Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Huh, Thanksgiving Inflation?

I've been seeing a lot of articles and TV spots about how much more the ingredients for a typical Thanksgiving dinner have increased over the past year (Thanksgiving dinner will cost 20% more this year because of inflation), and I'm just not seeing that locally at all.

Of course, I realize that I'm not the typical grocery shopper (Strategy: How to Save Money on Groceries), but even a quick scan of the local grocery flyers can help you find where the best deals on turkey, stuffing, vegetables, etc. can be found. Heck, even Walmart is offering This year's meal at last year's price.

So I tracked down my receipts from last year and compared what I paid for typical Thanksgiving items in 2021 to the prices I've been able to find locally this year. Some things that we buy were hard-to-find in 2021 due to pandemic shortages (hello Jimmy Dean sausage!) and I didn't buy them on sale, but I was just glad to get everything we needed at that point.

Here is a comparison between 2021 and 2022 costs based on my actual spending and research:

Item 2021 2022
Shady Brook Farm Frozen Turkey Breast (14lb) $27.86 $27.86
(2) Jimmy Dean Sausage Roll (16oz) $9.98 $7.98
(2) Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing $5.32 $4.96
(3) Green Giant Simply Steam Frozen Corn $3.00 $2.64
(2) Le Sueur Peas (15oz) $3.36 $3.34
(2) Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce $3.16 $3.34
Russet Potatoes (5lb) $2.74 $2.78
Yukon Gold Potatoes (5lb) $4.68 $2.49
Butternut Squash (6lb) $5.94 $4.14
Total $66.04 $59.53

I was able to easily put this list together by checking prices at Walmart, Shaws, Stop & Shop, and Market Basket prior to going grocery shopping. I was certainly pleased to see that Shaws had the turkey breast we buy on sale for $1.99/lb like last year since that is the most expensive item on the list. I'm also not sure why I paid so much more for Yukon Gold potatoes in 2021 since they can typically be found on sale for buy 1 get 1 free at Stop & Shop prior to Thanksgiving. Market Basket had them on sale for $2.49 this year, so I grabbed them there when picking up the peas, sausage, cranberry sauce, and butternut squash.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 11, 2022

November 2022 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on November 10th, 2022:

Asset Oct 2022 Nov 2022 Change

Checking 6,190 3,341 -2,849
Money Market 97,204 71,665 -25,539
Savings Bonds 215,855 217,496 1,641
Treasury Bills 30,000 50,000 20,000
CDs 43,176 43,281 105
Brokerage 220,460 267,742 47,282
401k 352,056 394,241 42,185
Roth IRA 202,468 221,548 19,080
SEP IRA 949,131 1,010,431 61,300
529 Savings 157,267 160,970 3,703
Total Assets $2,273,807 $2,440,715 $166,908

The S&P 500 has rebounded nicely, rising 10.24% (-16.99% YTD) since the last update. A good chunk of that came after a 5.54% bump yesterday from a positive October 2022 inflation report:

(chart courtesy of nasdaq.com)

On the jobs front, the unemployment rate for October rose to 3.7%, with a better-than-expected 261,000 new jobs added. Oil prices have continued to remain steady at the $89 level. That translates to a local regular unleaded gasoline price of $3.79 at my last fill-up and a $5.15 heating oil price for a delivery two weeks ago.

On the financial front, I did the usual 401k transaction and Vanguard VTI purchase in my brokerage account. I also put $20k into 13 week T-Bills with an investment rate of 4.221% (up from 3.415% a month ago) and will continue to do so in the current rising interest rate environment until a better option presents itself. I took a distribution from my S Corp and have started shifting some of my free cash from my Alliant Credit Union savings account (2.35% APY) to the Fidelity Treasury Only Money Market Fund (FDLXX) with a 2.94% 7 day yield in my Fidelity Cash Management Account.

With regard to inflation impacting the Thanksgiving meal, I haven't been seeing the massive price increases that some "the sky is falling!" articles have been describing. For example, the Shady Brook Farms frozen turkey breast we use is on sale at Shaw's for $1.99/lb ($1.99 in 2021), Ocean Spray cranberry sauce is $1.67 at Market Basket ($1.58 in 2021), Pepperidge Farm stuffing is $2.48 at Walmart ($2.66 in 2021), Le Sueur peas are $1.67 at Market Basket ($1.68 last year), etc. This means following the rules in my Grocery Shopping Strategy of course, which cut my grocery bills by nearly a third the first year I started following it. In short, know what's a good deal at various local stores and shop accordingly. I always hit 2-3 nearby stores when I do a full grocery shopping and sometimes make a quick stop at a store that has a sale I'm interested in when I can combine the trip with other errands in the area. Doing this saved me THOUSANDS of dollars each year for the past 20 years.