Inflation: How you can beat it — or even benefit from it

Inflation is at a new 40-year high, but there is some good news about rising consumer prices

Prices for meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 2.2 percent in September from the month before. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Like a guest who overstays his welcome, inflation is getting on our nerves.

For people with enough income or savings, rising prices are just an annoyance. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, inflation means a much harder time paying for food, gas and other items. It could mean skipped meals or late rental payments.

The latest inflation data, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed prices increasing 9.1 percent over the same period a year ago. Increases in prices for housing and energy — fuel, oil, gasoline, and electricity — were the largest contributors to the uptick. The higher cost of food also drove inflation.

“Inflation has been a surprising and unwelcome guest seeming to persist at an elevated level at a time when we’re all hoping to put the devastating economic impacts of the pandemic behind,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate. “Like the pandemic-caused downturn itself, it exacerbates wealth and income inequality. The wealthy can adjust. Those on lower incomes, not so much. It is as if some people just can’t catch a much-needed break.”

Predictions last year that rising prices might be temporary were wrong. So, until things stabilize, here’s how to handle increases in consumer prices.

Five charts explaining why inflation is at a near 40-year high