Steep energy bill hikes are expected to have kept inflation painfully high in the latest official figures due out on Tuesday.
Most economists are predicting the benchmark Consumer Prices Index (CPI) to remain at 2.7% for the third month in a row in December after a wave of energy tariff hikes came into effect.
But some experts believe inflation may have even increased further away from the Government's 2% target, highlighting yet more pain for hard-up households.
Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec Securities, is pencilling in a rise to 2.9% last month and warned that CPI is heading for 3% by the summer.
He said: "This is getting close to the level - above 3% - where Sir Mervyn King or his successor Mark Carney would have to write another explanatory letter to the Chancellor. We think this is likelier than not to happen, but on our profile we do not expect it until around mid-year."
Price increases from four of the "big six" energy suppliers came into effect by the end of December in a winter blow to consumers. It is thought that this will have been partially offset by lower fuel costs as oil prices have fallen, while food inflation is also likely to be below the 1.4% jump seen a year earlier. This is not expected to remain the case for long, with food inflation set to soar over the coming months after poor UK harvests due to last year's severe wet weather, as well as crops hit overseas by adverse conditions.
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "It looks likely that consumer price inflation will hit 3% in the early months of 2013 as it is pushed up by increasing energy tariffs and further rises in food prices." But he said inflation should fall "markedly" in the final months of 2013, down to around 2.2%.
Above-target inflation is proving a headache for Bank of England policymakers as they weigh up mounting signs of economic gloom against faster increases in the cost of living.
The economy is looking likely to have suffered a fresh contraction in the fourth quarter, according to some estimates, and could be heading for an unprecedented triple-dip recession.
But the Bank may be reluctant to push the button for more quantitative easing (QE), given the outlook for inflation. It remained firmly in "wait and see" mode this month, keeping rates at 0.5% and QE at £375 billion.
10 of the biggest consumer rip-offs
Inflation fears over energy bills
Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.
To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.
At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.
It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.
With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.
No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.
Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.
Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.
While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.
However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.
However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.
Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.
Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.