How to Figure Out Your Personal Inflation Rate and See Where to Budget Differently

Monthly Budget Plan for Expenses and Money.
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The Consumer Price Index report for April calculated the inflation rate at 8.3% since last year, as GOBankingRates recently reported. April represented the first time in eight months that the CPI’s annual rate dropped, after hitting 8.5% in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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But because inflation rises at different rates depending on the goods or services purchased, your household’s personal inflation rate could be substantially higher — or lower.

You can calculate your personal inflation rate to determine the best ways to save money during these challenging financial times. Once you know how much purchases you normally make have increased, you may be able to adjust your budget so you feel the sting a little less.

Calculating your personal inflation rate is similar to calculating your monthly budget, according to a report from NBC News.

Make Your Money Work for You

Gather Your Bills and Expenses

First, gather your credit cards and bank statements and monthly household bills — anything you can use to track your spending each month. If you’re already using a budgeting app like Mint or YNAB (You Need a Budget) this step will be even easier, as many apps already break your spending into categories.

Then, list out all the categories the BLS tracks when calculating the CPI. The BLS divides expenses into the broad categories of Food, Energy, and All Items Less Food and Energy.

For a clear picture of your spending and an accurate account of your personal inflation, you’ll want to factor in at least some of the other items, beyond food and energy. You may also want to break out food and energy into their sub-categories. For food, these include ingredients to cook meals at home, and food away from home. Energy categories include gasoline, fuel oil, electricity, and natural gas.

Some of the broad categories in the All Items Less Food section include appliances, household supplies, medical care services and commodities, education services, recreation services, and shelter. A full list is available via the BLS website.

Make Your Money Work for You

How to Calculate Your Personal Inflation Rate

Then, consider your spending across whichever categories you feel take up the biggest percentage of your household budget. Look back over your last 12 months of bills, beginning with April 2021. Calculate your total expenses in each category you choose for each month.

For instance, let’s say your monthly expenses for April 2021 totaled $5,000 — and in April 2022, they hit $5,500. If there is an overage (in this case, $500) that figure would be used to calculate one’s year-over-year personal rate of inflation. For example, the overage ($500) divided by the previous year’s monthly expenses for April ($5000) produces a number of 0.1 (or a fraction of 1/10) which equals 10%. This means your family would — in this hypothetical budget — be experiencing greater than average inflation.

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You’ll want to look at the categories where you spent the most money, and see where you can cut costs to offset the national inflation rates.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.

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