Miguelo Rada doesn't seem like the kind of guy who'd have extra cash. He just spent 32 years in prison, he lives in a halfway house in West Harlem, and his current income comes only from public assistance.
He uses food stamps for food, wears hand-me-down clothes and buys almost nothing. He is also an unofficial bank.
"If somebody asks me, 'Can I borrow $20?' If I have it I'll say, 'Here!' " he says.
This kind of borrowing is one way people do what economists call "consumption smoothing" – basically making spending more regular, even when income is not.
NPR's Uri Berliner is taking $5,000 of his own savings and putting it to work. Though he's no financial whiz or guru, he's exploring different types of investments — alternatives that may fare better than staying in a savings account that's not keeping up with inflation.