The U.S. Government Asked Me About My Spending

Ellie Daforge
3 min readMar 7, 2023

The result was surprising

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

I hear about the U.S. Consumer Price Index every so often, usually in the news, and often relating to gasoline prices. I never thought about how they collect the data. Maybe they have someone in each state drive around looking at gas station prices?

Nope. The data is collected by surveying average Americans. And one day, I was chosen.

When the first letter came, I wondered if it was legit. But we made some calls and did some research and found that it was, indeed, a real initiative.

I guess we were selected by a computer program. The exact details are a mystery to me. Was it random? Were we chosen by our income on our tax returns? Was it just based on our zip code?

Naturally, I tried to avoid them (“My dad is in the hospital — can’t I defer this?”) but it turns out three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and the Consumer Price Index. Think of it as a rare, financial jury duty.

Okay, it’s not technically required, in the sense that jury duty would be, but the data collectors are extremely persistent. They call. They send lots of letters, FedEx-ed so they are placed on your front porch every day. Remember the scene in Harry Potter where they’re trying to avoid the Hogwarts letter? It was like that.



Ellie Daforge

Article writer, aspiring YA novelist & health scientist.