If Inflation Really Takes Off, Should I Max Out The College Debt?

As Eldest is within spitting distance of the college experience, she faces the same issue as hundreds of thousands of other students:  how much debt should she take on?  And if things are inflationary, shouldn’t she absolutely take the maximum amount of debt possible?

There are certain general rules of economic behavior that pertain to specific situations and that includes living in an inflationary environment.  But you have to really think through the circumstances to ascertain if those rules continue to apply to the situation in which you find yourself.  One of the precepts of inflation is that a future dollar is worth less than a present dollar because it will only be able to purchase X amount less than could be purchased today.  The upshot is that inflation truly favors debtors; The debt to be repaid is a nominal amount, say $20,000, and that figure doesn’t take into account whether that nominal $20K can only purchase what $15K could purchase now.  The other aspect is that in an inflationary environment, wages are expected to rise as well – even if not at the exact same rate – to offset the price rises.  People are paid commensurately more and thus pay off the nominal with devalued currency.

What do you think is the goal of the US Treasury and Federal Reserve System with all of the Quantitative Easing?  Do you really believe that the United States can pay off a $14+ Trillion national debt?  Spur inflation, spur spending and hope – pray – that the executive and legislative branches get a handle on the spending to stop the flow into the debt bucket while the dollar is trashed.

I guarantee you that somewhere out there, some expert will recommend that with an inflationary environment, prospective students and their families should take the leap and incur the maximum amount of debt to pay for college.  The thinking will be that the competitive edge is so keen that a college degree will be painted as the sole hope of making way in the world and that it’s the obligation of families to support their youngsters – and the youngsters make a significant investment in themselves – and spend whatever’s necessary to obtain that degree.  It would be a great time to take on the debt since it could be paid off in devalued dollars; this would be – per experts – a true value play for the upcoming generation.  Were this to be suggested as expert advice, I have no doubt that some would go ahead and run up the debt even more.

But does that thinking really hold water in these circumstances?

No, and here’s why.  First, the presumption is that wages would naturally rise following an inflationary surge.  The reality is that our real wages and incomes have actually dropped in the past number of years as our high-value jobs have been increasingly outsourced to countries with significantly lower labor costs.  As these changes happen, the aggregate effect is that less and less true productive wealth is supporting the wages earned via the service industries with a resulting loss of aggregate income.  One of the problems that American businesses are facing now is that the American consumer is so wage hamstrung and debt-laden that they’re unable to effectively pass along many price increases that they’re having to absorb from their own suppliers.  There is simply nothing to demonstrate – absent a wholesale mass-mailing of stimulus checks to consumers – that wages will simply, suddenly turn around and begin rising.

Second, consider the present nature of the student debt.  There’ll be greater push for incurring increased debt but is there going to be a concurrent change in the student loan model to ease the burden of that increased debt?  Student debt, as I’ve written before, is far more toxic than any other debt since it can never be discharged in bankruptcy should things really go south for that particular student.  He or she can take the credit hit in exchange for erasure of mortgage and credit card debt, auto loans, and whatever else.  But the student debt will have to be repaid, even at the cost of that individual’s future.  Consider this:  Sallie Mae, the principal student lender, is a privatised GSE – just like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – and exists solely to serve the student debt market.  As of last year, student debt surpassed consumer credit and was second only to home loans in dollar terms.  Sallie Mae is aware of this and while they spent $3.4 million on lobbying in 2008, they revved the lobbying engines and spent more than half as much – $1.86 million – in the first quarter of 2010 alone.  This rise occurred as the Federal government considered legislation that would remove privatised student lending and the rise in lobbying to prevent shows where Sallie Mae places her emphasis.

Third, what if the dollar really does tank and hyperinflation ruins the currency?  In that unlikely event, a $120K student debt could conceivably be repaid by three days wages.  But food and other essentials would be equally expensive and lay claim to those three days wages.  Gee, do I eat and house and feed the kids or pay my student loan?  The contract however, would still remain in effect and I fully expect that once things stabilized – in whatever form – that the lenders would still demand repayment of their debts in the new dollar equivalent.  The currency is ruined, but the contract is not, and again, the law would still stipulate that student debt was non-dischargeable. 

