Tag: Econogal’s Inflation Check Challenge

Understanding Inflation and a Final Look at the Inflation Check Challenge

Complexity of Understanding Inflation

Understanding Inflation can either be simple or complex. A simple look just compares prices over time periods. An example is the Inflation Check Challenge covering the last 12 months. Complexity arises when we search for the whys and how comes. Today we will take a look at both.

Inflation Check Challenge

Early last year I became concerned with the possibility of inflation. Interruptions in the supply chain were becoming a problem. So, I issued the Inflation Check Challenge to the readers of Econogal. I shared an example of a market basket and began tracking prices. Throughout the year, I posted quarterly comparisons. To review previous graphs, click on the month that interests you; January 2021, April 2021, July 2021, October 2021. Below is a year- end comparison with additional comments.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Listing the CPI throughout 2021 would have been less work, but personally not as meaningful. This figure is closely watched and often influences everything from the stock market to government entities and individuals. Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) are based on the CPI. But the CPI has some shortcomings. Especially for those of us living in rural areas.  The index is weighted heavily toward urban life.

A second argument concerning the CPI is whether or not to include items whose prices are volatile. Food and energy costs fall into this category. These two categories are represented in the below table by the highest increases. Thus, arguments such as this Wall Street Journal opinion piece on transitory inflation by Alan S. Blinder need to be considered.

Thirdly, the CPI does not reflect the impact of substitute goods. Without a close substitute, inelasticity of a particular good or service is great, so prices shoot up. Conversely an elastic good will not show much of a price increase. (See Elasticity of Demand and Supply in Regards to Covid-19.)

Transitory Inflation

Over the last six months or so the term transitory inflation has been bandied about. There are nuances to the definition. Short-term, temporary, and not permanent are all a bit vague, but certainly apropos. Recently, Federal Reserve Chairman Powell dropped the description “transitory” when discussing inflation. Why?

Economists are split (Still!) on what the future holds. Individuals like Mr. Blinder above, defend the current rates of inflation as transitory. This school of thought believes prices will self-adjust in the coming months. And that Fed action will be harmful. This is very much the Classical School approach.

Deflation

The argument for transitory inflation also reflects a belief that deflation is a possibility in the near future. Both with and without governmental interference in the economy. Understanding inflation means grasping disinflation and deflation.  Disinflation occurs when the inflation rate slows down. We are currently not in a period of disinflation.

Nor are we in a period of deflation. However, if you look at the table below one item represents deflation. Why did toothpaste decrease in price? Was this an anomaly? Most likely. If the price check were to continue, I would expect this item to also increase.

Those studying the market understand not everything moves in the same direction. But to have a deflationary period, the majority of goods would be offered at lower and lower prices. Deflation and recession often go hand in hand. The United States has not experienced prolonged periods of recession in almost three decades. Nor have we faced high inflation. Instead we experienced a steady low inflation rate interrupted by a handful of short-lived recessionary periods. Most notably the financial crisis of ’08 and ’09.

Understanding Inflation: Demand-Pull and Cost-Push

How high will inflation go? Will we experience hyperinflation, stagflation (high inflation accompanied by a recession) or will the current increase lead to deflation? All are possibilities.

The supply chain disruptions triggered the economic change. Shortages of goods play into demand-pull inflation. Regardless of whether the demand is a need or a want, too few goods leads to higher prices as the market tries to reach an equilibrium. So, even though the shortages were thought to be temporary, an upward price movement took place.

Unfortunately for present day consumers, demand-pull inflation is concurrent with cost-push inflation. The Covid-19 pandemic is greatly impacting labor. And labor is a key cost in production.

Cost of Labor

Even before the pandemic hit, there was pressure to raise the minimum wage rate. Urban areas in particular had an imbalance between wages and the cost of living. Add onto that the aging of the Baby Boomers into retirement status and a squeeze begins in the labor market.

Then Covid-19 struck. Early on the focus was on the elderly and those with underlying health problems. Thus the impact on the labor market should have been negligent. But, other factors came into play. Health care workers and other essential workers remained on the job during the early waves. Many were repeatedly exposed. Non-retirees began to become severely ill. Deaths occurred across all demographics. Long-Covid disabilities popped up randomly. If you are near retirement age or a non-essential second income, do you want to take such a health risk? For many the answer was no.

