By: Moshe Crane  | 

Rising Interest Rates and Your College Budget's New Challenge

Attention, fellow YU students! While you're busy juggling assignments and trying to stretch that student budget, there's an important financial storm brewing that you should be aware of: rising interest rates. In this article, I'll break down the fundamentals of interest rates, explore why they are on the upswing and examine how these higher rates affect your everyday purchases in the caf. But fear not, for I'll also discuss how you, as a savvy consumer, can protect yourself from the adverse effects of high-interest rates.

Before we dive into the repercussions of rising interest rates, let's establish a basic understanding of what interest rates are. Essentially, an interest rate is the cost of borrowing money or the return on investment for lending money. These rates are set by central banks, influenced by economic conditions, and can be either fixed or variable. The banks don’t have complete autonomy. When inflation rises faster than the Federal Reserve (also known as the “Fed”) wants, which can be exacerbated by low-interest rates, the Fed raises the rates to slow down the economy’s hastened growth. When the rates get too high, slowing down the economy, the Fed lowers the rates to increase activity. Your coffee, Golan and seforim payments are all impacted by these rates, which can fluctuate and have significant implications for your financial well-being. 

The Fed has raised interest rates over the past few years because the rate of inflation is growing too fast for the American consumer to handle. The interest rate has been raised to 5.5% so far, the highest it has been in 22 years. The Fed’s goal is to stabilize our economy from uncontrollable growth by slowing rampant cash inflow. Meaning, the prices of goods are increasing unsustainably because our economy has too much cash inflow. 

As YU students, you might be wondering how this affects your daily life. Well, raising interest rates slows down our economy, leading to a slower increase or in extreme cases an outright decrease in cost for consumer goods. When interest rates climb, businesses may pay more to borrow money to finance their operations, which can lead to higher production costs. While it is true that increases in interest rates therefore lead to an increase in prices, the increase is generally smaller and more stable than one resulting from high inflation. This means that everything from your morning muffin from Nagel’s to your sushi from the caf can steadily go up in price, but the interest rate-related increase in price is preferable to the alternative, an inflation-related increase. 

Now, let's discuss how you can be proactive in mitigating the negative effects of high-interest rates. Remember that one of the reasons interest rates rise is to combat the inflation caused by the excessive spending of the American public. By managing your finances responsibly, you can help avoid the wrath of the Fed. Keep a budget, save money, and use credit wisely to minimize your reliance on borrowing. The more financially responsible you are, the less impact rising interest rates will have on your daily life.

In a world where economic dynamics constantly evolve, it's crucial for college students to stay informed and prepared for the financial challenges they may face. Rising interest rates can have a direct impact on the cost of even the cafeteria, but by understanding their origins and taking proactive steps to manage personal finances, you can navigate these changes more effectively. Remember that, and with the right information and prudent financial choices, you can safeguard your financial well-being and steer clear of the pitfalls of high-interest rates. Skipping out on that Dunkin run pre-seder may be just the fix you can perform to help contribute to a more manageable economy steering clear of inflation. 


Photo Caption: Rising Interest Rates

Photo Credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash