Archive for the ‘Curtis Money’ Category

Recommended Money Help books for the Financially Shy

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Helping you save money and pay down your debt is our goal here at Curtis Money. “Financial literacy for the rest of us” is our motto.

IMG_2251With this statement in mind, these three books have been personally selected by Curtis’ Help for the Financially Shy Librarian as they provide an easy to read and understand introduction to personal finance.

These books are also very inspiring!

Reading these books may very well help you with your motivation to be debt free with 6 months living expenses set aside.

- The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need
Personal Finance 332.024 .T629 onl 2010

- The Millionaire Next Door
Personal Finance 332.0973 .S789 mil 2010

- Financial Peace Revisited
Personal Finance 332.024 .R183 fin 2003

Seven Tricks to Stop Using Your Credit Cards

Friday, September 12th, 2014

frozen-credit-cardIf your debt is rising, it may very well be time to stop using your credit cards.

We all need food, shelter and medical treatment – and you may have to resort to paying for these things on credit.

But if you can’t afford to pay cash for non-neccessities (such as snack foods, alcohol, cigarettes, clothes, brews at Starbucks), it might be best to do without.

Without further ado, here are 7 Tricks to Stop Using Your Credit Cards to Pay for Non-Essential Items (including the dreaded impulse buys) from credit.about.com:

1. Lock them up.
The “out of sight, out of mind” approach might be the thing to work for you. Put your credit cards somewhere that takes effort to get them –in a safe, file cabinet, the bottom of the laundry. Keeping your credit cards out of your immediate reach will help control your “need” to use them. Some people even freeze their credit cards in a bowl of water so the cards are unavailable.

2. Close them.
One call to your cardholder is all it takes to inactivate your credit card. You can easily quiet a nagging desire to use your card by thinking of the embarrassment you’ll feel when the clerk says your credit card has been denied. Closing credit cards can have a negative impact on your credit score, so make sure you’re not closing a card you should be leaving open. However, it’s better to close your credit card and suffer a temporary credit setback than to go deeper into debt trying to save your credit score.

NOTE: We’ll cover how to use (and not misuse) emergency credit cards in a later Help for the Financially Shy blog post.

3. Shred them.
Office shredders work just as well on that little piece of plastic as it does on your paper. If your credit card is in pieces, there’s no way you can swipe it. Don’t have a shredder? Scissors work just as well. Cut the card up into small pieces so the credit card number can’t be guessed by identity thieves.

4. Leave them at home.
Take your credit cards out of your wallet before you go shopping. If you get the urge to buy something, you’ll either have to use cash or come back for the item once you have your credit card.

5. Shock therapy.
Have you ever thought about the amount of money you spend in interest each year? Or the length of time it will take to pay off your credit cards? Sometimes the numbers will shock you into putting your credit cards away for good. A $1,000 balance at 14% will take you 4 1/2 years to pay off if you make $25 payments each month. You’ll have paid $347.55 in interest by the time you pay off the balance.

Credit card statements now include the amount of interest you’ve paid so far this year and the amount of interest you’ll pay if you’re just making the minimum payment. You can probably name several other things you could purchase with the combined interest from all your credit cards.

6. Reward yourself.
Positive reinforcement goes a long way in building a habit. We use it with our kids and when training our pets. Why not use it with ourselves? Each week that you don’t use your credit card, treat yourself to something you like but don’t ordinarily allow yourself to indulge. Keep your treats on the inexpensive/free end of the spectrum so you don’t upset your monthly budget.

7. Old-fashioned self control.
Being able to tell yourself “no” is a skill that goes beyond using credit cards. The same self-discipline that gets you to work on time each morning can also be used to stop using your credit cards. Think twice about swiping your credit card just like you’d think twice about pressing snooze just one more time.

Source: http://credit.about.com/od/creditrepair/tp/breakthehabit.htm

Life was a lot simpler when what we honored was father and mother rather than all major credit cards.
— Robert Orben

8 Ways Curtis Can Save You Money

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

At a time when we are all feeling the pinch, it’s nice to know that you can go somewhere that offers you something for virtually nothing.