So, early retirements are occurring. Non-retirees are also leaving the workforce. Replacement labor is costly. Salaries are pushed up by fewer individuals available to work. The hardest positions to fill require specialized training. Employers compete by offering higher wages. Cost-push inflation is here.

Government Intervention-Fiscal and Monetary

Understanding inflation can be quite complex. The current situation reflects this. Shutting down the economy in 2020 as a response to the novel coronavirus will have long term implications. In addition to national defense, governments have a responsibility for the social wellness of citizens. So, the shutdown was an effort to control viral spread.

To offset economic losses, a number of fiscal policies were put in place. Congress passed trillions of dollars in aid. The various stimulus packages injected dollars into the money supply. Economic growth was not occurring-indeed production was inhibited by worker illnesses. Thus more demand-pull pressure occurred.

Monetary Actions

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors attempts a juggling act. In theory, the Federal Reserve is an independent entity charged with the stability of the economy. The goal is one of high employment with a low level of inflation.

But in recent years, “The Fed” has been pushed by both sides of the political aisle. Most recently as mentioned in the Random Thoughts of Mid-January 2022, the entity has been tasked to include non- monetary functions such as Climate Change in its decision making.

So, rate hikes to discourage inflation were put on hold. The signal is for an increase in March of 2022. In my opinion the rate hike is overdue. Zero percent interest rates sound good on paper, but in reality may have done great damage to the economy. Time will tell. But, easy money through monetary policy coupled with tremendous amounts of stimulus signal inflation. Combine that with both demand-pull and cost-push market influences and you have a recipe for a perfect storm.

Hyper-inflation

Is hyper-inflation next? A possibility exists albeit slight. Keys to hyper-inflation, which is defined as a 50% increase in prices month-over-month, are demand-pull inflation and a large money supply. Both are in place. Usually, developed countries escape hyper-inflation. Production can be ramped up which results in enough supply to defeat demand-pull stressors.

But, the Covid-19 pandemic is interfering. Wave after wave of variants undulate across the world. Production is impacted. Supply chains are broken. The labor market is skewed. Easy money amplifies the problem. How much will the March rate hike be? Will it be in time?

Conclusions

Last year at this time I felt confident we were in store for inflation. The prediction was accurate. This coming year? I have no idea. More inflation in the short term is likely. But after that? Cases are being made for both deflation and hyper-inflation. Compelling arguments for each. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence supports the latter. Less than 48 hours after compiling the Inflation Check Challenge List, gasoline prices hiked another four cents. Three increases in a week do not make hyper-inflation, but the trend is ugly. However, I will not panic unless the price of a gallon of gas is locally $4.50 at the end of February. The important word is local as I have heard this amount is already charged in parts of the United States.

Politics and pandemic waves are interfering with the supply and demand mechanism. Thus, economic theory, difficult to apply in the best of times, might not be relevant in 2022. Now is a tough time for understanding inflation.  The only certainty is uncertainty in the near future.

