Stocks, Stocks, Stocks

In this article we will explore a brief history of the stock market, from it’s origins to it’s current place as America’s number one wealth creator. The East India Company is recognized as the world’s first publicly traded company. The East Indies were a major hub of riches and trade opportunities, merchants sailed there to trade and purchase exotic items that they could return home to sell. Unfortunately, few of these voyages ever made it home. What would usually happen is a merchant would have a great idea to travel to a far off land and purchase exotic items, however since he didn’t have enough money to do it alone, he would seek financing from wealthy individuals who sought to earn a return on their investment. If the ship sank or was taken by pirates the captain might lose his life and the financier would lose his total investment. The wealthy soon saw that it was better to spread their investments out over multiple ships to prevent losing everything, this however was extremely expensive and prevented everyone except the ultra wealthy from entering this business. As a result, a unique corporation was formed in 1600 called “Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies”. This was the famous East India Company and it was the first company to use a limited liability formula. Investors realized that putting all their “eggs into one basket” was not a smart way to approach investment in East Indies trading. This company sold shares in each of it’s ships to many people looking to spread out their risk and earn a profit. The formula proved to be very successful. Within a decade, similar charters had been granted to other businesses throughout England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company officially became the world’s first publicly traded company when it released shares of the company on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Stocks and bonds were issued to investors and each investor was entitled to a fixed percentage of the East India Company’s profits. Unfortunately an Indian uprising ended this company. London actually founded a stock exchange in 1801 but publicly traded companies weren’t legal until 1825 and by 1817 America founded what is still to this day the center of the world’s financial market.

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The NYSE or the New York Stock Exchange founded in 1817 is today the biggest stock exchange in the world, however Contrary to what some people think, the NYSE wasn’t the first stock exchange in the United States. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange was actually the first in America but the NYSE soon became the most powerful stock exchange in the country due to the lack of any type of domestic competition and its positioning at the center of U.S. trade and economics in New York. The NYSE is presently located at 11 Wall Street in 1865.

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The NYSE was founded 17 May 1792 when 24 stockbrokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement on Wall Street in New York City. Famously, they met beneath a Buttonwood tree and formed a centralized exchange for the rapidly growing securities market in the United States. The agreement eliminated the need for auctioneers who were used frequently for wheat, tobacco and other commodities and set a commission rate. The organisation made the Tontine Coffee House its headquarters and focused on government bonds. Twenty-five years later, on  March 1817, the organisation officially became the New York Stock & Exchange Board, later simplified to the New York Stock Exchange. Throughout the early 1800s, the NYSE expanded beyond government bonds and bank stocks. Advances in telegraphic communication allowed buying and selling through the telegraph. Membership increased and became more exclusive. By the start of the Civil War, securities, commodities and gold, discovered in California, greatly increased participation in the exchange. When the stock market crashed on October 23 1929, causing an 89% drop in share prices, the federal government decided it was time to step in and regulate the stock market. The NYSE subsequently registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The Securities Act of 1933 required public corporations to register their stock sales and distribution and make regular financial disclosures. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 created the SEC to regulate exchanges, brokers, and over-the-counter markets, as well as to monitor the required financial disclosures. In 1971, NASDAQ National Association of Securities Dealers, founded its own exchange, NASDAQ, which specialized in electronic trading and eventually became a U.S.-based rival to the NYSE. Today there are a little less than 4,000 publicly traded companies for investors to purchase share in. The stock market to this day still functions much the same way as the original East India company designed it’s business plan. The stock market allows companies to quickly raise money for investments and expansion, while at the same time allows the individual investor to participate in the profit of multiple companies to spread their risk across multiple ventures.

