Inflation Is Americans' Top Financial Concern in 2022 -- but It Could Get Better in 2023

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KEY POINTS

  • Consumers these days are extremely worried about higher-than-average living costs.
  • There's reason to believe inflation will cool off to some degree in the new year.
  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) readings have been declining the last few months, pointing to lower inflation.

There's a good chance relief is on the way.

Americans have a lot of things to be worried about, financially speaking. There's the idea of a recession, not having enough retirement income, and costly debt, to name a few. But a recent survey by Lincoln Financial Group reveals that consumers' top financial concern in 2022 is none other than inflation.

The cost of living started rising in 2021, due in part to a combination of supply chain shortages and the fact that Americans had extra cash on hand thanks to generous stimulus policies. That created a disconnect between supply and demand that allowed prices to surge.

Of course, it's easy to see why so many people may be struggling with inflation. These days, everything from food to housing to utilities costs more money than it previously did. And a lot of consumers are being forced to rack up credit card debt or raid their savings just to stay afloat.

But while inflation is clearly a problem now, there's reason to be optimistic that things could get better in 2023. Here's why.

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When we talk about inflation levels, we're generally referring to readings from the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures changes in the cost of consumer goods. And in recent months, the CPI has been showing signs of cooling off.

In October, the CPI rose 7.7% on an annual basis. To be clear, that's a really large increase. But when we compare it to previous months' CPI readings, it's not as harsh.

In September, the CPI rose 8.2% on an annual basis. In August, it was up 8.3%. And in July, it increased 8.5%.

All of this seems to point to a clear pattern of CPI levels going down from month to month. And while we still have a ways to go until inflation levels shrink to the point where consumers get notable relief, we can look at this data as a sign that come 2023, we may reach a point where the cost of living is far more manageable.

How to cope with inflation

It may be a while until living costs come down. So if you're having a hard time paying your bills right now, first, re-examine those bills. There may be expenses you've taken on that just aren't necessary, and unloading them could free up a lot of money for essentials you can't compromise on, like transportation and medication.

Next, see about getting a second job. It may not be an ideal solution, but given that the gig economy is strong right now, it is worth looking into.

And remember, you don't have to commit to a side job for life. You can hang onto that gig while inflation levels remain high and drop it once you're able to more easily pay your living costs.

It's easy to see why so many Americans are worried about inflation. But try to think positively in that regard. At some point, inflation levels are apt to cool, and that point might arrive sooner than expected.

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