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Cost of living is on the rise

It's not your imagination.

Your wallet is taking a bigger hit in today's economy.

Registering your vehicle? The cost just jumped. Headed to college? You'll soon have to dig deeper to pay higher fees.

Even mailing a letter is costing you more.

Just as families schooling themselves to live on less are starting to make headway, the rising cost of many necessities is delivering a new financial punch.

"If you look at the consumer price index, you would think that the cost of living is very low," said Sung Won Sohn, professor of economics at California State University, Channel Islands. "Unfortunately, that is not the case. The cost of living for the average person is going up."

Just ask Alex Serna of Sacramento.

Serna, 29, finally got a job as a part-time worker at a gas station after being laid off. But even with the new income, the new expenses are a heavy hit.

"It's hurting us at the house," Serna said. "And whatever they say you owe, you owe."

Serna can't really eliminate necessities like electricity from his life. And he's likely to see higher rates later this year.

In September, directors of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District are expected to raise electricity rates either by 9.5 percent or 5.5 percent. Either way, the hit to customers will equal or exceed 13 percent because of additional increases proposed over a 16-month period. The new monthly SMUD bill? For the average residential customer, it could jump as high as $86.22 in September, up from $77.88.

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