can’t even escape cost increases when you die, because the cost of funerals are going up. The average cost is up over 17.5%… and that doesn’t include the cost of the grave space and opening and closing a grave ($2,500), a headstone ($2,000) or grave marker ($1,000), making the average closer to $8,000 to $10,000.