Inflation has many names. And none of them are good. High inflation is a period of great stress for everyone — employed and unemployed, no matter the profession. Besides tighter budgets, it also generates massive hysteria, because it can turn the tables overnight. You might find your assets under threat one day, so it’s better to prepare for that beforehand. If that gives you a tinge of panic, that’s reasonable. But, with smart choices, you can still get by better than others. Here’s how you can safeguard and augment your shares and income during high inflation.
What is Inflation?
When the rate of prices escalates over a particular period of time, it is known as inflation. It is not limited to one or two products and can spread over the entire country, covering goods and services such as everyday items, travel fares, and fees. The inflation rate can be measured by tracking how much you spend on your daily necessities over a year. This is the consumer price index or CPI, and its change relative to a base year is consumer price inflation.
As of March 2022, the rate of inflation is at an all-time high in the U.S., reaching 8.5%. Although various factors play a role in high inflation, the most common ones are cost-push inflation, demand-pull inflation, greater demand for goods, lower currency value, and a rise in national debt. The first cause refers to an upsurge in production costs. This forces companies to make their products more expensive. It is usually triggered when the government imposes new tariffs or taxes. High inflation also occurs when the demand for something surpasses its supply. Sometimes, workers clamor for higher wages and that can also lead to a rise in overall prices.
Savers suffer from loss, and borrowers benefit from high inflation. This is because the money you saved loses its value if not used during such a phase. But, on the other hand, it shrinks debt. You must learn how to manage your money to survive when inflation rates are over the top. Though it is not as severe as a stock market crash, it can still alter the course of your financial standing. So it is best to understand and prepare than run the risk of loss.
What Can You Do About it?
Now that you know what inflation is, it’s time to figure out how you can deal with it. The following is a step-by-step guide to coping with high inflation:
- Gear up. Keeping your skills up to the mark is one sure way to combat high inflation and build wealth during challenging times. Refine your financial health by investing in yourself. Get a good education, join a workshop, and learn practically beneficial courses. They will help you not only deal with different types of inflation but also prepare for it.
- Invest. Having a solid investment plan can protect you during times of inflation. As the money you have is more valuable today than it will be tomorrow, you should invest it in something valuable. Include real estate in your investment plan, because it is sure to offer security better than other options. However, invest in other things besides it as well, like gold and stocks. Equities often scare people off due to the risk, but they can be an effective tool in coping with fluctuating inflation rates.
- Save up. While it is advisable to not have excess cash at hand, it is also important to have an emergency fund. If you invest in commodities like oil and agricultural goods, then there are chances their prices may drop suddenly, because it depends on the demand and supply relationship. So you need to have a backup, just enough to get by for two or three months.
- Bargain lower prices. As a consumer, it won’t hurt to negotiate lower prices for certain items. And some businesses are often willing to do so. Avoid spending on things that are not necessary and are costly. Cut back your expenses, and look for subscriptions that offer lower prices.
Effects of High Inflation
High inflation damages the economy in many ways. It diminishes purchasing power, which is what makes everything costly. At one point or another, people get so obsessed with investing and getting rid of their devalued money, that it results in more inflation. The demand for money thus falls, and its supply surpasses normal boundaries. This imbalance leads to hyperinflation. Incomes decrease, but the prices of goods increase. Its effect is most cruel on lower-wage families, who then find it difficult to afford everyday items. The government is pressured into giving more unemployment and pension bonuses. And the greater demand for loans raises the cost of borrowing.
As the laborers demand higher wages and the cost of production increases, the business suffers from lower profits. This leads to unemployment as companies try to reduce their expenditures. The value of the currency also deflates. This affects a country’s exports, and it may not earn as much profit as before. It also fails to compete on the international level, and thus, its value is degraded. At times like these, you expect savings to protect you from the harms of fluctuating inflation rates, but it does quite the opposite. And a passive income which otherwise is a smart financial move, might not protect you either. This is why having a clear investment plan is important.
But wait, is inflation all bad? Not for businesses who raise their prices. Their profits increase. They can also wait for the costs to increase to a certain level before releasing their products into the market. This way, they earn more. Borrowers also have to pay back less than the amount they had originally borrowed. You can benefit from it too. The usual reaction to high inflation is panic and uncertainty, but if you train yourself and plan ahead, you can grow your finances instead of losing them. Search what financial wellness is and how you can practice it for starters.
Inflation rates are unpredictable, but dealing with them is quite simple once you understand the gist of it. A smart investment plan is your key to success in times of high inflation. It can protect your money and multiply it. You just have to be willing to learn, take a few risks, and practice healthy financial habits. Avoid overspending, but also don’t save up more than you need for your emergency fund. It’s the best time for investing. Don’t hesitate to negotiate lower prices where you can. You’ll get through it just fine.