Here are this week’s 5 Things You Should know.
01. You can save hundreds on car rentals if you book through USAA
They give you a discount and don’t charge underage fees if you are under 25. You don’t even have to be a military member.
Basically just click through their rental car site at the bottom of the page to whichever company you want to use. If you use the link on the page, it uses a certain “discount code” that gives you a discount and removes the underage fees (if you are under 25).
When I did it I used Hertz. I just booked it on the website, and when I picked up the car at the airport they didn’t give me any hassle or ask for any proof that I was a USAA member either. I paid the remaining balance and drove off. I don’t use USAA for anything else either. Anyone can do this and it is completely free. All you have to do is create an account online.
02. FDA has labeling rules for pet food
FDA and AAFCO’s model pet food labeling guidelines include four broad rules regarding pet food names.
- The 95% Rule. Applies to products with few ingredients. They have simple names, such as “Beef for Dogs” or “Tuna Cat Food.” In these examples, at least 95% of the product must be the named ingredient (beef or tuna, respectively), not counting the water added for processing and “condiments.” Counting the added water, the named ingredient still must comprise 70% of the product. Because ingredient lists must be declared in the proper order of predominance by weight, “beef” or “tuna” should be the first ingredient listed, followed often by water, and then other components such as vitamins and minerals. If the name includes a combination of ingredients, such as “Chicken ‘n Liver Dog Food,” the two named ingredients together must comprise 95% of the total weight.
- The 25% or “Dinner” Rule. If the named ingredients comprise at least 25% of the product (not counting the water for processing), but less than 95%, the name must include a qualifying descriptive term, such as “Dinner” as in “Beef Dinner for Dogs.” Counting the added water, the named ingredients still must comprise 10% of the product. Many descriptors other than “dinner” are used, however, with “Platter,” “Entree,” “Nuggets” and “Formula” being a few examples. In the example “Beef Dinner for Dogs” only one-quarter of the product must be beef, and beef would most likely be the third or fourth ingredient on the ingredient list. Because the primary ingredient is not always the named ingredient, and may in fact be an ingredient that the consumer does not wish to feed, the ingredient list should always be checked before purchase. For example, a cat owner may have learned from his or her finicky feline to avoid buying products with fish in it, because the cat doesn’t like fish. However, a “Chicken Formula Cat Food” may not always be the best choice, since some “chicken formulas” may indeed contain fish, and sometimes may contain even more fish than chicken. So watch out for the dog’s dinner.
- The 3% or “With” Rule. A can labeled “Dog Food With Chicken!” for example, only needs to contain 3% chicken. Be very careful about the word “with” or variations thereof. A can of “Cat Food With Tuna” could be confused with a can of “Tuna Cat Food,” but, whereas the latter example must contain at least 95% tuna, the first needs only 3%.
- The Flavor Rule. Under the “flavor” rule, a specific percentage is not required, but a product must contain an amount sufficient to be able to be detected. There are specific test methods, using animals trained to prefer specific flavors, which can be used to confirm this claim. In the example of “Beef Flavor Dog Food,” the word “flavor” must appear on the label in the same size, style and color as the word “beef.” The corresponding ingredient may be beef, but more often it is another substance that will give the characterizing flavor, such as beef meal or beef by-products.
With respect to flavors, pet foods often contain “digests,” which are materials treated with heat, enzymes and/or acids to form concentrated natural flavors. Only a small amount of a “chicken digest” is needed to produce a “Chicken Flavored Cat Food,” even though no actual chicken is added to the food. Stocks or broths are also occasionally added. Whey is often used to add a milk flavor. Often labels will bear a claim of “no artificial flavors.” Actually, artificial flavors are rarely used in pet foods. The major exception to that would be artificial smoke or bacon flavors, which are added to some treats.
FDA regulations also specify that net quantity labels must be accurate (they can’t short you on the weight), guaranteed analysis of quantities of crude protein, fats, and water (water is important, as dry food often contains more than twice the amount of nutrient as canned food by weight), calorie statements, etc. Nutritional guarantees like “complete diet” must be verified.
However claims like “gourmet” or “premium” don’t have any regulations behind them at all, nor do pet foods that claim to be “natural.”
There are currently no regulations regarding pet foods that claim to be “organic.”
03. Has John Oliver got you worried about investment fees?
Has last night’s episode of John Oliver got you worried about the investments fees? You should be and you should have been before. Simply put, the effect of fees on investment can be devastating. When you consider that it’s impossible to identify those active fund managers or actively managed funds that will outperform their benchmark after costs in advance, the low-cost, lazy index investing strategy starts to look pretty attractive.
The expense ratio on my brother’s Target Retirement fund was close to 2%. With about half an hour of research and work I was able to recreate it with available index funds with a fee of about 0.1%. It’s not that hard, take some time and look into it.
It is worth pointing out that some companies, namely Vanguard and Fidelity (for their Freedom Index series), price their target date funds as the weighted average of the constituent fund expense ratios. This means you aren’t paying extra for the target date funds from these companies when compared to owning the constituent funds in the same proportions.
04. NATO Phonetic Alphabet
05. If you have a computer and internet, you can support disease research
You can support diseases research (such as cancer, Alzheimer) by letting Stanford use some of your unused CPU power.
The program by Stanford University is called Folding and it’s a system for calculating the folding of proteins. This is the key to curing hundreds of diseases and we all can be a part of it. Check out the video on the side if you want a better explanation. Keep in mind that CPUs actually uses quite a bit of power when being used.