How the Pandemic Affects Inflation in the US

Inflation has been affecting the economy since the beginning of the United States, but in the years of the pandemic inflation rates have been rising higher than they have in the past 30 years. To understand what this means for your personal finances, we first have to understand what inflation is and why the pandemic has affected it so strongly. 

Inflation, in simple terms, is an increase in the price of goods or services due to weakening currency caused by different economic triggers. These triggers can be things like surges in product demand, production cost increases, supply chain breakdowns, or changes in the house market. All of these changes occurred in the past two years with the COVID-19 pandemic with jobs being lost in production, product demand, and border closures causing issues in the importation of goods. 

So what was the consequence of the pandemic on inflation? The Federal Reserve aims to keep inflation at 2% or less each year. There was a 2.3% increase in 2019, slightly above average but nothing to worry about. In 2020, inflation rose 1.4% which was reassuring since so many people were out of jobs and had to work harder to fight the effects of inflation during such uncertain times. In 2021 as the pandemic trailed on, inflation rose 6.8%! This is the biggest jump the country has seen in 30 years since the Great Stagflation of the 70’s and 80’s. 

From 2020 to 2021 Americans are paying significantly more for the same amount of goods and services. Americans are paying 29.7% more for  used cars, 5.6% more for clothing, and 4.6% in energy. These price increases are being felt even in categories of necessity. For example, Americans are paying 8.3% more in food and 6% more in healthcare than they were in 2020. These prices are rising due to the sharp rise in inflation rates, but why does inflation go up during times like these?

One of the major theories of inflation is the demand-pull theory which explains that when demand outpaces the availability of products or services, overall prices will rise. This makes sense in these times of the pandemic since so many people are losing their jobs which means there are less people working to bring goods and services to the public. 

So we understand now that inflation is inevitable especially in times like these, so what can we expect from ongoing inflation trends? Well, it’s not all bad news. It has been noted that inflation and unemployment rates are inversely correlated, meaning that as inflation rises, the unemployment rate goes down. In 2021 unemployment dropped to 4.2% even with the nearly 7% increase in inflation. We can also expect higher wages with the average hourly wage rising 5% in 2021. The negative side of inflation is the rising cost of living which is continuing to rise each year. With the cost of living rising each year it is important to make sure your finances are protected. 

Learn how to protect your finances and prepare for the effects of inflation in the infographic below: 

Post Pandemic Payments Through Buy Now Pay Later

The pandemic changed almost every aspect of our daily lives–even down to the way that we pay for things. Buy now pay later (BNPL) is a way to pay for goods and services over a period of time without worrying about hidden fees and growing interest from credit cards. During the pandemic, this new way to pay grew in popularity due to so many people being stuck at home unable to work and experiencing differing levels of financial insecurity. Now that restrictions are lifted and more people are getting back to work, people are still using BNPL for its many benefits.

One of the largest groups of people that are using BNPL are millennials. Millennials were the largest group during the pandemic that were fresh out of school in the workforce and had less stable forms of income. Many millennials were out of work while still having to deal with loans, rent, and other bills, so BNPL was a great alternative to take care of some of these costs. Even post pandemic millennials are still preferring BNPL over traditional payment methods because it takes the stress out of paying for some larger bills.

Another group of people that are using BNPL are pet owners. Pet owners have to take care of things like the cost of food, grooming, and the most expensive part of pets–vet bills. Vet bills can add up very quickly, and worrying about money and a sick pet can be very stressful which is why so many pet parents are using BNPL to alleviate some of this stress. Only about 18% of people have pet insurance that can help them cover the cost of vet bills, so the remaining pet owners have to figure out how to cover the remaining costs. 49% of pet owners take at least a month to pay off their bills–sometimes more. BNPL allows for pet owners to take the time they need without worrying about interest rates that can come from paying through credit or taking out loans. 