The reality is that we, the individuals, presently exist to serve the needs of the corporations and by extension, their shareholders and management.  There is simply too much wealth and power at stake for these few to readily accede to the common good and change in such a way that diminishes that wealth and power. 

Will these things actually come to pass?  I hope not.  But if they should, expect that experts will begin plying the airwaves and internet with advice about the relationship between inflation and debt.  And when you hear them, ask them whether the other aspects of debt have changed in any material way as to repayment, terms or forgiveness.  Otherwise, chalk it up as more self-serving white noise.

Parenthood:  When The Trees Thin Out

Being a parent – I hate the word parenting – is an experience of not being to see the forest for the trees.  When the kids are old enough to enter activities, you want them to try their hands at new things and experiences.  Couple that with more than one child and toss in homework and friends and life becomes a blur.  Who has to be where and at what time?  What’s the deadline on this project or that exam and again, would you please explain to me how we came to have three girls spending the night in the basement?  You’re running at high speeds in a forest and while you might get smacked by the branches of the occasional foulup, you work hard to avoid running into a trunk that could drop you flat on your back.  It’s a breathless experience in the moment and more than a little nervewracking.

But there are moments when you can step back and take stock and when you do, you recognize that the forest is beginning to thin out.  There are still plenty of trees to dodge but there are more spots of dappled sunlight on the ground and an instant more breathing room before you have to swerve to the left or right to avoid the next trunk.  This occurred to me this evening as I waited for Youngest at his baseball practice, an event far enough from the house that it makes no sense to just drop him off and return later.  Middle had a night off from any activity and Eldest had gotten a ride to soccer from a friend.  While it’s the norm for overlapping activities, Eldest takes her driver’s test next week and will be able to start driving herself, freeing me from having to worry about how to get her there or home.  I’ll still worry about her driving, but that’s suddenly a bit of relief from the taxi-servicing.  To bring the point home more emphatically, she also commences on the college open-house tour with her mother next week and in a year, the forest around me will be thinned by all that much more.

I spoke last week with a gentleman who’s firm has done multiple home projects for us over the years.  He has three sons of his own and the youngest is a lacrosse player in his junior year of college and as we chatted, he commented that he and his wife now treasure each of those games.  He recognizes that there are only a relative handful left over the next two seasons and then, that aspect of his life will have ended after roughly two decades of practices, games and tournaments.  His forest is now an open grove and ahead of him is open field, free of the obstacles that cause us to react more than act.  At a rural baseball field surrounded by copses of trees and pastures, his commentary plucked a particularly melancholy chord in my soul.  The tone resonated and on reflection, I decided that as this multiple-sport season progresses, I’ll have a greater appreciation for the beauty of this forest in which I find myself.



A Preview:  English Household Incomes Falling

Even before the credit collapse and financial crisis of 2008, I’ve expected that the long-term economic health of the American family would suffer.  Lousy economic investment – houses, anyone? – and the insanely short-sighted habit of shipping higher-value American jobs overseas so that the manufacturing base is "hollowed out" were key drivers in the premise.  When Congress passed TARP in 2008 and the Federal Reserve commenced with its initial round of Quantitative Easing, it was apparent that the government would address the long-term debt issue by trying to devalue the dollar via inflation instead of actually working to manage the budget.  The logic was inescapable but the only question was the timeframe. 

Now we’ve got a glimpse of what’s coming as data confirms that English household income has fallen since 2008.  As discouraging as things appear to be in the US, you can take a little comfort in knowing that England’s economy is even more screwed up and the personal level wave is hitting there before it really begins to commence here.  The Bank of England has likewise been acting to devalue the English currency and that is now taking off as the most recently reported English inflation rate is about 4.4% per year, ahead of the American inflation rate, which unfortunately is hard to gauge since the government doesn’t consider food or fuel as part of the core CPI. 

The English incomes have been struck from two primary sides.  First, the increasing inflation rate means that – absent offsetting nominal wage gains – the English Pound will be able to purchase that much less than before.  Second, the exceptionally low interest rates mean that the money being saved is actually losing value and so eliminating the entire notion of savings.  If you lose money by saving, why save for the future?  A lesser factor for the English is simply that there economy has an even smaller manufacturing base than we do, so what they can produce that the world will want is minimal. 

