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The December inflation number was a disappointment in that it ticked higher than the previous month and thus gave the Bank of Canada no ammunition for lowering interest rates.

But if you’re a renter, the 3.4 per cent year-over-year inflation rate last month sounds too good to be true. If you try out Statistics Canada’s Personal Inflation Calculator, you’ll see that it is.

What’s your personal rate of inflation? Use our calculator to see how you compare to Canada’s CPI

Along with food, shelter costs have been a big driver of inflation. Rents are a big contributor to rising shelter costs. recently reported that the average one-bedroom apartment rent jumped 13.4 per cent on a year-over-year basis in December to $1,922, while two-bedroom rentals were up 10.9 per cent to $2,285.

The Statistics Canada inflation calculator shows how numbers like these affect the overall cost of living for renters. Add the average one-bedroom rent of $1,922 plus $700 combined for groceries and restaurant meals and $60 for utilities and you get an inflation rate of 6.8 per cent.

Mortgage costs have soared as well, but the effect on homeowners is inconsistent. If you have a variable-rate mortgage, or you renewed a fixed-rate mortgage in the past couple of years, you’re definitely paying more. But many homeowners have yet to renew mortgages at today’s rates. Also, rates for fixed mortgages have fallen significantly from the peak of last fall.

Today’s big rent hikes are driven in part by immigration, which has increased demand for housing, and insufficient construction of new rental units. Economists predict more moderate rent increases later in the year as the economy slows, so the renter’s inflation rate should fall. For now, your inflation rate as a renter is double the overall rate.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Rude stuff people do at weddings

A wedding etiquette lesson, with a few points about gift giving and bringing a date.

A little bitcoin goes a long way

A look at how adding even a small weighting to bitcoin in a traditional portfolio with a 60-40 blend of stocks and bonds can add a lot of risk. Exposure to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is easiest to get these days through exchange-traded funds listed on the Canadian and U.S. stock markets. One investment company that believes in a cryptocurrency weighting in diversified portfolios is Fidelity.

Five fixable personal finance mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes in managing their money. It’s how you fix them that really matters.

Best brokers for customer service

A ranking of digital brokers on their customer experience, including the various ways they interact with clients, responsiveness to questions and the hours of service.

34 ways to save money as a senior

I goofed in adding the link for this item last time, so I’m running it out again. A listing of seniors discounts at major retailers, hotels, car rental companies and more. Note that some apply to people at age 50 or 55.

Ask Rob

Q: I have my RRSP and TFSA with Wealthsimple and Questrade. I have 20 per cent in cash waiting for a down market to buy, and the money has not been getting any interest for over a year. Is there any way for me to park my cash to earn interest?

A: Yes. Consider high interest savings account exchange-traded funds, or high interest savings accounts sold like mutual funds. Both are low-risk ways to get returns in the 4 to 5 per cent range on your cash.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Tools, explainers, guides and charts

A registered retirement savings plan calculator – find out how much your RRSP could be worth on retirement, and how much income you might expect to get.

The Money-Free Zone

The brothers David and Jimmy Ruffin perform He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, which has a certain resonance in these times. Graham Nash sings the heck out of this song in a hit version by the Hollies, but the Ruffins take it to another level by referencing each other at the end and burying the Hollies’ sappy harmonica bits.

Watch this

A 22-year-old talks about how he lives on US$22,000 in Manhattan. Start with a very small apartment.

On social media

A financial adviser’s warning on LinkedIn about structured notes, which offer a variable payout based on the performance of underlying securities.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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