Turnpike tolls, groceries, stamps and more: 11 things that will be more expensive in 2021

COVID-19 has definitely upended prices and spending habits in 2020.

As we cocooned at home, far-flung vacations and even trips to the local movie theater, were replaced by backyard cookouts and Netflix viewing. We spent record amounts at the supermarket and less out at restaurants and bars.

Now, as we bid farewell to the year, experts suggest we’ll continue to pay high prices for some goods and services in 2021.

Here’s a look at everything from groceries to streaming services and cars.

Pennsylvania Turnpike

Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls are going up, again.

Those driving on the turnpike should expect to pay more in 2021, and those without E-ZPass will pay significantly more. This marks the 13th consecutive year for a turnpike price hike.

In July, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved a 45-percent increase for “Toll by Plate” drivers at toll facilities converted to All-Electronic Tolling in June. There are a handful of tolling locations which had already gone cash-free; those locations will only see a 6-percent increase for Toll by Plate drivers.

The commission approved a 6-percent toll increase for all E-ZPass rates systemwide.

The most common toll for a passenger vehicle will rise from $1.50 to $1.60 for E-ZPass customers and from $2.50 to $3.90 for those choosing “Toll by Plate”, the commission said.

The new rates take effect Jan. 3.


AT&T is raising prices for first-year service customers of DirecTV and U-verse TV service. Starting Jan. 17, the majority of DirecTV customers will be paying $5 to $9 more each month, depending on the plan, according to Consumer Reports.


Also, the nation’s largest cable company is raising prices for cable TV and internet service starting on Jan. 1. It’s also boosting add-on fees, according to Consumer Reports. While Comcast’s prices vary by market, Consumer Reports says the price of its Choice TV plan will go up about $5 per month, from $25 to $30.


As it does most years, Medicare cost adjustments kick in on Jan. 1. Increases for premiums and out-of-pocket costs for most beneficiaries – most whom are 65 years and older – are modest this year. Starting in 2021, the standard monthly Part B premium will be $148.50, up from $144.60 in 2020.

Home improvement projects

Due to the pandemic, supplies of materials such as lumber have been disrupted, causing prices to skyrocket. That means higher prices for home improvement projects, whether a new fence or deck or remodeling project.

The National Association of Home Builders reported prices for lumber more than doubled from less than $400 in January to more than $900 in September. Prices dropped off in October but remain higher than a year ago.

Harrisburg real estate market

Realtor Joy Daniels, owner of Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, at a Shiremanstown property she listed at $190,000. The home is under contract, having sold after receiving multiple bids during three days on the market. December 11, 2020. Dan Gleiter | [email protected]


A housing shortage coupled with strong demand and low mortgage rates has created a booming real estate market. But for those looking to buy, it’s going to continue to cost you more.

The Associated Press reported prices were up 7.9% in October compared with 12 months ago, according to Tuesday’s S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index.

The Harrisburg market is ranked among the top 10 markets, according to Realtor.com, where prices are expected to increase by 6.9% while sales are expected to increase 13.1% compared to 2019.

That is significantly higher than the national projection of 5.7% price appreciation and 7 % sales growth.


After a year of rising grocery prices related to the pandemic, prices are expected to only slightly rise in the new year. The United States Department of Agriculture reports prices of food purchased from stores such as grocers and supermarkets will likely increase between 1 and 2%.


Right now, coffee prices are level, mostly because demand at coffee shops is down due to the pandemic and more people working from home. But eventually, when the virus goes away, coffee drinkers will return to old habits, which could lend itself to an uptick. However, according to Forbes the weather in key growing areas such as Brazil and Vietnam could have more of an impact on prices in 2021 and boost prices, as it has been too rainy in Vietnam and too dry in southern Brazil.

Used Cars

Used cars are considered a favorite by penny-pinchers. But while you can still land a deal, you’ll pay more for that set of wheels than you did a year ago. That’s because temporary shutdowns of new car manufacturing early on in the pandemic pushed shoppers to used car lots. Plus, commuters looking to avoid mass transit wanted an affordable option. The average price increase for used cars is 9.5 percent or $2,193 compared to 2019, according to iSeeCars.com, a car search engine.

Disney +

Disney+ is introducing loads of new content in the new year, but it’s going to cost you more. A subscription is increasing by $1 to $7.99 per month starting March 2021, and $79.99 for a yearly subscription.

U.S. Postage

Some U.S. Postal Service prices are rising starting on Jan. 24. While the cost of a first-class forever stamp will remain at 55 cents, other changes include:

  • The single-piece letter additional ounce price will increase 5 cents from 15 cents to 20 cents
  • The cost for 1 ounce metered mail will increase from 50 cents to 51 cents
  • Postcard postage will increase from 35 cents to 36 cents
  • Also unchanged is the $1 charge for 1 ounce single-piece flat mail.