We went shopping recently, because I needed a pair of shoes that I could wear with business-type clothes. (I only had one pair that would go with those type of clothes, and since that pair literally made me feet bleed the last time I wore them for an hour, I was determined to replace them.) I’m probably one of the few women out there that will say this, but I hate shoe shopping. Hate it. Finding a single pair of shoes that fits me usually involves hitting every single shoe store & department store in one or more malls. That’s if I’m lucky, and don’t have to go to two or three malls plus an outlet store.
So to me, even though I look at literally hundreds and hundreds of shoes, there aren’t many pairs of shoes out there that will fit. I realized recently that I have the best shot at finding something that fits me if I completely ignore price. This background is to explain how I got to this point:
We were at store number 8 or so (Neiman Marcus) and I couldn’t find any shoes in my size that would go with business clothes to even try on. I picked up a sandal at random to show my husband, telling him that in addition to white, THIS color would be ok too, when I noticed the price: $495 on sale. He started saying how that was outrageous (and I agree) and that he would never pay that much for a pair of shoes, unless they were going to last him 20 years. I actually paused and said, well, I don’t know, I might pay that much if I had the extra money and they fit AND looked good.
That’s exactly how people lose perspective: perceived scarcity and/or value for the money. To me a pair of shoes that actually fits is worth quite a bit, so much so that I didn’t completely rule out a $495 pair of shoes out of hand. In reality, it would probably be cheaper for me to find a cobbler somewhere in the world to hand make me a pair of shoes.
A strange thing has been happening lately when I’ve gotten fast food: I’ve started really paying attention to what they give me. Now my fast food is mostly limited to a chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A, so I’ll pick on them for a moment.
When I get it to go, they give me a small paper bag. Inside that small bag is my sandwich (wrapped in a second foil-and-paper bag), a couple of napkins, and a plastic-wrapped mint. If I get a cup of water or lemonade too (which I usually do) then there’s the styrofoam cup plus a plastic lid and an individually-wrapped straw.
So this single sandwich and drink that might take me at most 10 minutes to eat generates 8-9 pieces of trash, some of which is not very biodegradable at all. It costs me just over $4, but what did it really cost in fuel, time, energy, & natural resources? How did the chicken, lemonade & associated packaging get there? Where did they come from? And where does it go when I toss out the parts that aren’t recyclable? What resources are used throughout the entire process so that I could have a $4 meal?
Questions like that keep popping into my head, so I’ve been feeling kind of blah when I’ve gotten food like that lately. Not bad enough, yet, to stop doing that entirely, but I am at least thinking about how to reduce the waste. Thinking is the first step, right?
Fast food would be an easy area to reduce consumption in. Obviously eating less fast food (or none at all) would go a long way toward reducing consumption and waste, but there are less dramatic steps that could add up quickly if enough people did them. What if people started bringing their own cups, and refusing to accept the outer bags and the piles of napkins and condiments? For larger orders, maybe bringing your own bag could catch on in the fast food industry as well, the way it’s (slowly!) starting to catch on in grocery stores. It’s like we’re an individually wrapped world, and we don’t need to be.
There are many ways to save money for your future, including fixed rate savings. What are fixed rate savings accounts? Well, they go by a couple of different names depending on where you live. In the US, they’re usually known as CDs (which is short for certificates of deposit) and in the UK, they’re known as fixed rate Cash ISAs (short for fixed rate cash individual savings accounts). In the UK these have the added benefit of being tax free. Not being taxed on money is always a great thing!
How do they work?
In either case, when you set up a fixed rate savings account — like the name suggests — you’ll earn a set interest rate that will usually vary depending on the term you agree to. (The term is the length of time you agree to leave the money in the account.) They are very easy to set up. Just contact the financial institution you’ve chosen to get started.
How much interest do you earn?
The amount of interest you earn in these types of accounts will vary depending on how long you agree to leave the money there. You can find out what is being offered by visiting the web site or location of the bank you propose to deposit the money at and reviewing their information. Usually you’ll receive a certain percentage of interest each year. The interest might be paid quarterly or annually. This interest is typically more than you would earn in just an ordinary savings account. That’s because the bank knows they will likely have your money deposited for the length of time you agreed to, and they’re willing to pay you more interest for that reason.
What’s the catch?
When you place your money in fixed rate savings, you do need to leave it there for the amount of time you agreed to. If for some reason you can’t avoid withdrawing the money (such as in the case of an emergency) you will have to pay a penalty. The penalty is often a certain number of months’ worth of interest earned — even if you haven’t actually earned it yet. So, that’s really the only catch.
All in all, fixed rate savings is a good way to earn a better-than-average interest rate on money you don’t intend to touch for a set period of time. Definitely check one out if that’s the type of account you are looking for.
Sometimes we’re hit with what I refer to as the duh factor. As human beings, we’re all creatures of habit to one extent or another. This means we become used to seeing things the way we always see them. We sort of tune out alternatives or things that we aren’t expecting to see. Sometimes we just plain forget that there might even BE alternatives.
For example, we might feel like we can never get ahead financially. We don’t see what we could possibly cut from our spending, because everything is just “bills”, and we assume that bills are unavoidable in life. So we just tread water, or hope to keep from going under.
Or maybe we know that the kitchen door lets a lot of air escape, but since we don’t have the money for a replacement door right now, we just sort of shrug and figure we’ll have to wait until we do.
But then someone else comes along with an outside perspective.
“You know,” they say, “you don’t really need two brand new cars. If you sold them and bought beaters instead, you could save a lot of money. And you wouldn’t have a car payment.”
Or someone comes along and says, “Hey, why don’t you put some weather stripping around that door? That way the air won’t escape and you can save some money on your electric bill.”
“Duh”, you think. “I never thought of that.”
It’s often easier for an outsider to see solutions in a situation. So if you find yourself feeling resigned to a certain situation, why not try asking an outsider’s opinion, especially when you are trying to save money? Actively seek out the duh factor.