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Advice: Even Mild Inflation Should Scare You

You may not think you need to worry about a little inflation, but you should.

Even a little inflation adds up over the years, and can make a real dent in your wealth if you haven't prepared with investments that will not only match, but outpace, its ravages.

Our average historical inflation rate, going back to 1913, is an innocuous looking 3.42%. But that "tolerable" rate adds up to total of more than 2,000% inflation! Or to put it another way, a dollar today is only worth 4.8 cents in 1913 dollars.

What happened to the value of our money? Inflation has eaten away at our buying power. The government took our money by stealth, in small increments, by the secret tax that inflation enacts on all our savings. The more money government "creates," the less valuable our existing money becomes.

The current inflation rate is 4.18% (on an annualized basis), based on the Consumer Price Index figures released in mid-June. That's actually below the nearly 6% inflation rate that alarmed President Nixon enough to institute disastrous wage and price controls on Aug. 15, 1971.


Inflation statistics have been kept since 1913, perhaps not coincidentally the same year the Income Tax was first enacted. So we have a reliable measure of the impact of inflation for almost the past 100 years. Those figures show that for today's -- or tomorrow's -- retirees, a small amount of inflation can mean big lifestyle changes.
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