Current inflation is rich with effects

Grace Gehrman

From the evolution of fast food deals to the constant litany of complaints about soaring gas prices, the effects of inflation are widespread across the country, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. For some, inflation means a trickier time saving for retirement, and for others, it means finding creative ways to hang out with friends without having to drive and spend an unsavory amount on gas.

Inflation is the subtle or abrupt increase in goods or services over time; it results in a decrease in purchase power, meaning money will be worth less as more of it enters the economy. Causes of inflation are related to things like supply shortages and increases in demand for certain goods, and as of right now, the US is experiencing inflation largely due to the spike in gas prices.

Illustration by Calla McBride

According to Statista Reports, the annual inflation rate in the US rose to 9.1 percent in June 2022, which is the highest since November 1981. Similarly, the 12 month percentage change in the consumer price index (CPI) reported in July of 2022 that prices had increased by 8.5 percent, compared to those of July 2021. CPI tracks shifts in prices of consumer goods and services monthly and is an important indicator of fluctuations in our economy. Gentle inflation is recommended by many economists to ‘boost the economy,’ but not at this scale. 

Notable effects of excessive inflation are as applicable to adults saving for retirement as they are to teens grappling with escalating gas prices. A recent Bark survey reports that 50 percent of students feel at least somewhat affected by inflation. A current example of a supply shortage affecting inflation is the recent unavailability of gas, which has caused its prices to dramatically increase along with the prices of transportation, electricity and shipping as byproducts of the energy shortage. According to Forbes magazine, the price of natural gas has increased by 30.5 percent, and regular gasoline by 44.6 percent in the U.S.

Illustration by Calla McBride

 Junior Xin Van Horn spoke out about her awareness of recent inflation as she has to drive to work and school.

“I remember [when the] invasion of Ukraine first started and gas prices just went skyrocketing. Being [in Marin,]  gas prices were almost $6,” Van Horn said. “I notice that [gas prices] also have just become a conversation topic now. I remember when it dropped down to like $5 and 40 cents and everyone was so excited.” 

Additionally, the prices of everyday food items have grown tremendously. The price of whole milk has increased by 14.5 percent, and the price of eggs is up a staggering 38 percent between July 2021 and July 2022, according to CPI reports. Parent Micheal Marrero has witnessed prices rising and falling over the years and elaborates on the significance of it.

 “A gallon of milk used to be something like two dollars and now it’s six or seven dollars,” Marrero said. “ I remember as a kid, fast food deals with the burger, the fries and the Coke [was]  like ninety nine cents, and now I think the best deal out there is like six bucks.” 

Inflation poses no issue when it fluctuates alongside workers’ annual incomes and is a standard occurrence in economies over time. However, rapid inflation is noticeably detrimental as the cost of living increases disproportionately to people’s wages, which can not compete with the pace at which the purchasing power of money is decreasing. 

This issue becomes particularly abundant as people are trying to save, whether that be for retirement or for childrens’ college funds. 

Tim Bingham, the instructional lead teacher for the architecture and engineering programs, comments on the subtle impacts of the inflation-induced higher cost of living.

“The increase in everyday items has caused [my family] to spend more on our monthly budget, which makes [it difficult] to save,” Bingham said. “We’re not seeing the same issues that other people across the country may have. But what I am finding is that our normal monthly, what would go into our retirement or savings, is less. So that means I may have to change how we look at planning for our future.” 

In the past, the government implemented price and wage controls to help combat inflation, however, they proved ineffective. Mitigating the effects of inflation lies in investing, spending conscientiously and educating oneself on the best places to put one’s money. 

Illustration by Calla McBride

Inflation will continue to impact the way consumers spend and save their money as our economy progresses and grows. Though there is no definite way to curb its effects entirely, investing in stocks, bonds or lower-risk companies are good options, as well as opening up a savings account with interest. Depending on one’s financial position or lifestyle, there are different ways to adapt to the continual fluctuations in the power of our currency.