As of June 2022, inflation in the United States has peaked at the highest rate in the last 40 years, which has climbed at a 7.9% annual rate, according to Labor Department data. Inflation happens when the prices of products and services suddenly rise — when it increases at unexpected rates, it can disrupt the balance of the economy and also your finances.
However, if you think that inflation doesn’t affect you, you will need to reconsider. Failing to make preparations in times of inflation is one of the biggest mistakes Americans make.
In this article, we will share everything you need to know about inflation, how it affects you, and how you can protect yourself and your family from it.
Inflation refers to the speed or rate when prices change; when inflation rises, it means that you need to pay more for the products and services you usually purchase. While this can help through the inflation of income or assets such as stocks or housing, you will need to own that asset before the prices rise.
Moreover, if your income can’t keep up with the pace of inflation, you will have less buying power. As a result, inflation will increase the cost of living, and if it gets too high, it can even affect the entire economy.
When prices rise, it may be an indication that the economy is growing fast; however, when people purchase more things than they need, suppliers won’t be able to keep up.
At the same time, wages will also fall behind and will result in everyday products and services with ridiculously high prices that people won’t be able to reach.
When it happens temporarily, high inflation could be the result of a thriving economy — where people may have a surplus of cash or have access to plenty of credit and are looking to spend. If customers are eagerly purchasing products and services, many businesses could raise their prices if there aren’t enough supplies.
Companies can also charge their consumers more after they realize that they can keep their customers even if they raise prices on their products and services.
However, inflation will often increase and decrease based on other factors that have little or nothing to do with the condition of our economy. Problems in company supply chains may lead to limited goods which will pump up prices, while limited production of oil can make gas prices skyrocket.
Unfortunately, the burst in inflation happening today has been caused partly by demand and partly by oddities. When we say oddities, we mean how the coronavirus has caused delays in shipping and has shut down all kinds of factories, companies, and businesses, which has pushed prices higher.
However, in the case of demands, there have been consumers who have all built up their savings in the past few months. When this is combined with the many stimulus checks from the government, many have been spending on various goods where their high demand is causing some of the inflation we see.
People continue to make purchases and are also willing to keep up with the rising home and rent prices. Because of our unceasing shopping, we are inadvertently helping to keep prices on the rise.
The root of inflation comes from times when we experience an increase in our money supplies; however, this can vary from the various mechanisms in our economy. The supply of money within a country can be increased through the following:
However, in each of these cases, the value of money decreases, and it loses buying power. The mechanisms that drive inflation are classified into three kinds:
There are many ways in which inflation can affect your finances and life, but some ways are more common than others, such as:
Thankfully, there are a few strategies you can use to help shield yourself from inflation, all of which you can start today:
While some people don’t have much confidence in stocks, having shares and owning equities can actually be very helpful in combating inflation. The best kinds of stocks to own when there is inflation are companies that have the means to naturally increase their prices during these times.
An example of this is commodity resource companies, where products like grains, oil, and metals can be priced higher when inflation occurs. This is because the prices of these items will tend to get higher compared to the price of a laptop, which is controlled by distributor and manufacturer price adjustments.
You can also look to invest in healthcare companies or commodity firms which will tend to have large profit margins and will generally have the lowest cost in production. Moreover, you shouldn’t underestimate the value that dividends have when there is inflation, which may increase the total return of your portfolio.
As long as you do it for the right reasons, investing in a home you will live in can be a great investment. However, if your goal is to purchase a property to flip it and sell it for a profit, this may not work out as you intend and will likely encounter problems.
If you’re a homeowner and won’t be paying in cash, you will likely need to put some money down and then take out a loan to pay for the rest of the purchase price. There is a wide range of mortgages, such as adjustable and fixed-rate, which are the most common.
In both options, you will need to pay off the principal every month while you occupy the house until you get full ownership of a debt-free asset that will increase in value over time. However, if you choose a fixed-rate mortgage, you will end up paying your future debt through cheaper currency should the rates increase.
On the other hand, if rates decrease, you will still be responsible for paying the whole fixed amount. As such, you will need to take all the various factors into account to ensure that you choose the best mortgage option for you.
This is by far one of the best investments you can make to ensure that you are prepared during uncertain times — investing in yourself will help increase your earning power in the future. You can get started by learning more and getting a quality education, which you can then continue by keeping up with the latest skills you may need in a future workplace.
You can do this by staying on top of your business's changing needs, or by learning new skills if you intend to switch careers. Consistently building up your knowledge and skills will ensure that your career is both inflation-proof and recession-proof while helping to get a higher salary.
Inflation doesn’t just affect an economy but also everyone who is a part of it. By learning how it affects us and how we can protect ourselves from inflation, we may be able to keep up with relatively small changes in our lives.
However, it is up to each of us to find a way to adapt to these difficult times. Luckily, 121 Financial Credit Union in Jacksonville, FL, can help you fight against inflation through various channels.
Whether you want to open a new bank account, loan money for a new home, invest and plan for retirement, or want to protect your existing assets, 121 Financial Credit Union is here for you. Start your fight against inflation by calling us at (904) 723-6300 or visiting our website today.