What's your household's inflation rate?

Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates various measures of the inflation rate for the U.S. The most well known of these measures, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), attempts to gauge the cost of living for urban consumers and how it's changing over time.

The CPI is based on a representative basket of goods consumed by the average household. But if a particular household consumes a basket of goods that varies substantially from this basket, the CPI will do a poor job of capturing changes in that household's cost of living.

Elderly households, for example, may consume much more health care than typical, and if health care costs are rising quickly, as they have been in recent years, the overall CPI will understate the inflation rate these households face.

To remedy this, the Atlanta Fed has developed myCPI, a set of 144 individualized market baskets that vary according to age, income, gender, household size, education level and home ownership.

For example, the national CPI rose at an annual rate of 1.2 percent in April. However, if you're "a male, under 35 years old, married, and without a college degree, but you own your home and make more than $70,000 annually," then your CPI "was virtually flat in April. In addition, people matching your description have seen their cost of living decline by 1.0 percent over the past year."

Here are a few more examples from the Atlanta Fed description of myCPI:

April 2015

1-month percent change (annualized rate)

Year-over-year percent change

Official CPI



Female, over 55, without college degree, renter, high income



Couple, less than 35 years, without college degree, homeowner, high income



Family (3+ persons); head of household 35-55 years old, homeowner, college degree, middle income



The indexes may not perfectly capture your exact cost of living. But unless you're very close to the average U.S. household, they should provide a much better approximation than the official CPI of how the cost of the goods you typically purchase is changing over time.