Thursday, March 20, 2014

Don't Tell Me There is No Inflation

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           My daughter bought her own home about a year and a half ago and has been doing pretty well as a twenty-something paying her student loans, her mortgage, her health insurance, and the like.  Her extravagance has been a smaller pedigree dog she plucked from the pages of Craigslist.  The dog is well cared for and adored.

                       At the beginning of this year more money started to be withheld from my daughter's paycheck, and she is finding it more of a challenge to pay electricity, phone and internet.  She also got a raise which threw her into a higher tax bracket.   Her boyfriend has never found a fulltime job after college and he works part time without benefits, but is willing to take additional hours when anyone calls in sick, and they often do.  Despite being fairly careful, they are finding financial life difficult.
                        I dropped off a new vacuum cleaner from Wal-Mart one day last week to find them sitting in the dark trying to save electricity.   I decided to try to help them in small ways until they navigate some of these changes.  I remember money stress from my twenties and it can be no picnic.   I decided that as I shop, if I find a good buy on something I will pick it up for them.

                        I have been in a couple of grocery stores this week and thought I might get them a few specials that I know they like and will use.   I know her boyfriend likes fig bars and that my daughter doesn't and so I can be reasonably assured that he will eat them.   In the Fall, I bought him a package of store brand fig bars for about a dollar that was about a pound.   Today, the only store brand I could find was $3.29 and it was two pounds.   They didn't even have the one pound variety, and I have paid more than three times what I paid in the Fall.   I also bought peanut butter.  The jar is smaller and has a big concave bottom and is more money than it was in the Fall.   This was true of Wal-Mart,  Food Lion, Giant and Kroger.  All of them were offering less product for more money in their generic lines as compared to last Fall when I bought some grocery items for my daughter for Winter.  The government says there is no inflation.

                     My daughter's electricity bill has risen if you compare September to September etc.  Yes, this past month has been colder than normal, but even without that, her basic bill for electricity has increased. This is interesting because she has a fairly new house and spends a great deal of time at work. But, we have no inflation.

                   Our daughter used to drive to the university for about forty dollars a week. Now, she commutes to a location that is closer, with a car that is smaller than the one she traveled to college in, and her gasoline bill is about eighty dollars a week.  But, I remind her that we have no inflation.

                   We used to use several different independent car repair shops.  With a large family and a variety of cars and trucks, this was necessary.  Now, the labor has gone up so much in the last couple of years, that we only use them for mandatory state inspections.  We now do all our own maintenance and repairs.  But, there is no inflation, according to our government.

                  Of course, all of our recurrent bills have risen here too, but with young adult sons in college, I know that they will consume more food, use hot water, eat more food than they did as younger teens.   The question is, if no one gets raises anymore, and everything continues to rise in costs, how long will it be before the Middle Class becomes a memory ?

                  I'm not even going to mention health care or medications, for that is a series of posts all its own.

                  The federal government creates "statistics" based on the goods and services that have not risen or have decreased in the last couple of years, while ignoring the predominance of the items that have risen.. It must be nice to simply cast aside the data that doesn't support the conclusion you wish to advance, because this is what they are doing.


Navy91 said...

Oh, yeah! There's no inflation. That's why I'm changing large segments of my lifestyle to help the ends meet better. No more cable. Minimum service on my cell phone and no more landline. Only one movie at the theatre a month now. Lowered thermostat in the winter and higher in the summer. Buying generic everything as long as the quality is there. Take my lunch to work and don't use the vending machines. Pretty much stopped eating out altogether. Yep, no inflation. As Charlie Brown would say, "good grief!"

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for posting. This has certainly been my family's experience ! What's a movie ??????LOL

Mamma Bear said...

I agree with everything and also want to know what's a movie?...LOL The last time Papa Bear and I went to a movie was to see The Grey. I think that was 3 years ago. The tickets for the two of us and our splurge of popcorn and 2 cokes. It came close to a $50.00 date night. How do kids afford to go on dates? We very seldom eat out but our mad rush to the vet Tuesday left us hungry. We stopped at Hardee's. Two Combo meals of our choice was almost $20.00.(Papa Bear did super size his) Five us us used to eat at a fast food joint for that amount. It's crazy out there.

Tewshooz said...

We have also dropped our satellite TV (too far out for cable) and land line phone. Family plan at TracFone for 12 bucks a month for two phones. Buying in bulk and have joined a co-op. Cook everything from scratch as I can stay home a cook, being retired. Raise our own chickens and beef....we are lucky to live in rural area. Closed down most of the house this winter. Huh....this is how we lived when I was a kid during WW11. What goes around, comes around, eh? Oh, inflation here, either.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, date nights can now be very expensive, even if it's just a movie. We haven't gone to the movies in a very long time. In the past year especially, fast food has become very expensive. We still venture a trip to Wendy's now and again, but we order from what used to be the Dollar Menu, which now mostly exceeds a dollar but is called the "Right Size, Right Price" menu.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, most of the people here are living like WW II. A few of them are living like The Great Depression.

Sandy said...

We all know you can make statistics look good for any silly reason. The true picture, prices are high, so is the cost of living. Those who live in the middle of this economy truly know what's going on.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for posting, Sandy. I feel badly for my kids and for young people in general. Getting started is always difficult, but now, it's doubly so. I also can see a day where all my husband and I do is work to feed everyone. Best wishes,

Lady Locust said...

I just read today that the inflation rate of food since 1960 is around 1100 percent with examples of such things as potatoes. Our income.....not so much.
I am nearly finished with the book "The Turning Point" by Gregg Braden. So far it is one of the most intelligent & forthright books on the subject that I have read - not that I agree with every little thing he says, but I can at least see them as a valid thoughts.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you for mentioning this, and for your post. I will definitely check out this book. I agree that since 1960, it probably is 1100%. My parents in 1960 bought all their family groceries for $40. and this included scallops for dinner one night, shrimp for salad, and they actually had dinner parties, and used name brands. Breyer's Ice Cream was expensive then, at 49 cents for a half gallon !!! I have never been able to buy groceries that way, always sticking to the generics, and I haven't had scallops since 1989 !

Linda said...

I wonder if your daughter knows how little the lights run up her electric bill. Judicious use is reasonable, but sitting in the dark won't solve the problem. Has she used a kill-a-watt to see which appliances are using more electricity? Maybe more judicious use of those appliances would help. My electric bill goes up when I use the dryer. Maybe the hot water temperature could be lowered.

My mother would bring my husband and I a bag of groceries to help us. We both attended school and were very conservative in our spending. This was mid-60s. I can actually include food in a birthday box and mail it to NY more cheaply than my daughter can buy food. When I find things she uses, in her brand, I get those for her. I just bought Degree deodorant for $0.50 for her and myself. Right now, my secret shopper job gives me free postage and pays me to mail. So, this is a no-brainer for me. I found a $34 blouse for $2.49, so that is a good item to mail along with deodorant. It helps her and keeps my birthday gifts in reach of my budget.

Living in NYC, she is really suffering from grocery prices rising weekly, she says.

JaneofVirginia said...

I think my daughter does know the costs of light, etc. and she does have my kill--a-watt. Her house has an electricity bill that is a mere fraction of mine, but I think they are experimenting with seeing how low they can get the bills. She only uses her dishwasher on holidays.