With inflation at 40-year highs, the cost of almost everything is more expensive. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates in an attempt to cool the economy and bring down inflation. This environment can be challenging for savers and investors, to say the least.
With your family's financial health in mind, you may be looking for ways to offset the current effects of inflation and hedge against future price hikes. You're not alone. Here's a look at how to hedge against inflation using assets that can offset the negative impacts of higher consumer costs, rising rates and a slowing economy.
Assets that may help hedge against inflation
While there's no single best way to hedge against inflation, several assets have historically tended to perform better than others during inflationary periods. During times of volatility, these assets can potentially provide more stability. Past and positive performance is never a guarantee with investing, but these assets may help to offset the negative effects of inflation:
- Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS)
- Series I savings bonds
- Floating rate bonds
- Real estate
Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS)
Treasury inflation-protected securities, or TIPS, are bonds that are indexed to inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Bond principal amounts are adjusted to match changes in the CPI which results in larger interest payments during periods of rising inflation. You can invest in TIPS by purchasing individual bonds, or you can choose to buy a basket of TIPS held in a
Series I savings bonds
A Series I savings bond is a fixed-income security that earns interest based on inflation. The interest rate is set twice per year and interest is compounded semi-annually. On July 1, 2022, the I bond interest rate was set for 9.62% through Dec. 31, 2022. You can
Floating rate bonds
A floating rate bond is a variable rate security that allows an investor to earn a higher coupon payment, or a higher annual interest rate, as interest rates rise. Since interest rates typically rise during periods of high inflation, floating rate bonds can be good inflation hedges. However, keep in mind that some floating rate bonds carry risk of default and can also decline in value when interest rates begin to fall again.
As commodity prices generally rise during inflationary periods, they can be a good inflation hedge. Commodities are raw materials—such as oil, natural gas, precious metals and grains—that are used to make other products.
Since it's not easy to take direct ownership of commodities in large quantities, you can gain indirect exposure through derivatives like futures or options. Or you can gain indirect exposure to commodities through mutual funds or through
Real estate is generally considered a good inflation hedge because prices for real property tend to rise along with inflation. For a homeowner that has a fixed-rate mortgage, they get to own an appreciating asset at a fixed cost for debt.
If you want to gain access to real estate without buying physical property, real estate investment trusts (REITs) may be an alternative. Instead of buying, owning and managing real estate, you can invest in a REIT, which is a company that owns income-producing real estate properties.
Stocks can make good inflation hedges, especially as long-term holdings. This is because equities have historically produced higher average returns over time compared to average rates of inflation.1 The
Therefore, based on history, an investment in stocks could generally grow faster than the rate of inflation over long periods of time, such as 10 years or more. In shorter timeframes, however, stocks of companies whose profits are impacted by rising costs and inflation could experience price weakness.
Gold is a traditional inflation hedge, although its recent history is inconsistent in this regard. Because gold has historically offered a reliable store of value, the precious metal remains a good diversification tool.2 This is especially true during times of uncertainty when demand for gold often increases.
Some investors buy gold directly with bullion bars, gold coins or jewelry. Other investors invest in gold indirectly with mutual funds that invest in mining companies or ETFs that track the price of gold.
Bank accounts and insurance products as inflation hedges
While it can be smart to
- Annuities. Some
annuities, such as indexed annuities and variable annuities, can offer protection against inflation.
- Life insurance. Some life insurance contracts offer inflation protection to ongoing benefits, which may be adjusted upward with inflation.3
Permanent insurance contracts, such as whole lifeor universal life, have cash components that can provide growth over time. This is in addition to the product's flexible premium payments, which can be helpful when the prices for many goods and services are rising.
Assets that inflation can negatively impact
Protecting your portfolio against inflation with the right assets is a good idea, but it's also wise to reduce or eliminate exposure to assets that inflation can negatively impact. Because interest rates often rise during inflationary environments, certain assets can negatively impact your investment portfolio and savings, as your money is tied up for a lengthy amount of time:
- Long-term bonds. The prices for bonds generally move in the opposite direction of interest rates and longer maturities tend to be more sensitive to these changes. Therefore, when interest rates are rising, prices for long-term bonds may generally decline more than short-term bonds.
- Long-term CDs. Since interest rates for CDs typically rise during high inflation, it can be wise to temporarily delay buying long-term CDs, which generally have terms between two and five years. This is because you don't want to lock in a lower rate today when you could potentially get a higher rate in the near future.
- Cash, checking, savings and money market accounts. Although these types of investment accounts provide stability and liquidity, they typically generate interest that is much lower than the rate of inflation. Thus, returns after taxes and inflation can be negative, so be strategic about using these types of investments and ensure they fit with your overall investment portfolio objectives and liquidity needs.
Finding the right strategies for your situation
Learning how to hedge against inflation means determining which strategies and financial solutions work best for you. Some investments and other financial products can be complex. To find the right plan that works for you and your household, consider working with a local