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What exactly is a stock? A stock is a small piece of a publicly traded company, so when you purchase a stock you own a small piece of the company and are entitled to a piece of the profit they earn. In the old days investors would try to buy stocks of individual companies and diversify by spreading their purchases across several different sectors of the economy such as, energy, consumer goods, manufacturing, commodities, etc… then came along the mutual fund, which was a single fund, managed by a professional who charged a fee for his management services, these mutual funds provided instant diversification through spreading out their investing across different sectors as well as different investment vehicles. With all investments the best way to track their returns are not just of actual returns but their returns compared to the average of the market, which is basically a function of the national or international economy. If your investment did worse than the average of the market or of the average return of a particular segment then it was considered a dud, if it did better it was considered a good fund and the manager would be able to attract more investors and most likely justify a larger fee, the problem is that few managers beat the average market return and the ones that do usually cancel out the higher returns with the higher fees . Enter the Index Fund……. If you are even slightly involved in the F.I.R.E community, you are probably very familiar with what an Index Fund is, if you are new to the F.I.R.E community, an Index Fund is a fund that tracks a particular index or sector of the market. Two of the more popular within our community are the total stock market index, which tracks all the publicly traded companies and a fortune 500 index fund, which tracks the 500 largest companies based on revenue and market share. The investor gets two great things, instant diversification and a guarantee to get the average return of the market. This is why index funds have become so popular, they offer a great way to invest without requiring a fund manager or constant portfolio maintenance. The great thing about index funds is that they allow the market to do what it is supposed to do. self-cleanse itself by allowing the stronger companies to take market share from the weaker companies, if you owned individual shares, you run the risk of losing everything if the company goes out of business, however in an index fund the losing company is simply replaced by another company. This is great because the economy doesn’t stop demanding goods and services just because a company goes out of business and the employees of the shuttered company will simply find jobs at companies that can afford to pay them. People are what run the economy, they create the demand for good and services and also earn wages to produce them. All over the country people meet in rooms together to devise ways to increase revenues, raise profits, and expand the business, all of this is to provide returns to you the share holder. With an index fund you own a small piece of every company in that index, so essentially you have thousands of very smart men and women working hard to increase your net worth.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I you liked it.


John Maynard Keynes vs Ronald Reagan – The battle for your money Aggregate Demand vs Supply-side Economics

In the constant battle between Democrat vs Republican it’s easy to lose sight and even interest as it seems both parties are more focused on making the other party look bad and placing blame than on actually moving America forward. However one thing we are all interested in is what they plan to do with the money they take from us each week, month, and year. I think as American’s we have become so accustomed to taxes being taken out of our paychecks that often times we fail to even look at our check stub to see exactly how much is being taken from us, even worse we certainly don’t keep track of what exactly they are doing with our money.

Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution states –  The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States. So basically the money they take from you should be spent to fund the military, upkeep of infrastructure, and to care for those that can’t care for themselves, this an abbreviated definition but you get the point of the founding Fathers, which was to limit government taxation to only what was necessary to continue running the government and keeping it’s citizens safe. Unfortunately in modern times we have a lot of different opinions of how much should be taken from us and what it should be used for. There are 2 main sides and each has very strong and feelings associated with their beliefs, below we will examine both in depth and let you decide which makes more sense.

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Keynesian Economics – Keynesian economics was developed by the   John Maynard Keynes during the 1930s in an attempt to understand the Great Depression, most economist were completely baffled by the great depression and could not fully explain it. Keynes thought that increased government spending and lower taxes would stimulate demand and could pull the global economy out of the depression. Keynesian economics can be summed up by saying that optimum economic performance can be achieved and economic slumps prevented by creating aggregate demand through government intervention and activist stabilization. Keynesian economics is considered a “demand-side” theory that focuses on changes in the economy over the short run. Basically Keynesian followers think that capitalism has it’s flaws and creates massive ups and downs in the economy, during these down turns Keynesian’s think that the government should step in and intervene by spending money and creating a false demand. This makes some sense because during an economic slump businesses close and people are laid off or let go, if the government infuses the economy with money through infrastructure building, it creates a need for the materials to be produced and the people to do the actual work, this in turn gives people more money to then go spend at local stores, which props up the economy even more. Then critics of this theory make 2 big points, one a free market will always correct itself and any attempt to manipulate it will result in greater problems down the road. Second since the government doesn’t actually create anything, the money it is using to prop up the economy is simply being taken from one person and given to another without actually creating a lasting need or supply and by creating a false demand that it will either have to continuously keep the infusing money or the false demand will collapse.

