Inflation is often thought of as the “silent thief” of purchasing power. Over time, even a moderate rate of inflation can erode the value of money saved. For homeowners and families, understanding how inflation impacts your savings account is crucial to ensuring your money works for you.
The events of 2022-2023 brought this issue to the forefront. Let’s break down what happened and how it affects your savings today.
What is Inflation?
At its core, inflation means the general increase in prices and the subsequent fall in the purchasing value of money. When inflation is high, every dollar you have buys a smaller percentage of a good or service.
The Inflation Rollercoaster of 2022-2023
Inflation took homeowners and families on quite a ride in 2022-2023. According to CNBC, the year-over-year inflation rate peaked at 5.6% in January. But by June, this had decreased to 3%. What’s more, core inflation, which gives a clearer picture by excluding volatile food and energy prices, rose steadily by 0.4% or more for six months before slowing down to a growth of only 0.2% month-over-month in June.
This slowing trend in inflation rates was a sigh of relief for many, especially with energy and transportation prices falling.
Why This Matters For Your Savings
Think of your savings account as a bucket holding water. Inflation is like a small hole at the bottom. If the rate of water (or interest) you’re pouring in isn’t faster than the water leaking out, your bucket will eventually empty.
The interest rates provided by bonds and high-yield savings accounts are there to combat inflation. If you’re earning a 5% interest rate on a savings account, but inflation is at 3%, then your “real” return (the growth of your money after accounting for inflation) is roughly 2%.
In 2022-2023, when inflation rates hovered around 4-5%, savings accounts and bonds that didn’t offer interest rates above this were essentially causing savers to lose money in terms of purchasing power.
What The Future Holds
There’s good news on the horizon. With the core inflation rate slowing down, many experts are optimistic. Sarah House, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, mentioned that the June data shows that hopes for disinflation are not in vain. However, the target inflation rate set by the Fed is 2%. With the current deceleration, it’s estimated that we might not achieve this until after 2024.
Navigating Your Savings in the Current Landscape
Given this environment, what should homeowners and families do?
- Stay Updated: Keeping abreast of inflation trends ensures you make informed decisions about where to keep your money.
- Diversify: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Consider diversifying your investments beyond just a traditional savings account (stocks, bonds, etc).
- Seek Higher Interest Rates: If your bank’s savings account interest rate is lower than the inflation rate, consider moving to high-yield savings accounts or bonds that offer better returns.
- Think Long-Term: While it’s essential to be aware of current economic trends, remember to plan for long-term financial goals and security.
- Consult Experts: Talk to financial advisors. They can provide personalized strategies based on your financial situation.
Inflation, especially the kind witnessed in 2022-2023, can be a wake-up call for many about the importance of understanding economic trends and their impact on personal savings. While the effects of inflation can be concerning, being informed and proactive in your financial planning can make all the difference.