Year End Price Comparison

ItemAmountJanuary 2021
Price
Regular/Sale
April 2021
Price
Regular/Sale
July 2021
Price
Regular/Sale
October 2021
Price
Regular/Sale
January 2022
Price
Regular/Sale
2021-2022
Change in Price
Regular/Sale
% Change + Inflation
(-) Deflation
Regular/Sale
Comments
Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk52 OZ.$3.49$3.99$3.99/$2.99$3.99$3.99/$3.79$0.50/$0.8014%/27%Double digit price increase for both regular and sale price.
Small bag Signature Select Sugar4 LBS.$2.99$2.99/$1.99$2.99$2.99/$2.49$3.29$0.30/$0.5010%/25%The sales price inflation is calculated over a six month period.
Signature Select Cream Style Corn14.75 OZ.$0.69$0.79$0.79$0.79/$0.65$0.89$0.2029%Sold Out in January of 2022. Unable to calculate inflation impact on sales price, only on sale once.
Fleischmanns Active Dry Yeast4 OZ.$6.99$6.99$7.19$7.49$7.49$0.507%Surprised at the single digit inflation rate as item often sold out.
Bananas1 LB.$0.59$0.55$0.59$0.59$0.69$0.1017%This is a January over January comparison and did not take into account the lower April 2021 price.
Kraft Real Mayo30 OZ.$4.99/$3.79$4.99/$3.99$4.99/$3.79$5.29/$3.99$5.29/$3.99$0.30/$0.206%/5%Sale price bounced around a bit. Regular price steady upward movement.
Meow Mix6.3 LBS.$7.78$7.78$7.78$8.22$8.22$0.446%Steady Increase
Morton Salt26 OZ.$1.19/$0.94$1.19/$0.99$1.19/$0.99$1.29/$0.99$1.29/$0.99$0.10/$0.058%/5%I have never seen salt NOT on sale. Glad both indicators are in the single digits, otherwise one would have to take the stats with a grain of…salt.
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste4.6 OZ.$5.99/$4.99$5.49/$3.99$3.99/$3.49$3.99/$2.99$3.99/$1.99(2.00)/(3.00)-33%/-60%Definitely flies in the face of inflation to have this large of a decrease.
Align Probiotics28 Count$26.58$26.58$26.58$26.58$26.5800Price Control? The lack of change defies common thought on prices and inflation.
Tide Botanical Rain Detergent92 OZ.$11.97$11.97$11.97$11.97/$11.39$11.9700No change to regular price and only on sale once.
Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids12 Count$3.18$2.88$2.88$3.38$2.28($0.90)-28%Decrease in price perhaps reflects seasonal demand? Plenty of product in stock.
3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter1 Count$15.88$15.88$15.88$16.38$17.47$1.5910%Even with the additional increase in price, product was sold out in January 2022.
Dunkin Donut Boston Cream1 Count$0.99$1.09$1.17$1.09$1.17$0.1818%Return to July pricing. Newness of competition has worn off.
Regular Unleaded Gasoline1 Gallon$2.36$2.79$2.79$2.79$3.05$0.6929%Ties for the largest percentage increase on list. Price is still way below what a gallon costs in other areas. Local market leader changed hands so more increases would not be surprising.

October 2021 Wrap-Up

Halloween

The October 2021 Wrap-Up is here and that means it is Halloween. I am still undecided about opening the doors to Trick-or-Treaters. The general populace seems oblivious to the current resurgence of Covid-19. Additionally, the forecast is one of a wintery mix. In lay terms, a cold rain mixed with sleet or snow or both.

On top of that, the October 2021 Wrap-Up includes the quarterly Inflation Check. There is much talk in the media about price hikes. We will see what my personal check list looks like. Have you checked your list yet?

Also included is a look at winter projects. I am ready to focus on the hobby room until the first of the year when the brassica seeds will be started. Since I was not able to build a greenhouse, only a few plants were brought inside. Hopefully, they will thrive.

Man wearing a Fritos Costume
Both the costume and the wearer have aged since 2005 when this was taken but both are present Halloween October 2021.

Inflation Check Challenge

Keeping track of prices has been enlightening. There is definitely some price creep, but no large leaps in the products I am watching. The largest quarterly increase of available goods was 5% for the dry cat food. This was the first increase for this product since the challenge began.

The largest increase from a percentage standpoint was in canning lids. An increase of 17% is quite meaningless when there is no product to buy. I do not check for lids every day, but quite frequently and have not seen any locally since February. Jars are still available as are packages of rings and lids together. Both incur more cost.

Third Quarter Inflation Check Challenge

Item Amount January 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
April 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
July 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
October 2021 Price
Regular/Sale
Comments
Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk 52 Oz. $3.49 $3.99 $3.99/$2.99 $3.99
Small Bag Signature Select Sugar 4 lbs. $2.99 $2.99/$1.99 $2.99 $2.99/$2.49 The October sale price was a smaller reduction than in April.
Signature Select Cream Style Corn 14.75 Oz. $0.69 $0.79 $0.79 $0.79/$0.65 Enjoyed the October sale price.
Fleischmanns Active Dry Yeast 4 Oz. $6.99 $6.99 $7.19 $7.49 Another increase in yeast is concerning. Price before the pandemic was several dollars lower.
Bananas Per Pound $0.59 $0.55 $0.59 $0.59
Kraft Real Mayo 30 0z. $4.99/$3.79 $4.99/$3.99 $4.99/$3.79 $5.29/$3.99 Mayo is still on sale. However the jars were either at or past their Best Use date.
Meow Mix 6.3 lbs. $7.78 $7.78 $7.78 $8.22 First increase in price for this product about 5%.
Morton Salt 26 Oz. $1.19/$0.94 $1.19/$0.99 $1.19/$0.99 $1.29/$0.99 Increase in regular price.
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste 4.6 Oz. $5.99/$4.99 $5.49/$3.99 $3.99/$3.49 $3.99/$2.99 The continued price decline makes one think there is a price subsidy at play.
Align Probiotics 28 Count $26.58 $26.58 $26.58 $26.58
Tide Botanical Rain Detergent 92 Oz $11.97 $11.97 $11.97 $11.97/$11.39 Small Discount
Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids 12 Count $3.18 $2.88 $2.88 $3.38 The big increase this quarter did not keep buyers away. Still completely sold out each time I check.
3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter 1 Count $15.88 $15.88 $15.88 $16.38 An increase of 2.5%. Stock was low but not sold out.
Dunkin Donut Boston Cream 1 Count $0.99 $1.09 $1.17 $1.09 Competition brought the price back down. New coffee shop in town.
Regular Unleaded Gasoline 1 Gallon $2.36 $2.79 $2.79 $2.79 The local Pilot must have bought a year's worth of product- or else selling at a loss. Prices while travelling topped $3.50. We certainly fill up before leaving town.