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Reaganomics –  Ronald Reagan’s economic policy was built around a few key concepts, reduce the growth of government spending, reduce the federal income tax and capital gains tax, reduce government regulation, and tighten the money supply in order to reduce inflation. Ronald Reagan and his economic adviser Milton Friedman, figured that if you cut taxes on companies and the very wealthy, while also reducing  regulations on business, they would invest more, the economy would expand, and everyone would benefit. Of course, this approach, would require cutting government spending and the services it offered, which would affect low income Americans the most. Reagan thought the benefits to the rich would eventually “Trickle down” from those on the top of the ladder to those on the bottom.

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So there we have it, two very different ideas and approaches to how the government uses the money we give them. Both economic theories were founded during extremely difficult financial periods for the United States, Keynesian economics during the Great Depression and Reaganomics during the Cold War. Reaganomics initially created a huge surge for the economy much like the one we see today. It lowered unemployment and created a massive uptick in entrepreneurs starting new companies. However it took the federal debt from 900 million to over 3 trillion in just 10 years. Keynesian economics usually implemented by democrats often times has the same effect of creating an initial surge in the economy but is dependent on the businesses continuing to pay high taxes, however the higher taxes usually eventually cause the high earners to shelter money, and the businesses to move money elsewhere, while also not investing to grow the company, which halts job growth, this creates less tax money for the government to spend on it’s policies. Both sides have operated in a budget deficit the majority of the time in recent years and both added to the national debt. So what’s the solution? Which one should we go with? Well how about a little bit of both, how about we lower taxes on businesses and give them tax incentives to spend money here in America. Lower government involvement and regulations but offer tax incentives for companies to invest in the communities they inhabit and their employees live. No matter what we do, we will always be obligated to care for those that can’t care for themselves, while also trying to maintain and improve our great country for the next generation.

Who the heck is ChefonFIRE???

Who is ChefonFIRE and what is he all about. For almost 20 years I have spent time in the hospitality industry, holding every position from dishwasher to owner. I spent years as a manager, owner, or consultant working for and with some of the best people in the industry and have enjoyed almost every minute of it:) Along my way I noticed that the vast majority of people in the industry from hourly to management worked extremely hard but had very little if anything to show for it. Having been blessed to have been educated about money from an early age, it bothered me to see so many people that will be destined to a life of had work with no end in sight. I believe you see this in other industries as well such as nursing, where the individual is passionate about serving others so much as to actually neglect themselves. One day after sitting with my oldest daughter who works in the hospitality industry at a concierge company, we were going over her finances as well as her plan to attend college and purchase a car. We looked at her savings account, checking account, the 529 college savings account, and even her ROTH IRA that she started. Later at work I had a casual conversation with two individuals about their boss not giving them a raise even after they had explained to him that they needed more money to live off of. I started to explain that he doesn’t pay them based off of their financial needs but based off of the contributions they make to the business and the value they add to it, but then it hit me, they didn’t need a raise, they needed someone to teach them about money, about saving part of their income and investing it, just like my daughter was doing at 16 these people in their thirties needed a financial plan.

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Enter ChefonFIRE. I decided then and there to help as many people as possible to gain control of their finances and financial futures. I started this blog to educate newbies to the investing world, what everything meant and how retirement was possible for anyone. So many people I spoke to believed they needed to be rich to invest in stocks, or have a high income, most were shocked after opening a 401K and contributing enough to get the company match that they barely noticed any difference in their take home pay. For many that worked at a publicly traded company it was fun to have them purchase a share or two of their company and say now you are part owner of this company, they always smiled. For anyone that has never worked in the hospitality industry, it is a hard and unforgiving industry but if you are willing to work hard and put the time in, you can be rewarded greatly. Imaging being at every party but only you are the one serving, going out to the bar every night but you are the one cleaning it up later, cooking for hundreds of people with a hundred different expectations and preferences who complain about everything, getting burned, cut, spilled on, and yelled at, all while standing on your feet for 10-12 hours in a hot kitchen or crowded dining room. One thing I always told the young cooks or servers when talking about saving for retirement was to look at the old chef or server who had been doing it for 20-30 years, they were worn down and tired looking but with no alternative but to continue working because they were 100% dependent on the next paycheck, I would say wouldn’t you rather be sitting in the dining room eating with friends at 60 rather than working in the back?

