I'll just come right out and say it — I hate cooking. When I have the energy to meal prep on Sunday's, I'm all set but every other time I'll end up going out or ordering in. And sitting down at a restaurant can get very expensive even at the cheapest restaurants.

I don't know why but eating out with friends is even more expensive — probably because you don't see the bill adding up when you're having fun. Anyways, old habits die hard so here are some ways you can save money while being lazy about cooking.


Order your meal to go

Most chain restaurants like Applebee's or 99 Restaurants let you order to go or even have "curb stop" parking for easy pick up. It's a bit classier than a drive through and it beats paying extra fees. When you sit down, tips can go up to 30% if you're generous — and respect service workers.

However, when you pick up your order, you skip out on tips and delivery fees. I mean, most restaurants are pretty bad with service anyways so it's pretty much a win-win.

Split entrees

Places like The Cheesecake Factory have HUGE entrees — it's even been spoofed on some TV shows. When restaurants give you more food than you can eat, split your entree or an appetizer with your friends. I once went out with six friends and we only ordered four plates.

With this option, it'll be even easier to split the bill. Since everyone is sharing, there won't be any salty comments about how someone's dish was more expensive than the rest. Each person pays less than what an entree is worth and everyone walks away happy.

Find restaurants that give free starters

By starters I mean bread or chips — not full sized appetizers. When you go to a restaurant hungry, you tend to order more. Places like Longhorn Steakhouse or On the Border give out free bread and chips along with your meal.

Refills are also free so stock up on your carbs while you're at it. Once you're finished, you'll already be halfway full! Afterwards, I recommend ordering or sharing an entree with mostly protein.

Order from the promotions menu

Many restaurants will have seasonal promotions like the $10 unlimited appetizers from TGI Friday's or the endless pasta bowl from Olive Garden. Really, there's going to be a promotion any time of the year because restaurants compete to be the cheapest.

Try to find promos that offer apps and desserts too so you get the full package. If you order little else, you'll see that your bill stays low.

Say it's your birthday

Okay okay, this one may be a little immoral, but it works. Tons of places offer birthday cakes or treats when it's that special day. Telling the server that it's your birthday may earn you an unwanted song, but I think it's worth it.

This option takes care of your sweet tooth, but of course you can't do it all the time. And if you get caught, that's one restaurant off your list.

Order fountain drinks or water — or come during happy hour

Fruity cocktails and creative lemonades can quickly add up — especially if they don't have free refills. Instead, order a soda or a water. Sodas are normally two or three bucks while water is 100% free.

If you absolutely need your alcohol, come during happy hour. Drinks can be half off or even lower depending on where you go. Draft beers are usually priced the lowest so be sure to visit a place with a good selection.

But of course, staying in and cooking is the cheapest option — by a long shot too. If you need inspiration, you can try meal prepping or a subscription box like Blue Apron. Bon appetit and happy eating!

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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.

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