Here’s the problem – for them and for us – as we move forward.  As rates remain low and so discourage savings, and price increases really do take hold, then people will develop an inflationary mindset.  The effect of such thinking is an unwillingness to save or plan for the future as people spend themselves into financial destitution.  As Aesop would describe it, the grasshoppers will overwhelm the ants and devour everything so that nothing is left for the future.  The long-term impact for the country of such a mindset is, to put it mildly, horrible.


Battle Hymn of the PracticalDad

The press lit up in January with the publication of Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, her account of choosing to raise her Chinese-American daughters in the style of the prototypical Chinese mother’s "take no prisoners" philosophy.  And as events and circumstances change concurrently, I’ve had to consider the strengths and weaknesses of that approach.

There’s an image of a successful Asian student in almost all of our schools, and behind that image is another – a demanding and exacting mother.  A woman who won’t tolerate failure and seemingly sacrifices a personal relationship with her child in order to obtain a child who succeeds but will presumably run for the hills when older and out of the household.  Contrast this with the American approach in which parents want the kids to largely try different things and be happy, not to mention be the kids’ friends as well.  Some Americans have taken this book as a bit of an affront and defended their parenting style and truth be told, there’s value to both sides. 

But first consider the rationale behind the Chinese approach.  Recognize that the Chinese mothers – like all mothers – want what’s best for their kids and want them to have a better life.  So far, the two groups are matched.  But then recognize the circumstances behind the approach.  The Chinese society was family-centric and generations could live in the same area without moving a significant distance.  And while America as a nation is only 235 years old, Chinese society for at least that long was fractured and trapped in decline after their historic eras, only resurgent in the past several decades.  If Chinese parents – like their counterparts almost everywhere – wanted their children to have a better life than theirs and there were only so many opportunities available, then these children would have to truly excel in some manner to avail themselves of those opportunities.  The kids would have to know how to apply themselves – and Chua’s absolutely correct when she states that it isn’t something that comes naturally for most children – and also be able to handle pressure.  They would have to understand that the family was the core bedrock of their existence as so much of then-Chinese society wasn’t stable, either politically or economically, and it was the young adults who would be coping with the pressure of both raising children and helping care for elderly parents.

The opposing view is the Western/American mother.  Given the freedoms that we’ve enjoyed, and the historic economic/social mobility that went with it, there’s a greater sense that the kids will have opportunities.  The long-time generational view has been that the next rising generation would be better off than its predecessors.  Indeed, this country is now at least three generations removed from the last great and serious trials of the Great Depression and Second World War and it’s only been in the last number of years that parents and adults have begun to honestly question whether that same promise exists.  American adults have also enjoyed a greater mobility than their Chinese counterparts and it’s not at uncommon to have elderly parents in one region while the adult children are in an entirely different timezone.  If the parents were no longer capable of caring for themselves, there were other options available apart from living with the children.  We’ve simply enjoyed so much prosperity and relative ease compared with the remainder of the world that we’ve been able to spend greater time on leisure and introspection than our peers elsewhere on the planet and the presumption still exists that the paradigm will hold.

This PracticalDad has generally followed the western approach to parenting, albeit with stricter guidelines.  I’ve been clear with them that they shouldn’t try to grow up too fast like their peers since they can only have one childhood.  There are plenty of adults trying to recapture their youth and they frankly look like a bunch of damned fools doing so.  But there’s a greater appreciation for the Chinese approach over the past several years as our economy has undergone significant and worrisome changes.  The upshot is that the kids will have to be able to compete globally and if they don’t have an appreciation for hard work and discipline, then they’re going to have their lunch eaten for them.  So there is greater expectation of academic performance than with other families, and a greater amount of time spent discussing the realities of our world with them. Neither my wife nor I are looking to raise self-actualized adults – whatever that means – but adults capable of surviving in a more unfriendly world and doing so in a moral, ethical manner.

Which might be the toughest hurdle of all.