October 2021 Wrap-Up in the Hobby Room

October is a transitional month. Outside temperatures can vary widely-even day to day. So, I spend some time in the hobby room. Currently, I have multiple projects going on. One quilt has been layered and is in a stand. At least one hour a day is spent hand quilting this Christmas gift.

Another gift is in the cutting/sewing stage. I did not include rotary cutting blades in the Inflation Check Challenge, but they seem to be a bit more expensive. Each new project usually needs a new blade, so I should have included these. Maybe next year.

A new great-nephew is arriving next February. His quilt is currently in the design stage. I am in a bit of a quandary with this one. I have a great backing piece, with one small problem. It is about ½ inch shorter than my design. So, I am working on the math.

My current plan was to have alternating blocks of a finished seven inch size. The center would be comprised of 16 of these blocks. I was planning on a six inch border. But, to incorporate the design into the border, I end up with seven inches per side. Somehow, somewhere, I will need to “cheat” either a seam allowance, or with the binding. The alternative is to use a boring border.

The final project is a cloth book. I bought the kit at the Alamosa Quilt Company travelling through there in August on the way to Santa Fe. I have been searching for kits like this for several years. The grandkids will love these!

Final Thoughts for the October 2021 Wrap-Up

An ongoing pandemic can be quite depressing. Viruses are pesky. Flus and colds appear every year. Severe consequences vary by type. Few people die from a cold, more from a flu. Covid-19 is more deadly than either. (I am really tired of seeing the 99.9% figure surviving Covid-19 on social media. That is far from true.)  But the novel coronavirus is far, far, less deadly than Ebola or the new virus I am watching- H5N6. Click here to read about this viral flu infection that kills about half of those who contract it.

Since I am not a microbiologist, I cannot offer any valid insight. But I can read and discern. And I can alert as I did back in January 2020.

We need to recognize our world is changing in many ways. Detrimental shifts need to be addressed. Beneficial changes celebrated. The future is uncertain. I intend to do what I can to add value to our world. Conservation is a good place to start. I learned when camping as a Girl Scout to leave the land better than before. What a good lesson for all people, places, and things!

 

 

 

 

July 2021 Wrap-Up

After a two month hiatus I am returning to the monthly wrap-ups with the July 2021 edition. This month will include a comparison of prices as well as a summary of events. Even though the book reviews are fewer, the gardening and travel offer plenty to discuss.

Covid-19 and Summer Travel

Without a deep dive into the numbers, it is hard to correlate the media reports of new Covid-19 outbreaks with observation. In the last six weeks I have put 5000 miles on my Subaru Outback crossing the country. Thirteen states in all. People are travelling everywhere. In addition to a few examples of gas shortages, hotel rooms along interstate highways are also in high demand.

I still prefer to pack food along in a cooler. But to be honest this habit developed pre-pandemic. At the end of a long day of travel, often the last thing I want to do is find a restaurant. Picnic lunches at rest areas also hold an attraction over fast food.

July 2021 Travel

The longest trip in July took me all the way to Florida for the Celebrating Life event honoring my Mom. The much needed closure allowed me to see family that I was separated from during the Covid-19 pandemic. I truly hope this pandemic will run its course and does not get repeated in my lifetime.

I took a slight detour through Texas Hill Country on the return trip. It has been more than a decade since my last visit. This is a beautiful part of the country. And worth leaving the Interstate system to visit. Rural areas suddenly turn into small (and not so small cities) and vice versa. Fair warning, the torrential downpours still occur almost daily. Of course that makes for good grazing. I saw plenty of herds on my trip including the infamous longhorns. But no white Cadillacs with the horns on front. Most likely an iconic image of the past.

