Making Dollars, Making $ense: Food for Thought

BY JON MARZANO, Managing Principal

I consider it a good thing that I have not been the spouse in my family that has to go out and do the weekly shopping for groceries and necessities while my kids have been growing up.  My wife usually takes care of those chores during the day, and thus it insulates me from actually seeing firsthand how expensive things have gotten recently.  Case in point, I went to a local eatery last night for a quick salad and a soft drink.  It had been a long day; my wife had a friend in from out of town and it gave me an opportunity to eat out and do some quick reading with no distractions.  I ordered the salad with a medium drink and the total bill was right under $10.00.  I may not have indicated this was a fast food restaurant, not a sit-down place with a waiter or waitress.  It took me a second to digest the price but I handed over a $20 bill and got some change back.  As I was finishing up, my wife texted me and said she had placed a call-in order at the same place I was eating to make it easy for me. I did not see the bill as it was paid for by her on her phone.  When I got home, my wife and her friend remarked about how small the cup of fruit they ordered was and how it cost almost $5.00.  The entre, just a short time ago, only cost $5.00.  Now the side of fruit does.  My wife and her friend were dumbfounded and they both do the shopping for their families.

I look at inflation from my work perspective as a good thing.  Traditionally, prices rise (inflation) during good economic growth times. Good economic times tend to lead to wage increases or raises for workers.  Rising wages for consumers, coupled with the rising cost of production, can mean higher prices at the store.  Maybe if wages are rising because the economy is so strong, that will help cover the higher prices.  Maybe it will not.  For the average family, simply keeping up with monthly bills and family needs takes most, if not all, the income.  I see issues in the future if inflation continues to run at the pace it is running now.  At some point, consumers will either run out of money, max out their credit cards, or both.  The long-term effects of that scenario, played out over tens of thousands of people, is a recession.

For those families who have an unemployed parent or child, or maybe a high school graduate looking for options instead of immediately going to a 2-year or 4-year college, check out the article from the Washington Post, written by Heather Long that I read recently.  The title of the article is “America doesn’t have enough truckers, and it is starting to cause prices of about everything to rise.”  Maybe the article will spark some interest in what jobs are actually in demand right now. Maybe everyone does not need to load up on student loan debt and get that 4-year college degree.  More truckers would mean more volume shipped and more volume shipped would bring the cost to transport down.  More electricians and plumbers and skilled trade workers would mean more houses being built.  More supply of new houses would help contain costs.  We desperately need more people who earn their living working with their hands.  The younger generation does not get it like the previous generations did.  A good skill can pay the bills and give you a great quality of life.  A good skill can lead to employment opportunities that present themselves quicker with greater pay.  It can help the overall economy to fill a massive shortage of “in demand” opportunities.  Who knows, it may even bring down the price of my chicken salad.

Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Independent Advisor Alliance, a registered investment advisor, Independent Advisor Alliance and Marzano Capital Group are separate entities from LPL Financial.


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