As time flies by, we realize that our expenses just keep on growing. Sure, nobody likes to spend too much money and would rather save it, but sometimes life gets expensive. Basic necessities such as rent, gas, and groceries always seem to be going up the price ladder. But amidst this sea of expenses, there are certain things that are cheaper than expected. We bring to you 10 such things that are cheaper than expected.
It takes almost two years to grow a single pineapple. Plus, a commercial pineapple plant just produces one fruit in its lifetime. Considering this, the supermarket pineapples are quite cheap.
In appearance, a pineapple plant looks beautiful with its short but stocky stem and pointy leaves. But the hard work that goes behind producing just one fruit is rarely known by people. Growing a pineapple takes almost two years. During the first year of growth, the axis of the fruit grows in length and thickens with spiral leaves growing on it. Then it takes an additional 12 to 20 months for the stem to grow into a fruit. For commercial purposes, the plant is replaced every season. This means that a single commercial plant produces just one fruit during its lifetime.
Considering the time taken for a single product, pineapples are sold at quite a cheap price in supermarkets. The average price of a pineapple in the US is $2.80. That’s actually cheap. Experts say that the reason farmers are able to sell pineapples at a cheap price is because of the yield per acre. The plants are planted really close to one another.
The plants are laid down on the ground about half to two feet apart in rows. The rows are then two to four feet apart. The math says that in such a scenario, 65,000 plants can be accommodated on one acre of land. After each plant produces a single fruit, the plant dies but produces two to four offshoots. These offshoots are then left to fruit again. After the second crop, the land is tilled and the process starts all over again.
So, assuming that there’s a 90% success rate that each plant produces a two-pound fruit, then 65,000 plants would lead to 117,000 pounds of fruit. Assuming an average two-pound pineapple sells for $2.80 in the US, an acre of a field yields $327,600! Plus, these fruits are durable and can be easily shipped. (1, 2, 3)
For under a dollar, the postal service takes a sealed envelope anywhere in the US. For a little more than a dollar, they will take it anywhere in the world!
In the United States, a letter can be sent anywhere within the States for just 55 cents. In case the envelope is a bit oversized, it takes 70 cents. For international shipping for regular envelopes, the price starts at $1.15.
Apart from being the obvious choice for sending letters and envelopes, USPS is the first choice for small businesses. The prices for the USPS Priority Mail are a bargain for businesses shipping parcels that are under 3 lbs. In this field, USPS beats FedEx by a few dollars and even have the parcels arrive earlier. The flat-rate Priority and Express shipping in USPS is beneficial for small but heavy items. Plus, USPS offers a range of free packaging options. Each packaging enables shippers to save $1 on each item which they would have to invest while shipping through FedEx. (1, 2, 3)
3. Long-distance Calling.
A few decades ago, long-distance calls were quite pricey and their rates differed during the day and night. In 1927, a 10-minute call during the day from LA to NYC was $27.75. Now, with innovations such as Skype, people can enjoy unlimited calls at just a few dollars a month!
Long distance calling is a lot cheaper nowadays with technologies such as Skype. It’s free worldwide if you are calling Skype-to-Skype. The rates are still low if you are calling users on landlines or mobile phones. In 1927, a 10-minute call from New York to LA used to cost $27.75. Now, with Skype, people can call anywhere in the United States for just a $3.53 subscription per month with no limit on minutes.
For an additional $30 per year, one can get a Skype number for incoming calls. For unlimited landline and mobile calls to anywhere in the world, Skype just charges a $16.51 monthly subscription. Apart from Skype, there are numerous other such services that have reduced international calling prices by a great extent. (1, 2)
4. Textile Manufacturing in the US
You would think it’s more expensive than China but, in reality, it’s almost the same. The reason being, in the U.S., land, electricity, and cotton are all much cheaper.
There’s a popular widespread belief that manufacturing in China is cheap as compared to the rest of the world. But that is no longer the case. Costs are rising and manufacturers have been looking elsewhere for their production needs. And some manufacturers have been looking at the United States as the new manufacturing hub.
It’s true that working costs are quite low in China, but when the overall costs are taken into account, the US is turning out to be a good option for manufacturers. According to Zhu Shanqing, president of the Keer Group, an Hangzhou-based textile manufacturer, “In the U.S., land, electricity, and cotton are all much cheaper. My production cost per ton of textiles is 25% lower.”
Now that wages in China are increasing rapidly, manufacturers from China are looking to move their entire business operations to the US. Also, a lower corporate tax in the United States is an added advantage. (source)
5. Housing in the US
Housing prices in the US are one of the cheapest among the developed nations.
People who have endured house hunting in European or Asian cities realize that property prices in the US are fairly cheap. Below is a chart by The Organization for Economic Development And Co-operation (OECD) that makes the situation pretty clear.
There are numerous reasons for low property prices in the US. The US has a large land mass, a very stable and supportive government, a good world currency with a deep market in bonds, and property rights. Now, numerous foreigners are flooding into the US to buy houses. If the influx continues then down the line there might come a time when property prices will rise.
But mass media has spread a few misconceptions regarding the housing prices. Recently, an article in Wired suggested that a family making $100,000 cannot afford to purchase a house in most US cities. There has been a lot of counter-arguments to this statement. The median house price is around $240,000. Making a down payment of 20%, the $192,000 mortgage is payable at 4% which equals to $917 a month. Considering another $200 for property maintenance, it equals $1,117 per month. Now a family earning $100,000 or $80,000 after taxes, would easily be able to pay $1,117 per month for a house.