Archive for the ‘Curtis Money’ Category

How You Can Use Siri to Be More Productive

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Siri is your personal digital assistant available on “newer” iPhones (i.e. iPhone 4S and later models).

In this post, we’ll explore some ways you can make productive use of her (or him as you can change Siri’s Voice Gender in Settings)!

How to Summon Siri

While connected to the Internet, press and hold down your iPhone’s “Home” Button until Siri responds:



(If you change your mind about using Siri, simply press the Home button one time.)

Activate Siri (if necessary)

If Siri doesn’t respond, you may need to active “her” (Siri is a female voice by default) by…

– opening your iPhone’s Settings
– tapping “General”
– Selecting Siri
– and then sliding the Siri button to “on”


Take a note

Summon Siri and say “Take a Note.”

After Siri responds, tell her what you want you want the note to say.


You can then open your iPhone’s Notes application and see the note you just created:


Open an App

You can use to Siri to open any app on your iPhone.

Here for example, I asked Siri to “Open Notes.”


Search Google for…

Working on a project and need some quick info?

You can use Siri to search Google for the answers you seek.

In this example, I quickly retrieved the United States’ current rate of unemployment:


Remind me to…

I need to take out the recyables and the trash every Wednesday evening so for this example, I used Siri to set a recurring reminder.

I summoned Siri and said “Remind me to take to take out the recyclables and the trash every Wednesday at 7PM” (or words to that effect).


After I confirmed, Siri obligingly created that weekly reminder:


(Note: I edited the text of the reminder as Siri misquoted me slightly.)

Confirmation, please

When Siri asks, “Shall I create it?”, you can either tap the Confirm button or say “Yes.”


What is the weather?

Curious about what you need to wear? Or what the weather conditions will be when you leave work?

You can ask Siri for today’s Weather forecast:


Set a date

In this example, I’ll ask Siri to create a calendar event.

Summon Siri and say “Create a Calendar Event” (or words to that effect).

In this example, I asked Siri to “schedule a meeting with Renee tomorrow at 11 AM:



Send an email or a text message

You can use Siri to quickly compose and send a short email or text message.

1. Summon Siri
2. Say “Send an email to [somebody in your Contacts]”
3. Tell Siri the Subject of your email message
4. Tell Siri what you want to email to say
5. Tell Siri to send


These are just a few examples of how you can use Siri to be more productive (and help offset the cost of your iPhone / iPad).

Further Reading

41 Siri Tips, Tricks and Hidden Features

Siri User Guide

Siri Tricks (and funny stuff)

Putting your iPhone to productive use

Monday, March 16th, 2015

iphone 6 stockYes, to be sure, iPhones are wondrous devices that raise the bar for coolness.

But they are also very expensive!

To help offset their cost, you can make your iPhone earn its keep by putting it to productive use.

The iPhone comes pre-loaded with a number of free apps that can help you Get Things Done.


You can use the Reminders app to keep track of the tasks that you need to perform — and to remind you when it’s time to carry them out.

For example, I need to take out the trash and recyclables every Wednesday evening, so I’ve set a weekly reminder to do so:


You can use the Weather app to be advised if you need to wear galoshes or put on a fur parka.

You can’t Get Things Done if you have pneumonia.



In addition to jotting down any extraordinary notions that pop into your head, you can use the Notes app to outline projects and/or create a list of to-dos.



You can use the Calendar app to keep track — and set alerts for — the various events you need (or want) to attend.

You can’t Get Things Done if you are not where you need to be when you need to be there.



You can use the Safari web browser to look things up, find information that you need to carry out your to-dos, complete your projects and achieve your goals.



If you see something that inspires you or reminds you of something that you need to do or would like to do, you can use the iPhone’s built-in camera to snap its picture.


Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.
— David Allen

Ideas to Start Your Own Business From Home

Monday, March 9th, 2015

coffee-cup-with-penYour best hedge against finding yourself in serious financial trouble in the event of losing your job may very well be to start your own business.

If you can start a business from home and with no money down that would be even better as your venture would essentially be risk-free.

The only thing you stand to lose is the time you spent working on it.

The options for starting a business are practically limitless.

Here for example are 55 business ideas from Entrepreneur Magazine:

50 Side Businesses You Can Start On Your Own from The Simple Dollar:

and from 65 Home Business Ideas You Can Do From Your Kitchen Table from Good Financial Cents:

But if you can create something, you may want to consider creating and selling your own product(s).

