If you grew up in Southern California, like me, you almost certainly remember Thrifty Ice Cream. It was an institution. Man, I can taste it now. If you’re not from SoCal, well, I’m not a good enough writer to explain chocolate malted crunch to you! Sorry you missed it.
Me, I was always partial to strawberry cheesecake. But, I digress. Like many childhood memories, Thrifty Ice Cream was less about the actual ice cream and more about the experience. Thrifty was always a treat — a special stop on the way home from the beach, a reward for being a good boy while mom popped in the store for nail polish or toothpaste, or just a place to take us kids when we all got together. My memories of the ice cream are vivid. I remember the cones, the interestingly shaped, almost square, scoops, and the way the ice cream tasted. Didn’t ice cream just taste a little better as a kid?
But there was something else I remembered about Thrifty Ice Cream. And I’m not sure why. In fact, it’s just about the only thing from my childhood I have this memory about.
I remember the price.
No wonder our parents always took us there! Not only do I remember the price, but it also seemed like every time we went to Thrifty for ice cream, someone mentioned it. “Man, what a great deal … a scoop of chocolate malted crunch for a nickel.” I guess it was a pretty good deal, even in the ‘70s.
So, what’s my point?
Well, in case you didn’t know this, Thrifty Ice Cream cones are still available. You can get them at many Rite Aids. But how much do the beloved ice cream cones cost nowadays? $1.79!!!
Wow! That’s quite a difference. A $1.74 difference to be precise! So, in other words, since 1976 (the last year it was a nickel), the price of Thrifty Ice Cream has inflated at a clip of 9.36% annually. Incredible.
Well, as many of you know, I’m a retirement planner. I study things like inflation. If you check out the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, [link to http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm] it will suggest that the real rate of inflation in the United States is about 3%.1 Now, I’m not here to dispute the Department of Labor. In fact, if you’ve read any of my writing, you’ve probably seen me suggest the DOL’s numbers are fairly accurate as they pertain to retirees. But what if the DOL is right, and my Thrifty Ice Cream is just an outlier?
Check out this page from “The Five Headwinds of Today’s Retirement.” (If you want to read the whole book, you can request it by contacting my office.) I wanted to see what would happen to the value of your Social Security check if that check grew by 1.5% (the average cost of living increase over the last several years) and your expenses grew by 3%.2
What you see is that the gap widens very quickly! Now imagine your expenses inflating at the rate of Thrifty Ice Cream! Scary, right?
It seems like lately it’s been tough to keep up with rising costs. Our portfolios may not be performing; cash and CDs are yielding very little. It can be downright frustrating, right? Well, don’t worry. There are simple strategies and solutions you can use to stretch your money and do a better job of keeping up with inflation. If you’re unsure of these, I’d love to chat with you and see if I can help. Who knows? Maybe we can even meet over an ice cream cone!
Thanks for reading,
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