Both on the personal and professional front, we are hearing numerous and consistent conversations and news items about inflation across the U.S. This month, we ask our people in the propane realm what impact inflation has on them either at home or at work or both.
In this column, adopted from the familiar “Heard on the Street” format, we offer our responders a chance to answer the question posed in the title. These are their replies reported verbatim.
INFLATION IMPACT AT HOME
I kept reading about ‘shrink-flation’ (prices remaining the same but the package size is decreasing), and I wondered “is this really happening?” So now, when I am out grocery shopping, I keep picking up stuff and looking at the package weights to see if they have indeed ‘shrunk’. My unofficial opinion at this point? Yes, it is really happening! LOL As to what I’ve done with this fascinating piece of intel, well, I switched popcorn brands when I saw this sneaky behavior in my preferred brand. That will teach them….
Oakville, Ontario, CANADA
I’m at a point in my life that it doesn’t affect me near as much as it would of when I was younger and oh so poor! I’m grateful to have had that time in my life, but glad it’s in the past and hope it stays that way. I am aware and feel for those so affected by it. I now watch it more for what it does to investments and hopefully a promise of a brighter future coming out of a downturn.
Bird Island, Minnesota
Inflation is undoubtedly touching all Americans in different ways. While some changes in lifestyle have become involuntary, like paying over $5.00 a gallon for gasoline, (which is yet another reason we should be utilizing autogas) other, more voluntary changes in our daily lives are made up of a variety of choices. Personally, my family is scaling back our travel plans for the rest of the year, as well as doing a lot more in-home dining versus ordering take out and going out to eat when we don’t feel like cooking. We have also opted to maximize the use of streaming services as opposed to visiting the movie theatre; where I dare not imagine how much a large popcorn is going for these days! While some of us are making the most of what we have, others are scraping by to make something out of practically nothing. The truth is, there are far greater sacrifices than these being made across the country, so at this time I consider myself fortunate.
Asheville, North Carolina
Since my wife typically shops for food in our house, I asked her. She said she has always shopped the sales regardless, but in these times she might pass on the filet of beef in favor of a lesser cut. As for me, I’m more conscious of my driving habits, although I’m not sure I’ve cut back much. I’m also trying to squeeze a few more games out of my tennis balls, as the cost of those has about doubled from last year.
Tinley Park, Illinois
While inflation has certainly impacted the price of groceries, gas and pretty much everything we purchase on a daily basis, I really have not made many changes in this area. If I still had young children, I am sure I would probably be more diligent in my spending habits! However, the one area that we are following much closer is our whole financial picture. Now that we are near retirement age, we have to be sure that we have a good plan in place for a secure future.
INFLATION IMPACT AT WORK
It’s been a difficult year all the way around for sure. Some of the changes I have considered is the cost of my commute to work but, since it’s only six minutes away and I’m too old and overweight to go with an E-Bike, that’s out!! And my operations manager Lisa has told me I can’t spend any extra money on anything this year. She is soo mean to me L
All kidding aside, we are OK. We are just being very conservative in all our purchases until we feel we have come through these difficult times. We have not purchased any new vehicles this year and are being diligent about purchasing and placement of tanks. We have asked the guys to check and double check their trucks to make sure they have EVERYTHING they need for a job and to please come back to the shop with the tools they left with!! We have cut back on some advertising and extra community donations. These were hard cuts to make but seemed like the best choice for us – for now.
This new trend of record-breaking inflation requires positioning for the impact on our business. We’re experiencing much higher fuel, steel (tanks), parts and vehicles costs that are creating some real challenges with no relief in in sight in the near term. Vehicles are hard to come by and if you can find them, they are substantially higher priced with longer lead times for delivery. On the product cost side, we have to pass as much through as possible and on the increased vehicle and tank costs, we will buy less this upcoming year than we would have otherwise. We will continue operationally to focus our team on efficiency even more, to further offset as much of the inflation as we can to continue to deliver on our financial objectives.
Boyd H. McGathey
Our behavior changes to be more conservative in our expenses and investments. High inflation makes us examine our logistics more frequently as well to ensure we are as efficient as possible.
Buffalo, New York
We are continuing to operate conservatively, but always looking for ways to reduce costs and increase throughput.
INFLATION IMPACT ON WORK & HOME LIFE
As inflation rises and we appear to be in a recession I have become much more conservative in my business and personal spending. Planning ahead is helpful. I am keeping a close eye on the business climate to see how companies may be trying to save money. This makes the value proposition much more important. I guess I will do my trip to Ireland next year!
From a personal perspective, we are closely monitoring our spending on a monthly business. The costs of all goods and services in general have skyrocketed, which has resulted in limiting our spending due to the uncertainty of the future. We are holding off on any major purchases, and limiting vacations, travel, and entertainment. We are staying home and cooking more meals rather than going out to eat. At our company we are closely monitoring our expenses and travel and being very selective about what conferences and conventions to attend. In summary, we are being very cautious with our spending personally, and at P3 Propane Safety.
Cumberland, Rhode Island
Ignoring inflation in America goes against financial management wisdom for any organization including our families. Inflation affects all aspects of the economy, from consumer spending, business investment, and employment rates to government programs, tax policies, and interest rates. As you’ve read here, multiple steps may be considered to help your operations or personal cash flow through inflationary times. Gasoline prices make the headlines, but the cost of popcorn is a benchmark heard here first!
Nancy Coop, Cetane Associates
This column was first published in Butane-Propane News in September 2022.