July 2021 In The Garden

The toughest part of travel in the summer is the neglect to the garden. Fortunately, the Raised Row technique I use keeps the Big Garden relatively free of weeds. However, a few cucumbers grew so big that they became food for my niece’s chickens. I did have enough of the right size to turn into six pints of pickles. The canning season is just getting started.

The first of the potatoes and the last of the garlic have also been harvested. Green beans, eggplant and tomatoes are all starring in the garden. Unfortunately, there have been casualties as well. Neither the artichoke nor the avocado were able to survive the neglect.

We are fortunate the rains continue. The most recent storm dropped over an inch. Plenty to help with the veggies which seem to prefer natural water over human supplied. The rain also helps keep the utility bill in check.

Overgrown Cucumbers

Cucumbers of all sizes
The chickens enjoyed the over ripe ones!

Fair Time

It is county fair time on the High Plains. Last year many of the fairs were cancelled or mere shadows of previous years. This year should be a return to normal. For those of you in major cities, many counties here have been without a case in months while the more populated counties average one every week or ten days. Thus it is hard for inhabitants to want to maintain isolation.

County fairs in this part of the country focus on the 4-H kids. They also offer rodeos and parades. The fairs are community events. Most of the county high schools have all school reunions in election years. That was skipped last year. A lost year. All school reunions are possible because average class sizes hover in the dozens-or fewer.

Price Comparisons in July 2021

My travel in July 2021 allowed me a glimpse at prices across the country. Gasoline has been the most intriguing. While it is $2.79 in my home town, a high of $3.65 was spotted in both Colorado and Tennessee.

I did some grocery shopping in Florida. The comparisons were quite interesting. Twenty pounds of rice in Florida is almost half what I pay. But the beef prices were much, much higher. I chalk that up to transportation costs.

Thus, the timing for the Inflation Check Challenge is perfect. The current quarter price comparison follows.

Inflation Check Challenge

ItemAmountJanuary PriceApril PriceJuly PriceComments
Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk52 Oz$3.49$3.99$2.99July Price on sale Regular price $3.99
Small Bag Signature Select Sugar4 Lbs$2.99$1.99$2.99April Price on Sale Regular Price $2.99
Signature Select Cream Style Corn14.75 Oz$0.69$0.79$0.79
Fleischmanns Active Dry Yeast4 Oz$6.99$6.99$7.19July Price Increase of $0.20
Bananas1 Lb.$0.59$0.55$0.59A return to January prices after a April dip.
Kraft Real Mayo30 OZ$3.79/$4.99$3.99/$4.99$3.79/$4.99A return to the January Sale Price
Meow Mix6.3 Lbs$7.78$7.78$7.78
Morton Salt26 Oz$0.94/$1.19$0.99/$$1.19$0.99/$1.19
Crest Pro Health Toothpaste4.6 Oz$4.99/$5.99$3.99/$5.49$3.49/$3.99A continued decline in price
Align Probiotics28 Count$26.58$26.58$26.58
Tide Botanical Rain Detergent92 Oz$11.97$11.97$11.97
Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids12 Count$3.18$2.88$2.28Sold Out in Both April and July
3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter1$15.88$15.88$15.88Sold Out in July
Dunkin Donut-Boston Cream1$0.99$1.09$1.17
Regular Unleaded Gasoline1 Gal$2.36$2.79$2.79In January and April prices were within a few cents. July prices had a twenty cent range in town.
A comparison of prices to keep track of inflation.

April 2021 Wrap-Up

The April 2021 Wrap-Up signals the month is finally over. The month felt like a year in some respects. A small amount of progress was made on the last of the baby quilts. A tremendous effort yielded enough plants to fill the Big Vegetable Garden. Finally, I made it past my reading block and the writing is starting to come around as well.

Covid-19 Vaccinations

All of my immediate family has opted to vaccinate against the coronavirus. Reactions varied from none to mild. Mostly sore arm muscle at the injection site. This is a common side effect for me.

In my neck of the woods, many have decided not to vaccinate. Unfortunately, the result of a low vaccination rate is a resurgence of the viral outbreak. So, one way or another herd immunity should come about. Personally, I do not know of anyone who contracted the disease twice. But this new outbreak is taking a toll on the younger populations. This is particularly surprising because our students have been in school together since the fall. Thus there has not been an increase in contact and interaction.

