Smart Money Podcast: Giving Family Money, and What’s Happening With Inflation

Liz Weston, CFP®
Sean Pyles
By Sean Pyles and  Liz Weston, CFP® 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions.

This week’s episode starts with a discussion about when and how to give your family and friends money.

Then we pivot to a conversation about what’s driving inflation with Darian Woods from NPR’s podcast “The Indicator from Planet Money.”

Check out this episode on any of these platforms:

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Our take

If you are giving money to family members or friends, be clear about how much you’re giving, for how long and why. For some people, giving to a family might be a matter of obligation. This can be more common for those who are first or second generation Americans. If you are sending money internationally, like through a wire transfer, compare services from different companies to reduce the fees you pay. Also, be clear about when you are unable to help a family or friend in need. If your money is tight, for example, don’t overextend yourself if it would mean not being able to cover your own bills. In that case, think about directing them to 211, which can help them find local support services.

And if you’re feeling the pinch of inflation on your budget, know that you’re not alone. Prices on things like groceries, gas and other goods have shot up over the past year. According to Darian Woods from NPR’s podcast “The Indicator from Planet Money,” there are a number of factors driving the current inflation surge. Some of it comes down to supply chain bottlenecks driven by the pandemic. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in higher gas and food prices.

Offsetting the cost of inflation can be a challenge — but there are steps you can take to help (somewhat) mitigate the costs. To start, look at your discretionary spending. That’s the money you spend on things like going out to eat and a new pair of shoes to treat yourself. Consider reducing your spending in this category by 5%. That might not sound like much, but it can help you retain more of your cash. Also, think about negotiating your bills to save money on your internet or cell phone expenses.

Our tips

Know the causes: Inflation is driven by a number of factors, including supply chain bottlenecks and the conflict in Ukraine.

Realize you have options: Dig into your budget and think about trimming some discretionary expenses.

Get creative: Try negotiating your bills or asking for a raise at work. These steps might take more effort, but they can have a big impact on your budget.

More about managing money on NerdWallet:

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at [email protected]. To hear previous episodes, go to the podcast homepage.

Episode transcript

Sean Pyles: We as consumers have all felt and seen the impact of inflation. Groceries and gas are more expensive than they were at the beginning of the year. Average rents and home prices are way higher than they were a year or two ago. All of these price increases may be leaving you with less money in your bank account at the end of the month.

Liz Weston: So when's inflation going to slow down, and what can we do until then? We'll get into all of it this week with a guest.

Sean Pyles: Welcome to the NerdWallet Smart Money podcast, where we answer your personal finance questions and help you feel a little smarter about what you do with your money. I'm Sean Pyles.

Liz Weston: And I'm Liz Weston. Do you have a money question of your own? We want to hear it. You can leave us a voicemail on the Nerd hotline at 901-730-6373. That's 901-730-NERD. Or email us your voice memos at [email protected]. Written questions are fine too, but we really like hearing your voices.

Sean Pyles: Before we get into this episode, I have a quick call out for our listeners. First of all, I want to say, thanks. Thank you for all of the thoughtful and truly Nerdy money questions that you send us. We listen to and read all of them. And Liz and I get a lot of joy from answering them. And we're always working to improve the show for you, which is why I have a quick favor to ask. We are running a two-question survey and we want to hear from you. You can find a link to the survey in the episode description. Please take a couple of seconds to fill it out. We really appreciate it.

Liz Weston: In a few minutes, we'll be joined by Darian Woods, from NPR's show “The Indicator from Planet Money,” to talk about all things inflation. But first we're going to spend our This Week in Your Money segment on a dicey money question. How and when to lend money to your loved ones, and how to draw boundaries around it when you need to do it.

Sean Pyles: Yeah, let's get into the topic because I think a lot of folks are having friends maybe ask them for money. They might need to ask a friend or family member for money now that things are so much more expensive, given inflation right now. So we want to discuss attitudes around giving and receiving money from those that you're related to — or those that are close to you in your life. And we also wanted to talk about different ways just logistically to give money to your family and friends.

Liz Weston: Yeah, this is sort of a perennial topic. I think it's become more important right now because a lot of pandemic-related support has gone away. The extra childcare credit, even the extra unemployment benefits that were there, the rent protections have gone away. So some people are really scrambling.

