By now, you’ve probably heard enough complaints about the cost of living going up while the contrived government index (CPI) shows virtually no inflation. Well, the American Institute for Economic Research has put out an everyday price index to gauge the inflation Americans are really seeing in their everyday lives. High level findings show that while, yes, you pay less for that big screen TV or DVD player now than you did a few years ago, things that we buy routinely (and especially at the lower end of the economic continuum) continue to skyrocket. Their findings indicated a true inflationary increase of 8% compared to the government’s stated 3.1% CPI increase.
Here’s some inflation pain I’m dealing with – and it’s WAY above 3%:
- Health Care Costs – 42%. Yes, I’m not kidding. That’s how much my healthcare costs increased in 2012. My employer decided to eliminate the HMO option and based on the premium increase and more out of pocket expenses moving forward, this was my increase this year. While this may not show up in the government statistics as a 42%, that’s the impact to us. Hundreds per month more – gone!
- Taxes – Not only are tax rates set to increase when the Bush tax cuts expire and Congress finally pulls Americans off the public teet and reverts back to the old payroll tax rate, but I keep getting hit with NEW taxes. It’s crazy, where I work, the local municipality has imposed a random new tax on all employees. And also, my town just started up a 1% tax on income. Where did this come from? I have no idea, but now I’m stuck paying new taxes that didn’t exist before.
- Food – Admittedly, we spend a lot on food and buy a wide variety of fresh fruits/veggies and entertain a fair amount, so our monthly grocery bills exceed $1000. To blunt the pain, we’re using this awesome 6% cash-back card for groceries which at least gives us back close to $1000 annually in tax-free cash. But overall, we are spending more and more each year both due to a growing family and food inflation.
- Gas – I don’t live very far from work, but we still somehow put on the “typical” 12,000 miles a year on each car. So, aside from using getting 3% cash back on gas, I also hedge our gas prices. But this doesn’t completely stem the increase to close to $4 a gallon nationally. At the end of the day, we have it pretty good and I remind Americans to stop whining about gas prices. But let’s face it, this is a substantial inflationary contribution to the budgets of most Americans, regardless of what the government statistics include or exclude.
- Tuition – This is becoming a joke. Obama blasts colleges for continuing to raise the cost of tuition 6-8%/year while continuing to dole out the aide for lower and middle income students, which just artificially inflates the bubble and allows universities to continue to increase costs indiscriminately. College tuition is the single greatest transfer of wealth from the middle-upper class to the rest of the country we’ve seen in our generation. I’ll pay full price for my 3 kids to the tune of over $300,000 (that’s in today’s dollars; it will be more in the future) so someone else doesn’t have to earn and save. To counter it, I’m gaming my 529 to get guaranteed 9% returns to try to beat the tuition inflation beast, but in general, Americans saving for their kids’ college tuition are paying increases WAY above CPI to keep up.
What’s Your Real Inflation Rate?