Big government spending cuts are looming as the sequester nears.
The automatic cuts are across the board, without regard to what is cut and how necessary it is.
Even if you don't work for the federal government, you're bound to notice.
From job losses to longer waits at airports to local governments having to cut services, just about all of us will feel the effect.
Barring Congressional action, the Sequester will take effect March 1.
But right now, we're already getting hit by a double and even triple whammy.
Paychecks have shrunk slightly because of last month's fiscal cliff deal, while food and gas prices are rising.
In fact, gasoline prices have been surging since mid-January.
Triple A says Tucson's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.44.
That's up more than 50 cents in the past month, but only a penny more than one year ago.
The statewide average is $3.66.
Nationwide it's $3.78.
Triple-A Arizona says Tucson has the least expensive gas. Flagstaff has the highest prices.
Triple-A Arizona expects prices to peak in early to mid spring.
People are hunkering down, making changes in their lifestyles because they also are dealing with the two percent increase in the Social Security payroll tax.
The temporary tax cut we were enjoying expired January first.
That means less money in paychecks.
The Associated Press is reporting low and middle income Americans really are feeling the pinch.
The A-P says their incomes are flat or dropping.
It's an ongoing story.
The economic downturn and slow recovery have forced a lot of people to adjust long before now.
"Where I work, we've not had any kind of a cost of living change or increase in pay in almost five years. So we've been bearing through that that whole time and it's just continue on the way it has been for the last several years," says Tucsonan Chris Roads.
With prices rising, and salaries not, it means Less money in your pocket and less money to spend on life's little luxuries.
Tree Lafferty is a Downtown Mercado Vendor in Tucson.
She makes and sells jewelry.
"We have to lower our prices in order to make more sales in order to come up with the gas and the rent and whatever else," Lafferty says.
However, for some, even the little luxuries are out.
"We don't go out to eat a lot. We have to buy groceries and we have to kind of cut down because produce and meats are very expensive now," says Tucsonan Jeanne Lynch who wants to see better quality and better paying jobs in Tucson.
Looking for optimism, we did not find much, though some believe things will improve.
There's certainly room for it.
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