Adapting to the Worst of Inflation

A redditor shared this image recently, produced by the American Enterprise Institute, which is one of the best visualizations of inflation:

inflation trends by category.

Other countries will have different % changes, and many are subsidized by taxes or high fees for other groups. For example, international students often pay significantly higher fees than locals. Despite the funding supports, most aspects leading to high inflation can be found everywhere. The historical comparison is even worse, when we consider the lack of value gained, or lost, with rising costs. By adapting to the worst of inflation, we can focus on enjoying the benefits of the deflating categories.

Hospital Services >+200%

While many costs in healthcare are inflated by medical errors and conflicts of interest, there are legitimate drivers as well. The global population is aging, and our health ultimately worsens with age. Poor global policy decisions have led to the rise of several pathogens resistant to treatment. Hospitals are the worst hit by this, both in the difficulty treating people and maintaining sanitary environments.

Ways to react
  1. Maintaining a healthy immune system is critical.
  2. Learn more about infection prevention for better habits and to notice when others might be exposing us to infection.
  3. Bias towards remote or clinical services, as we can find the same or better treatment without the cost and exposure.

College Textbooks ~+190%

While some textbooks are packaged with modern software, which offer some additional value, this fact only serves as further proof that textbook prices should track closer to software (-60%). Worse yet, even private software vendors offer free education versions, not to mention the growing list of open source options.

For the cases where software is overkill, we can find countless hours of recorded training and tutorials, for even the most complicated topics. Khan Academy is one of the more established providers, but a quick web search will provide several walkthroughs. The cost of media isn’t shown on the chart, but it is essentially free to anyone with a networked device.

Ways to react

First, use this as strong indicator of how much a particular college cares about students. If they mandate expensive textbooks for most classes, and make it difficult to share or buy used, expect further cash grabs from the college. With any course material, investigate whether the professors actually use any proprietary parts for marking. If they merely use it as reference material, you’ll be safe to find the content elsewhere. Developing the ability to find information, without having your hand held by a textbook, happens to be necessary for any graduate.

College Tuition ~+180%

Similar to college textbooks, nearly all fundamental cost pressures are downward. By no accounts has the value of education nearly tripled. Like housing, much of the problem lies in higher demand and the terrifying levels of debt we accept. This, however, does not mean we are doomed to high tuition. For most career paths, a portfolio and/or strong track record will supplant any degree. This could be considered difficult, if not contrasted by our alternative of 4 years of tuition and schoolwork.

Ways to react

Depending on the work desired, different paths offer the best value:

  1. Self-learning
    • Any moderately ambitious organization would happily hire people with valuable skills and abilities. The key is to prove competence; building a portfolio is a common strategy
    • If wanting to start a business/organization, we can start right away, and learn as we go.
  2. Nano degrees, certificates, or boot camps
    • Several careers can be started with credentials proving only a few highly demanded skills.
  3. Degrees abroad
    • Degrees in regions with low costs of living are often priced competitively, and still offer plenty to experience while busy with studies
    • Several countries offer affordable education in English.
  4. Significant/full scholarship and grants
    • If choosing a profession requiring a local degree, costs should be minimized.
    • Try to find work exposing the daily work of the profession. Nothing worse than completing an education to realize we hate the work.

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