does the average middle class worker see their pay keep up with rising costs? No, I’m not being harsh.
The call for higher Social Security COLAs is misleading. The list below is rather selective and certainly does not apply uniformly to seniors. In fact, the perception that seniors all live on a fixed income comprised all or mostly of Social Security is not accurate. Among elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 21% of married couples and about 45% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. Such numbers are survey based.
Changes to the COLA need serious thought. Simply promising higher COLA is not practical or necessary. In addition, the expectations created for a higher COLA are not realistic.
The organization listed the “dirty dozen” items important to seniors that have seen the largest percentage price increases:
- Major appliances, 17 percent
- Beef roasts, 11 percent
- Used cars and trucks, 11 percent
- Pork chops, 10 percent
- Household paper products, 8 percent
- Health insurance, 7.5 percent
- Elderly care at home, 7 percent
- Poultry, 7 percent
- Tomatoes, 6.5 percent
- Canned tuna, 6 percent
- Milk, 5.5 percent
- Household cleaning products, 5.2 percent
Source: Social Security COLA fails to keep up with rising costs of essential products and services | BenefitsPRO
The other consideration needs to be frequency of purchase. Two of the top three items on the list are major appliances and cars/trucks. Unless you are unlike most people, you do not purchase either of these things every year. So throwing that into the mix is misleading to the max.
Here they go again, throwing percentage numbers at us, that do not tell us the actual costs increase per item.
At first glance, when you look at the 1.3 % SS COLA and then look at the items on the list, you think wow 5.2 % to 17 %, we must all be one step away from bankruptcy. Eight of the items went up less than $1 per item or just a few cents per pound. Example – A $3 gallon of milk went up 16.5 cents, if you cannot afford that increase you have some other major problems with your budget. There are always items on sale at the grocery store that can negate these small price increases of everyday items. When it comes to appliances, or cars, you can always find them on sale, In 42 years of marriage, I have never paid list price for a car or any appliance, my wife will not go for it. I received 40% off the retail price of the last refrigerator I purchased in 2018, because it was last years model. My family Social Security benefit went up $210 for the year, I am sure I can find savings in the eight low cost items on the list and be just fine. As I believe 80+ % of seniors also, will be alright. Even when we get no COLA, I seem to be able to save money for big ticket items and pay cash or get zero interest for 1 year from Home Depot or Lowes, just for making the purchase. And, do not forget about asking for the senior discount, Last night I saved $4.60 on a family 20 piece chicken meal at Bojangles, it all adds up to more than my SS COLA per year.