According to the U.S. Census, average commute time has been on the rise, from nearly 22 minutes in 1980 to 26 minutes by 2016. But that's nothing to some of us who spend 1, 2, or even 3 or more hours getting from home to office everyday. Commuting is a major time suck, prompting stress, burdensome logistics, and, some studies show, could contribute to rising blood pressure, a poor sleep schedule, risk for depression, and not to mention, aches and pains.
But most people commute because they have to. They either can't afford housing in the vicinity of their office, or are bound by family. How do we know when a commute is too long? Is it better to move closer to work, or to get a new job entirely? We say, neither. If you like your job, there are ways to combat the commute and use it for good.
1. Consider mass transportation over driving.
We know—if you have a car, you're probably going to want to use it. While it's nice to have that space to yourself, driving can cause a series of adverse effects for you and other drivers. First, while driving, people often get distracted. For those of us with long commutes on boring highways, our minds tend to wander, or worse, completely shut down. Driving while drowsy is just as bad as, if not worse than, driving while drunk. Driving requires all of your attention, and taking mass transportation will allow you to get a few extra minutes of sleep, listen to an audiobook, or do that crossword puzzle. It's also less expensive and better for the environment, even if you do have to deal with people sitting next to you.
2. If you're ambitious, ride your bike!
Obviously, if you have highways and bridges to traverse, riding your bike might not be a great idea. Also, heavy sweaters, consider if you have access to a shower. But if your path is fairly straightforward and quick, riding your bike can be a great way to get out extra aggression, increase endorphins, and feel energized before your day in the office even begins. Plus, you can feel free to skip the gym. Business Insider agrees.
3. Make your commute time you-time.
With a little creativity, you can find so many ways to make your commute more fun and exciting. Make it a time for you (within reason—we don't mean bring a massage therapist on the train next to you). Most importantly, it is not a time you need to be working. Save that for the office, if at all possible. Your commute time should be spent reading a book, watching a show, or doing anything that can take you out of the everyday humdrum of life. Listen to podcasts or write a short story or haiku! The train is your creative oyster.
You commute doesn't have to be the bane of your daily existence. For more tips on how to make your commute a lot more soothing, check this out!
- 10 Things Your Commute Does to Your Body | TIME ›
- Commuting: "The Stress that Doesn't Pay" | Psychology Today ›
- Commuting for more than 20 minutes makes you 'stressed and cynical' ›
- Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress ... ›
- 10 Ways to De-Stress Your Commute ›
- Why your commute is bad for you - CNN.com ›
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.