So we’ll continue to try providing them with opportunities that are fun and help children grow, but maintain expectations that force them to reach beyond themselves.  Because the world is going to require that they be able to reach beyond themselves far more than we’ve had to.



PracticalDad:  What If Pennsylvania Cuts Higher Education Funding By 50%?

I was stunned to find last week that the new Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Corbett (R), planned to cut funding to higher education by fully 50% as he attempts to honor his campaign promise of eliminating a $4 Billion deficit without raising any taxes. The backdraft has been significant and I know folks at a local state university who have been told to prepare for the worst. But apart from the sheer magnitude of the cut, what might it mean for the young people and their families?  It helps to consider other numbers in order to gain a better perspective on the issue, so let’s examine things a bit further.

First, consider the higher education budget in perspective.  In the previous year, the higher education piece was about $1.3 Billion, or 4.5% of the entire state budget of $29 Billion.  But the amount removed actually constitutes 16.5% of the $4 Billion deficit that’s being eliminated; this is disproportionate by a factor of more than 3 times the original contribution.  This cut is across all of the institutions in the state system, PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) which includes not only the flagship Penn State University, but also 14 smaller universities as well as 4 quasi-private universities such of Pitt and Temple.  The amount of the state’s contribution to higher education has decreased over the past decade or more and will finally fall to a level not seen since the formation of PASSHE in the early 1980s. 

Second, consider the effect upon individual institutions themselves.  Everybody’s first thought upon announcement was to determine what Penn State’s leadership would say, but PSU only receives about 8% of its funding via state appropriations.  The smaller 14 universities actually receive around 30% of their funding from the state and it’s here that the pain will occur, especially since many of these are either operating with an already existent deficit or have only kept up with the already declining funding by eliminating faculty positions and / or programs and upgrades.  For a case in point, examine some "back of the envelope" calculations on two state universities, Millersville University (MU) and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).  Given the already strained financial positions and the reality that much spending is already constrained by contracts that won’t be completed by the time that the budget passes, it’s a fair assumption that much of the funding cuts will be made up on the backs of the students. 


Tuition Effect of Pennsylvania’s Budget Cuts
  2010 Budget ($) 2010 State Funding ($) State’s % Cut If Passed ($) Enrollment Tuition Rise ($)
MU 107 M 37 M 35 18.5 M 8700 2126
IUP 158 M 52 M 33 26 M 15100 1721


The effect would be a single year rise of 12.8% for those at Millersville University and 10.5% for the students at IUP.  While the percentages – back of the envelope as they are – aren’t as dire as California’s 33% increase in 2009, they are a staggering blow to students and their families.  The upshot is that even more students will extend the time that it takes to obtain a degree and the reality is that the longer it takes, the less likely to obtain it.

Budget cuts have to happen and most understand that simple concept.  We have an obligation to care for those less or unable to care for themselves, as we always have.  But we also have an obligation to prepare for our future and a large part of that is creating both a citizenry and workforce that can function, compete and prosper against others in the coming years.  We can’t talk about competing with other states, let alone countries, when we fail to provide reasonably priced education for our young people and the ultimate result will be a more poorly educated and less competitive populace.  And a smaller one as they move away to find the financially self-supporting jobs that accrue to regions and states that help prepare their people for the world.



PracticalDad and College:  Austerity Comes Home

While sides are drawn in the Wisconsin public union fight, everyone agrees that the country and its constituent states are trapped in a case of too many promises, too little cash.  What’s playing out now in Wisconsin – and coming soon to Illinois, California and almost every state – is simply the first stage in the fight of redefining our spending priorities.  We just can’t have it all and something has to give.  The local papers over the past several days have brought this to my doorstep as the news announces that our new governor, Tom Corbett, will eliminate the $4 billion deficit via spending cuts alone.  The kicker here is that under his plan, state universities will lose fully 50% of their funding. 