Inflation Check Challenge– April 2021 Wrap-Up and Check-In

The comparison prices from the Inflation Check Challenge were quite a mix. Of the fifteen products, nine kept their regular price the same. However, sale prices changed with some showing a slight increase. Two items decreased in price. Bananas dropped four cents a pound. Most likely a seasonal adjustment.

Mysteriously, canning lids dropped in price. Not surprisingly the thirty cent price dropped resulted in an empty shelf. The product was sold out. I have no idea if the price will change again once new product arrives.

My expense for sugar was less because of a coupon, but the regular price remained the same. I love coupons! Both salt and mayonnaise remained on sale, but the sale price adjusted upwards.

The biggest increase was gasoline. It is now $2.79 per gallon. This increase took place in the early part of the quarter. I think the price has stabilized for a while. Here is the list:

Item                                                                                                                                   January 2021                                 April 2021                                                                                                                                                              Regular Price/Sale Price              Regular Price/Sale Price

Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk                                                                    $ 3.49/$ 3.99                        $ 3.99

Small Bag Signature Select Sugar                                                                                       $ 2.99                                      $1.99/$ 2.99

Signature Select Cream Style Corn                                                                                     $ 0.69                                      $ 0.79

Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast                                                                                          $ 6.99                                      $ 6.99

Bananas                                                                                                                                    $ 0.59                                      $ 0.55

Kraft Real Mayo                                                                                                                      $ 3.79/$ 4.99                           $ 3.99/$ 4.99

Meow Mix                                                                                                                                 $ 7.78                                      $ 7.78

Morton Salt                                                                                                                              $ 0.94/$ 1.19                           $ 0.99/$ 1.19

Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste                                                                                                $ 4.99/$ 5.99                           $ 3.99/$ 5.49

Align Probiotics                                                                                                                       $26.58                                     $26.58

Tide Botanical Rain Detergent                                                                                              $11.97                                     $11.97

Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids                                                                                       $ 3.18                                     $ 2.88      Sold Out

3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter                                                                                               $15.88                                     $15.88

Dunkin Donut-Boston Cream                                                                                                $ 0.99                                      $ 1.09

Regular Unleaded Gas                                                                                                             $ 2.36                                      $ 2.79

 

Yellow Roses in Honor of Mom

March 2021 Wrap-Up

March 2021 provided much needed moisture here on the High Plains. The big snow event elsewhere came in the form of rain. Three days of precipitation. Then just a week later we had a quick, wet six inches of snow. All melted within 48 hours. All total, we received over three inches of moisture.

March 2021 In The Garden

Seedlings under grow lightsThe spring rains did not immediately turn into flowers. We still have the lagging effect of February’s brutal cold. The crocuses that can pop out of the ground by February 1, did not arrive until March 20th. And, the flowering trees have yet to make an appearance. So this Easter there will be an absence of color in the garden.

Several new fruit trees and bushes were planted, and a young sour cherry was transplanted. Of course, the weather was taken into consideration. A dream of having a greenhouse/garden house is becoming a reality. The cherry stood in the way but has adapted to its new spot in the yard.

The apple tree and plum tree have been protected from deer and rabbit. Plus, the raspberry is a dwarf and so will be a patio plant. More plantings will be done in the first half of April. This year may see a large amount of winterkill.

My grow light seedlings are coming along. The brassicas and leaf greens are in the process of hardening off. I have tentatively scheduled the transplanting for late next week. (After the mini heat wave which starts Easter Sunday.) Finally, the first of the asparagus have poked out of the ground. Soon, we will enjoy fresh garden grown veggies.

March 2021 In The Library

My reading goal of including more non-fiction is on track. Additionally, I am expanding the genres under the fiction category. Currently I am reading The Invisible Life of Addie Larue. Very interesting.

However, I am slacking off in the number of periodical articles perused.

Pandemic Thoughts

March 2021 certainly flew by faster than March 2020. It is hard to believe the pandemic is still ongoing. I did receive my first vaccination. There are no problems to report so far. I took the first vaccine available to me, Moderna. Time will tell if there will be any side effects, good or bad. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to seeing more family in the near future.

I am concerned by the many variants popping up throughout the world. My corner has returned to business as usual. Everything is open. For the most part masks are by choice. The exception is in healthcare areas. Perhaps we will be spared the variant strains. Starting Good Friday, anyone 16 or over may be eligible to receive a vaccination.

