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Inflation is eroding the value of consumers’ savings at the fastest pace in four decades.

The Consumer Price Index, which gauges how quickly costs are rising for a basket of goods and services, jumped 8.6% in May from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. That’s the fastest rate since December 1981, driven mainly by costs for gasoline, food and shelter.


But how can Americans assess the impact of quickly rising prices on their buying power? The so-called “rule of 72” is a simple way to measure its long-term effect.