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In a field of kolbassa, a lonely beef tenderloin.

I have no idea if the person who dropped a package of beef tenderloin into a foodstore bin of kolbassa was actually swapping steak for sausage. But the symbolism of this image is obvious to anyone living with food inflation.

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In a field of kolbassa, a lonely beef tenderloin. A metaphor for food inflation.Rob Carrick/The Globe and Mail

The recently announced September inflation number was described by economists as good news because the 3.8 per cent year over year increase in the cost of living was less than the 4 per cent rate in August. Dig into the numbers and you’ll find that food inflation came in at 5.9 per cent. This is typical of the past year or two of rising prices – however much the overall cost of living rises, food goes up far more.

I noticed the abandoned beef tenderloin on a recent rip through a local foodstore. The beef was on special and cost $17.94 for two steaks, which seems like an OK deal for beef tenderloin. I might just have exposed my lack of grocery store food shopping savvy there, but whatever. The point is that someone picked up a luxury-type grocery item and then walked away. Is this the future of grocery shopping?

Inflation will eventually come down to the 2 per cent level preferred by the Bank of Canada, but that just means more modest price increase than we’ve seen lately. There is no going back to the pricing of yesteryear, which means hard choices at the grocery store now and in future. Which way to the tofu aisle?

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Q: A few years ago, I sought debt consolidation and credit counselling due to $30,000 in student debt and maxed out credit cards. I’ve since worked very hard to become debt-free and financially literate. The debt consolidation has been expunged from my record, and I’ve built a credit score of 836. This month, I got distracted and missed paying my credit card bill for the first time. I paid it in full the next day as soon as I realized, but I’m now losing sleep over how this slip will impact my credit score and clean track record. Can you offer any insight on this?

A: First, congrats on dealing with your debt and building an A+ credit score. Well done. As for your accidental late credit card payment, check out this information from then credit monitoring company Equifax. It says a late payment may not be reported to credit bureaus if you’re only a couple of days or weeks late. Suggestion: Call your credit card company, explain the situation and see what can be done. Worst case, the late payment will lower your credit score somewhat. However, the decline would still likely leave you with a very good rating that presents no problems if you borrow money.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

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