Even if you’re not a pet owner–you more than likely have to go to the doctor or the dentist and BNPL has been growing in popularity in these fields. 71% of Americans who visit the dentist frequently would use BNPL over traditional payment methods.  Only about 32% of people are able to pay their healthcare bills off immediately, and 30% plan to pay for their next visits using credit. While credit has been a useful form of payment for decades, we all know the additional costs that come along with using this method. Yearly fees, interest rates, and extra costs almost always follow credit payments, but not with BNPL

People who use BNPL appreciate the lack of interest rates and the security within the rates they are given that stay fixed while you work to pay off bills. While many people are able to work well when following a budget, sometimes situations will arise that can completely throw off a budget. Even the most successful budgeters can benefit from BNPL. With this new method of payment gaining popularity, 71% of Americans who visit the dentist frequently would use BNPL over a traditional payment. Learn more about BNPL in the infographic below:

Kane Tanaka, World’s Oldest Living Person, Turns 119

Photo: CNN

According to great-granddaughter Junko Tanaka, the world’s oldest living person, Kane Tanaka, celebrated her 119th birthday.

“Great achievement. (Kane Tanaka) reached 119 years of age,” Junko wrote on Twitter, with a photograph of her great-grandmother, whom she saw in December. “I hope you’ll continue to live life cheerfully and to the fullest.”

Junko also shared a photo of two commemorative Coca-Cola bottles that Tanaka received for her birthday. The beverage company personalized the labels with her name and age.

“Birthday gift 1: Introducing the presents received for Kane’s birthday. Really appreciate this gift. Coca-Cola company made a commemorative birthday bottle. It seems (Kane) is still drinking Coca-Cola as usual,” Junko tweeted.

In March 2021, Junko spoke to CNN and during that time, Kane was preparing to carry the Olympic torch ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Junko started the Twitter account in January 2020 to memorialize Kane’s life.

“I might be biased because I’m related to her but I think it’s kind of amazing — I wanted to share that with the world and for people to feel inspired and to feel her joy,” Junko said.

Kane was born in 1903 and married a rice shop owner at 19. She then worked in the family store until she was 103.

Tanaka has survived many historical events, including two world wars and the 1918 Spanish flu. Her life has spanned 49 Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

“I don’t remember her talking much about the past … She’s very forward thinking – she really enjoys living in the present,” Tanaka’s grandson, Eiji Tanaka, told CNN last year.

According to her family, Tanaka now lives in a nursing home in Fukuoka prefecture, where she keeps her mind and body engaged by doing math.

In 2019, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized her as the world’s oldest living person.

In September 2021, Spain’s Saturnino de la Fuente García was recognized as the world’s oldest living man at 112 years old. Born in 1909, he endured the Spanish Civil War as a shoemaker.

According to a press release from Guinness World Records, he said the secret to a long life is “A quiet life… and do not hurt anyone.”

Kane received congratulatory messages from Twitter users on her birthday.

“It’s awesome that at 119 years old she can look straight at the camera and make a peace sign,” said Twitter user @TuNatoron.

“Congratulations!! Please always stay healthy,” said Mee-san, another Twitter user.

Eda Aguilar, the Purpose-Driven Designer Aiming to Empower Women through Her Bold Moves in the Fashion Industry

Passion and purpose often fuel people’s drive to establish a name in their target industry, and the same could be said about Eda Aguilar, the fempreneur behind the widely acclaimed brand Edalou Paris. With these two forces serving as the impetus behind her all-out approach to success, the arduous process involved in translating her visions into reality proved easier to deal with and the journey more enjoyable.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Eda Aguilar was exposed early to the creative world. Mentored by the likes of Ita Medina, Petra Bravo, Waldo Garcia, Caridad Fernandez, Rafi Flores, Emmanuel J. De Jesus, Marcelino Alcalá, and Pedro Avilés, this multi-faceted personality has always demonstrated an artistic flair and the potential to shine in the field of arts one day. While she would eventually graduate with a degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico, earn a Master’s degree from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and spend fifteen years in the realm of banking and finance, the highly accomplished figure never lost her deeply rooted love for her passions. 