That’s fully one half of their state funding.  It doesn’t mean that the university system budgets are going to be lopped by one half, especially since the majority of the university monies don’t come from the state treasury.  In fact, the amount that Penn State University, the flagship institution, receives from Pennsylvania amounts to only about 8% of its total budget; while I can’t find how much a smaller institution gets from the state, it is probably in that ballpark range.  On the opposition side, the universities are arguing that that money is specifically used to subsidize tuition for in-state students so that what a Pennsylvanian pays is less than someone from New York or Delaware, hence the students will be the ones in front of the falling axe.  One opponent, from the faculty union, stated that tuition could rise by a full 33% should this play out.  While it sounds outrageous, the reality is that California raised tuition by 32% in one fell swoop so it isn’t impossible.  The likelihood is that truth and reason will take a back seat to the soundbites and the fallout will be somewhere far less than that, although it will increase.

Also on my doorstep is Eldest, who’s visiting two of these schools in the next month.  Our mantra has been education without the debt, or as little debt as possible.  We view student debt with almost the same abhorrence as a childhood cancer, something that – even with survival – will follow these young people for years, having an impact on their ability to live a decent, sustainable life years after the debt’s been incurred.  Like most, we’ve saved some but not enough and already, prospective colleges have been given the axe because of cost.  The University of Southern California sounds lovely, but not on the dime that they demand.  Likewise, other top institutions.  We’ll have to revisit plans again and review the prospects and somehow, we’ll find a way to make it work.

But here’s my problem with the proposal and it’s a problem with both sides.  First, if we’re going to talk about the necessity for a better educated citizen to compete globally, then we can’t place such a radical cut upon the age group that’s expected to compete globally for business and trade, a group that’s young, inexperienced and realistically has no political voice.  The flip side is that the entrenched higher education leaders have no business immediately holding these young people hostage with threats of a one-third tuition increase.  If a major institution is going to see it’s funding move from 8% to 4% from one source, how does that translate into a one-third increase?  Explain to me, please, without the angst and hyperbole, understanding that I live in a college town and see capital spending that’s best described as unnecessary.  Don’t talk about different accounts and different pots of money, because I’ve worked in the corporate world and understand that these things can be changed and adapted to the new circumstances.  It’s not easy, but it is achievable

We’ll adapt and figure out a way to make it work, but only if both sides recall that not only are they tossing the newest generation of workers into the firing line, they’re tossing in our children as well. 

PracticalDad Price Index:  Comments On Pricing Food

It’s been five months since I began to track prices on a specific marketbasket of items, and even longer since we began to hear about the return of inflation.  There are some things that I’ve noted since the process began, including some thoughts while on my hands and knees checking the unit prices on the bottom shelve of the stores.

  • Listening to commentators and bloggers – whether you agree with their views or not – you suspect that the onset of inflation will occur like a financial tsunami that washes our collective savings out to sea.  The reality is that the onset of inflation is considerably more insidious and if you aren’t paying attention, then you might not be able to verify that it’s happening.  Wait, didn’t I pay less last month for this?  I think so, but there’s no receipt to check.  When the individual items are shown with prices over time, then you can see that some items do increase over time while others are motionless and still others wander over the margins like a drunken sailor. 
  • You begin to see how individual grocery stores and retail chains are managing with what they’re presented.  In one instance – formula – I started with the same product at all three stores but after a price spurt at one store, that particular management apparently decided that the product was too expensive to stock for their customers and removed it from the shelves.  I consequently now price that formula at only two stores instead of the original three.  Likewise, grocery chains quietly downsize the product packaging before they move forward and actually rise the prices; coffee is a case in point as two of the three stores downsized the product and it was only in March that a significant price hike was passed through to the consumer.
  • Pricing decisions also reflect the actions of the purchasing managers who might somehow get a better deal for that particular month so that the price of the item has actually dropped.  There have been multiple occasions when I’ve revisited a store two or even three times to verify that I didn’t foul up and write the wrong data.  This isn’t to say that there haven’t been mistakes, but simply that the motion isn”t always upwards.
  • How can I describe the sense from pricing explicit items over time and watching their activity?  Honestly, it’s struck me as though I’m on a beach and aware that the tide is going to come in.  I maintain a position, but to help my sense, place sticks at specific positions in the sand to both my left and my right.  As I observe, I can see that as a wave washes ashore, one marker will be overrun while its neighbors remain dry.  This continues with the immediate waves never quite washing up in the same place but over the course of time, individual sticks are increasingly overwhelmed by water while others might remain less underwater, a function of whatever factor I can’t know.  And if you aren’t paying attention because you’re playing with the kids, you suddenly realize that the waves are approaching the towels and scramble to keep things from ruination.  It’s happened but you can’t really say how or when.
  • What economists – and bloggers – will say is that inflation is not only a monetary phenomenon, but also a psychological one as well.  The effect of the psychology is to change the behavior to account for the situation at hand and the case study for this was the Weimar Hyperinflation of post First World War Germany, when the middle class was left destitute.  Why save when what you get is going to be worth nothing in the next week or even day?  That isn’t to say that this is what will occur because honestly,  no one can be certain.  But the across-the-board increases that people expect will create that kind of psychology, even if it’s "only" 10 or 15% annually.

