Personal Inflation

Here’s one that I took a few years earlier. Red Mel and I went for a bike ride in Bristol. We came across this hot air balloon being prepared for take off from Ashton Court. How exciting! We sat down, watched the shenanigans and threw away all ideas of a lengthy cycle. Today’s post is about monetary inflation rather than the pumping things up type . However the balloon makes for a better photo than the squeezed purse that is typical of personal inflation!

In the UK the Office for National Statistics has the job of working out inflation. It does it by monitoring the change in price of a virtual basket of goods that contains hundreds of items. It’s supposed to contain things that the average person buys. With changes in buying behaviour what goes in there gets updated from time to time. A recent news story suggested that doughnuts and suits are out but dog collars and support bras are in! These examples clearly demonstrate a problem with the sums. The average consumer is a very tricky creature to capture. What would be more appropriate to put in my own basket I pondered. Well maybe mosaic tiles, vegetable seeds, spares for an ageing motorhome and big bags of bread flour.

I first came across the idea of personal inflation when it was highlighted by Jack Monroe, the campaigner from my childhood town of Southend-on-Sea. I like it when us Essex people don’t always conform to our orange hued stereotype. Jack pointed out that the real rate of inflation tends to be worse for the poorest in society as costs for essentials like food tend to rise faster than the things in that basket. She demonstrated this in a Twitter Feed itemising the soaring costs of goods in her local supermarket value ranges. Happily the ONS agreed that it needed to have a rethink and do more to capture the reality for many people.

With retirement looming we’re going to have to tighten our belts. I count my blessings for we are one of the lucky households who have wiggle room when it comes to spending. Merging two homes and getting rid of a car means that our costs have actually gone down in the last year. And there are whole categories of spending that aren’t applicable to us at all. No creature that needs a pet collar lives with us for example. So maybe our own personal inflation figure will remain manageable. But I’m sparing a thought for those where there is little room to scrimp and save. I want to see if there’s more that I can do personally to support them.

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  1. For such a young person at the time, Jack Monroe did so much to highlight not just in the UK but here as well how broken systems of support are for the famili s struggling the most. I agree that true inflation needs to look at the real needs of life. I’m tired of whiner’s crying about gas driving huge SUVs to the grocery store, but then in their same breath belittling people for being lazy if they’re struggling to manage life without some public safety nets in place.