An Economic Update from Scott Woods

If you are watching your spending more closely these days, you are not alone. Prices for the goods we use every day have increased significantly: gas prices are up 48%, used cars and trucks are up 35% and food prices are up almost 9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index.

This can feel like a crushing weight when you are just trying to make ends meet. We recognize the impact inflation has on your daily life and your ability to reach your financial goals. As your financial institution, we are committed to helping you understand how national economic trends will affect your finances and work with you to navigate what's next.

Two key trends I am watching closely right now are inflation and rising interest rates. Inflation came in at 8.5% in March, the fastest 12-month pace in over 40 years. The Federal Reserve increased rates in March and has indicated that additional increases are in store for 2022.

Though interest rates increased more quickly than anticipated, it's important to remember that prior to March, the Fed had not raised interest rates since December 2018. The Fed is hopeful that raising interest rates will slow down consumer buying, which could help cool inflation and potentially have a positive impact on some of the supply chain issues we continue to face.

Additionally, there are some strong upsides to the economy that should give us all confidence as we look ahead. The U.S. unemployment rate remains low, and though we're moving into a new economic cycle, the economy is still strong.

Regardless of what's happening on a macro scale, we understand the impact inflation is having on families every day. If you need assistance with managing expenses or planning for the future, we're here to help. Here are some of the ways we can support you and your family's needs:

Borrow now or later?

If you're planning to borrow money in the form of an auto loan or mortgage (or any type of loan), it's likely going to be cheaper to borrow now than it will be later this year. Although we don't know when the next rate increase will take place, you may want to consider acting sooner rather than later if you are looking to take out a new loan or refinance an existing loan.

Financial education

Helping our members achieve financial wellness is one of our top priorities, and we are proud to offer a variety of educational opportunities to ensure you have the right tools and knowledge to meet your goals.

Check out our list of upcoming webinars, and mark your calendar for April 28. South Carolina Federal Investment Solutions, through CFS1, is hosting two webinars (one at 12 p.m. and one at 6 p.m.) about strategies to overcome inflation and uncertain market conditions, the risks of investing in cash only and ways to stretch your retirement income.

Special offers and benefits

If you're looking to cut costs and reduce your monthly expenses, consider taking advantage of special offers that meet your current needs. For example, we have a 90-day no pay offer for auto loans2 that gives you the option of deferring your first three payments when you take out a loan for a new or used vehicle purchase (or you refinance an external loan with us)3.

Have an auto loan with a high interest rate at another financial institution? We may be able to help you refinance3 at a lower rate, which would reduce your monthly payment amount and the overall cost of the loan.

Please don't hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can help by visiting any of our financial centers or giving us a call at 800-845-0432. We are here for you, and we hope to serve you soon.


1Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. CUSO Financial Services, L.P. and its representatives do not provide tax advice. For such advice, please contact a tax professional.

2Applies to new loans and external refinances. Existing South Carolina Federal loans are excluded. Certain restrictions apply.

3Auto loans are subject to qualifications and approval.

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