The PracticalDad Price Index will continue and I plan to pass the data along to someone who has a better sense of how it might be analyzed.  The kinks have been largely worked out by now and this can serve as a small indicator of what’s happening to us as we live our lives.



Kids and Public Behavior

I’m big on teaching the kids how to behave in public.  How do you behave at the ballgame versus at a restaurant versus a wedding or funeral?  But there are moments when I have to remind myself that I have to be as mindful of my own behavior as the kids’.  This was especially brought home to me this weekend as I watched a proud father make a complete ass of himself at a school function.

Supporting the kids is as obvious as breathing, but how it’s done gets dicier as the kids age.  There’s a wonderful television commercial in which a child – one time on stage, another on a playing field – looks into the crowd of onlookers and suddenly, the crowd vanishes save for the father, who’s now the only one watching.  The underlying truism is that the kids both want and need us there and are seeking our approval and pride in their accomplishments. 

Now, let’s adjust the commercial for the age of the child.  In this variant, the kid is now fourteen years of age and as he looks onto the field, there in the crowd is the father.  Dad smiles and nods – as in the real commercial – but the crowd remains.  The next version of the commercial shows the fourteen year old on the field looking at the crowd as his proud papa suddenly stands and screams out YOU GO, BOY!  MAKE ME PROUD!  WOOT!!!  In this version, the crowd remains while the exuberant Dad vanishes without a trace. 

In the version that I witnessed this weekend, the teen was walking down the auditorium aisle to accept an award when Dad suddenly stood and yelled out her name amidst the silent crowd sitting there.  Note that the applause had already finished so it wasn’t as if the child received no applause.  Sitting next to my sons, I flinched and looked over to see the eldest visibly wince as well.  Were that me, I doubt that I would have made it home alive as body parts would have been tossed piecemeal from the speeding car windows as it swerved down the road.

Kids do become more sensitive of public appearances as they age and there are times when even the presence of a parent can cause embarrassment.  Don’t mind him, he always breathes that way.  Our presence is a reminder that they really haven’t reached adulthood and aren’t as independent as they think or would like, and acting in a way that publicly draws that to the fore does embarrass them.  I understand that father’s pride and am glad that he’s had the opportunity to experience it.  But the ride home would have been much better had he kept his mouth shut and stayed seated.



PracticalDad Price Index:  March Rises to 101.19

With the store pricing done and data tabulated, the PracticalDad Price Index rose in March, 2011 to 101.19 from a February figure of 100.78.  This is a cumulative 1.19% increase over the November, 2010 rate of 100.  While the market basket has shown only minor upwards movement, there are certain items that stand out.

  • The price per one pound of ground beef has been at $3.32, which is 10% higher than the original November, 2010 price of $3.02/lb.
  • Coffee rose – without any adjustment in the package size – by 9.7% from the February price (from $3.38 to $3.71) and since the Index’s inception by a full 25%.  This 25% rise incorporates adjustment for two different stores of unrelated chains decreasing the package size while keeping the price steady, aka stealth inflation.
  • While the price of flour itself has remained steady at $1.99 per five pound bag, the cost of baked goods – bread and hot dog rolls – has begun to rise.  Bread rose by 8.9% last month while the rolls have increased by 4.5% since the Index’s inception.
  • Milk (2%) jumped by almost 5% from February, which was actually lower than the November price, having declined.
  • Canola Oil rose by more than 12% from the February price and is now 17% higher than at the Index’s inception.

