Personal finance

The many problems we face

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. How do you know you’ve eaten too much this holiday season? You have to take out your bathrobe.

The Build Back Better Act, the Human Infrastructure Bill, the Reconciliation Bill, whatever you like, is still in the news. Am I the only one who wants Congress to pass it or ditch it, so that we don’t have to keep hearing the same old things, with no real new information or analysis to allow us to evaluate it in a way? criticism, including its possible impact on inflation, a subject we will be discussing shortly?

As I write this column, we are still waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to take note of the bill and tell us if it is “paid”, whatever that means. However, as we have discussed in this column, other “non-partisan” organizations have pointed out a number of things that will make the comprehensive bill much more costly for taxpayers in the long run. These include the fact that many of the planned programs are now ending earlier than originally planned, in the hope that once in place they will be extended.

By now I think we’ve all learned that one of the tenets that politicians and policymakers advocate for a new taxpayer-funded program is that it’s hard to take something away from people once they’ve got it. ‘received, especially if they are not the ones paying.

So there is the open question of paying for it if the bill passes. We have already discussed whether a higher corporate tax would cause these companies to pass some or all of these increases to us in the form of higher prices for their goods or services. Then I finally saw an article addressing the other questions I asked about “paying for it”, namely: even constitutional proposals? Perhaps some of them will move outside of the United States, leaving other taxpayers to take over? Anyway, is there anyone left who doesn’t think that, directly or indirectly, we’re all going to pay something for these expenses in the future?

Another topic that is constantly in the news these days, as it should be, is inflation. By the way, when discussing the interaction between proposed new federal spending and inflation with government officials, you must still wonder journalists like Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” and others on NPR keep saying “You are not answering my question.”

So we all know about inflation, some of us more than others. This is clearly due in large part to supply chain issues, driven in part by increased demand, driven in large part by many Americans who found themselves with extra money to spend, due to combinations. government payments and forgiveness programs, such as the moratorium on student loan debt payments, during pandemic closures. Also, for some, they increased their savings because they didn’t lose jobs or income, but they didn’t have as many things that they could spend those savings on during pandemic shutdowns, like going out to eat. , attend shows, or on vacation. Additionally, for some Americans, rising stock values ​​provided them with additional funds, and others paid off some or all of their consumer debt, like credit card debt, leaving them with more money. money at the end of the month because they pay less interest. Then there are some Americans who have been able to get better paying jobs, because of the increased leverage they have, due to the many labor shortages.

I know I’ve seen increases in everything I buy, from cat food to wine (the kind I buy is up 20%), meats, not to mention gasoline, which is still significantly cheaper at Walmart, BJ’s, and Costco in Henrietta, so expect long lines.

I don’t know when or if the prices will come down again, but if they do, it will take longer than many “experts” predicted just a few months ago, some even now say 2023. I say “if”, because are retailers really going to lower their prices when supply chains are revived, especially if many of them have their labor costs going up?

For me, the keys to the future are two things. What are people doing during this time of inflation, and what will they continue to do once we get through it? In this period of high inflation, despite their pent-up demand, will they cut some of their spending in order to keep their budgets balanced? Also, are they finally going to do those frugal things like shopping at discount stores, buying store brands, using coupons, unit prices, and comparison shopping? Plus, will they pay off and stay out of consumer debt like credit card debt to avoid those interest charges so that they don’t pay more for everything yet? do they make and buy? So will they continue these behaviors in times of falling inflation? I hope so of course!

Finally, in a previous column, I promised to include a few “money jokes” on occasion, to offset what seems like so much lingering bad economic and financial news, so here are a few.

No matter how much time or effort you spend buying an item, after you buy it, it will be on sale somewhere for less. Why did the football coach go to the bank? To get his quarterback. What kind of cat should you never trust with your money? A cheetah. What happened to the guy who didn’t pay his exorcist? It was picked up.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at