How inflation changes saving rules

If prices keep rising, you may need to rethink how to take care of your money and where to put it.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Marlys Harris, Money Magazine senior editor

CLICK HERE
CDs & Money Market
MMA 0.40%
$10K MMA 0.36%
6 month CD 0.39%
1 yr CD 0.70%
5 yr CD 1.50%

Find personalized rates:
 

Rates provided by Bankrate.com.

(Money Magazine) -- If prices keep rising, you may need to think differently about a few things. Have you seen the price of milk lately? It's up 13% since last year.

The pain isn't only at the supermarket, however. Hospital costs are up 8%; gas, 33%; and prices overall climbed 4% (vs. less than 3% annually over the past decade). Plus, with the Fed pumping money into the economy, the price pinch probably isn't improving soon.

No wonder inflation ranked as the No. 1 financial worry in a recent CNN/Money poll. While we're nowhere near the 1970s - yet - it's a good time to review how inflation changes the rules.

Rule 1: You can lose by saving

A one-year CD now pays 1.97% a year on average. At 4% inflation, you lose 2% a year before taxes. Best strategy: Shop for top savings rates. Keep bond and CD maturities short.

Rule 2: Stuff beats paper assets...on paper

When inflation is high, tangible goods - gold, oil, gems, art, wheat, even canned tuna - tend to have an edge over securities, especially bonds.

Reason: Because of their rarity, beauty or usefulness, these items have an intrinsic worth that doesn't change, even as paper money loses value.

That said, the market's evaluation of their intrinsic worth varies wildly - for many commodities, it's dangerously exuberant right now. Also, the cost of insuring and maintaining things like art eats into any profits.

Rule 3: Fixed-rate debt is your friend

Here's why: You repay a fixed number of ever-cheaper dollars. Not so with variable-rate loans like ARMs, HELOCs and - worst of all - credit cards.

Issue #1 - America's Money: All this week at noon ET, CNN explains how the weakening economy affects you. Full coverage.

Under the government's economic stimulus plan, 130 million people will receive tax rebate checks for $300 and up, starting this week. What do you plan to do with your check? How do you think the stimulus plan will affect the economy? Send us your photos and videos, or email us and tell us what you think.

Don't let your retirement well run dry

Death of stocks? Reports are greatly exaggerated

Send feedback to Money Magazine To top of page

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
These 10 food trends could dominate 2015 So long, kale. Here's what's expected to shake up the food industry next year. More
Beyond Russia: Geopolitical hot spots in 2015 Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More
These 20 antique guns could fetch big bucks Morphy Auctions in Pennsylvania is putting nearly 1,000 old guns on the block. Here are just a few. More


Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.