My maternal grandmother was a quiet, unassuming, angel of a person who had a wonderful lap to curl up on and listen to her read my favorite book. She was in her late twenties when the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl hit her and my grandpa on their northwest Kansas farm. They fought through that time and kept the farm by being frugal and prudent with all their spending decisions. Grandma had only an eighth grade education but held a PhD in common sense.

It may sound a bit crazy, but my fondest memories of her were when we went bowling together. She taught me to bowl when I was barely six years old. It’s a game I still love, but I must admit my skills have diminished due to lack of practice. She was good and bowled well into her early eighties.

Being a farmer’s wife, they never had much; never made much money and therefore never saved much or put much into Social Security. So, she worked part time at a jewelry store in the small town where she lived. In her later years she survived on that and what little Social Security she had.

I remember one day after I had grown up, I was visiting her, and the talk turned to her finances.

“Are you doing OK with your money? Do you have enough?” I asked.

“I seem to get by,” she said. Then she got up and went to her refrigerator and pulled out an old Mason jar filled with coins and a few dollar bills. “But this bothers me. I keep my bowling money here in this jar. A couple of years ago, there would be enough money in this jar to go bowling two times a week. Now there’s only enough to bowl one time a week. My little bit of income just doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to. Things like milk and eggs, things that I need, just seem to get more expensive.”

“Well, Grandma,” I said, “when things cost more, that’s called inflation.”

“I don’t care what they call it. All I know is that I have less and less bowling money.”

We measure inflation with all these fancy indexes. The Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index and others. Grandma’s inflation was measured by how much her bowling money declined every year.


These are the opinions of Mike Berry and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice.

Mike Berry is a Registered Representative offering securities through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Legacy Wealth Management, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax advice.

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