Why do we honor military servicemen and servicewomen with sweeping sales in every retail department? Why else other than simply because we can. The federal holiday gives us a three-day weekend to spend quality time with friends and family in the May sun, to reflect on the lives lost in service to the U.S. military, and to online shop for a new summer grill–or perhaps a new mattress?
According to Consumer Reports, May is the best month to buy baby goods like strollers and high chairs at lower-than-average prices, as well as new computers, vacuums, or materials to style the outside of your home, like patio furniture or wood paint. In fact, looking at consumer behavior every May, it seems that Memorial Day is the holiday when we celebrate our sense of safety and national security provided by the U.S. military by surrounding ourselves with as many creature comforts as we can. It's an odd but nearly universal habit common to all Americans: the hunt for Memorial Day sales.
So if you find yourself hunting for a new kitchen appliance or lounge chair for seemingly no reason, embrace the spirit and find some of the best deals here:
For luxury linens, you can get 20% off from Parachute. Need a luxury down pillow? Of course you don't–but do you want one? Of course you do! Today's your day to sleep in luxury without breaking the bank.
For new outdoor furniture or appliances, you can get up to 70% at Wayfair. From area rugs to new garden décor, there's a massive selection of home goods at Wayfair. We repeat: You can literally find anything at Wayfair. So buyer, beware–you will buy too many wares.
Want a set of leather bar stools like a trendy stock photo of a young professional lounging in the middle of the day? A go-to store for stylish home décor that no one really needs, Pottery Barn is offering 10% off $100 or more, 15% off $250 or more, 20% off $500 or more, and 25% off purchases of $1500 or more with the code "SAVEMORE."
The stylish clothing brand is offering 25% off all clothing, shoes, and accessories for one day only! Plus, you get free shipping on orders of $50 or more. Note that the biggest discounts are for members of AnthroPerk members, but you can still get an extra 50% off sale items for today only, so you can look slightly expensive for a cheaper price.
Whether you've watched too many episodes of Friends or you grew up in a 1950s sitcom, Bloomingdale's is the classic store for shopping while bored. Now you can get an extra 30% off clothing, designer handbags, or shoes, plus an extra 50% clearance items.
Who can resist a sale at the brand that Michelle Obama proudly wore while living in the White House to show that she was an average upper class American citizen? J. Crew is offering an online 60% discount until May 26 with the code "HISUMMER."
Do you need a Kate Spade handbag? We've talked about this. Of course you don't, but you can still get one for 40% today with the code "SUNNYDAYS"–and what's more American than that?
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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 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.
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.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.