SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – You may think action from the Federal Reserve doesn’t affect you directly, but you would be wrong. By March, the Federal Reserve is expected to start to slowly raise interest rates.
“The fact the Fed is talking about raising interest rates means the economy is doing really well, unemployment numbers are low,” said Bill Dendy who is a CPA and a financial analyst.
While the economy may be good, the irony is that it’s not good for all individuals. Some are still struggling with a loss of income from COVID, and now they’re being forced to deal with inflation, which is making many of the goods we buy more expensive.
“That’s the negative side; this inflation is oftentimes the sign of an economy that may be overheated,” said Dendy.
The Federal Reserve wants to cool things by slowing the economy to a more sustainable growth rate — but that cooling effect may heat up your personal finances.
“For those that carry credit card balances this could be the wake-up call for them as they see that the cost of carrying the same amount of outstanding loans which are starting to go up a little bit each month,” said Dendy.
He says it’s time to make sure what kind of interest rate your card or cards have, i.e. variable which adjusts if the base rate (controlled by the Federal Reserve) increases or a fixed rate which doesn’t change. Dendy also says there may be people with adjustable-rate mortgages who need to check their financial health as well.
“And so it should be a trigger for consumers to go ahead and lock in fixed-rate,” said Dendy. “If we think these rates are going to continue to go up, go ahead and get that longer-term fixed mortgage.”
Savannah Area Realtors president Rodney Rawles agrees, saying if you have been thinking about buying a home that now is the time “to jump” and lock in a mortgage rate.
“We may never see interest rates this low again in our lifetime,” said Dendy.
He says for those old enough to remember, these low-interest rates that have been enjoyed for up to a decade are not what most homeowners saw in previous years.
The Federal Reserve is expected to implement small rate hikes (a quarter percent) up to three times in 2022.
Dendy says for those with high-interest debt who are barely getting by now, it will likely get worse. He encourages those with credit cards that they can’t handle to consider getting a low-interest loan to pay them off or to at least try transferring your balances to one of the zero percent credit cards now being offered. He does say there is often a fee of 3 percent to transfer that debt, so pick your options carefully.
“We can’t control usually what the Fed is going to do or what the politicians are going to do, but we can control the way we manage our affairs such that we don’t get crushed if things go this way or that way,” said Dendy.