Sean Pyles: Right. And because of that, some folks might need ongoing financial support. They might need to give a family member or friend money on a regular basis, potentially, to cover a bill. And if you know someone in your life that's struggling to make ends meet, I think it can be helpful to talk with that loved one about what they need. And maybe that's you covering their grocery bill monthly, or maybe it's their internet bill. Just one bill that will make it easier for them to manage their expenses.

Liz Weston: Well, let's start off with personal experiences. Sean, have you ever done this for someone?

Sean Pyles: I haven't done ongoing financial support for a loved one, but I have helped family and friends in sort of one-off payments when they've needed it. And I've also been the recipient of ongoing financial support when I was right out of college. My dad paid my rent for a while, which was very helpful for me. And then even in college, I had some friends that were more well off than I was and were able to help me even just go out to dinner a night or two — in ways that I couldn't afford at that time.

Liz Weston: I think it does help to remember when we have been the recipients of help, because I think most people have been. And I've done all of this. I have helped somebody on an ongoing basis. I've given loans. I've given direct gifts of cash, and it seems like every time I do it, I learn something — typically about how not to do it. So it's a very learn-as-you-go kind of process.

Sean Pyles: What have you learned in particular, especially around giving loans? I feel like that could be kind of dicey if you are expecting them to pay you back. Some people expect interest when they give out a loan, even if it is to family and friends. How did you manage that?

Liz Weston: Well, I think the only way to do this is to give the money without expectation of getting it back. That doesn't mean that you can't structure it as a loan, and come up with if you want to get paid interest, and when you're going to get paid back and all that. I just think emotionally, you have to accept the idea that you might not get this money back, and you definitely shouldn't lend money that you can't afford to lose.

Sean Pyles: Right. And I think it also can help to talk with the person that you are giving money to if this is a recurring problem. Because sometimes it might be that they need help sorting out how to manage their budget. And they really don't know where their money is going. And if you take that time to say, "Hey, this is not the first time that you've needed help from me. I'm happy to provide it, but let's find a long-term solution so that you're not strapped for cash every month."

Liz Weston: One of the times I actually turned somebody down — and it was incredibly difficult — but the situation was essentially hopeless. They were in a financial situation that was only going to get worse, and they were kind of denying the fact. They just didn't want to face what was going on. And they did wind up declaring bankruptcy. So I think overall that was the best move for them to make, but it was really difficult not to step in there and help. But I could just see that money just swirling down the drain.

Sean Pyles: Sometimes the best thing you can do is provide something that's not financial support. Like did you talk with them about whether bankruptcy was a good option for them?

Liz Weston: Yeah, that was one of the discussions that we had, and it was not a place they were willing to go right then, but it quickly became obvious that's what needed to happen. But not everybody feels like they have a choice in whether or not they can help. Right, Sean?

Sean Pyles: Yeah. This is especially true for a lot of first or second generation Americans where their families may have made a lot of sacrifices coming to this country. They’ve put them into great schools so they could get a good education. And now that they are adults in the professional class potentially, or earning a regular income, their family says, "Hey, it's kind of time to return the favor because we gave you so much." And due to their family bonds, it's not really an option. They feel obligated to do so. And understandably so.

Liz Weston: So there can be real tension here. People can feel a real obligation to help somebody when they might not be able to freely do that. It might be detrimental to their own financial situation.

Sean Pyles: Well, yeah, it's really important to make sure that if you are being asked to give someone money, that you can afford to do so. You can't let someone else needing money not allow you to cover your own rent, for example. Think about your hierarchy of needs. Yes, you really want to help these people in your life that you care for and you love. But if you aren't able to get your own bills sorted, then that can make a bad situation worse for more people. It kind of spreads this financial instability, which can be very precarious.

Liz Weston: Yeah. Well maybe we should talk about the logistics of how to set this up. If it's going to be ongoing or one time.

Sean Pyles: Venmo and Apple Pay are two of the fastest and easiest ways for me to share money with my friends and family. I use it all the time. And that way you can just send the money directly. But typically you will have to set it up each time. It's not like you can have a monthly Venmo schedule that goes out. You're going to have to do it every single time you send them money.

Liz Weston: Which may be a good thing because you'll be thinking about it every time you send that money.

Sean Pyles: And also for folks who are sending money back to their family that might be in a different country — if you're sending money internationally, it's important to watch out for high fees. NerdWallet actually has a roundup of the best ways to send money internationally so you can avoid those expensive fees.

Liz Weston: It's also important to talk about how long the support will last. If it's ongoing, what is the end point? Again, if you're supporting parents in another country, it might be for the rest of their lives. But for most other situations, you probably want to have a point at which you say, "OK, this is going to be done." Like if you're trying to help somebody get on their feet.