There’s evidence that when the economy is down, library use increases and there are plenty of reasons why people turn to Curtis for its invaluable services.

(Of course thousands of people come to Curtis even when the economy is up!)

Here are just some of the many ways that the Curtis Library can save all of us money and inspire and stimulate at the same time.

1. Borrowing instead of buying two books and two DVDs each month could save you more than $50.00.

2. Planning a holiday or a day trip? Rather than buy a map or travel guide, get one from the Curtis Library Travel Neighborhood.

3. Instead of a magazine subscription, visit the Curtis Library Magazine Reading Room (you can check out back issues).

4. Socializing isn’t always cheap, but joining a Curtis Book Group and/or the Crafters Meetup are cost-free ways of meeting people and broadening your mind.

5. You can learn a language for a fraction of the price you might pay otherwise if you borrow a selection of courses in audio format.

6. Why not take up a hobby that doesn’t cost you money? For instance you can research your family history at the Curtis Library with staff on hand to suggest useful resources.

7. There are plenty of free ways at Curtis to keep babies and toddlers amused and stimulated through activities such as singing songs and rhymes and storytelling.

8. You can pay for the internet at home or you can browse for free at Curtis library using either a public PC or the Wi-Fi.

Dave Ramsey Gives Lunchbox Financial Advice

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Playing the Lottery is not an investment. Dave Ramsey explains why…

- You have a better chance of dying driving one mile home from the market than buying a winning ticket
- Dave recommends putting the money you would spend on lottery tickets into real investments
- Average person who buys lottery tickets is below average income
- People who play are those who cannot afford to play

You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.
— Dave Ramsey

Call For Action: How to Create an Emergency Fund in a Year

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

- It’s not that hard to create an emergency fund
- Money experts we should all have 3 to 6 months expenses put away
- There are places we are spending money we don’t have to (it’s money we could put aside in our emergency fund)
- We can put together a $500 emergency fund in 6 months or less
- Look for places you are squandering money
- Save money by shaping around for prescription drugs (call each pharmacy in your area and ask “what do you charge for…”)
- Save money during lunch (eliminate one drive through a week, bring your lunch instead)
- Sell on eBay as opposed to garage sales (Examples: “clothes in her closet she’s never going to wear;” toys kids will not play with again)
- Go forth and save!

Option for Saving Money – Consider Using a Hipster PDA

Friday, August 15th, 2014

800px-Hipster_PDA

Hipster PDA

iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pros et al. are wonderful gadgets but they’re also uber-pricey and possibly even addictive.

If you feel the need to have the latest and greatest [ fill in the blank with your favorite technology toy ] — and are spending more time online than in the real world, consider embracing the luddite within and fighting gadget lust by going “technology free” (at least at home).

For example, instead of using a fancy-schmancy iOS task manager such as OmniFocus, consider using a “Hipster PDA” – which is nothing more than a set of index cards held together by a rubber band. For additional organization, you can use color coded index cards!

Instead of a calendar application, use a paper calendar.

Instead of watching a streaming movie on an Apple TV, go outside and perceive the full worth of a sunset.

Instead of reading an e-book on an iPad, read an actual factual book (Curtis has 124,261 of them).

If these sound like they could be viable options for you, you can go through each of the home computer and smart phone applications that you use and seek out "real world" alternatives for them.

Then you can sell your gadgets on eBay (or somewhere else) and bank the proceeds.

Luddite
a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology

Discover Your Barista Within…

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Cutting back on small, frequent expenses like buying coffee instead of brewing it at home can be a painless way to save money.

Even if you don’t frequent Starbucks and instead spend $1.29 each work day at a convenience store — that still amounts to $323.79 per year.

(Plus the incidentals you might be tempted to buy while you’re there such as donuts, candy bars, bags of potato chips, lottery tickets, etc.)

Instead, buy an inexpensive coffee maker (or learn to love instant) and discover your barista within.

Figure out how much money you had been spending in coffee shops (or wherever you had buying it each month) and then put that money into your savings account (or drop that amount into a jar each day and deposit it at the end of the month).

