Item prices tend to keep on rising as a result of higher production costs as well as supply and demand forces. Inflation is triggered by the average rise of prices in the economy. The cost of living rises with rising inflation, and vice versa. It's important to tighten your belt and keep a sharp eye on your household budget during periods of high inflation to make ends meet.
Inflation erodes your purchasing power because your money loses value as you have to spend more to buy fewer items. In fact, you may have to cut back on some purchases because your income is no longer sufficient to meet all your needs. If you are a business owner, the decline of consumer spending power translates to falling sales and dwindling profits.
It's only possible to save when you have enough disposable income. However, rising prices may exhaust your income more quickly and leave you with nothing left over. You may even have to withdraw some of your savings to meet the rising costs of living. There is also little motivation to save during periods of high inflation because of the reduced purchasing power of your savings. This may expose you to a lower standard of living when you retire should you end up with insufficient savings.
If you're living off your savings in retirement you may have to endure a reduced standard of living if inflation rises because high inflation, when factored alongside your income taxes, reduces the returns on your lifetime savings. For example, if you invested in a retirement benefits fund offering annual returns at a rate of 5 percent, tax deductions and a low inflation rate will have little impact on your earnings. However, if inflation rises rapidly your net savings returns will slide significantly, leaving you with less money to spend.
Ups and Downs
Lenders charge either fixed or variable interest rates on their loan and mortgage products. Unlike fixed interest rates, variable rates fluctuate with changes in economic conditions. The Federal Reserve raises interest rates during periods of high inflation to remove excess money from the market and curb further inflation. This subsequently increases the interest rates for your variable interest loan or mortgage. You'll then have to commit more income towards the repayment of your loan or mortgage, distorting your household budget.
- The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: What is Inflation and How Does the Federal Reserve Evaluate Changes in the Rate of Inflation?
- NBCNews.com: Higher Inflation Brings Lower Standard of Living
- European Commission: The Consequences of Inflation
- Forbes: What Actually Causes Inflation (and who Gains from It)
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