Inflation's effect on Belmont students
Belmont junior Christine Subratie hasn’t been able to buy eggs or fruits, instead turning towards processed foods due to the rising cost of groceries this semester.
“When I go and buy groceries, I buy less healthy food and more boxed and canned stuff and it’s not necessarily unhealthy, it’s just more processed food, but it’s cheaper and lasts longer,” Subratie said.
Inflation has raised the prices of fresh food so much that students can no longer afford their staple items.
The most obvious impact of inflation is the rising food prices, meaning students like Subratie have to choose between expensive, healthy food and cheap, processed foods.
This is not the only place where prices have risen, though, Belmont business professor Leif Torkelsen said.
“Housing, energy and food are the three areas in which it’s showing up the most.”
Inflation, on top of Nashville having a high cost of living, only adds to the difficulty for students who do not work and live off their savings or money their parents give them for groceries and gas.
“Especially for us in Nashville, the cost of living is insane compared to the cost of living where I’m from. So if my mom gave me money, it’s just not going to go as far,” business school student Emma Gray said.
“So with all of this stuff, I would say budget or even just be more mindful of how you’re spending your money.”
There are many negative effects of inflation like grocery prices and the cost of living rising, but there are potentially positive effects on college students with unemployment and student loans lowering, Torkelsen said.
Inflation happens when the unemployment rate decreases, meaning there are more jobs available.
“Higher levels of spending tend to push inflation up, and this effect tends to be larger the closer we are to full employment,” Belmont business professor Luke Petach said. “In February, the unemployment rate was 3.6%. That’s as low as it’s been in decades.”
Paying back student loans may also be easier.
“Inflation actually does help student borrowers because it allows them to repay their loans back in dollars that are worth less than the dollars they borrowed,” said Torkelsen.
Inflation reduces the value of every dollar, and once the dollar becomes valuable again, all loans will be easier to pay back.
Even with this, inflation still negatively affects every other aspect of people’s lives.
“Take gas prices, which have gone crazy lately. That definitely affects college students because we are out here trying to make it in the big city,” Belmont junior ReAnna Davenport said.
This has made getting to work, the grocery store and to school for commuters harder because people can’t afford to drive.
“Inflation is growing faster than people’s incomes overall. So in effect we’re getting poorer,” Torkelsen said.
Subratie has felt inflation's impact in her overall budgeting, but especially in the amount she allots for eating out.
“I am definitely not eating out as much,” said Subratie. “And because I have a meal plan, I’ve just been trying to utilize that instead of groceries.”
Even with a meal plan, though, she is still cutting corners.
“There are things I have to go without because I have to eat a good amount,” Subratie said.
Yet, she says she is hopeful about inflation going down by next semester and allowing her to purchase the food she needs once again.
“In general a lot of things just keep going up,” Subratie said. “But, I think some things will go back to normal the next time the school year comes back around.”
This article was written by Maya Burney