Sean Pyles: Yeah. And that can be a certain amount of time, maybe three, six months. It can also be based on a milestone. Like you're getting a job that pays you X amount of money, X number of hours a week. That way you can know that the person is making enough to cover their own needs.

Liz Weston: And communicating that clearly is super important so you both understand the parameters. Speaking of communicating clearly, Sean, how do you say no? I mean, have you had to do that?

Sean Pyles: I have been fortunate enough to not have to say no to people because when I have been asked for money, it has been pretty infrequent. And I've been happy to help because I've been in a position to do so. But it can be really challenging when someone needs your help, and you either don't want to give it to them because they are not in a place to understand what this money means to you — they're kind of asking more than they should basically — or, you just aren't financially in a place to do it. So it helps to be really direct and clear, again, around expectations, and where you are personally and financially, and where you think they could be. But then you can also turn to offer different types of support. Maybe helping them get set up with unemployment assistance. You can also direct them to call 211 for housing assistance and other public benefits in their area. Basically try to pivot that person to someone who can provide the help that you're not able to give them.

Liz Weston: And if your decision is no, you really don't have to explain that. That's something to keep in mind. No is a complete sentence. And something as simple as, “I can't do that” is, again, a complete sentence. You don't have to go on and on explaining, because that just brings up reasons for the person to argue with you.

Sean Pyles: See that is my issue.

Liz Weston: Ah, OK.

Sean Pyles: I always feel like I need to give a very fully articulated explanation for why I can't do something because I would kind of want the same, I guess. It's like, OK, I'm asking for something that I typically wouldn't. And if you can't help me, and if I'm someone who relies on you, why am I not able to get this?

Liz Weston: Yeah.

Sean Pyles: So I feel like I owe it to the person to give them that thorough explanation, but you're right, in some cases you don't have to.

Liz Weston: One of the things about giving money to another person or loaning money to another person is it can affect the relationship. And one of the things that I think about is, if I'm giving somebody money and I see them turn around and take an expensive vacation, how am I going to feel about that if I haven't been paid back? So sometimes I would do it anyway, sometimes not. But it really is your own choice in most cases, your own decision, and you don't have to really explain that to anyone. Again, you can just say, no, because you value the relationship. You don't want this to become an issue between you — whatever the reason is — you can just say no.

Sean Pyles: Yeah. And I think that's fair. And there have been times where I've helped people where I maybe wasn't sure whether they would put it to the best use. And so I had a conversation with them and I said, "OK, is this actually going to go to your pet's health care the way that you have been asking for it? Or is it going to go to a party fund?" I remember in college — oh my goodness — there was this very sweet girl who went to my college, who had a pet rat that had cancer. And it was just covered in tumors — more tumors than rat basically.

Liz Weston: Oh.

Sean Pyles: And she would go around parties, asking for money to get surgery for the rat. And it's like, the rat's not going to live that long. I don't have much money. Here is $1, but that's all that I can give basically. And then I saw her use that money to go buy a bunch of beer for another party.

Liz Weston: Oh.

Sean Pyles: I was like, well, lesson learned.

Liz Weston: Yeah.

Sean Pyles: I'm not going to be giving you money again. And I'm very sorry for the health of your rat.

Liz Weston: Yes. Oh man.

Sean Pyles: Well, on that note, let's move on to our conversation about inflation. We're talking with Darian Woods, a reporter and producer for “The Indicator from Planet Money.”

Liz Weston: Welcome to Smart Money, Darian.

Darian Woods: Great to be here.

Liz Weston: OK. So inflation is the highest that it's been in four decades. What are the main reasons this is happening?

Darian Woods: There's this old adage in economics, which is that inflation is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. If we look at what's been happening in the last couple of years, Americans are basically wanting to buy a lot of stuff, but businesses can't keep up with all that demand.

Sean Pyles: A lot of Americans have been cooped up in their houses for a couple of years. They had some stimulus checks. That's a pretty common narrative. And they were trying to buy things for their house to keep them comfortable during quarantine, but they couldn't quite get them because of various issues related to the pandemic.

Darian Woods: Exactly. So we've heard the story many times before, but we can kind of think about it by basically breaking it into three different categories about why this is happening. We've got changing spending patterns specific to the pandemic. There's also the government spending, especially with the stimulus bills over the last couple of years. And we've seen the low interest rates and the action by the Federal Reserve Bank. And these three things have really fueled that demand.

