Weather you started out 2017 dreaming of a warm beach vacay or an emergency savings fund with actual money in it, there's no better time to get after your goals than February. Savings doesn't have to be a challenge, but by committing to one you'll to reevaluate and redefine what savings success means to you.

Homemade Lunch Challenge


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Everyone knows eating out at lunch is bad for your health and your wallet, but when everyone else in your office is heading out to grab a bite it's nearly impossible not to feel major FOMO. With most lunches racking up $10 bill, it's easy to spend $2,400 on lunch alone. So grab your work bestie and commit to a month of homemade meals. Your bank account will look a whole lot sweeter!

Homemade Coffee Challenge

If you're a coffee lover, the thought of replacing your favorite cup of joe with something brewed at home may sound impossible. A quick scan over your bank statements though can quickly reveal just how much that $3 cup is actually adding up. So skip the line and the extra pump of regret.

No Spending Challenge

Say goodbye to the non-essentials! By committing to the most daunting of spending challenges (literally, you spend no money), you'll be able to take a step back and survey where your money has been going. Often, the things we love are not the things we need. A spending challenge isn't permanent, but the lessons you learn along the way can lead to lasting change.

52 Weeks Savings Challenge

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The 52 week challenge makes it easy to save and watch your money add up. By gradually increasing your savings each week from $1 to $2 to $3, you'll save $1,378 by the end of the year. If you don't carry cash or are skeptical about your ability to commit to savings such a small sum of money each week, a rule-based app like Qapital can help you automate your savings so it all adds up.

Whether you try one or all of these challenges, you'll form new habits and be one step closer to achieving your money goals!

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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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