The global economy is limping along and there are as many indicators aiming to inflation as deflation. Deflation, a situation of dropping prices, may be viewed in certain locations such as the price of housing, real estate, electronic devices and durable goods. What's the impact on your retirement funds if deflation occurs more widely?
We're all familiar with the effects of inflation. Our dollars just do not buy as much as they used to. Too much 'easy money' from too much credit puts more dollars into everyone's hands so every dollar is worth less than before. Thus, too many dollars are chasing too few items and also the prices of items are bid up. This is extremely painful for someone living on a fixed amount of retirement funds as you simply see your standard of living gradually decline.
The majority of retirees don't have any job to lose. They are living off Social Security, pension programs and their retirement funds. The majority of these retirement funds may be fixed income. Those in such a circumstance can actually benefit from deflation - mostly from the benefit of lower prices for items. Several items, the cost of gasoline for your car, air travel, hotel costs will fall which makes it possible for you to extend your vacations without increased cost. You become a little richer as your retirement funds buy you more. Note that not all items will fall in price such as medical treatment, which often don't suffer from deflation.
However when recession accompanied by deflation happens, everybody can become afraid of consuming. Businesses feel the pinch and people lose their employment. Authorities might try to 'prime the pump' by offering and instigating low interest rates. That decreases the price of credit and hopefully to get individuals to begin borrowing and 'consuming more'. You are seeing this now as the Federal Reserve wants to make sure we don't deflate.
However under deflation, dollars are more precious (they are worth more) and financial debt - i.e. having a fixed payment, such as a mortgage - becomes more "expensive" because the same payment is made with more valuable dollars. So while for the past 50 years, we have all benefited form being in debt because inflation made the debt "cheaper," deflation makes debt more expensive relative to other items. So retired people should decrease the expense of their debt. The good news is that many retired people have low financial debt levels and also have hopefully paid off the mortgage. If you have debt, pay off debt quicker. As deflation sets in you're paying off debt in more expensive dollars. So the faster you may pay down your debt before a deflationary atmosphere, the less costly it'll be.
Restructure your financial debt payments. With economic downturn and deflation comes falling rates of interest. Make use of lower rates of interest to restructure debt payments you can't pay off quickly. At the writing of this article in April 2011, deflationary forces have pushed mortgage rates down to 3.25% - quite an opportunity to cut back the quantity of retirement funds allocated to housing costs.
During deflation, the value of cash is growing and holding it will improve your prosperity. Aside from conserving your emergency money, you'll wish to hold dollars for investment possibilities at low costs.
In the event you have extra cash, stay aware of overly depressed investment prices that will recover after the deflation finishes. Real estate investments - particularly condo properties - are a common case. It may even be worth a small re-mortgage of your paid off home for some investments (this technique isn't ideal for everybody as any borrowing will incur a set payment commitment while the return on investments is not guaranteed).
So while deflation isn't good for all, the net impact is quite beneficial for somebody who has a fixed retirement income along with a low or no-debt situation.