Sean Pyles: Yeah. I've also heard some folks postulating that a certain amount of the inflation is due to what they deem corporate greed. Basically some companies jumping on the bandwagon of inflation and saying, "Hey, other things are more expensive. Why aren't our goods? So let's do it." What are your thoughts around that? Is that actually happening from what you can tell?

Darian Woods: It's a really subtle story. It's hard to answer in a single line. Corporations are not any more greedy than they have been in the past few decades. The job of a corporation really is to make as much money, to make as much value as it can for its shareholders. It is true that we have concentrated sectors. People often point to the meat sector as being particularly concentrated with just four beef processors controlling something around 80% of the meat industry. And so prices are higher in these industries than they would otherwise be. That doesn't necessarily mean the rate of increase around the economy is high because of these greedy concentrated industries.

So it is kind of the subtle point where, yes, we need to deal with antitrust in the economy. We need to deal with corporations that are monopolist, that are single corporations that have a lot of pricing power and can raise prices, and have prices that are higher than we normally want. That is absolutely action we need to take. But most economists would tell you that the drivers of inflation are actually just a lot more boring. That it's just action from the Federal Reserve Bank. It's a lot of stimulus spending. It's all the supply chain issues and spending pattern changes due to the pandemic. There's not so much like a superhero story about the individual against the corporations. But really those seem to be the main drivers.

Sean Pyles: Well, you mentioned the Fed, and they are raising interest rates to try to cool off inflation. How is that going to work?

Darian Woods: When Fed raises interest rates, it makes borrowing more expensive, especially for short-term loans. So that is adjustable-rate mortgages. It's if you are borrowing to buy a car. If you're a company that's borrowing, these have a very direct link with the Fed's interest rates. And that just means businesses are going to expand less than they otherwise would. Means people aren't going to borrow as much to buy. There's this cascading effect of economic activity that is pulling back, and that then businesses are just going to not have as much pressure to raise prices. And the real challenge for the Fed, which you may have heard around the financial and economic newspapers around the world, is can the Fed do this without causing a recession? And that's going to be a huge challenge.

Sean Pyles: The soft landing as it's been called.

Darian Woods: The soft landing. Yeah.

Liz Weston: Because the idea is that if the Fed raises interest rates too much, that could cause companies and people to really shut down on spending, and that's what triggers a recession. Right?

Darian Woods: Exactly. And the Fed may well have to cause a recession to meet its objectives, if that is what is required to bring price inflation to around 2% per year.

Sean Pyles: Hmm. Do we have an idea of when we'll know whether or not this soft landing has been achieved, or if we're slipping into a recession?

Darian Woods: I think that this is just going to be one of these things you just have to constantly monitor. I mean, recessions are not even counted until after the recession sometimes. So it is one of these things that we'll just have to keep monitoring unemployment rates. We'll have to be monitoring all the kind of labor market data that we get every month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in particular. All kinds of indicators, maybe check your local podcast to see ...

Liz Weston: There you go.

Darian Woods: ... how the Fed's big task is working out.

Liz Weston: Hey Darian, you mentioned beef prices. So let's talk about food prices in general. They just seem a lot more volatile than they have in recent years. What is behind that? What's causing that in general? And are there certain categories that seem to be more volatile than others?

Darian Woods: Groceries are going up in price more than goods and services as a whole in the economy. Groceries are up 10% this year. So if your grocery bill was a hundred bucks last year, it's now $110 for the same goods. And food is a pretty volatile sector. You've obviously got the seasonal effect every year. And weather is changing. With climate change, you've got floods and droughts and maybe even bumper crops in some areas. Things are just shifting around a lot.

Added to that, you've got a very sophisticated commodity market making bets on the price of wheat next year. And that can mean that economic news travels faster into the price of a bushel of wheat. On the flip side, this advanced commodity market actually stabilizes, in some sense, because when those price signals are fed through into the price of wheat, a wheat farmer has more of an incentive, say, to plant crops this year. And they can see that impact very soon. And so food is a pretty volatile sector. The wholesale prices for food — that's even more volatile. And we're seeing huge price increases, like international global food prices are at record highs. The price of foods traded internationally rose 34% last year.

Liz Weston: Wow, that's huge.

Darian Woods: It is.

Sean Pyles: And that hasn't even factored the war in Ukraine, which as we know, will have a huge effect, already is having a huge effect on wheat in particular, as well as soybean oil. Other things like that.

