The purpose of any financial investment is to grow your money, pure and simple. But there is a bit more to what “making money” really means. Suppose you invested $10,000 ten years ago and today that investment is worth $12,000. That sounds like a good thing. But what if all the stuff you could buy for $10,000 back then now costs $14,000? No longer sounds like a good thing. Inflation is the hot sun that keeps melting away the ice-cream of your investments.
How do we know how much inflation there is? The Federal Government, helpful as always, has been publishing the inflation rate since 1947 through the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number they provide is known as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). How they get to this figure is rather involved : they first make an educated guess as to what the average American family consumes and then measure how the price of this stuff is changing every month. If you want to know what the Government thinks your household budget looks like, take a peek at the graphic below:
The big one is housing of course, taking a 43% bite out of the family budget.