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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.