Inflation has essentially been around since currency was created. But what is it? The Marriam Webster dictionary defines inflation as:
“a continuing rise in the general price level usually attributed to an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods and services”. That’s nice to know but how does this effect us in our daily lives?
Well the “rise in the general price level” can mean things like groceries, fast-food, restaurants, as well as other things like insurance, utilities and housing (both for buyers and renters).
With this cost increase usually happening year over year, what are some things we can do to minimize this?
Well the first big thing is planning. If you are considering retirement in a decade, realize that the cost to live then will be higher than the cost to live now. Do a rough calculation on the average rate of inflation (roughly 3.5%). Over ten years the cost of everything will most likely rise 41%!
After understanding the impact of inflation and incorporating it into your estimated retirement costs, it’s time to talk about investing. The best types of investments for inflationary periods are stocks and real estate. The reason for this is because stocks’ value (in the long-term)is based on the earnings of the company and earnings generally go up with inflation. So off the bat you have a built in inflation protector.
The second ideal investment, real estate, is a little more complicated to invest in. A common “investment” people choose to make is in their home. While it is certainly the case that homes usually go up in value, the decision isn’t a clearcut one. (Check out my blog on the rent vs buy debate)
Another way to invest in real estate is to buy rentals. This is more hands on and therefore takes more time and energy. If you are comfortable with this then by all means go forth and invest! However a lot of people find the intensive commitment inherent in this type of real estate investing too much to handle.
If this is the case with you you can consider another options, REIT’s. Real Estate Investment Trusts, or REIT’s as they are called, involve the investment of large groups who buy large quantities of real estate. The earnings and appreciation from this real estate is owned through a large quantity of shareholders who buy part of the ownership, like a stock.
While this is certainly an option, I find REIT’s to be remarkably unimpressive long-term compared to stocks or direct real estate investments.
Whichever path you choose to take, be wary of the inflation hurdles and the best ways to overcome them.