Talking About Inflation

Students at TC explain how inflation is affecting them

Gas%2C+food+and+shopping+prices+have+seen+steep+increases.+Students+are+left+to+deal+with+the+consequences.+

Illustration by Anisah Collazo

Gas, food and shopping prices have seen steep increases. Students are left to deal with the consequences.

The rise in prices has left many students feeling the effects in their bank accounts.

For Junior Loretta Charron, and many other students, gas is an expected expense as a teen driver. Before the recent inflation reached the pumps it didn’t cost much for Charron to fill up her tank, she says, but now the price has almost doubled. And this is the reality many students face today.

“Everytime I go to fill my tank up it’s like $4 a gallon,” she said. “I can’t pay that each time I go get gas.”

Gas hasn’t been the only thing inflation has gotten its hands around. In a survey sent out to students, 75% of surveyors said that food prices have taken the biggest hit to their pockets. In the same survey 46% of students said that just shopping around in general has shown that inflation is affecting even the smallest of communities. 

But what’s causing this spike in inflation? 

Keri Samford Executive Director of Development for The Colony’s Economic Development Corporation gave some insight on the different factors. Samford says that the supply chain, the great resignation and the war between Russia and Ukraine all have an effect on the prices we’re seeing at the checkout counter. 

“There is a shortage of workers and for businesses to get the best talent they have to pay more. Benefits, pay for competitive wages and just products are more,” she said. “I will say in the last couple of months the war in Ukraine has created volatility in stock markets and it’s definitely affecting the world wide oil market and cost of gas and fuel.” 

Why does it seem to have the biggest effect on gas prices? Almost everything you buy takes fuel to produce. It takes fuel to make the products, takes fuel to manufacture the product and takes fuel to get them where they need to go.

Samford says that it all pretty much all boils down to basic supply and demand. The supply chain isn’t something many may think about but it is an important part of how products are moved around.

“We kind of think of it as the last part of its journey when it’s here for us,” Samford said. “We don’t really think about the origin, how long it takes to go from there to here and what happens once it gets here. We’re definitely an interconnected world.”

Freshman Shelley Hua loves to snack and bake. While she doesn’t work or drive she can see the effect it has on her parents. Before she used to indulge in snacks and bake for her family. Nowadays she tries to find ways to try and lessen the burden on her parents.

“I only turn on the electricity if needed. When showering, I will turn off the water when not needed. I don’t cook or bake as much to conserve gas,” she said. “Snacks are something that my parents would buy when they’re at the store for my brother and I. Now, I tell them to limit snacks because it is unnecessary and that can cut spending.”

Hua worries for her parents and says they work too hard. Prices have spiked but wages are still the same. Many students see that their dollar doesn’t stretch as far as before.

I don’t want to be a burden.”

— Shelley Huy

“I worry that my parents are working too hard,” Hua said. “I hear my dad saying his hands hurt and my mom’s hands are literally peeling from chemical reactions from being allergic to the acrylic liquid that goes on people’s nails.”

Students like Hua who currently do not work can still see the effects of inflation around their home. Hua does worry about the future and fears that her life here may mirror her family back in Vietnam.

“I don’t want to be a burden,” she said. 

Inflation has touched almost every corner of the country. The Colony’s community food pantry has been seeing people they normally wouldn’t, Samford says. Their demand has increased as they begin seeing people they have not traditionally seen before.

“They’ve done a huge amount of outreach because they want to make sure they can get to those who truly need it,” Samford said. “They are reliant on donations so it’s important for those people who always donate to continue to donate. They’re always looking for donations and people that still help out their fellow community members.”

The Biden Administration opened up public lands to oil and gas drilling on April 15. Samford says it’s important that the United States becomes energy independent which will get us closer to lower fuel prices as the United States starts supplying its own oil. Texas is a big energy state rich in oil and is also moving to become more of a wind energy state as well.

“Everything pretty much goes back to supply and demand,” Samford said. “If we have a larger supply then cost will come down, but you can’t ramp that up in one or two months so it will take a little while.”

Many students are seeing first hand just how little their dollar stretches. In the same survey as before, many said that they have to accept this new reality because there isn’t much they can do to change prices. One surveyor shared that they’ve had to work more hours all while trying to balance school with upcoming finals saying that they’re burnt out on life already.

Charron is conscious of how much gas she uses on a daily basis. There are times where her friends ask for rides home after school and she has to say no. Charron cares for her friends but she can’t afford to drive more than the distance between school and home. 

“That’s not me being mean,” she said. “It’s just me being wiseful of my spending and my time.”