In closing anyone can attain financial independence. The great thing about it is that it’s not about how much you earn but about how large a  percentage of your income you can save compared to your monthly expenses. So even the $10-$12 an hour line cook can take steps to lower his expenses, which will automatically increase his ability to save, all while lowering the total amount he needs to retire. In retirement you won’t need to replace income so much as be able to cover expenses. Learning this puts control back in the hands of the saver and makes saving for retirement not only a reality but a responsibility, that many feel empowered by.

I hope you enjoyed this short article and thank you for taking the time to read it.



It’s football time in Tennessee….. Just how much do these colleges earn from sports?

Having personally worked for a the University of Tennessee and seeing just how much they spend, it makes me wonder how much revenue they earn in a given year? College sports programs usually have multiple sources of income such as donations, ticket sales, royalties from rights fees, sponsorship deals , and distributions from lucrative television contracts. So which teams make the most money and how much do they actually earn?

1) Texas A&M — $192.6 million

2) Texas — $183.5 million

3) Ohio State — $167.2 million

4) Michigan — $152.5 million

5) Alabama — $148.9 million

6) Florida — $147.1 million

7) LSU — $138.6 million

8) Oklahoma — $134.3 million

9) Tennessee — $126.6 million

10) Penn State — $125.7 million

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For most schools football leads the way in earnings but men’s and women’s basketball are also big contributors. As far as revenue donations usually make up the largest source of income, these donations are mostly from boosters, boosters can be large donors or anyone that donates money to receive season tickets.

So as we all know that income doesn’t always equal profit, let’s look at the top 5 most profitable schools and as you can see the top 5 earning schools aren’t the top 5 most profitable schools. (As a side note, Tennessee is on both the list)

  The University of Texas at Austin                     $97,866,741

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville             $78,073,317

University of Notre Dame                                    $63,577,691

University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus       $58,028,247

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So now we know the highest earning college sports programs and the most profitable programs, so what football coaches earn the most? The numbers below are from 2017 salaries and don’t include fringe benefits, bonuses, or other perks,

1. Nick Saban, Alabama —  $11,132,000

2. Dabo Swinney, Clemson —  $8,526,800

3. Jim Harbaugh, Michigan — $7,004,000

4. Urban Meyer, Ohio State — $6,431,240

5. Rich Rodriguiz, Arizona — $6,031,563

6. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State — $5,700,000

7. David Shaw, Stanford — $5,680,441

8. Tom Herman, Texas — $5,486,316

9. Gary Patterson, TCU — $5,0104,077

10. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M — $5,000,000


Labor Day…..What it is and why it’s important.

Labor Day is a Federal holiday and celebrated on the first Monday in September for both America and Canada. Started back in 1894 it’s origins echo back to the days of the Labor Unions who fought for workers rights, they are famous for their stance on the 8 by 8 by 8, or 8 hours of work, 8 hours of free time, and 8 hours of rest for the typical laborer. The passing of Labor Day usually signifies the end of Summer.

In the late 1800s, we entered a time known as the Industrial Revolution in the United States, at that time the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order make enough money to barely survive. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 years old were put to work in mills, factories and mines across the country, usually earning only a small percentage of the adults they worked beside.

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To make matters even worse the poorest of the American workers often faced horrible working conditions, with dimly lit areas, no access to fresh air, no windows, unsafe conditions, and unsanitary bathroom facilities. As more and more Americans moved from the farm life to the manufacturing plants eventually a movement began to rise up and demand better wages and conditions, it was at this time in the 18th century that Labor Unions first appeared and quickly began to flourish. They made a name for themselves by organizing strikes and rallies to protest the unsatisfactory working conditions and force the companies to address the problems.

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As you can imagine this was not met with praise from the owner of the factories and plants, many of the early events turned violent. One event came to be known as the Haymarket Riot, during this event in 1886 multiple police officers as well as workers were killed. Another took place in New York when on September 5, 1882 workers from all around totaling over 10,000 strong took unpaid leave and left work to gather together and march from City Hall to Union Square, this march later became known as the first Labor Day parade in America’s history. The movement began catching on across the country and many States passed legislation recognizing Labor Day as a holiday, finally 12 years later Congress finally moved to recognize it as a national holiday.