Coffee is a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your older self.
― Terry Pratchett, Thud!

What is a Debit Card?

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Untitled-3A debit card looks like a credit card and works like a credit card – but it isn’t.

It’s simply a more convenient way to pay for something than writing a check or digging money out of your purse or wallet.

You can also use a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM.

Many banks offer free debit cards with your checking and/or savings account.

When your pay for something with a debit card, the money will be deducted (either immediately or within a few days) from your bank account.

Unlike a credit card, there is no application or approval procedure for a debit card. And using a debit card will not affect your credit rating in the slightest.

Using a debit card to pay for most (if not all) of your purchases may provide you with a safer alternative to carrying cash.

If you lose your debit card, contact your bank immediately and have them put the deep freeze on it.

TIP: Think before you swipe. Ask yourself: “Do I really need this?”

Question: Are there any disadvantages to using a debit card?

Answer: Possibly.

Would you be more likely to buy things you don’t really need if you only had to hand over (or swipe) a piece of plastic? As opposed to real money?

Although there are no fees associated with using a debit card, you may find yourself spending more money with a debit card than you would if you had to write a check or pay cash for your purchases.

If you’re not careful, you could also overdraw your bank account (or go below the “minimum balance” for your account) and have to pay a &%$# fee.

A Painless Way to Save Money

If you don’t use a debit card and instead pay cash for your purchases — and then piggy bank the coins you receive in change — you will (after a year or so) find yourself with several hundred dollars in “free money” (after you emptied the piggy bank onto your kitchen table and rolled the coins).

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.
— Coco Chanel

Now is the Time to Create a Real World Food Budget

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Let’s face it, we can spend a lot of money — too much money — on food!

In his best selling book, The total money makeover : a proven plan for financial fitness, Dave Ramsey suggests that families spend somewhere between 5-15% of their monthly income on food, and he includes eating out.
cheap-meal

The United States Department of Agriculture has published a food budget plan chart for individuals and families:

  • Thrifty plan
  • Low-cost plan
  • Moderate-cost plan
  • Liberal plan

Official USDA Food Plans

Click here to view the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels.

Food Budget in the Real World

For example, a single fellow, age 49, who needs to cut expenses and lose a few pounds (or 20) could select the “Thrifty” plan and spend no more than $187.70 per month on food (which is $46.88 per week).

At the beginning of each month or week, he could withdraw that amount from his bank account and pay cash for all of his food purchases. (The coins he receives in change could go into a piggy bank to be rolled at the end of the year for a “surprise” windfall.)

This chap would need to be frugal because when that money is gone, it’s gone until the next week (or month).

Afraid of Getting Mugged? Use a Debit Card Instead

Another option would be to use a debit card; graciously accept your receipts from the cashier (or food serving person if you’re dining out) and carefully total up the costs for your food purchases.

Hang tough! Do not exceed the costs for the food plan you’ve selected.

TIP: Think cheap and healthy when you’re shopping (canned fruit is good, Doritos not so good) and never shop when you’re hungry.

NOTE: Read about debit cards here.

No body is worth more than your body
— Melody Carstairs

What is ‘Help for the Financially Shy’?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

get-out-of-debtQuestion: How do you get out debt?

Answer: Spend less money, make more money, while steadily paying off your debts.

Question: How do you do those 3 things?

Answer: Use the money resources at the Curtis Library!

Question: What are those money resources and how can I use them?

Answer: Curtis Money’s Help for the Financially Shy blog.

Financial Help for the Rest of Us

This online program has been created and designed for people who don’t have a savings account much less an IRA.

What Do We Want to Do?

Our goal – which we will work on together – is to get out of debt and have at least one year’s living expenses in the bank.

After we do that, we’ll focus on retirement!

How will this work?

Bookmark the Curtis Money page because as we will regularly post tips, tutorials and resources for saving money, making more money and paying off debt. We’ll share money saving tips and ways to track our progress toward financial freedom.

You may, after tallying your debts, find that it is mathematically impossible to pay off all your debts with the money you are currently making within a year – or within a lifetime!

