I remember when candy bars jumped from five cents to a dime. Our local store had a sale where you could get two for fifteen cents. I bought six of the $100,000 Bars, my favorite at the time, which was a significant outlay for a kid back then. They didn’t last long.
In 1981, at the height of inflation, a candy bar had jumped to 30 cents. Now those candy bars sell anywhere from $1.69 to $1.99 or more, depending on the store. In a decade the candy bar went from five cents to thirty. (I’ve got news for you: we may be in another decade like that one.) Today, 50 years after that candy bar sold for a nickel, it costs $2. And you thought we only had inflation in this past year.
More important to me as a young kid, Bazooka Joe bubble gun, Jaw Breakers and other “penny” candy at the corner store doubled to 2 cents. All the neighborhood kids were outraged. Especially because we still got only a nickle for turning in a pop bottle.
You used to be able to buy a mint with your spare change; not any longer. When I see a bucket of peppermint patties or other candy on the counter at a convenience store or a restaurant, I don’t bother fishing one out because they are so expensive.
Everything Seems to Costs $5
My wife and I recently went to a street festival in a nearby town where they set up booths on Main Street and sell local arts and crafts, plus an assortment of food.
I bought a brownie from an exhibitor. It was $5. I swear those brownies used to be $2. My wife got a pretzel at a food truck. It was $5. And those were the inexpensive options. Who decided $5 was a small amount of money, and where was I? And when will they start printing $500 bills?
The $5 minimum was notable because the last time my wife went grocery shopping, she said she felt that almost every little item was $5. Something that used to cost $2.89? Now it was $5. Even a simple condiment, $5. She spent $150 and felt like she got very little for it.
For years, people have been talking about doing away with the penny and either rounding up or down to the nearest nickel if you paid cash. The absence of the copper penny would not matter for electronic payments. Now I must wonder how much more inflation will it take before they start trying to get rid of the $1 bill. I figure candy bars will be $5 each in another three to five years.
We sell a dozen eggs for $5. I’m thinking we’ll have to raise that to $6 or $7 soon. (I now have to sell 9 dozen eggs to pay for a month of chicken feed.) In another year or two, I expect we’ll have to charge $10.
Inflation Keeps Growing
Elon Musk says he thinks inflation has peaked and we will see a moderate recession for the next 18 months. While I am more likely to believe him than Janet Yellen, I’ve seen no sign of inflation peaking in my life. With the lower gas prices, we might see the rate of increase slow, but I doubt we will see it drop. Food is not getting any cheaper, and neither is natural gas. We’re going to see cold, hungry people this winter, and it will be worse in Europe.
My guess is that if numbers appear to moderate before the midterm elections, it will not be because the economy has improved, but because every bureaucrat in Washington wants the Democrats to continue winning. How else do you explain the difference between the most recent unemployment report and the labor force participation ate? Or the many reports of layoffs? Or the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence survey?
I would not be the first to suggest Washington is fabricating numbers. I mean, if the Chinese Communist Party can do it, what’s stopping the leftists in Washington from doing the same?
Trust Your Gut and Your Eyes
Trust your gut. If you are spending more and getting less, that is more telling than any government report. If layoffs are hitting your friends and family, you know the true unemployment numbers. When you can’t get your prescription filled because the pharmacy is out of stock or you can’t get an MRI because they are out of contrast dye, you know all is not well with our economy.
Luckily, the Federal government isn’t in charge of everything. Big cities continue to issue crime statistics telling us how much worse things are growing. Border states continue to show us how many illegal border crossings they experience each month and how many millions of fentanyl pills they intercept.
Plus, the media likes a good blood-and-guts story because it attracts eyeballs. When a liquor store owners shoots a rifle-toting burglar, it makes the news and goes viral, even if the Biden administration doesn’t like stories about good guys with guns.
Ask for Higher Wages
Inflation is making our money worth less. The only way you can hope to stay even is to make more. Don’t be afraid to bring it up at work. If you are a valuable employee and the company is making money, they can afford to increase your pay.
Ask your employer why the cost-of-living raise they gave you is not, in fact, keeping up with the cost of living. Use some discretion here; don’t be like the Meta employee that asked about increased vacation time right after the company announced they were going to be making some cuts. If your company is hiring, look at the starting salaries. Make sure your salary as a continuing employee is keeping up. If not, go apply for a job with a competitor.
I heard from a nurse yesterday who got a $10,000 signing bonus. She had quit her job during COVID to be a traveling nurse and made $125 an hour. Now she is back home with her kids and made ten grand by accepting a job offer. And the job pays more than her pre-COVID position. If you are in an industry that desperately needs employees, make that work to your financial advantage.
My youngest daughter likes her current job, where she has worked for almost four years, but is cautiously looking for a new job. She just applied for a position that pays 50 percent more than she makes now. “I’m to going to change jobs for a few thousand dollars,” she told me. She wants a big jump, and this is probably the time to get it. My largest bumps in pay always came from changing jobs. Better yet, get a raise at your current job, then use that as the base salary when you get your next job. It’s like compounded interest.