The media has been running stories about potentially rising interest rates for many years, but rates have remained close to record lows since the last recession. Most recently, however, interest rates have indeed started to trend upward as predicted, and this trend may reasonably continue in the coming years. This begs the question of whether rising interest rates will harm your finances or benefit them. The answer is that they can affect your finances in both ways. A closer look at how interest rates affect you will help you to position your finances for optimal benefits.
Interest rates directly impact the cost of your debts. If you have a fixed rate debt, such as is common with a home or a car loan, rising interest rates will not affect these debts until you refinance your home or buy a new car. You also may have adjustable rate debt, such as is common with credit cards and some loans. The rates on these debts will rise as the market rates rise, and this means that your monthly debt payments will increase. If you carry substantial debt with an adjustable rate, you can generally expect your budget to feel burdened. Furthermore, high-interest rates can be costlier when you apply for new financing in the future.
On the other hand, rising interest rates can be beneficial for you if you have specific types of assets. For example, savings accounts and money market accounts are directly tied to interest rates, and you will benefit from a higher yield on these accounts. CD rates and bond rates generally will improve substantially as well, and this means that you can enjoy a higher yield on relatively safe investments. Stocks and mutual funds may be hit for a short period of time until corporations adjust their finances. Understanding how your assets are tied to interest rates is important if you want to take full advantage of rising rates while minimizing your financial risk.