Inflation Slowed Down in October. Will Consumers Soon Get Relief?

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KEY POINTS

  • In October, the Consumer Price Index rose 7.7% on an annual basis.
  • That's a slower pace than September -- and an indication that relief may be in sight.

Inflation is still high -- but it cooled modestly last month.

For months on end, consumers have been battling rampant inflation -- and it's been taking a clear toll. Many people have racked up massive balances on their credit cards just to stay afloat. Others, meanwhile, have had to raid their savings accounts to cover basic expenses like housing, food, transportation, and utility bills.

In September, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures changes in the cost of consumer goods, rose 8.2% on an annual basis. But in October, the CPI was only up 7.7% on an annual basis. And that could be a sign that inflation levels and living costs are starting to creep downward.

Something for consumers to be happy about

An annual inflation rate of 7.7% is still notably high. But given that economists were predicting an annual rise of 7.9% for October, it's positive news.

Of course, this doesn't mean that consumers will be looking at much lower prices any time soon. But if the CPI continues to trend downward month after month, it's conceivable that come this time next year, the cost of goods will be much more manageable.

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How to cope with ongoing inflation

Since we're still far from the point of "normal" inflation, consumers will have to cope with higher prices for the foreseeable future. And there are different ways to deal with that.

If you're struggling with bills, first, see if you're eligible for any federal benefits, like food benefits. If you have school-aged children, they might also be eligible for free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch.

If you're not struggling enough to qualify for federal aid but are having a hard time nonetheless, take a serious look at your current expenses and find ways to cut corners. That could mean giving up some luxuries, like store-bought coffee and takeout.

And to be clear, the little indulgences that make life easier and more fun are by no means easy to cut back on. But if it's between that and adding to an already large credit card balance, it pays to make that sacrifice.

At the same time, try taking advantage of the strong gig economy. There's plenty of opportunity to pick up a side hustle on top of your main job and use your earnings to stay current on bills. You might even be able to pay off some of the debt you might have accrued this past year or so.

And that side hustle doesn't have to be something that makes you miserable. You can find a hobby you like and turn it into a money-maker, like baking or caring for pets.

It pays to stay positive

All told, we're not done with rampant inflation, but things may finally be getting better. Consumers will still need to hang tight for real relief, but a lot could change for the better over the next 12 months.

Just as importantly, a lower inflation reading might prompt the Federal Reserve to pump the brakes on its aggressive interest rates hikes. That could give consumers some relief on the borrowing front.

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