Here it comes again – inflation. It took me by surprise this time – it happened so fast. Things were going so well. No money worries for quite a while. It seemed like overnight, the price of food, gas and oil increased immensely. It really hit home when I saw the price of a ham was $25 and when the oil man filled my tank it was $800.

Economy Stagflation Threat

Cars line up in two directions at a gas station in New York City during the oil embargo of 1973. In the downturn between the early 1970s and early 1980s, Elaine Parker of South Portland tightened her belt in ways she learned as a child born during the Depression. Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press, File

Hey, I was very young then, but I remember rationing during World War II and my mother getting creative with a can of Spam. I can do this. I know how to be frugal. I have been through this before. I survived the Great Inflation of the 1970s. It began in the winter of 1972 and 1973 and lasted until 1982. It was blamed on oil prices, currency speculation, greedy businessmen and union leaders.

Americans found it difficult to purchase the things that they needed and there were many foreclosures on homes as people could not pay their mortgages. I survived this economic downturn by things I learned as a child born during the Great Depression. I had to rob Peter to pay Paul, made partial payments on bills. It was difficult trying to stay afloat on a sinking ship. Looking back, time has softened the impact of past inflations and recessions. Time tends to do this. I remember it cost $600 to fill my oil tank and a good-sized ham cost $6 and I could get many meals from it. I was pinching pennies.

The inflation rate measured by the Consumer Price Index rose to 14% in the 1980s, while at the same time, interest rates rose to 20%. What is the inflation rate today? 6.5%. Interest rates on a personal loan can be 10.56%.

At 86 I have seen many economic ups and downs and survived them all. I can do this by tightening my belt and cutting out all nonessentials: I do not need to eat out, do not need new clothes. I can save gas by combining my errands. I am too old to skimp on heat, though. Cannot save on oil. I will not give up my donations to my favorite charities, the soup kitchens and the Salvation Army, as they will need help more than ever during these tough times.

I cannot help but wondering what the many people who live paycheck to paycheck will do as prices continue to rise for everyday necessities. There may be people who do not feel the pinch and I hope they will remember those who really are struggling to pay their bills and may have to choose between heating or eating.

On a happier, lighter note I hope things will improve in 2023 and we who have a roof over our heads and enough to eat will be grateful. Although times seem chaotic, we live in a wonderful country and we have many good and generous people who love America and its values and will work to keep it a place where everyone can achieve the American dream. God bless America.

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