Darian Woods: Well, actually this stat may include a little bit of the war in Ukraine, but it was rising even before that. And so we're seeing a perfect storm on top of a perfect storm. Even before the war in Ukraine, we were looking at things like weather fluctuations. We've seen droughts in the American West. We've seen meat processors during the pandemic have hundreds of their staff even die from the coronavirus early on, and thousands become sick. And just these work environments becoming less attractive. We’ve seen immigration decline in food sectors, not just in the U.S., but around the world. And agriculture is a sector that often relies on migrant or itinerant laborers who are sensitive to borders shutting down.

So we've seen these effects added on to the normal pandemic supply chains. Plus the price of oil is maybe an under-recognized factor in the price of food. We've seen high oil prices over the last year or so that have driven up the price of food. And how does that work? Both from transportation, obviously trucking is going to be more expensive. Shipping's going to be more expensive. But also through fertilizer. The price of natural gas is correlated with the price of oil, and natural gas is an input into fertilizer. And that has ricochet effects everywhere around the world. It means that the harvests are going to be less if we have less fertilizer.

Sean Pyles: Right. And I feel like food prices are one of those moments where issues that can seem very far away from home and somewhat nebulous become very concrete and affect people's budgets very close to home. And a lot of folks will change the way they shop when things get more expensive — use coupons, buy store brands. But if a lot of folks are already doing that and are still up against the wall, what happens to them when budgets are tight and inflation gets really high? What do they do when they don't really have enough money to cover everything they need?

Darian Woods: Yeah. I mean, food inflation and inflation in general is very hard on people with low or fixed incomes. There's just less wiggle room to absorb the higher prices. I have a steady salary, I can move from organic bananas to regular bananas. But if you're already buying regular bananas, like where do you go from there? It's really precarious. And it's mentally taxing as well, thinking about all these different price shifts. And that is just going to be harder when you're on a lower income. Figuring out, "OK, maybe beef is extremely expensive. Do we move to eggs?" for example, although those are going up, too. I looked through the decomposition of price rises and there is some hope in the potato and tomato sectors. So if you want a tomato potato soup, you've got opportunities there. But this is just going to be all the more harder the lower your income is.

Sean Pyles: And anecdotally, I've heard that the lines at food banks are getting longer. Fewer people have money that will cover their monthly budgets. And it seems like it's only going to get worse over the coming months.

Darian Woods: I've heard those stories, too. Yeah. I haven't seen data, but I've heard those stories, too, which is very concerning. And I don't want to downplay the really tough decisions that are being made by low-income Americans right now. But it's even more stark when you look at low-income countries around the world. So let's take sub-Saharan Africa where many people spend half their income on food. And that compares to about around 10% here in the U.S. So this situation of rising food prices is just going to be devastating for people in these poorer countries.

Liz Weston: Well, I remember one episode of your podcast, you talked about the conflicts that rising food prices can contribute to, like political uprisings, things like that.

Darian Woods: Yeah. So we spoke with an expert in peace and conflict studies, Ida Rudolfsen. She's at the Peace Research Institute Oslo and Uppsala University. And she pointed to the Arab Spring in 2011, where a lot of people were rising up against their governments in places like Egypt and Libya and Syria. And the corrupt and authoritarian rules of the governments was the main reason for these protests, but a key trigger in all of these protests was higher bread prices at the time.

Liz Weston: That's really interesting.

Darian Woods: And one thing that I found fascinating, as you said, it was almost like this tattered bargain that — yes, you're going to have less freedoms under this dictatorial rule, perhaps depending on where you were. But you will have a stable standard of living and the price of food, your price of bread, literally will be cheaper than it would otherwise be.

Liz Weston: And Darian, you mentioned oil prices earlier. And one thing that gets Americans really angry is when they have to spend a ton of money fueling up their cars. So could you talk a little bit about what factors affect fuel prices and what we can expect in the next few months?

Darian Woods: The situation at the moment really is all about supply. You've had the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the sanctions that the U.S. is putting on Russia — these have contributed to prices ratcheting up. But here we need to remember that oil prices were pretty high before the invasion, too. We had oil producing nations, OPEC+, they've been keeping supply relatively tight. They're not expanding to meet the demand that you might get in a free market for oil. And then we've got in the U.S. — which is not part of OPEC+ — oil producers in the U.S. can make as much oil as they want, but it hasn't been ramping up.