Inflation Check Challenge

The end of the first quarter is upon us. So our initial inflation check challenge is due. It is time to start filling the market basket formulated at the beginning of the year. Off the top, I know gasoline has skyrocketed. It will be interesting to see how other goods in the basket compare. Keep an eye out for the one-on-one comparison coming in late April.

 

 

 

 

Inflation Check Challenge

The inflation check challenge is a direct response to the higher gas prices on the return trip from Florida. In just ten days, there was a notable increase at the pumps. This prompted me to pay closer attention on a trip to the grocery store where things also seemed a wee bit pricier. So, I decided to issue the inflation check challenge to my readers.

How the Inflation Check Challenge Works

The first step in the inflation check challenge is to create a basket of goods to keep track of price. Items should be products (or services) that are purchased on a year-round basis. Thus, seasonal goods such as Valentine Candy or Easter Baskets are eliminated. The ideal basket will include ten to twenty consumable items. Food, gas, and medicinal items make the bulk of the basket. A key is to make the list reflect your regular spending habits.

Next, either buy or price these goods before the end of the month. This will create the base price. However, price is not the only indication of inflation. In some cases, suppliers are holding the price steady but decreasing the amount provided. For example, I have included a can of cream style corn. The can looks to be the same size but now there are only 14.75 ounces. But in the past the container held 16 ounces. So , it is important to record both price and quantity. Finally, you may want to note the merchant providing the good or service.

Then save your list to an Xcel sheet or if writing out long-hand, place somewhere safe so it won’t get tossed. AND a place easily remembered! Because at the end of April, July, and October we re-visit the Inflation Check Challenge. Of course, those so inclined can record monthly changes as well.

2021 Inflation Monitoring

2021 will provide mixed signals about inflation. But, year over year comparisons will be especially troublesome due to the Covid-19 shut downs in 2020. Even though the United States did not have a complete lockdown similar to the Wuhan Province in the People’s Republic of China, productivity plummeted in March through June of 2020. So did spending. Perhaps a comparison to that same time period in 2019 would provide more insight.

Other concerns regarding inflation come from pent-up demand. This will be an uneven demand as some states are more open for business than others. However, even individuals in the “open” states have had travel curbed. So, late in 2021 I think we will see more than just a return to normal. However, I do not know how long excess spending will continue. If at all.

Families have not only pushed back memorial services, but many young couples have delayed their nuptials. Furthermore, our mobile society has been hampered by the uneven ability to travel to locales such as Hawaii or New Mexico. I think we will have a major boom next fall. So, how long will this return to consumption last?

In economics, a low level of inflation is preferable to disinflation or worse, deflation. But stagflation such as experienced by America in the 1970’s and hyperinflation, which both Venezuela and the South Sudan have been battling are two concerns. Thus a need for monitoring inflation on an individual as well as a national basis.

Inflation Check Challenge List

I have fifteen items on my list including one fast food treat. If I snagged a sale price, I also list the regular price. Your list will be different than mine. The list should be a reflection of normal purchases that are quickly consumed. Therefore, don't include durable goods such as a new car or dishwasher.

Item

Planet Oat Extra Creamy Original Oat Milk

Small Bag Signature Select Sugar

Signature Select Cream Style Corn

Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast

Bananas

Kraft Real Mayo

Meow Mix

Morton Salt

Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste

Align Probiotics

Tide Botanical Rain Detergent

Kerr Regular Mouth Canning Lids

3M Ad. Allergy Furnace Filter

Dunkin Donut-Boston Cream

Regular Unleaded Gas

Amount

52 Oz.

4 Lbs.

14.75 Oz.

4 Oz.

1 Lb.

30 Oz.

6.3 Lbs.

26 Oz.

4.6 Oz.

28 Caps.

92 Oz.

12

1

Single

1 Gal.

Purchase Price

$ 3.49

 2.99

 0.69

 6.99

 0.59

 3.79

 7.78

 0.94

 4.99

26.58

11.97

 3.18

15.88

 0.99

$ 2.36

Regular Price

$ 3.99

 

 

 

 

  4.99

 

  1.19

  5.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inflation Check Challenge-Share your Basket

For those that participated in a previous Econogal Challenge, I hope you will take this on as well. This is the basket of goods I will keep track of during 2021. The future is impossible to predict. But we can record the present. What is in your basket?