Here are the prices for the marketbasket.


PracticalDad Price Index – March 2011
Item Size Category 1/11 Avg Price 2/11 Avg Price 3/11 Avg Price
hot dog rolls (ct) 8 bread 1.09 1.12 1.14
loaf, wht bread, store brand (oz) 20 bread 1.12 1.12 1.22
spaghetti, store brand (oz) 16 bread 1.18 1.18 1.18
child cereal, sugar flakes, store brand (oz) 17 cereal 2.90 2.90 2.90
cereal, rice chex, store brand (oz) 12.8 cereal 2.74 2.74 2.74
oatmeal, one minute, store brand (oz) 42 cereal 3.18 3.18 3.21
milk, 2% (gallon) 1 dairy 3.46 3.51 3.68
butter, unsalted, store brand (lb) 1 dairy 3.56 3.39 3.49
vanilla ice cream, store brand (qt) 1 dairy 2.04 1.94 1.94
grated parmesan cheese, store brand (oz) 8 dairy 2.99 3.08 3.08
American Cheese, deli (lb) 1 dairy 5.52 5.86 5.52
peanut butter, store brand (oz) 28 grocery 2.96 2.96 2.96
grape jelly, store brand (oz) 32 grocery 1.89 1.82 1.82
kidney beans, dark, store brand (oz) 15.5 grocery .86 .87 .87
can green peas, store brand (oz) 15 grocery .92 .92 .92
can diced tomatoes, store brand (oz) 14.5 grocery .94 .94 .94
can cut green beans, store brand (oz) 14.5 grocery .92 .92 .92
can corn, store brand (oz) 15.25 grocery .92 .92 .92
spaghetti sauce, store brand (oz) 26 grocery 1.13 1.13 1.13
cola, store brand (lt) 2 grocery .89 .89 .92
caffeinated coffee, store brand (oz) 13 grocery 3.25 3.38 3.71
diapers, store brand, size 3 (ct) 104 baby 17.82 17.82 17.82
formula, Enfamil Premium, Lipil (oz) 23.4 baby 22.94 22.94 22.94
child ibuprofen, OS, store brand (oz) 4 hlth/bty 4.96 4.96 4.96
adult ibuprofen, store brand (ct) 100 hlth/bty 6.92 6.72 6.72
shampoo, Suave (oz) 22.5 hlth/bty 1.71 1.71 1.71
pads, long, Poise (ct) 42 hlth/bty 16.09 16.09 16.09
bath soap, Dial (ct) 8 hlth/bty 5.39 5.39 5.39
aluminum foil, store brand (sq ft) 75 hshld 2.97 2.97 2.97
kitchen trash bags, store brand (ct) 26 hshld 4.41 4.11 4.15
paper towels, 2 ply, store brand (ct) 8 hshld 7.26 7.26 7.26
hot dogs, meat franks, store brand (oz) 16 meat 2.46 2.46 2.46
ground beef, 80% lean (lb) 1 meat 3.32 3.32 3.32
eggs, large (doz) 1 meat 1.99 1.71 1.72
lunchmeat, deli ham (lb) 1 meat 4.59 4.06 4.06
chicken, roaster (lb) 1 meat 1.56 1.62 1.59
fish sticks, Gortons (ct) 44 meat


7.86 7.86
tuna, water packed, store brand (oz) 5 meat .96 .78 .78
bananas (lb) 1 produce .58 .58 .58
apples, red delicious, bag (lb) 3 produce 3.42 3.76 3.59
carrots, bag (lb) 2 produce 2.09 2.02 2.12
OJ, non-concentrate, store brand (oz) 64 produce 2.56 2.66 2.66
potatoes, Russet (lb) 5 produce 3.66 3.82 3.99
sugar, store brand (lb) 5 staple 3.12 3.21 3.24
flour, All Purpose, store brand (lb) 5 staple 1.92 1.99 1.99
canola oil, store brand (oz) 48 staple 3.12 3.26 3.66
rice, white, long-grain, store brand (lb) 2 staple 1.59 1.67 1.67
 Total     179.51 179.50  180.52