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Because simple inflation of the dollar wasn’t bad enough, here’s the next threat to our lifestyles.

time inflation

Here’s another form of inflation that Americans are dealing with today: time inflation. Time is money, and we all know that money is losing value. So one way that Americans have been compensating for a currency in slow freefall is by spending more and more time at work, a recent survey from Gallup shows. Or, more accurately, our employers are needing more and more productivity out of each worker to save their bottom line.

It is taking more and more hours at work to keep a job, keep ahead of inflation and keep up with the Joneses.

The 40 hour work week is dying. Even though we still think of 40 hours a week as standard full time, it is not so standard anymore, with 50% of full-time employees working over 40 hours a week. The Gallup survey puts the average work week at 47 hours now. In fact, working 60 hours or more per week is fairly common, with 18% of respondents saying they fall into that category.

It is even more interesting when you separate out employees paid by the hour versus those who are salaried. If you’re salaried, you are much more likely to work those long weeks, the implication being that your company is feeling the pinch as well. Your company needs as much work out of you as possible in order to keep you on as an employee. Also, the labor market is still very loose. There are flurries of resumes flying around for each job posting, so it is in a worker’s best interest to not complain and keep that nose to the grindstone.

Those people paid by the hour, on the other hand, generally have shorter work weeks. One explanation is that companies can’t afford overtime pay, so they are more cognizant of the 40 hour threshold.

The truth is that longer work weeks are just another symptom of an economy that is not doing as well as the official government numbers would have us believe. Both employers and employees have to work harder and harder to keep their heads above water, to afford the same amount of goods and services, to make ends meet. The so-called “recovery” feels like a total fabrication to most Americans, largely because it is.

Shadow Government Statistics (SGS), an economic statistics website that uses legacy calculations for economic data, has unemployment at around 23% – staggering. SGS also has inflation at closer to 10%. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between SGS stats and official government stats, but certainly Main Street USA knows what it knows. Fewer and fewer Americans are buying into the mainstream narrative about this recovery that we’re supposedly having.

These same pressures that keep you in the office longer every day will also erode your savings and your retirement nest egg over time. Just as inflation will keep you at the office past 5:00 pm, inflation will also keep you on the job past 65, and maybe much further beyond then.

Of course, this problem is most pronounced for those whose savings are wholly dependent on the disappearing dollar.

And, of course, there is a way to protect yourself: If you are exchanging your hard-earned dollars on a regular basis for gold and other precious metals, you have a good chance of negating the corrosive effects of the Federal Reserve’s printing press on your savings.

It should be that a dollar saved today should buy a dollar’s worth of goods tomorrow, but that simply isn’t the case. You will work until your grave if you operate under that assumption.

However, gold has held its purchasing power remarkably well over centuries. The most famous example is that approximately one ounce of gold has fairly consistently held the purchasing power for a finely tailored men’s suit. Even in Rome, a high quality toga was about an ounce of gold.

If you’re saving in a commodity like that, you have a chance at getting ahead – and staying there – for your retirement.

And if the Federal Reserve would temper their printing presses, end Quantitative Easing and all other shenanigans, allow the market to determine interest rates, we would have more stable weights and measures when it comes to valuing time, goods and services. In other words, it wouldn’t take so much of our time to work to make up for the dollar’s continual loss in value.

But we have only so much control over the Federal Reserve. We do have control over our portfolios, however. Protect your retirement from the shifting sands of inflation in all forms. Put a portion of it in gold.