September 24, 2018
You may have thought that inflation is always bad, but did you know that sometimes it can be good?
Inflation is simply the difference in prices from one year to the next over time. It’s calculated as a percentage and it goes through cycles:
- Two percent inflation is actually seen as economic growth and is considered “healthy” inflation.
- As inflation expands beyond three percent it creates a peak and financial bubbles can form.
- If the percentage falls below two percent, inflation may be seen as negative and recessions can develop.
- Finally, there is a trough preceding another cycle expansion.
(If you want to geek out about inflation rates, check out a history from 1929 to 2020 at https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-inflation-rate-history-by-year-and-forecast-3306093.)
Good or bad, inflation should be a concern for everyone in the United States. The economy affects us all, but it can be particularly troubling for seniors living in retirement, or who are about to enter retirement. This is because retirement is usually based on a fixed income budget. Inflation can decrease the purchasing power of retirees, especially for goods and services that increase with inflation.
Here are some tips to protect your retirement income from the effects of inflation over time:
Maximize Your Social Security
Social security benefits have a cost of living/inflation increase built into the disbursement. So, as inflation goes up and the cost of living rises, so too does your social security.
This can be beneficial while you’re on a fixed retirement income. Because this is the only retirement investment with this feature, try to maximize your social security earnings by working until age 70 if you can.
Select Investments that May Grow When Inflation Rises
While living expenses such as gas, groceries, and utilities might rise with inflation, some investments may offer better returns as inflation rises. This is another reason a diverse retirement portfolio might be beneficial.
Minimize Expenses to Combat Rising Inflation
While none of us can affect the inflation rate itself, we can all work to minimize our expenses during our retirement years. Maximizing your income and minimizing your expenses is the name of the game when you’re living on a fixed budget.
Minimizing housing costs is a strategy to deal with inflation and rising prices. Downsize your home if possible. Perhaps investing in a renewable energy source may help save money on energy expenses. A simple kitchen garden can save you money on groceries – a budget item that can take a big hit from inflation.
The Ebb and Flow of Inflation Over Time
Over time, inflation waxes and wanes. A little planning, diversified investments, and consistent frugality may help you sail through inflation increases during your retirement years.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to promote any certain products, plans, or strategies for saving and/or investing that may be available to you. Market performance is based on many factors and cannot be predicted. Before investing, talk with a financial professional to discuss your options.