As the cost of living rises, households worldwide feel the squeeze. Inflation impacts everything from groceries to housing to healthcare, and families struggle to make ends meet as they stretch their budgets to the limit.
Recent statistics show the inflation rate in the United States has risen to its highest level in over four decades. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 7% over the past year alone. Inflation is a persistent increase in the prices of goods and services over time, leading to a decline in purchasing power of money. It affects the economy in many ways, including households, as it erodes their buying power, making it difficult to afford basic necessities.
How Is Inflation Impacting Households Today?
Inflation is affecting families significantly, with prices of goods and services rising rapidly. One area where inflation has a noticeable impact is the cost of groceries. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices have increased by 6% in the past year.
Inflation is also impacting the cost of housing. According to the National Association of Home Builders, lumber has increased by more than 167% since April 2020, making building, renting or renovating homes much more expensive.
Other areas where inflation impacts households include transportation, healthcare and energy costs. With gas prices rising, transportation costs are increasing making it more expensive for families to commute to work or travel.
Healthcare costs are also rising, with medical services and prescription drugs becoming more expensive daily. Additionally, the cost of energy, including electricity and natural gas, is increasing impacting household budgets.
How We Got Here and Why?
The United States has experienced an increase in inflation in recent years, fueled by a combination of factors, including:
Supply chain disruptions: The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in supply chains, leading to shortages of goods and raw materials and higher consumer prices.
Government stimulus: The US government has implemented several rounds of stimulus packages in response to the pandemic, flooding the economy with cash and contributing to inflation.
Labor shortages: The pandemic also caused labor shortages in many industries, which has led to increased wages for workers and higher prices for consumers.
Rising energy costs: The cost of energy has increased, with higher prices for gasoline and other commodities, which has increased the cost of goods and services.
Monetary policy: The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates low to stimulate economic growth, contributing to inflation by making it cheaper for consumers and businesses to borrow money.
These factors have all contributed to the current state of inflation in the US. However, inflation is complex and multifaceted; many other factors are also at play.
7 Tips to Help Navigate Inflation
Inflation can be a challenging economic environment for households to navigate. Here are tips from our team of advisors at Trilogy Financial that can help you manage inflationary pressures.
1. Calculate Your Inflation Rate
This measure provides a more accurate reflection of the inflation you are experiencing compared to the general inflation rate reported in the media.
A financial advisor can help calculate your personal inflation rate by analyzing your spending habits and identifying the goods and services that make up your personal consumption basket. This process can involve reviewing bank and credit card statements, examining household bills, and discussing significant lifestyle or spending habits changes to help you track the prices of these items over time and calculate your inflation rate.
2. Create a Cash Management Strategy
A cash management strategy will allow you to preserve your purchasing power and financial stability. A financial advisor can help you create a strategy that aligns with your financial goals and risk tolerance by:
- Assessing your current financial situation,
- Identifying your short-term and long-term cash needs, and
- Recommending appropriate investments that balance liquidity, yield, and risk.
The strategy can involve diversifying cash holdings across different asset classes, using inflation-indexed bonds or money market funds, and considering alternative investments that offer potential inflation protection.
3. Discuss When and How to Use TIPS to Protect Against Inflation
Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are a type of U.S. government bond indexed to inflation. As inflation rises, the principal and interest payments of TIPS adjust accordingly, providing investors with a hedge against inflation. A financial advisor may recommend TIPS if you want to protect your portfolio against inflationary pressures or maintain your purchasing power over the long term. It could involve assessing your risk tolerance and investment objectives and recommending an appropriate allocation to TIPS within a diversified portfolio.
4. Discuss Alternative ‘Inflation-Hedging' Assets
In addition to TIPS, assets such as commodities, real estate and stocks of companies with pricing power can provide inflation protection. A financial advisor can help you choose the right assets for your portfolio by assessing your investment objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon. As a result, they can recommend an appropriate allocation to inflation-hedging assets that balance return and risk, like commodity funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs) or sector ETFs offering exposure to companies with pricing power.
5. Strategize for How to Avoid ‘Tax Bracket Creep' as Income Rises
Tax bracket creep pushes an individual's income into a higher tax bracket, resulting in a higher tax bill. This move can erode the purchasing power of your income and reduce your savings.
A financial advisor can help you strategize on how to avoid tax bracket creep by considering tax-efficient investment vehicles, such as Roth IRAs, tax-loss harvesting and charitable donations.
6. Review Homeowners and Other Insurance Solutions to Avoid Under Coverage
As the value of assets, goods and services increase due to inflation, the cost of replacing them also rises. A financial advisor can help you review your insurance coverage and ensure they have inflation protection from risks.
Advisors can also educate you on the different types of insurance available and their benefits, such as umbrella insurance, which can provide additional liability coverage in case of a significant lawsuit or accident.
7. Reassess Long-Term Inflation Assumptions for Retirement Projections
Inflation can significantly impact retirement savings and planning because it reduces the purchasing power of money over time. Individuals will need to save more to maintain their living standards in retirement.
A financial advisor can help you reassess your long-term inflation assumptions for retirement projections by analyzing your current savings and investment strategies, projecting future inflation rates, and identifying potential gaps in your retirement plans.
From Us to You: Control Your Financial Future
As inflation continues to affect households, you should take control of your financial situation and work with a financial advisor to develop a plan aligning with your goals, risk tolerance and personal situation.
Trilogy Financial is a financial advisory firm dedicated to helping clients navigate the complex world of personal finance. We offer comprehensive services, including financial planning, investment management, and retirement planning.
If you are concerned about the impact of inflation on your finances, contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced advisors. We are here to help you take control of your financial situation and navigate through the challenges of inflation.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual 2. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.