So what should we do on Labor Day? Well as American’s you have a choice, you can celebrate your day off by going and enjoying the wide array of shopping and dining options in your area, that are made possible by not only capitalism but by the labor of American men and women, you can support them by purchasing their products OR you can join a rising movement to abstain from any shopping or dining at all in order to ensure that the businesses that insist on being open on the holiday requiring their staff to work make no money and decide to close next year due to lack of sales. Of course then there is Amazon:)

Thanks again for taking the time to read one of my articles and I hope you enjoyed it and were able to learn something.


Chef On Fire

John Bogle……The man, the myth, the legend.

John (Jack) Bogle was born on May 8, 1929 in Verona, New Jersey to William Yates Bogle, Jr., and Josephine Lorraine Hipkins. During the great depression his father lost almost everything and due to alcoholism eventually divorced his wife. John grew up and attended Princeton University, it was here that Jack studied economics and learned about investing. Jack spent much of his time studying the mutual fund industry. Jack graduated in 1951 and went on to the University of Pennsylvania to get his graduate degree. After graduating school he went to work at an investment firm where he quickly rose through the ranks and eventually became the Chairman of the company. Unfortunately Jack headed up a merger that proved to be disastrous and was fired for his involvement in it. Jack learned a lot from this experience and in 1974 he founded the Vanguard Group, which has grown to become one of the well known and successful investment companies in the world. Later in 1976 Jack Bogle created the first index mutual fund. Bogle rationalized that investments were always being compared to an index or average of the market and wondered why not just invest in the index. This simple idea proved to have amazing results. First Jack realized that by removing the need to have a fund manager who constantly buy and sell stocks in an actively traded fund, that he could afford to charge extremely cheap fees to his investors. Secondly Bogle decided to make his fund investors owners of the funds which allowed him to offer even lower fees and return more money to the investors. After doing lot’s of back testing Jack saw that by removing the high fees of fund managers and just receiving the average return of the market that it allowed investors to earn much higher returns with less volatility. Bogle experienced heart problems in 1990 and again in 1996 which lead him to relinquish his role as CEO of the Vanguard Group. He left it in the capable hands of John Brennan, who Jack personally picked. Fortunately Jack Bogle had a successful heart transplant in 1996 and decided to return to Vanguard as the chairman of the board, Jack’s return caused some conflict between him and Brennan, so Jack decided to leave his role as chairman and focus on a personal project called Bogle Financial Markets Research Center, which is a research center at Vanguard.

To this day Jack is celebrated as the father of index investing and responsible for helping people all around the world build personal fortunes through his low fee funds.



Interest…..What is it and why does it matter?

We are all familiar with interest that we pay on either a car, home, or credit card payment, but what exactly is interest and how does it work? Interest is payment from a borrower to a lender of an amount above repayment of the amount borrowed at a particular agreed upon rate. There are some shady loans that have a floating interest rate, which basically means the rate isn’t set in stone and if interest rates rise so will your loan. Basically a lender is charging you a fee to use/borrow their money. The Federal Reserve also known as the Central Banking System sets monetary policy by influencing the federal funds rate, this is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans of federal funds, which are the reserves held by banks at the Fed. All major banks have to keep around 6% of assets in an account held by the Federal Reserve and they can loan to each other out of that pool of funds. Banks have to keep a certain amount of money on hand to cover the loans they have outstanding as part of the FDIC guarantee, so banks that have excess capital can loan it to banks that are short on liquid funds, so loans made from bank to bank are from the federal funds and the terms of the loans are agreed upon between the two banking institutions and then all the loans interest rates are averaged out and that is how they get the Federal Funds Rate, or the interest rate that banks are charging each other to borrow money. Based off that rate the banks then make loans to public and private people or institutions at higher interest rates than they are being charged. If you have a great credit score then you can get what is called the prime interest rate, prime rate is what’s considered the best rate on the market, however the lower your credit score the higher the interest rate because they view the loan as being riskier. So now that we know how interest rates are determined, how do they affect us?

