The word that’s got everyone trying to manage their money on edge: inflation. Between April 2021 and April 2022, the Consumer Price Index (which measures the average prices of groceries, housing, and other necessities) rose 8.3%. While that’s lower than the 8.5% rate reported in March, it’s still indicating that inflation is high.
The Federal Reserve — the central bank that handles US monetary policy— says it's on the case. To try and slow price hikes, it’s pulled back some extra pandemic help it was giving the economy. And raising interest rates, hiking its benchmark rate to 0.75%-1% in May. It plans to keep increasing interest rates throughout 2022.
While lawmakers work on ways to handle inflation, you can work on your wallet. Some ideas:
Still relying on last year's spending plan, from when everything was considerably cheaper? It’s probably time to switch it up. Make room for the necessities — including their higher prices — and your money goals. Then consider where you can cut costs or negotiate some down.
Comparison shopping is especially important when prices are on the rise. An app like GasBuddy can spot the lowest price at a pump near you. And online tool Basket can help you find the best deals on groceries.
Your credit card can help you get money back on spending you have to do anyway. Make purchases on a card that offers a statement credit, travel points, or other rewards every time you swipe. Or if you want to rack up cash back but not a balance, try apps like Honey and Rakuten.
For your emergency fund and other short-term savings you need easy access to, look for a high-yield savings account.These help your money grow (a little) faster than in a checking account or regular savings account that offers low or no interest. The average savings account won’t pay enough to beat inflation alone, but it helps.
Cash isn't king during periods of high inflation. For far-off goals like buying a home, sending a kid to college, or retiring, investing gives you the best chance at growing your money. Stocks are most likely to beat inflation over time because they offer the highest potential long-term returns. Keep in mind: higher rewards = higher risks.
As in, set up some passive income streams. One idea: if you have a spare room, storage space, or parking spot — or maybe pricey tools like a lawnmower or snow blower — you can rent them out for some extra cash with minimal extra effort.
The million dollar question. While it showed signs of slowing recently, there aren’t many signs that prices will shrink over the summer. Lockdowns in China still threaten supply chains, as does the war in Ukraine.
Inflation affects just about every part of your financial life.Though you can’t control inflation, you can control your budget — and adjust your spending when possible.
Updated May 11 to include the most recent inflation data and predictions.
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Skimm'd by Liz Knueven, Casey Bond, Kamaron McNair, Stacy Rapacon, and Elyse Steinhaus