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Impact of Inflation on your investments: Strategies for protection

ICICIdirect 9 Mins 18 Aug 2023

Inflation is a real monster. If you don't understand and take care of it, you can be in trouble. It can have a significant impact on your investments over time, eroding the purchasing power of your money. In today's article, we will understand inflation in simple language and discuss strategies to deal with it.

What is Inflation?

Let us first attempt to explain inflation to you in simple language. Inflation is like a sneaky thief that makes your money lose value over time. Assume you have kept money in your bank. With the deposited amount, you could buy a new TV today. However, you decide to wait for a year as your existing TV is in a well-to-do condition.

After one year, the TV price and the price of everything would have gone up. It means that the same money cannot buy the same TV after a year. In simple terms, inflation is when the prices of things you buy, like food, clothes, and everything else, go up over time, and your money can't buy as much as it used to. It's important because it affects how far your money can stretch and how much you can buy with it.

How does inflation impact your investments?

Let us understand how inflation impacts your investments with an example. Assume you have Rs 10,000 in a savings account that earns an annual interest rate of 2%. In a year, you will earn Rs 200 in interest, and your total balance will become Rs 10,200. If the inflation rate is 5% that year, the prices of goods and services will increase by 5%.

At the end of the year, even though your savings account grew to Rs 10,200, the purchasing power of your money decreased because of inflation. With 5% inflation, the things you could buy for Rs 10,000 at the beginning of the year now cost around Rs 10,500. So, even though your savings grew, they are insufficient to buy things that they could have before.

Strategies for Protection

The above example shows that inflation can eat into the real value of your investments over time, potentially reducing your ability to buy the same things you could before. To protect your investments from the eroding effects of inflation, you need to choose investment options that have the potential to outpace inflation. Let us look at some of the things you can do:

Diversification: You need to diversify your investment portfolio across different asset classes to mitigate the impact of inflation. Assets like stocks, real estate, commodities, and inflation-protected bonds tend to perform differently under varying economic conditions, reducing the overall risk to your portfolio. 

Stocks and Equities: First, you need to know that past returns are not a guarantee of future returns. However, looking at historical data, one can conclude that stocks have provided a hedge against inflation. Companies can adjust their prices and earnings to keep up with inflation, potentially leading to increased shareholder value. 

Let us understand it with an example. Assume you invest Rs 10,000 in a company's stock. Over the year, the company performs well, and the value of the stock increases by 10%. Your investment is now worth Rs 11,000. However, if the inflation rate is 5%, the prices of goods and services will go up again. While your investment grew by 10%, its real growth (adjusted for inflation) is 5% (10% - 5%). Even though inflation was there, your investments in stocks were able to beat it and even generate returns for you.

You can also consider investing in equities via mutual funds if you don't have the required expertise to invest in direct equities. 

International Investment: International investments can help investors beat inflation by providing exposure to different economies and currencies. When inflation is high in India, it might be lower in other countries. By investing internationally, you can potentially benefit from stronger economic conditions in those regions, which could lead to better returns on your investments. Additionally, holding investments in foreign currencies can act as a hedge against the depreciation of the Indian rupee during inflationary periods. However, international investments also come with risks, including currency fluctuations and geopolitical factors. 

Invest in Gold: Another strategy would be to invest a part of your portfolio in gold. Gold has historically maintained its value or even appreciated during inflationary periods. When prices of goods and services rise due to inflation, the demand for gold often increases, as it is seen as a store of value. Gold's scarcity and global recognition contribute to its ability to retain purchasing power over time. However, it's important to note that while gold can act as a hedge against inflation, its value can also be influenced by other factors, such as supply and demand dynamics and global economic conditions. 

Real Estate Investment: Real estate tends to appreciate in value over time, often at rates that outpace inflation. As the demand for housing and commercial spaces rises, property values can increase, providing a potential hedge against rising prices. Additionally, rental income from real estate properties can grow with inflation, providing a consistent income stream that maintains its value. If you don't have a large corpus, you can still invest in real estate via REIT - Real Estate Investment Trust.


Inflation is one of the most critical factors to consider when planning and managing your investment portfolio. You must not ignore it, as it can lead to significant losses in real purchasing power. Start investing in the above-mentioned instruments, and you will beat inflation easily.

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