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Federal interest rate hikes are here: How will it impact your finances?

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NEW YORK (AP) - Mortgage rates have jumped, home sales have slumped and credit cards and auto loans have gotten pricier.

Savings rates are slightly juicier, though.As the Federal Reserve has rapidly increased interest rates, many economists say they fear that a recession is inevitable in the coming months — and with it, job losses that could cause hardship for households already hurt worst by inflation.Wednesday, the Federal Reserve sharply raised its key short-term rate by three-quarters of a point for a third straight time, even as its previous rate increases are being felt by households at all income levels.The Fed's latest move has raised its benchmark rate to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level in 14 years.

Its steady rate increases have already made it increasingly costly for consumers and businesses to borrow — for homes, autos and other purchases.

And more hikes are almost surely coming. Fed officials are expected to signal Wednesday that their benchmark rate could reach as high as 4.5% by early next year.Here's what to know:If one definition of inflation is " too much money chasing too few goods," then by making it more expensive to borrow money, the Fed hopes to reduce the amount of money in circulation, eventually lowering prices.Anyone borrowing money to make a large purchase, such as a home, car, or large appliance, will take a hit, said Scott Hoyt, an analyst with Moody's Analytics."The new rate pretty dramatically increases your monthly payments and your cost," he said. "It also affects consumers who have a lot of credit card debt — that will hit right away."That said, Hoyt noted that household debt payments, as a proportion of income, remain relatively low, though they have risen lately.

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