Ten years ago, Eda Aguilar moved to The City That Never Sleeps, where her hunger for the arts made her consider the path she was following until then. “I started to ask myself if being on Wall Street for the rest of my life was what I wanted to do,” she recalled. That simple question set things in motion, and today, she stands at the helm of Edalou Paris, a company born from a journey of self-love and a burning passion for design. 

Based in Paris, the accessories label was created to meet women at the intersection of quality, functionality, and conscious style. Boasting pieces conceived with multi-functional and versatile elements, this brainchild of Eda Aguilar has managed to appeal to a wide range of women from the get-go. Additionally, it is through this venture that La Coucou, an award-winning limited series handbag, came into being. “It is a product of our work with artisans, experts, and suppliers in the district of Le Marais, the very same partners that provide a high level of quality and creativity to the fashion houses in Paris,” shared Eda Aguilar. 

It is undeniable that the launch of La Coucou and the achievements it has racked up—from winning awards to gracing a number of runways in Paris and Puerto Rico—pushed Eda Aguilar toward the limelight. But above anything else, what allowed this talented artist to reach impressive heights is the purpose at the heart of her endeavors.

“I am seeking not only to present a line of accessories inspired by my journey of achieving self-love, but also to inspire, guide, and motivate every woman, so they know that it is never too late to achieve what she most longs for,” she explained.

Eda Aguilar continues to draw inspiration from the three cities that stole her heart: San Juan, New York, and Paris. In the years to come, this widely acknowledged designer is set to make bigger waves on an international scale, bringing to life passion projects that are not only intended to shake up the fashion industry but also inspire women and promote empowerment thru her mantra #rockdancelove.

Learn more about Eda Aguilar by visiting her instagram.

How Nick Laureano Uses Positivity to Influence the Lives of People

As a rising influencer on social media, Nick Laureano understands the weight of his responsibility to impart the right kind of values and attitude to his followers. At a time such as this, when all of the world is going through all sorts of struggles, he believes in the value of teaching people to stay positive despite the pain and challenges around them. He thought it best to promote his positive mindset through a clothing line, Only the Motivated, that people can wear with confidence. 

Best known for his positive and encouraging influence on people he works with closely, Nick Laureano has successfully created a relatable and hip brand that people can both enjoy and be proud of. Only the Motivated offers statement shirts, hoodies, comfortable bottoms, and accessories that speak powerfully to anyone. If anything, its founder has hit the mark by establishing a potential game-changer in the retail industry.

“We feel it’s important for everyone to improve in every aspect of their life, and wearing our clothing gives you that exact feeling,” explained Nick.

Only the Motivated is also priced reasonably, a way for Nick Laureano to make a difference in the industry. More than the potential profit for his business to be self-sustainable, he is after the long-term impact he will make on the lives of people. 

More than just being an emerging clothing brand in the market today, Only the Motivated is more of a movement for Nick Laureano. Its theme, culture, and products are all designed to motivate people to become the best versions of themselves, to hustle without fear, and brave the many storms of life with confidence and faith. With everything that is going on around the world today, people need an abundance of encouragement to get past life’s biggest challenges. Apart from the pandemic, there are struggles in relationships, careers, and mental health, among others. Only the Motivated is designed to send a message of hope to anyone who may need it.

“If they ever need someone to talk to, a form of positive influence and someone to guide them to their own experience, Only the Motivated is here to help,” said Nick.

Only the Motivated is also a brand that Nick Laureano designed to become a culture for the go-getters of the world, people who want to stay highly motivated and also influence the people around them to acquire the same attribute. As an influencer, it is important for him to teach people to highlight worthy causes on social media more than their need for self-gratification. Life is too precious and too short to focus only on self-fulfillment. By using his influence to make a lasting difference in the lives of people, he not only adds value to them. He also empowers them to do the same for others.

“I don’t think elevation will ever stop. The need to make people happy and motivated will never end,” explained Nick. “But I do see myself in a much more comfortable position by that point.” 

As Nick Laureano continues to be a source of hope and motivation to others, he is expected to also elevate his content in the coming years, the kind that will yield even bigger results. 

Check out Only the Motivated website for updates on its latest projects. Follow Nick Laureano on Instagram to get a taste of his positivity.