Many economists are saying bigger raises could be coming soon. The Labor Department reported that its latest wage-and-salary index reading indicated a slight rise. Even a minimal increase in wage growth would improve the labor market. But even if a raise is not in your immediate future, there are five factors that may help stretch your current bank account.
(1) A Strong U.S. Dollar
The U.S. dollar had more purchasing power a decade ago (compared with other countries) before its value started to fall, reaching its lowest in 2011. Today, the U.S. dollar has regained its strength, allowing U.S. consumers to buy imported goods at low prices. This change will help keep inflation at a low for Americans.
This holiday season should be a great one for shoppers because of the strong price competition. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target have already reported that they will be testing a plan to match online prices, and Target is also offering free shipping through December 20.
(3) Cheaper Food
It takes time for low commodity prices to make their way down the food chain, but corn harvests were huge this year. This should help cut animal feed prices, which could eventually tone down the high beef prices that shoppers have recently seen.
(4) Cheap Gasoline
In 2008, gas was priced at $4 a gallon. Today, consumers are paying less than $3 in most parts of the country for the first time in years. This downshift will save consumers $250 million a day and will cut travel expenses just in time for the holiday season.
(5) Interest Rates
Homeowners have been able to secure great mortgage deals. Before the financial crisis, 30-year fixed mortgages were offered at 6.5 percent. Today, rates are at below 4 percent, thus helping to lower monthly payments.
The lower gas prices are sure to brighten the spirits of consumers while the stock market's surge can help with the long term.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this blog post.