We've all been there: wandering through the produce aisle at the grocery store, full of hope, certain this will be the week that everything changes and you start eating like a slender rabbit.You load your cart with leafy greens and Brussels sprouts, you avoid the ice cream aisle all together. You leave the store glowing with pride, excited to start your new life as a health-guru/yoga-master who does regular face masks and drinks 8 glasses of water a day.
Flash forward two days. It's 10:30 pm on a Tuesday. You would sacrifice your first born child for a Twinkie. You search your fridge desperately, finding nothing but the relics of a past self who didn't think broccoli was an abomination. Trembling from sugar withdrawal, you tearfully dial Domino's. Later on, you drift to sleep peacefully, among a pile of greasy cardboard and shame. In the morning, you discard the wilted vegetables in your fridge with remorse, and promise yourself that you'll try again next week.
If any of this sounds familiar, you aren't alone. The Guardian recently reported that Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day, the equivalent of one pound per American. Research has found that people with diets rich in fruit and vegetables are the most wasteful, as produce is most often thrown out (obviously), followed by dairy and then meat. This means that you may end up wasting thousands of dollars a year on uneaten food.
In fact, Americans throw away around $165 billion worth of food each year, which is about $2,200 per household on average, according to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
A lot of this waste is the result of Americans' infrequent grocery shopping. We tend to purchase a lot of food at once, and aren't able to consume it all before it goes bad. A sure fire way to avoid this is by shopping more often. By stopping by the grocery store every other day and just purchasing the necessary ingredients, you can ensure you won't buy in excess and end up wasting money.
Even more importantly, you can avoid wasting money on food by being realistic about what you buy. If you're a Kraft mac-n-cheese kind of person, don't let Whole Foods convince you that maybe this week you'll be a tilapia with roasted beets kind of person. Instead, buy foods you enjoy and throw in a few healthier ingredients to try, and then work the ones you like into your normal shopping rotation.
California Academy of Sciences
If you need a reason other than money to be more careful about wasting food, then you can always count on the environment for a guilt trip. The Guardian reports that the yearly volume of discarded food in America is equivalent to the yearly use of 30m acres of land, 780m pounds of pesticide and 4.2tn gallons of irrigated water. Additionally, rotting food clogs up landfills and releases methane into the atmosphere.
So, next time you're standing in Trader Joe's, sure that you'll finish that family size bag of spinach by yourself, consider the hole that spinach could burn in your wallet and the ozone layer.
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.