The Buck Stops…..

It just cannot be stretched any further……

Where does the money go?  With all prices seemingly going up and compensation levels remaining flat, how does a family do it?  One of my daughters goes to college and I just received notice that next years tuition increase of 3.5% has been approved by the board.  Oh really, what a surprise!  Let’s see, the board believes that every student should pay an additional $2,000.  Always easy to find a way to spend money, but has the quality of education risen?  Only you can decide.  These annual 3.5% increases are fully baked in and have been for some time.  For those of you with young children now, it means that annual tuition rates in about 10 years will be around $80,000 per year.  No end in sight to the continued escalation of the cost of education.  So much has been written about this being the next big disaster area in our economy and it is hard to disagree.

Which of course brings me to a song….

Money – Get away – You get a good job with good pay and you’re okay
Money – It’s a gas – Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four star daydream – Think I’ll buy me a football team

Money – Well, get back – I’m all right Jack -Keep your hands off of my stack
Money – It’s a hit – Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit
I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set – I think I need a Lear jet

Money – It’s a crime – Share it fairly – But don’t take a slice of my pie
Money – So they say – Is the root of all evil today

Money – Pink Floyd

Where does our money go today?  Certainly not to buying a football team!  I am still waiting for that Lear jet 🙂  I recently read a report on CPI (Consumer Price Index).  The report identifies the categories where money is being spent today.  Take a look at this chart and compare it to where you spend your money.

Take a look at your monthly budget and compare.  The full report can be found http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpid1106.pdf

Have a great day.

Webman

While You Were Asleep…..

We know how tough the economy is right now, with unemployment rates being high, the cost of goods and services escalating; when did a martini start to cost $15 or $12 for a glass of wine, $8 for a beer or a gallon of gas at $3.69.  These costs go up $0.25 here, $0.50 there until one day you look at your bill and say “Holy shitake mushrooms Batman, I just paid $12 for a glass of wine!” WTF?  Then of course there is my annual favorite, the fact that natural gas is always in short supply every winter in New England.  Every year winter comes and every year there is a shortage?  Hmm, is there something going on here.

You betcha!  (What ever happened to that Tina Fey look alike anyway?) We are bombarded by the government and the media that there really is no inflation, that productivity improvements have kept costs down, that technology keeps making items more and more affordable.  Well here are the headlines for you.  We have been squeezed by the ever growing gap between real wages, defined as the income of an individual after taking into effect the impact of inflation on purchasing power.

Here is what has happened to real wages in the US over the last 10 years.  A 39.8% increase but lagging well behind the increase in expenses as you will see below:

Look at the increased costs of Energy, Medical Care and College Tuition and Fees.  Energy cost increases have been just staggering and are likely to get much worse over the next few years.  Medical costs, up 60% over the time period, but once we build in the reduction in coverage, the increases in deductibles, the co-pays and the amount covered by procedure, the impact on your wallet is far greater than what is represented in the graphic.  And how about education costs.  If you have kids, you know the pain here and every year it goes up, never down.  Right there with the increase in energy.

So here is the problem; quality of life.  With all of these costs continuing to escalate, regardless of how great a budget manager you are, as the allocation of the pie continues to shift to these necessary expenses, the remaining funds for that vacation, savings account, new car, clothing of just enjoying the little pleasures in life goes down, resulting in more stress in finding ways to increase income/cut costs, less frequently going out with friends and family and overall less fun.  And this chart does not even include the increase in federal and state taxes, property taxes and all of the other consumption taxes that we pay.

These trends are very well established and continuing.  For many Americas they have already passed the breaking point and for many others the breaking point is on the horizon.  “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.”  Princess Leia

“There has been a great disturbance in the force.” Obi Wan Kenobi

How do we stop this madness?

Webman