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How to beat the higher cost of living
In January, you paid an average 3.9% more for basics -- the roof over your head, the food in your fridge, the visits to your doctor -- than you did 12 months earlier in Southern California.
A government forecast says that food in general will set you back 3.5% more this year.
People are coping in many ways -- patronizing the public library instead of the bookstore, kicking the brand loyalty habit, arguing (often successfully) with credit card companies, finally taking their fathers' advice to check the tire pressure, mowing their own lawns.