John Caserta, MSFS, ChFC®
Tips on Managing Money During Inflation
Households across the US are feeling the pinch as inflation is reaching 30-year highs. And for some, that means having to make tough decisions about how to spend their money. Here are some important Q&A's to look over when talking about inflation.
Q: We hear about inflation being on the rise, but what does that mean for the average household?
A: First, it’s important to understand what inflation is and how it’s measured. Inflation is the overall increase in the average price of goods and services over a period of time. This said another way, it’s the decrease in the purchasing power of your money. Currently, we’re seeing the biggest impact in prices for food, energy, and cars, and household goods. Now, these are commonly measured using the Consumer Price Index, or CPI. You may often hear “Core Inflation” referenced as well, which does not include the price of food and energy, which tend to be volatile.
As of October, the CPI had increased 6.2%, the largest 12-month increase since November 1990. Currently, the biggest increase by far is in energy prices, which over the last 12 months has risen 30%. Now, a key takeaway is that it's important to understand that there are multiple indexes that are used to track these prices.
Q: So why are we experiencing inflation?
A: There are a number of factors to consider, such as, shortages in the workforce, supply chain issues, and some would even argue excessive government stimulus in response to COVID-19.
Households were saving money during the pandemic; and that coupled with an unexpectedly quick recovery in the economy and rising demand for products, we saw prices increase.
Q: How long can we expect the inflation to last?
A: Initially, many economists saw inflation being temporary – the buzzword was “transitory”, but this question is the source of much speculation.
Even the Federal Reserve is still trying to understand whether this will pass quickly or whether it’s something that deserves action on their part. What we have been seeing recently is a general consensus that inflation will most likely last into next year, 2022.
Q: So how can we do to deal with inflation?
A: The first step is to look at your spending. Revisit the household budget and determine where you can make adjustments. Make sure to determine "the needs" vs. "the wants" and focus on making adjustments when it comes to “the wants”. Since one of the biggest increases is in fuel prices – consider carpooling. Also, don't be afraid to negotiate lower payments on subscriptions or recurring payments; for example - cable bills and cell phones. You can also shop around your home and auto insurance and see if you can find any better deals out there; and contact your credit card company and ask for a lower APR. And don't forget to hold off on big purchases like cars, household appliances, and electronics until you're certain you'll be able to afford it.
Remember, budgeting is such an important aspect of saving money. With inflation increasing, following these tips could help you out.
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