A combination of higher gas prices and higher Social Security taxes are leaving people with less money to spend on essentials.
Many workers in the Charlotte area are just getting their first paychecks of 2013. They're finding those checks are now smaller. The reason? The fiscal cliff deal in Washington eliminated a temporary cut in the Social Security payroll tax. The result is that most wage earners are getting what amounts to a 2 percent pay cut.
"There was about an $80 difference," said Sherri Miller. She's paid every two weeks and said she'll now take home $160 less every month.
"I pay $140 a month for day care. So in essence, I'm paying an extra week in day care," Miller said. "So it's taking money away."
The increase in Social Security withholding isn't the only reason workers are feeling a money pinch. Gas prices have also risen steadily since the holiday season began. The price of a gallon of gas is now 15 cents higher than it was a month ago.
At a gas pump near uptown, Ronald Stevens said it's frustrating.
"It seems like you're getting a break and then all of the sudden everything goes back up. And it's like, OK, the little bit of money I was saving seems to be gone," he said.