The Cost of Free is Getting Expensive

The Cost of Free is Getting Expensive

Peak Capital Mortgage, LLC
Peak Capital Mortgage, LLC
Published on August 17, 2023

The Cost of Free is Getting Expensive

Recall the conventional advice your parents frequently recited? Nothing comes without cost. In recent years, it appears that lesson has been forgotten. The results of receiving "free" money through government stimulus checks and large-scale expenditure are becoming abundantly obvious. Consumers have begun realizing in the last three years that the ostensibly significant financial aid they've received comes with a cost.

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As parts of the economy began to close in 2020 and 2021, stimulus checks began to show up in mailboxes. Businesses took advantage of tax rebates and incentives for payroll protection from 2021 and beyond, flooding the market with extra cash. Curiously, the unrestricted opportunity to spend this sudden income wasn't delayed.

The unanticipated result that materialized: everything is much more expensive, including food, fuel, housing, healthcare and credit. We are suffering from an inflation hangover that we haven't seen for decades as a result of the spending binge. As consumers, we frequently find ourselves paying significantly more than what we were originally given.

We could feel as though we are being charged twice for the same amount of money as a result of this double whammy. The Federal Reserve expedited rate increases in response to rising prices. What happened? Credit card interest rates, which now average over 23%, are where the cost of credit is being felt.

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Support was required during the economic slump because of the epidemic, and it was for the best. However, the government's stimulus programs didn't end there; they kept getting more aggressive. Now the tab for this benevolence is increasingly being felt by the consumer.

The key to getting out of this mess will be to strike a careful balance between increasing supply and reducing demand for goods and services. This precarious balance would enable prices to stabilize, probably not returning to their prior levels, but at the very least reducing the speed at which they were rising.

The primary goal of giving "free" money during the pandemic was to serve as a lifeline, but the unexpected consequences serve as a sharp reminder that financial decisions should always take the long term effects into account. The current problem is to find a balance that protects both current demands and long-term stability, keeping the cost of "free" from growing too great to bear.

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Like life, economies go through cycles, therefore this too must pass. The promise of better days will come in time as we make our way through this era of fiscal restraint. We do, after all, learn from our errors. Unfortunately, financial policies don't always follow this logic, which is why cycles occur.

The lesson still stands: The price of "free" is one that must be paid afterwards. Well-intentioned initiatives sometimes have unintended consequences that put us in danger. The problem is to manage these turbulent seas with a close eye on both present requirements and the stability of our economic future.

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