And there's kind of been this puzzle, and it comes down to shale oil. They're frackers. They've been reluctant to expand their capacity too much, especially because oil investors in oil companies in the U.S. got burnt last time that prices were high. They were just drilling and drilling and drilling, expecting the price to stay high. And then it plummeted. People lost money. Businesses went out of business. And so oil investors were saying, "Hold back. Don't drill quite so fast." But now we've had prices probably stay up to a level, post the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where prices are pretty high. And it is probably, for these American oil companies, probably worthwhile to start finding that oil again. But it's not going to be that easy because there's a whole industry of support staff and organizations that keep the fracking industry going. And when a lot of them went out of business or lost their jobs in 2020, it's just going to be very slow going to get them all started again.

Liz Weston: Oh, I can remember when that was ramping up. In North Dakota, they were desperate for workers and trying to get people to move from all over the country. So I can imagine that's true. Once they've left North Dakota or whatever, getting them back is going to be tough.

Darian Woods: Oh, it really is, if they've been burnt once before. But yeah, I mean, overall, we are seeing a slight moderation of oil prices. But in the medium term, I can't really see a quick resolution to this, barring something like a breakthrough deal with Iran. It's hard to see the tight oil situation easing in any lasting way very soon.

Sean Pyles: Right. I've heard oil prices being described as rising like a rocket and falling like a feather. And I think we've seen that play out so far where they shot up pretty quickly. And despite steps taken by the Biden administration in the past couple months, not much has changed.

Darian Woods: Yeah. We'll see.

Liz Weston: Something else we wanted to talk about, Darian, is the car situation. And this affects me personally. I'm going to have to replace a car this summer, which I really did not want to do. A lot of us could not have imagined a world in which a used car could cost more than a new car, or that you couldn't get exactly what you wanted just walking onto a lot. Can you talk about the factors that are going into car prices and when we can expect that to get better?

Darian Woods: Yeah. I mean, this is really thrown off what seems to be an ironclad law of economics, which is that your car is going to lose a bunch of value the minute you drive off the lot.

Liz Weston: Exactly. I count on that, to buy like cheap, used cars.

Darian Woods: Up is down. Down is up. It's a weird situation. Yeah. I have been looking through production reports and what the car companies are saying. And I don't know. All this together doesn't really make me super optimistic that this is going to go away anytime soon. Semiconductors — the chips for cars — are still in really short supply, along with all the other supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic. I guess you can take the long-run view. You can look through history of decades and decades of cars getting cheaper and cheaper to make. And they can make higher-quality cars for less. The last two years have been this real anomaly. Look, I don't have a crystal ball about how long this is going to take. It would be very hard to game the purchase exactly. So I think if you can wait, it could be worth waiting a bit. But also, yeah, it's not going to be soon in my opinion. But that said, used car prices have very slowly started to go down, so there might be a glimmer of hope.

Liz Weston: OK. Well at least there's a little bit of good news in there.

Darian Woods: Yeah.

Sean Pyles: So Darian, how are you personally coping with inflation? Is there one area that's hitting you the hardest, that has kind of brought the things you talk about in your work at a macroeconomic level, down to your daily reality?

Darian Woods: My life is a little bit insulated from inflation because I don't have a car and I also don't eat meat. So those are two things, in particular in the CPI index — the consumer price index — that have gone up quite a lot. So I'm lucky in those two regards. But I am booking my summer vacation. I want to go to Utah. And I'm looking at these car rental prices, and I got to say, my stomach is turning a little bit.

Sean Pyles: Yeah. And tickets for flights alone have gotten more expensive lately. I was recently in that situation of trying to book travel and I was expecting the flight to be a couple hundred dollars less than what I ended up paying. And I believe it was due to the fuel.

Darian Woods: We've also learned at “The Indicator” that pilot shortages are also a big problem. And air attendant shortages are a real big problem, too, coming out of the pandemic.

Liz Weston: Oh, interesting. Well, we do have articles on the site about how to get a rental car for cheaper and also how to use rewards to get flights. So maybe those will be helpful for you, Darian.

Darian Woods: I will do a little bit of research on the NerdWallet website to figure this out.

Sean Pyles: Well, Darian, thank you so much for joining us on the Smart Money podcast. It was great to talk with you.

Darian Woods: That was a real pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Liz Weston: And that's all we have for this episode. Do you have a money question of your own? Turn to the Nerds, and call or text us your questions at 901-730-6373. That's 901-730-NERD. You can also email us at [email protected]. Visit for more information on this episode and remember to follow, rate and review us wherever you're getting this podcast.

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