2012 is here. A new year. A clean slate. Time to get ourselves in shape and feeling better. It has to be a better year than 2011. Fingers crossed. As I stumbled out of bed this morning, I remembered about the toll hike on both the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike. I also became increasingly angry about the rising costs of just about everything.

If you travel the state's toll roads, you'll notice the cost is 50 percent higher. The increase took effect on Sunday and I don't think there's anyone out there happy about it. Being an EZ Pass holder myself, I don't really think too much about what the sign says as I sail through the express lanes on both toll roads. Ah, it's on the credit card. I'll worry about it later.

Well, now I'm worried about it. We've become such an automated society. Auto pay this and express check that. The increase couldn't come at a worse time. The economy is still slow to recover, everything is going up in price and there's still potholes and problem areas on these stretches. Where's the money going to? Let’s hope the Turnpike Authority keeps they're promise so the money is put to good use.

We've heard the following phrase for years now and it's starting to get to me - "the poor economy" or "the struggling to recover economy." Kinda makes you wonder if it will ever really get better. Although millions continue to struggle to make ends meet, everything continues to go up in price. Why? I understand inflation. I understand economics - to a point. But I just don't understand how so many people can be in huge amounts of financial trouble and are still asked to fork up so much. Remember when a pizza pie would cost $6 bucks? I do.

However, over the New Year's Eve weekend, I spent almost $20 on a pizza and bottle of Pepsi. This was for a plain cheese pizza from a local shop. I don't get it. Talk about mark up. How much is some crust, cheese and sauce really worth? How much did it really cost to make? The manpower part wasn't that hard. The guy didn't break a sweat. Ah, I can ramble on for hours about this.

My cable bill for example. We had signed up for the TV, internet and phone package from a certain provider who shall go nameless. After a year of a discounted rate, they jacked up the price and even charged me for services I wasn't getting. It took several phone calls back and forth before it was adjusted. I watch TV but many of the channels are offered on the basic package but not in HD. So I have to pay extra for higher quality picture. They call it a premium service. Why is that the case when we spent a fortune for the TV itself?

Remember Verizon last week? They were going to charge a "convenience fee" to pay via their web site unless you sign up for auto pay. After a huge public outcry, they dropped the idea. Bank of America recently did the same kind of thing and changed their mind too.

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in the theater. It's gotta be over a year - maybe a year and a half. The prices are just crazy. When they say a movie made gazillions at the box office, I'm not impressed. Of course it did well!? Look at the price! And candy?

Why should it cost me the price of having a fancy dinner in a New York restaurant to see some movie that I can get on cable within four months of its theatrical release? I remember when tickets were $5 bucks. Now they're like $12! I will be making an exception for a very special secret agent this November - the first name's James. Last name is Bond.

We all need to remember that yes, the economy is very different today than it was eleven, twelve, thirteen years ago. Lets hope things start going down in price rather than up. Who's in agreement? Comment below.

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