By now, most people know about the evils of single-use plastic. Many restaurants have started using paper straws, brands like Lush are attempting to minimize plastic packaging, and we're all much more aware of the plastic in our lives. But what you may not know is that taking conscious steps to reduce or even completely erase your use of single use plastics can actually save you money. Who knew helping the earth could be good for your wallet, too? Here's a list of our top three tips to reduce plastic and save money.

1. Make More of Your Own Food

Say you're out getting a smoothie, and, low and behold, after ordering, you realize your smoothie has come in a single-use plastic cup. But, if you make that smoothie yourself instead, you not only skip the expense, you eliminate that extra plastic. Of course, you may think that there are certain things that come in plastic unavoidably, like Ketchup, for example. But you'd be surprised how easily and cheaply you can make many of your favorite condiments and marinades.

2. Minimize Your Cleaning Products

Think about that bin of cleaning products under your sink or maybe tucked away in the laundry room. Odds are that it's brimming with plastic. Luckily, zero waste expert Lauren Singer says, "For cleaning the kitchen, you need three things: one is a liquid Castile soap, two is baking soda, and three is white vinegar." It's possible to get all of these products without plastic packaging and think of all the money you'll save reducing your products so significantly.

3. Carry Your Own Reusable Receptacles

Plastic water bottles and grocery bags are a major source of excess waste, and they're also expensive, with most single-use water bottles costing at least 2 dollars and many states now taxing plastic bags. Instead, carry your own reusable water bottle and canvas tote for groceries and watch the savings roll in.

BONUS: Cosmetics

Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles are a major source of plastic waste, but there are plenty of alternatives out there, such as shampoo bars. If you wear makeup, finding non-plastic packaging may be a little trickier, but lists like this one offer lots of choices for plastic-free makeup.

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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.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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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.

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