Two and a Half Inflation Myths

Inflation lately has been pretty tame. Still, the possibility that it could raise its ugly head again, eating away at our spending power and standard of living, is always in the back of our minds. That’s why it’s important to understand inflation to better protect ourselves from its potential impact. Knowing these myths about inflation is a good place to start. Myth one: Inflation is easy to predict. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) measures inflation and reports consumer …

Interest Rates Are Low Until You Do the Math

I often hear that interest rates are awful and that it’s the worst time ever for retirees needing to live on fixed income. Yet when you look at after-tax, inflation-adjusted returns, a different picture emerges. Many people smile when I tell them that back in 1980 they could have earned 12 percent on a 10-year U.S. Treasury or certificate of deposit (CD). Depositing $10,000 would have returned $1,200 a year. But if a third went to taxes, that gain would …

AARP: Reject Harmful Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

As the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing the interests of Americans age 50 and older and their families, AARP urges the budget conference committee to reject harmful cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits for the purpose of achieving deficit reduction or as a tradeoff for scheduled sequestration cuts or other government spending. While we agree that sequestration cuts will have a growing impact on critical discretionary programs and should be revisited, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protect …

AARP: Don’t Shrink Social Security’s Cost-of-Living Adjustment

The annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is critically important to the financial security of the nearly 58 million Americans receiving benefits. By providing protection against inflation, the COLA helps beneficiaries of all ages maintain their standard of living, keeping many from falling into poverty. The COLA announced today is vital to millions, but at an average of just $19 per month, it will quickly be consumed by the rising costs of basic needs such as food, utilities and health …

Chained CPI: 4 Opinions From the Press

It’s not only politicians who have mixed reactions to a different way of calculating cost-of-living adjustments to Social Security benefits. Newspaper editorial writers and columnists are conflicted, too. The chained consumer price index, included in President Obama’s budget proposal, would mean that seniors’ checks would go up a little slower each year. The chained CPI assumes that as prices go up, consumers buy cheaper substitute goods to make up for it. Here’s how it’s playing among the mainstream press’s opinion …

9 Things to Look for in the President’s Budget

The GOP-controlled House of Representatives approved a budget proposal first. Then came a very different document from the Democratic-controlled Senate. Now thousands more pages of numbers will land with a thud on Capitol Hill on April 10. It’s the president’s annual budget proposal. Unless you’re an underemployed CPA or an incurable policy wonk, you probably won’t want to wade through all that. So here’s a short checklist of what you should watch for in the budget: A chained CPI. This twist on …