Finding inflation in all the wrong places

Written March 15th, 2013

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that inflation has a way of creeping up on you, and specifically mentioned inflation witnessed in the devaluation of credit card points. That trend continues across every credit card I read about, often times by as much as 20% (meaning, it will now cost 20% more points for the same room, gadget, etc.).

Of course, official estimates of inflation are based on much more scientific, much more robust data than my limited, anecdotal experiences, but nonetheless we can call it my personal inflation data. For comparison, the Billion Dollar Project is pegging barely any inflation at all and Google charts the CPI as tame:  CPI.

So what am I seeing that’s so different? Some things are going down. I ordered some out of print finance books over Amazon prime and had them in 2 days. I probably could have bought them as cheap in some used book store IF I could find them and IF I sorted through endless stuff I didn’t want. On the other hand, the laundry room in my building pulled a fast one on us residents – they didn’t change the price, but decreased the time for each dryer. Yup, the old smaller chocolate bar trick. In fact, they raised prices by 11%! Inflation there is definitely NOT a bad thing for the owner of the machine, who will now have an increase in income of 11%, but who can still buy cheap goods on Amazon.

But maybe some of the prices are coming through:

Which once again brings me to the sad inflationary truth – inflation doesn’t impact everyone in the same way! Some people, namely, those with access to and ownership of necessities benefit, while those “renting” or purchasing necessities on an ongoing basis are hurt.

A few years ago, we started discussing the idea of inflation in needs, deflation in wants. I continue to see it around me and while official statistics don’t measure the difference, I see it all around.