Purchasing Power Loss/Gain

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DEFINITION of 'Purchasing Power Loss/Gain '

An increase or decrease in how much consumers can buy with a given amount of money. Consumers lose purchasing power when prices increase, and gain purchasing power when prices decrease. Causes of purchasing power loss include government regulations, inflation and natural and man-made disasters. Causes of purchasing power gain include deflation and technological innovation.

BREAKING DOWN 'Purchasing Power Loss/Gain '

One official measure of purchasing power is the Consumer Price Index, which shows how the prices of consumer goods and services change over time. As an example of purchasing power gain, if laptop computers cost $1,000 two years ago and today they cost $500, consumers have seen their purchasing power rise. In the absence of inflation, $1,000 will now buy a laptop plus an additional $500 worth of goods.
Retirees must be particularly aware of purchasing power loss, since they are living off of a fixed amount of money. They must make sure that their investments earn a rate of return equal to or greater than the rate of inflation, so that the value of their nest egg does not decrease each year.

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