Friday, May 26, 2017

No inflation? My Pocketbook Knows Better

Whoever says inflation is nonexistent must be a politician because the rest of us find rising prices everywhere. Higher costs cannot be avoided by staying home. A rate increase notice arrives with monthly utility bills. Internet services bombard us with special deals. Take the deal, and at expiration the bill soars. Don't take a deal and eventually service options decrease. And don't get me started on taxes. Federal taxes may (temporarily) remain the same or fall (if you are in a top income bracket) but state and local taxes continue to rise.

New Jersey instituted a 23 cents per gallon gasoline tax increase this year. The revenue is supposed to fund transportation infrastructure. The state desperately needs new roads and rail service while existing roads and bridges deteriorate, forcing closures. Crews begin fixing bridges and roads and discover additional problems, forcing long-term detours and traffic jams while local businesses suffer.

So the 23-cent price increase goes into effect and today the cost of gas is 45 cents a gallon higher than before the tax was implemented. Oil companies took advantage of the increase, I guess, to sock it to consumers.

And inflation doesn't exist?

I am not wedded to particular food brands, buying what is on sale, what looks good, what I might be in the mood for. When an item gets too high I seek alternatives. I gave up red meat a couple of years ago for health reasons. Prices climbed and recently there has been a lot of publicity about the ill effects of products produced on factory farms, the source of most of America's beef.

There is an excellent grocery store a few blocks from my house renown for in-store prepared foods, offering everything from several kinds of potato salad and cole slaw to a variety of meat, fish, chicken, and vegetable concoctions. But convenience comes at a price. I buy when an item is on sale. Packaged uncooked chicken is also expensive at this particular store, whether brand name, organic, hormone-free, whole or parts. Rotisserie chickens are actually cheaper. I guess prepared ones are loss leaders. Don't want to cook? Buy one of our cooked chickens. And don't forget sides along with it - which, as previously mentioned, are pricey. High margins, I suspect, means more profit...

I purchase chicken at another market. Cheaper, fresher than brand names, and regional.

Uh oh. I am beginning to sound like a cranky old person, complaining about things changing-and not for the better.

I realize prices rise, but sometimes the increase jolts me into a kind of financial anxiety. Hub and I are retired and cannot complain about our financial situation. On the other hand our resources are finite. Assuming we live to enjoy a long retirement, our funds must stretch over many years. Not a problem as long as the gas tax doesn't keep jumping wildly and taxes do not surge precipitously every year and prescriptions do not spiral steeply...

Medical costs. The bane of retirees. We have insurance, but that does not guarantee financial peace of mind in the long run. Increases may not make a difference in everyday expenses but over the years add up. A lot. And how about medical items not covered by insurance? Glasses...hearing aids...

And what about our electronic gadgets? They are made NOT to last forever by becoming technologically obsolete.

Sometimes I hear my mother-in-law in my head. The woman was unaware in her later years of the cost of living and, once a financial maven, handed her financial affairs over to younger family members. Maybe that is the answer - ignorance can sometimes be bliss.

No worry. Be happy. 

1 comment:

  1. I often comment while grocery shopping that it may reach the point where we rent our food. So goad I'm not feeding a large family.