The continued low interest rates that have saved you money on a mortgage or student loan refinance have a downside: Cash that is stashed away in safe places — savings accounts, CDs, money markets — is probably not earning a notable return.
Money you need in less than five years generally shouldn’t be invested in the stock market, because that kind of time horizon isn’t long enough to recover from a downturn. So with that option off the table, it’s a struggle for short-term money to keep pace with inflation.
Until interest rates rise, that’s unlikely to change. In the meantime, you should strive to earn every cent possible without locking up your cash in a way that will prevent you from taking advantage of higher rates when they come. (For instance, say no to long-term CDs, which hit you with an interest penalty if you attempt to withdraw your investment before the end of the term.)