The term annual percentage rate of charge (APR) the interest rate for a whole year (annualized), rather than just a monthly rate, as applied on a loan, mortgage loan, credit card, etc. It is a finance charge expressed as an annual rate, Basically it is the yearly interest rate multiplied by the number of payments to be made in a years time, most are 12 monthly payments. There are two main types of interest

Compound interest is the addition of interest to the principal of a loan or deposit, or in other words, it’s interest being charged on interest. This interest can be compounded yearly, quarterly, monthly, or even weekly in some cases. Basically the interest isn’t paid in full each month and the next months payment is interest charged on the unpaid interest from the prior month.

Simple Interest is interest computed only on the principal and (unlike compound interest) not on principal plus interest earned in the previous period. This type of interest is most commonly used by lenders making short term loans such as for cars, When you make a payment the interest being charged is payed first and then the rest of the payment is applied to the principle loan amount, therefore the interest is paid in full every month and doesn’t add to the next month’s payment.

If you pay someone else interest, by the time you finish paying off the loan you will have paid much more than the original amount/value of the item you financed. This is why it is so important to stay out of debt. Interest is very powerful, in fact Albert Einstein said it was so powerful that it should be considered one of the great wonders of the world. This is why you want to invest in items that earn interest for you like stocks or bonds. Now I will say that there can be good and bad debt. Bad debt would be taking out a loan for a car that is worth less as soon as you drive off the lot and cost you money to keep it running, you are paying interest on something that is constantly losing value and takes money to keep it going. On the other hand purchasing a home as a rental property could be considered a form of good debt, as long as you purchase the home for less than the actual value, (below market value) lock in a low interest rate, have enough money to cover any repairs and vacancies, and are able to rent it for more than the monthly mortgage payment. In this scenario you are taking a loan on something that gives you immediate equity, (value) should continue to rise in value, and provides income, all while someone else is paying off your loan. This is in my opinion good debt and is a way to use interest rates to your advantage. When interest rates are low it is a good time to make large purchases and lock in the low interest rates. However low interest rate environments tend to drive up the cost of consumer items such as homes because more people are in the market to buy due to loans being easier to acquire.

Another way interest rates affect us as investors are through our retirement accounts. Interest rates cause the price of stocks and bonds to rise and fall, actually just the mere talk of a change in interest rates can cause stocks and bond prices to move up or down in anticipation. When interest rates go up it lowers the price of bonds issued at the lower interest rates. Bonds are guarantees from corporate or government institutions, they are basically a promise to repay the loan at a set date plus yearly interest payments for the right to use your money. So they money you receive monthly and the amount they guaranteed to repay won’t change but since bonds can be traded on the secondary market they are seen as less valuable because now that rates have gone up why would an investor buy your bond from ABC company at a 3% interest rate when they can loan money and get 5% interest now? With stocks it’s a little different. since stocks are small pieces of public companies they react differently to interest rates. It’s hard to make a broad statement because there are so many different companies form banks, to REITS, to retailers, and everything in between and all will be effected differently by a change in interest rates. In general though a drop in interest rates increases consumer spending and makes borrowing money to expand cheaper, so that usually helps most businesses. However low interest rates can and have caused inflation and that can wear away savings, especially of retired individuals living off of savings. Rising interest rates can hurt companies that require large amounts of loans such as real estate, builders, or manufacturers. This also can cause people to make fewer purchases of large items, which has a trickle down effect on many other sectors. This can cause deflation which makes things cheaper but also devalues assets as well. As we learned earlier the Federal Reserve can change interest rates and will do so to try to stimulate an economy or cool off an overheated economy.

The take away from this should be two fold. One now that you know what interest rates are and how they effect you, keep and eye on the Federal Rate and understand how it’s movement could affect your investments. Secondly know how to use interest to your advantage by locking in low rates on large purchases for “good debt” items, and buying bonds with high yield rates while interest rates are high and companies are willing to pay more to borrow your money. I hope this article was helpful, thank you for taking the time to read it.


Chef On FIRE……..