According to a study by the UK-based Waste & Resources Action Programme, each year, about one-third of food is wasted. And in America, that number is estimated at more like 40%. We all know the impact that waste and greenhouse gases have on the environment, but food waste also takes a toll on our global economic health. This problem contributes to annual spending over $400 billion. That's not very appetizing. Of course, food waste happens for various reasons. We eat out a lot, we fail to cook food before it goes bad, or we support institutions that aren't sustainable. While we're a far way off from ending the food waste epidemic, here are a few simple steps to eat more, save more, and waste less.

1. Portion control

In America, we're all about big. Big cars, big houses, big portions. But bigger is not necessarily better. When you eat out, sometimes portions are double (or even triple) the size of what you would normally eat at home. Instead of stuffing your face to clean that plate, split your meal in half and take the rest home. Not only will you feel less full, but you'll get to relive that delicious meal the next day. A lot of people know they should do this but just get overwhelmed by the restaurant experience. Plus, drinking alcohol can make us more willing to eat more. Sip water, eat, enjoy. Don't overindulge just because it's there.

2. Consider a food-delivery service

For those that don't trust themselves with portion control, it may be a wise option to try a meal-delivery service. Services like HelloFresh ship you pre-portioned ingredients to cook food at home. It's affordable, nutritious, and provides variety. You also won't have to worry about being wasteful when you have everything you need.

3. Be creative when reusing leftovers

Leftovers get a bad reputation, but some of our favorite meals involve leftovers. Instead of chucking them, take a survey of what you have in the fridge. Those peppers and onions will go nicely in a frittata. Eggs are the magic ingredient to making pretty much any leftover work. Or, you can always try a creative salad. Here are some ideas to get you inspired.

4. Don't buy more than what you need

Many shopaholics have this problem: They go into a store and totally veer off course when there's an unexpected sale. But you must complete your assigned mission. Do it the old fashioned way. Write a list and get only what you see on that list. Don't go food shopping when you're hungry, because you'll likely bring home more than you bargained for.

5. Freeze

Do not underestimate the power of your freezer for items that you think were just never meant to be frozen. You can freeze cookie dough, bagels, and even cheese! Pasta, fruit, and soups can also be frozen. This is a great way to buy time without sacrificing flavor and quality.

6. Use the right storage

A lot of us throw stuff out because it's fuzzy or moldy. It's a good idea to not eat rotten food, we agree. But there are other ways to prevent food from going sour. Invest in good air-tight storage containers and zip-tight bags. Always write the date on something that you are stowing away, and what it is. Many of us just have dozens of unidentified foods wrapped in tin foil that we don't touch for ages.

7. Don't trust all expiration dates

If stored correctly, you'll probably be able to get a few extra days of freshness out of food past the expiration date. This is just a guideline that the manufacturer puts in place to suggest peak freshness. Just because something is not at peak freshness doesn't mean it will make you sick. For more on expiration dates, read this.

8. Donate

Do you have a can of cranberry sauce that you got for Thanksgiving but know you're never going to eat? Don't throw it out! Donate it to your nearest food pantry. Do a sweep of your own pantry and donate any non-perishable you don't need. It's better off in the mouths of people that will enjoy it.

9. Sharing is caring

When you've made a huge stew and need help getting through the leftovers, don't pile your plate higher. Share with the community. Invite over some friends, neighbors, or family to help you knock it down. And enjoy some quality bonding time as well.

Food waste is something we can easily reduce when employing a few simple changes. And it can not only help save the planet, but save you money in the process.

For more on how to spend less on food, click here.

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.

Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.

But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.

Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.

More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.

Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.

Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

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