TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Inflation is getting worse. The Labor Department released a report showing inflation hit another four-decade high in January. Consumer prices soared even more than expected and there are few signs it’s slowing down anytime soon. 

So how can you protect your hard earned dollars?

Nationally, consumer prices soared 7.5 percent in January. In Tampa, however, it was worse than that. Inflation was nearly 10 percent in the Tampa Bay area.

So it’s not just in your head — you’re spending way more for everything.

In this inflationary environment, your instinct might be to hold on to your cash, but financial experts say that’s likely the wrong move.

With families spending more for shelter, food, electricity and gas, 8 On Your Side sat down with Certified Financial Planner Jon Wax to learn how you can protect yourself from record inflation.

“Inflation means prices are rising and you want to own assets whose prices can appreciate,” Wax said.

While the value of the dollar is clearly diminishing, Wax says – for now – stocks, real estate, commodities and other assets are appreciating.

“There is an old saying that it’s a fool’s errand to wait for a big pullback to make a deployment of your money,” Wax said.

“So it might not be a bad idea to look into purchasing a home?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Right, as long as you maintain a long-term approach. This is not the kind of environment to try to do short-term trading or short-term buying and selling because things are fluctuating at a pretty fast rate,” he said.

Long-term approach means you hold onto the home for five to ten years before selling it.

Next, he says, consider investing in stocks. They’re an inexpensive way to get ownership of something that can appreciate in value too.

If you don’t have experience with investing, Wax says you can search for a financial institution online or consider finding a wealth advisor in your area by visiting this website.

“When is it going to end?” asked Mahsa Saeidi.

“That is a great question no one has an answer to. What we do know is the Federal Reserve has already expressed a serious focus on addressing inflation concern,” said Wax.

If you’re on a fixed budget and your income is not rising, Wax says you should look at your monthly expenditures and eliminate discretionary spending. It’s a way to stretch a dollar that, for now, is still shrinking.