Planning for the Long Haul: Addressing Inflation’s Impact on Your Financial Plan

Addressing Inflation’s Impact on Your Financial Plan

By Jeff Gilbert

Inflation acts like erosion as it quietly eats away at the value of our money—often without us realizing it until many years down the road. You might only notice the effect it’s had on your day-to-day life when there’s a bit less in your bank account than before, or when your grocery shopping doesn’t stretch as far as it used to. But when it comes to financial planning, inflation’s impact can be far more significant, particularly for retirees relying on fixed or slowly increasing incomes like Social Security or pensions without cost-of-living adjustments (COLA).

Rising Costs Negatively Impact Income

Let’s start with income, whether you are still working or retired. Some of the largest money problems in the U.S. are rooted in our incomes failing to keep up with rising costs. Take college costs, for example. One of the chief causes for the massive amount of student loans today ($1.77 trillion as of Q3 2023 according to the Federal Reserve) was the disparity between stagnant wages over the past decade and college tuition inflation, which has averaged 8% annually, according to

This rate of increase not only dwarfs wage/salary COLAs, but most prudent college-saving investment vehicles as well. For parents trying to save and pay for their children’s college expenses, this type of inflation could ruin the best-laid financial plans.

Medical and healthcare inflation ranks right behind college tuition as one of the fastest-rising expenses, especially for retirees who tend to incur these costs more often than most other adults. According to Deloitte, a leading accounting and financial consulting company, from 2001 to 2021, healthcare costs increased a clip of 3.3% annually, nearly a third more than the average of all goods and services, and consumer incomes aren’t enough to keep pace.

Inflation also creeps into other sectors of our financial lives. From travel expenses, to purchasing a car, building supply and labor costs that add up into the price of a new home, each little tick up in inflation figures can compound into driving up the final cost of many of the goods and services we enjoy daily. It is for this very reason that the Federal Open Market Committee (Federal Reserve) has been so adamant about driving down the high inflation we experienced post-pandemic.

Wise Investments Can Curb Inflation’s Devastating Effects

On the asset side, inflation is a critical reason we need to invest our money wisely. As the post-pandemic years showed us, high inflation (and the accompanying high interest rates that arise as a result), can have a devastating effect on whether our investments (and purchasing power) are truly growing, keeping pace, or falling behind. For example, if inflation is cited as 6% but your bank CD or savings account is only yielding 3-4%, or your monthly pension benefit does not have a cost-of-living increase each year, the purchasing power of your money is falling behind. 

Factor Inflation Into Your Financial Plan

Considering these factors, it’s essential to integrate inflation into your financial plan, whether you’re doing it independently or with a financial advisor. Even though there are many financial planning software programs, inflation assumptions still can vary widely. Over a 25-year retirement period, a person’s retirement expenses could potentially double by the later years.

Whether you’re already retired, approaching retirement, or saving for future goals, adjusting inflation assumptions for different expense categories can increase the accuracy of your financial plan.

And like it or not, inflation will always be a factor throughout our lives, which highlights the need to address its impact in every financial conversation. Are you seeking a financial partner to support your long-term financial well-being? Balboa Wealth Partners is here for you. Let’s tackle the important questions together and move toward your financial goals with confidence. Contact us today at 949-445-1465 or email me at [email protected].

About Jeff

Jeff Gilbert is the founder and CEO of Balboa Wealth Partners, a holistic financial management firm dedicated to providing clients guidance today for tomorrow’s success. With over three decades of industry experience, he has worked as both an advisor and executive-level manager, partnering with and serving a diverse range of clients. Specializing in serving high- and ultra-high-net-worth families, Jeff aims to help clients achieve their short-term and long-term goals, worry less about their finances, and focus more on their life’s passions. Based in Orange County, Jeff works with clients throughout the entire country. To learn more, connect with Jeff on LinkedIn or email [email protected]

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