I must be the biggest sucker in America. I was taught to save my money ever since first grade when those of us with the means deposited 50 cents per month in a savings account on which we received 5 1/2 percent interest. The interest rate never changed. So I’ve been a lifelong saver and haven’t owed anybody any money since we paid off our house 30 years ago. We have one credit card and pay it off in full every month. I’ve never been unemployed, and I’m still working at 70. My wife started as a cashier in a grocery store when she was 16 and spent 30 years in that capacity. She can outwork an entire county road crew. We’ve never owned more than two vehicles at a time, had no car payments, and drove our rigs until the wheels fell off. So we thought we had enough money saved in case we both require long-term care in our golden years, but currently, we are being paid three-tenths of one percent on CD’s, which is well below the fake inflation rate. Now our hard-earned wealth is being devalued by the same government who encouraged us to save it.

Lee Pitts is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email them at leepitts@leepittsbooks.com.

Compare our financial plan to that of a friend we’ve known for 40 years. Starting from nothing, he now owns 28 rental houses and several apartment buildings. He’d buy a house, build up some equity and use that to borrow enough for a down payment on another house. Our friend never saved a penny and just used OPM (other people’s money) to buy California real estate. He doesn’t play in other fields about which he knows nothing, so he never sent his money to the Big Casino on Wall Street. Despite being 80, he’s still doing it, and with today’s fed rate at effectively zero, he’s buying more real estate than ever, which he’ll pass down to his son. Although he’s a paper gazillionaire, his liquid assets consist of two gold teeth. He told me that a couple years ago, a thief broke into his house and started searching for money, and he got up and started searching with him.

So tell me, who’s been the investment ignoramus?

Getting through this together, Atascadero

Have you been shopping lately? I haven’t been in a grocery store since COVID began because you never know who’s been squeezing the peaches, but my wife allows me to go to the hardware store as long as I don’t buy anything. On a recent trip, I had a terrible case of sticker shock. They wanted $60 for one sheet of plywood, two by fours were a dollar afoot, one 3″ stainless steel bolt was $3.95, and a Milwaukee® reciprocating saw blade was $16! (Thankfully, I have 500 of them, which I bought at an estate sale for three dollars!) Since I buy my clothes at the hardware store, I was shocked to see a Carhartt® sweatshirt was $54! On the way home, I paid $4.99 per gallon for the lowest octane gas.

Look around. A new pickup will cost you $75,000, and a used combine can easily cost half a million. I needed some extra long railroad ties, so I bid $60 for six of them on an online auction. They sold for $200! I’d like a new dog and have my heart set on a Basset Hound, but the nearest breeder wants $1,500 for one pup! At the current rate of real inflation, I’m afraid the dollar store (which now sells everything for $1.25) will soon be the twenty-dollar bill store.

I inherited the first dollar Grandpa made in business which he framed in a picture frame that probably cost him ten cents at Woolworths. Today the frame is probably worth a dollar at a garage sale, and the dollar is worth ten cents. Yet our government says there’s no need to worry about inflation.

All that time I was saving money for the future, my own government was devaluing it as fast as their overheated printing presses could print it. I’ve been a fool. I should have been buying farmland, Bitcoin, ammunition, Amazon stock, rental houses, lottery tickets, and Carhartt® sweatshirts. At the current rate of real inflation next year, a reciprocating blade will cost a wheelbarrow full of money.

I happen to have a few for sale, but I don’t want cash. Gold or Silver only.