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What is Lifestyle Inflation?

Lifestyle inflation is a term used in personal financial planning for the tendency of people to increase their spending and standard of living right along with any raises and monetary resources, even if it’s is at the detriment of any plans for debt reduction or long-term savings. Monetary inflation describes the phenomenon when more money has no more utility value than a lesser amount used to because the cost of goods is going up. Lifestyle inflation is when people select higher-priced goods and lifestyle spending habits when they have the money available to do so. Continue reading...

What Role Does Inflation Play in my Retirement Planning?

Inflation plays a crucial role in your retirement planning. Investors should anticipate 2% - 3% inflation each year, meaning that the costs of goods and services rise substantially over time. Retirees should also consider that inflation is different for different items. For instance, health care has a higher rate of inflation each year than retail goods, and the cost of home improvements generally rises faster than the cost of food. Continue reading...

What is the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change, over time, in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. The CPI is an important economic indicator, as it’s changes influence the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions and it gives an indication if an economy is experiencing adequate inflation. The most common reading on the CPI is % change from a previous period, with most developed economies generally striving for 2% annualized inflation. Continue reading...

What is currency depreciation?

The value of a currency can depreciate in relation to the value of other currencies or to another benchmark. Currencies can have their value determined by the cost of a basket of consumer goods from one period to another, but this is really just a measure of inflation. Inflation (or “deflation”) is a subset of the appreciation/depreciation metric, but changes in the exchange rates between currencies are typically seen as the most relevant measure of a currency’s value. Continue reading...

What is Real Rate of Return?

Real rate of return is a notion that takes factors such as inflation and taxation into account before reporting a realized rate of interest on an investment. Economic theorist Irving Fisher first popularized the idea that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. Consider a bond that pays a steady coupon rate of 2% for the next 10 years. If inflation is more than 2%, the real rate of return on that investment is negative. If the investor got taxed on the nominal gains, the real rate of return is pushed further into negative territory. Continue reading...

What are TIPS?

Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) are coupon-paying treasuries issued by the US Government whose principal amount adjusts with inflation. When a consumer buys Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), they experience a few benefits when compared to other investment options. One benefit is that the security is backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government. Another benefit is that the principal amount adjusts automatically for inflation with the Consumer Price Index. Continue reading...

What is Stagflation?

Stagflation is the occurrence of both stagnation, which is slowing growth and production levels, and inflation, which is the increase of the average cost of goods. If production costs rise for some reason, such as higher oil prices, it can cause economic growth to slow down and the supply of goods in the market to drop. This is known as stagnation. The weakened supply of goods in the market and the higher production costs of the goods will cause the retail prices of the good in the market to go up. Continue reading...

What does nominal value mean?

The nominal value is the original stated value of a security or asset before it undergoes time value calculations that may change its market value. The nominal value is also known as face value when it refers to the value stated on a bond or other issued security. Taking accrued interest or time value into account for issued securities will give you the market value, but the nominal value will not change. Continue reading...

What factors affect currency exchange rates?

Currency exchange rates will fluctuate with various macroeconomic factors such as inflation, interest rates, trade balance, and so on, as well as political climate. Currency exchange rates are influenced by a number of factors, with some experts listing 5, some experts listing as many as 10. The main variables that will affect exchange rates are inflation rates, interest rates, the trade balance / current account, speculation in Forex markets, and government policies and interventions. Continue reading...

What is Hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is when a rate of inflation grows exponentially, and a currency is rapidly devalued. Hyperinflation occurs in the midst of dire economic circumstances. This is usually partially due to the piling on of downward price pressure in which newly printed currency rapidly floods the market as the government attempts to cover debt obligations. Sometimes this stems from situations where the government is having trouble receiving adequate taxes from the population. Continue reading...

What is CAGR?

The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is the compound discount rate which an investor would have to get to go from a present value to a future value. The compound annual growth rate can be computed using the ending value of an investment and taking the Nth root of it for the number of compounding periods (usually years). The idea is to have a smoothed average number that an initial would have to have received in a compounding investment to end up at the future value. Continue reading...

How is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Calculated?

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is calculated using prices of sample goods from predetermined urban areas. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the CPI is a product of a series of interrelated samples. First, using data from the 1990 Census of Population, BLS selected the urban areas from which data on prices were collected and chose the housing units within each area that were eligible for use in the shelter component of the CPI. The Census of Population also provided data on the number of consumers represented by each area selected as a CPI price collection area. Continue reading...

What is Deflation?

Deflation is an economic term used to describe a trend of broad-based price declines for goods and services. Deflation is generally considered a big negative in the realm of economics. If a country is experiencing deflation, it is usually because demand for goods has fallen substantially, pushing prices down. It can also be tied to falling investment and government spending, both factors that signal weak demand in an economy. Continue reading...

What is the foreign earned income exclusion?

Americans working abroad must report their earnings to the IRS, but they are allowed to avoid paying federal income taxes on an amount adjusted for inflation, which is just over $100,000 as of 2016. Americans working abroad often enjoy a few tax advantages. One of which is the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. The reasoning is that they are probably paying some form of tax in the county in which they are working, even though this is sometimes not the case. Continue reading...

What is a Student Loan?

Expenses for tuition, room, and board at a secondary education institution can be loaned to a student and paid off over time in the form of a student loan. Tuition and other college expenses have inflated at a much faster rate than the rest of the consumer price index. These institutions can charge more and more as they experience student housing crunches and an ever-growing demand for college education. Continue reading...

What Is Inflation?

Inflation is a natural economic phenomenon characterized by the increase in the prices of goods and services over time, resulting in a decrease in the purchasing power of money. This article explores the various aspects of inflation, its causes, measurement, and effects on the economy, as well as strategies to mitigate its impact. Continue reading...

What is the XRP Escrow Lock-Up?

Ripple does not have a mining rewards system like Bitcoin for releasing new coins into the market, so they’ve enacted a plan to put 55 billion XRP into escrow accounts. Prior to 2017, Ripple did not offer any guarantees to coin-holders concerning the rate at which Ripple would release XRP coins into the wild, and this made investors nervous. At any moment, Ripple theoretically could have dumped the approximately 60 billion remaining XRP into the market and washed out any value that the investors... Continue reading...

What is the Law of Demand?

The Law of Demand states that as prices increase, demand will decrease, and vice versa. That is to say, price and quantity are inversely related. There are some things which have an inelastic demand, meaning the quantity demanded will remain constant no matter the price. Medicine is a good example. Vices to which people are addicted are as well, so some degree, and tobacco stocks are considered fairly safe and defensive in bad economic times. Continue reading...

What is the Difference Between a Thrift Savings Plan and Other Retirement Plans?

The main difference is that the TSP is only for Federal employees. A Thrift Savings Plan is essentially a 401(k) for employees of the federal government. It functions in the same ways and is subject to the same limitations. The contribution limits and catch-up limits are the same, as well as the employer contribution limit. The plan actually has lower fees than most 401(k)s, so that’s one difference. The investment options are fairly limited, but not much more than regular 401(k)s. There are basically 5 index funds to choose from and then a series of target-date funds that blend the index funds. Continue reading...

What is a Yield Curve?

A yield curve is an illustration of the current duration-to-yield relationship for bonds of the same credit rating but different durations. As a general rule, the longer the duration of the loan, the more risk you take on (since you don't know what might happen with that corporation in the future), and therefore, you demand a higher reward (i.e., higher coupon). The yield curve for any bond (not just the US Treasury Bonds) changes daily based on many economic and market factors. Continue reading...

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