The New Year is about to roll in, which means it's probably time to become a new you. And what better way to shake into that new and uber-productive self then changing up your schedule to be the maximally effective person you always dreamed of being?
According to the well-studied folks at Psychology Today, you're probably waking up too late, staying up too late, and your body is, correspondingly, all kinds of messed up. "Our near-constant exposure to artificial light has... [left] our bodies and brains struggling," Holly Pevzner writes for the popular magazine. Of course, if you're already pulling the 6am rise-and-shine, you might be among the high-achievers of which Laura Vanderkam, bestselling scribe of such texts as What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, told the popular news magazine, The Week, that "They rise early. Almost all have a morning ritual."
Since so many people tend to wake up later, the early riser is also placed at an advantage next to their still-snoozing compatriots. "You need to wake up before the insanity starts," Eric Barker writes for The Week. Waking up early also sets you straight on setting some goals for yourself, another common habit among the high achievers or generally happy people, as reports a popular study that appeared in Journal of Happiness Studies all the way back in 2007. But the early rise promises something even more primordial than the late years of the Bush administration. Michael Grandner, who helps direct the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Pennsylvania, dropped some serious knowledge on Psychology Today when he warned that "[Our] natural rhythms have been gravely disrupted."
All of us live in some constantly-lit times and all that illumination has left our bodies scrambling--per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most people spin over five hours a day on things like Netflix and interacting with other people but don't, according to Psychology Today, correlate that with any particular feeling of happiness or satisfaction. All of our so-called leisure time happens in such small and measured chunks that we can barely feel anything at all, anymore. But how do you plan on reorienting your entire way of being in this hectic rat-race of on-line living? Here's some tips!
- Wake up once, not a hundred times. "When you hit the snooze button, you coax your brain to rewind to the beginning of the sleep cycle," writes Psychology Today, this time citing research by another academic, Edward Stepanski of Rush University. Of course, anyone who knows a snooze button already has some idea of this.
- And on that note, do more things earlier. Jennifer Ackerman's classic work of pop-psychology, Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body, informs us that "most of us are sharpest some two and a half to four hours after waking." Do things then.
- "The average person spends 28 percent of the work week managing email," Psychology Today reminds us. Check twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Remind the working world that you're the one that knocks.
- Take naps, if you can. Sara Mednick, back in 2013, gave a TED talk titled "Give it Up for the Down State" to promote her celebrated work of advice titled Take a Nap! Change Your Life, recommended taking naps, urging everyone "to take a break." And even NASA recommends taking naps, per Richard Wiseman's Night School: Wake Up to the Power of Sleep: "[NASA] pilots who take a twenty-five-minute nap in the cockpit...are subsequently 35 per cent more alert, and twice as focused, than their non-napping colleagues." If your workplace is not as conducive to naps as, say, NASA, Psychology Today, recommends nap-like activity such as "paperwork, photocopying, or collating."
- Socialize after dusk. Back in the day, Jacqueline Olds of Harvard Medical School reports, hunters and gatherers would choose the sunset hour to gather themselves into a socially cohesive whole. "Dusk is when people had to be especially aware to stave off dangers they couldn't see…[so] it was the time of day we'd group together for safety," Olds remembers. Psychology Today recommends posting on Facebook.
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.