When the Federal Open Market Committee meets to set the federal funds rate, the decision has far-reaching effects on almost every aspect of your personal finances and household wealth.
From the interest rate you pay on debt to the availability of credit and even your prospects in the job market, they all can be traced back to the projections and judgments of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and the other FOMC members -- Fed board governors and reserve bank presidents -- who meet in Washington to decide on the central bank's monetary policy.
"The decisions of the Fed impact, literally, every financial decision you make," says Michael Reese, a Certified Financial Planner in Traverse City, Mich. "The Federal Reserve has its fingers in your pocketbook to a greater degree than the IRS."
The Fed's mission is to encourage as much economic growth as possible without raising inflation. "The Fed has a dual mandate. They want to have low and steady inflation and a strong labor market," says Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody's Analytics.