If so, we have you covered as we’ll discuss the various ways you can make money from home.

Join us – You’ve got nothing to lose except your worries about debt.

How Tweet It Is!

Connect with Curtis on Twitter to be notified when new Help for the Financially Shy posts are posted:
twitter.com/curtislibrary

Need help setting up a Twitter account? Ask a Curtis librarian.

Running into debt isn't so bad. It’s running into creditors that hurts.
—Unknown

How to Live Without a Car in Brunswick, Maine

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

car freeThis Curtis Money post was adapted from WikiHow’s How to Live Without a Car

Brunswick is a very walkable town for many of its residents.

Type your address into www.walkscore.com to find your home’s “walk score” (mine is “Very Walkable – Most errands can be accomplished on foot”).

Why even consider it?

In addition to saving money on fuel, insurance and maintenance, living without a car can bring a sense of freedom (no more being tied to the responsibilities of car ownership) and can increase your level of health and fitness (as you will obviously be doing a lot more walking).

Public Transportation

If you sell your car, you will not have to hoof everywhere. The Brunswick Explorer currently runs from 6 am to 9 pm. Click here for its route. Click here for its schedule.

Consider Moving Closer to Town

If your walk score is not high enough (i.e. you live on the outskirts of Brunswick), consider moving closer to the center of town. (After moving to Federal Street, I realized I no longer needed an automobile and could not justify the costs of owning one).

Work close to home (and/or work at home)

Find housing that is near where you work.

You can also start a home business (using the resources at Curtis Library) which could in time eliminate the need for a “day job” (and function as a safety net in case your employment situation changes for the worse).

Buy a bicycle

car freeBiking is a revolutionary, non-pollutionary alternative to motorized transport. Note the bicycle racks that have sprung up all over downtown Brunswick.

(You can then join the Merrymeeting Wheelers Bicycle Club and meet some of the nicest, healthiest, eco-friendliest people on the planet.)

Take a taxi, train, rent or borrow a car

I personally have always found Brunswick Taxi to be affordable and convenient (even more so when you call ahead of time). For example, It costs me only $5.00 to take my cats from my cloistered domicile on Federal Street to the Sunray Animal Clinic on Bath Road (and I only have to make that trip once or twice a year).

When I want to visit Portland, I can now take the Downeaster (before I had to wait until a friend was going).

Shop ’till you Drop (online)

Sadly, Grand City closed its doors for good about two months after I sold my lemon yellow Nissan Xterra. I was crushed because Grand City was truly one-stop shopping, I mean they had everything!

I could have hitched a ride with friends when they were heading to — or through — Cook’s Corner but I soon realized that I could buy most of my non-perishable needs through Amazon.com (free shipping and no sales tax) and other online outlets.

Connect With Curtis

If you live within walking distance of Curtis Memorial Library, you’re in luck! At Curtis, you will find art exhibits, discussion groups, games (and people to play them with), crafters meet ups, book talks, community events, fun & educational programs for children and teens, public computers, free wi-fi and of course lots and lots of things to read.

Caveats

  • Be wary of dangerous motorists and hooligans. Walking and biking can be dangerous as some people drive irresponsibly without any thought to the safety and well-being of others. Be the very soul of caution when you cross a street (anywhere). I’ve always felt safe strolling through Brunswick during daylight hours but if I have to work late, I get a ride or call a cab.
  • Be extremely careful of who you accept a ride from.
  • Buses and trains cannot always stay on schedule.
  • If you rent or borrow a car, know what your liabilities can be.
  • If you decide to move closer to work, find out who your new neighbors are going to be and what kind of lifestyles they have.

The Financial Capability of Young Adults – A Generational View

Monday, June 9th, 2014

dependentsPrepared by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, this study explores the financial capability of millennials relative to other generations and examines differences in financial capability among various demographic groups within the millennial generation.

The study finds that in the wake of the Great Recession millennials are struggling financially — but it is millennial households with dependents that are struggling the most. It is based on data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study. (Released 2014)

PDF Download

Click here to download this study.