Thursday, November 11, 2021

Bankruptcy - What is the impact of inflation on my budget? Don't let it trap you.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs
As many probably heard in the news this week (11/10/2021), inflation is at a 30-year high. I hear all these numbers and percentages thrown out at me, but I was not sure how to analyze them. So, I thought I would use the statistics and data used by the bankruptcy courts and US Trustee to try and measure and illustrate the impact of inflation on our lives. I am using the CNBC article “U.S. consumer prices jump 6.2% in October, the biggest inflation  surge in more than 30 years” and “MEANS TESTING” page (updated May 15, 2021) as the data sources for this article.

Consumer prices jumped 6.2%. I'm not completely sure what that means and how they come up with the figure of "6.2%" or how it applies. Looking at these statistic, a family of four spends about $5,389.00. If you increase that figure by 6.2%, you increase your monthly spending by $334.00 per month to $5,723.00 or $4,009.00 per year. But I'm not sure it that is the best measure. 

Look at the figures when you break them out of the overall combined average. Fuel oil and Energy prices (gasoline, natural gas, propane, electricity) are up double digits. Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are also up double digits.

The CNBC article shows:

  • "... Annual core inflation ran at a 4.6% pace..."
  • "... Fuel oil prices soared 12.3% for the month [Oct], part of a 59.1% increase over the past year...";
  • "... Energy prices overall rose 4.8% in October and are up 30% for the 12-month period..."
  •  "... Food prices also showed a sizeable bounce, up 0.9% [Oct] and 5.3% [year] respectively. Within the food category, meat, poultry, fish and eggs collectively rose 1.7% for the month and 11.9% year over year..."
  • "... Shelter costs, which make up one-third of the CPI computation, increased 0.5% for the month and are now up 3.5% on a year-over-year basis..."

The current costs for a family of four using bankruptcy statistics for the my region:

       Expenses                              Cost (05/15/21)           Increase            Est Increase           

- Mortgage/Rental                             $2,002.00                 3.5%               $ 2,072.00

- Utilities/Maintenance                       $ 789.00              30% - 59.1%       $ 1,025.00 (@ 30%)

- Food                                                $ 955.00              5.3% - 11.9%      $ 1,006.00 (@ 5.3%)   

- Housekeeping, Clothes, Etc.           $ 785.00                   4.6%              $    821.00

- Out-of-pocket Med expenses          $ 272.00                   4.6%              $    284.00

- Reg Operating expense - 2 cars     $ 586.00                  59.1%             $    932.00                

   Total per month                              $ 5,389.00                                       $6,140.00

Using the lowest percentage of increases, statistically, the increased costs for a family of 4 would be approximately $751.00 per month, which is approximately $9,012.00 per year. Utilities, Food and Operating costs for two cars are variables because those costs include multiple products with different rates of inflation increases. If you drive a good distance to work, regularly consume meat, poultry, fish and eggs, use fuel oil to heat your home, I think the monthly increase is higher. If you have a fixed mortgage, maybe you will not see an increase in the Mortgage/Rental category.

I am not an economist and maybe my analysis is flawed. I'm sure someone out there would contest this. These are my personal thoughts and how I think these numbers really work.

So, if you were just making your minimum payments on your credit cards and other unsecure debt over the last several months, you may have felt like your income was shrinking. How much trouble will you have making the same payments going forward? Maybe it is time to look at your options including bankruptcy.

If you want assistance, legal representation, or just want to know more about Mark Medvesky or our firm of Wells, Hoffman, Holloway & Medvesky LLP, check out our website at

#bankruptcy #Chapter7 #Chapter13 #MontgomeryCounty #lawfirm #BucksCounty #Pennsylvania

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