Local artisan and businesswoman Maria Castellano-Usery, for example creates wonderful works of art in her home and offers them on her website and various physical venues such as the 2nd Friday Brunswick ArtWalk.

If you’re like me and you can’t paint or draw or sculpt but there are things you know how to do such as:

– upholster furniture
– repair small engines
– play the piano
– use a computer
– walk dogs
– prepare gourmet meals
– raise thoughtful and responsible cats =^.^=
– meditate
– make a scrapbook

Then you could write an e-book or create a DVD teaching other folks whatever you know how to do.

In a nutshell, anything you know how to do or any problem you know how to solve may very well be transmogrified into a marketable product.

How to Write an e-book by Amy Lynn Andrews:

Instructional Design Essentials: Creating Video Training from

The overhead to creating a digital product can be practically nil and you may be able to create one on one of Curtis Library’s Public PCs or on your own notebook computer connected to the Curtis Library’s free wi-fi.

There’s something alluring about chilling in your comfy pants while in the confines of your own home and getting paid at the same time.

What to Do With Your Extra $550…

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

save-moneyThe average U.S. household can expect to spend $550 less at the gasoline pump in 2015 thanks to both falling gasoline prices and more fuel-efficient vehicles, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Question: What would be the smartest thing to do with those savings?

Possible Answers: MarketWatch offers four ideas:
1) Use the savings to pay down debt. 2) Put the $550 into your retirement fund. 3) Put the money into your Emergency Fund. 4) Catch up on routine maintenance.

If you’ve got debt — particularly high-interest credit card debt — paying it down is likely the most important thing to use that money for, explains Kathleen Campbell, the founder of Campbell Financial Partners in Fort Myers, Fla. “You won’t get any greater return than to not pay high interest rates on debt” explains Campbell.

Putting just $550 in your retirement fund could yield you $8,000 or more over the course of 30 years. Brimhall of Ameriprise uses the following example: If the $550 was put into a 401(k) and got a full dollar-for-dollar employer match, it would mean $1,100 being invested. Assuming average returns of 7% year, in 10 years that money would be worth $2,164, and in 30 years the value would be $8,375. Even without the employer match that is still nearly $4,200 in 30 years. And even if you assume a more modest return of, say, 4%, that investment (the $550 with a 100% employer match on it) would still yield you more than $3,500 over 30 years.

Experts recommend that Americans have six to 12 months or more of living expenses in savings that they can tap into in case of emergency, but most don’t: More than one in four Americans have no emergency savings, according to, and roughly two-thirds have less than six months’ income. What’s more, nearly half (47%) of Americans experienced unforeseen expenses in the previous 12 months, according to a 2014 survey by American Express.

Sometimes we avoid routine maintenance on things like our cars or homes (or even ourselves) because we feel we don’t have the cash for it. But these kinds of expenses can “blossom into costly repairs if not taken care of,” Campbell says. This year, use that gas savings for things like car oil changes and tune-ups, regular doctor’s checkups and visits, filter replacements in furnaces and other appliances, and more.

How Much $$$ Should I Put Away?

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

squirrel One of the first steps in getting a handle on your finances is learning how to save money.

This is, of course, easier said than done.

Humans should take note of squirrels — who know how (and presumably why) to save some of their nuts for Winter.

Check out this short, easy to read article from the MintLife Blog:
What Gets Paid First? The Best Way to Prioritize Your Savings Plan

And this article from

For keeping track of your savings progress, there are some free (non-commercial) online tools like the FINRA Savings Calculator.

Freedom is low overhead.

Making it in Maine: Living the Good Life – a year-long, financial education program beginning in September

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

SMARTINVEST-LOGO-COLORCurtis Memorial Library has been awarded a $92,140 grant from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Investor Education Foundation and the American Library Association as part of the nationwide Smart investing@your library™ program.

The Curtis Library is pleased to continue providing community access to better financial and investor information and educational programs thanks to receiving a second grant from the Smart investing@your library™ program.

With this funding, Curtis Memorial Library will develop a community-wide financial literacy program – focused on helping individuals and families who want to learn simple strategies and skills to achieve better financial health.

The year-long series will feature a variety of practical, easy-to-implement educational tools and opportunities for people to access at the library, online and at community partner sites.

“The libraries participating in this grant program make reliable financial information and education readily accessible in their communities,” said Gerri Walsh, President of the FINRA Foundation.

“Libraries are paying close attention to their communities’ needs and aspirations, and can respond in creative, sustainable ways to help residents achieve financial goals for themselves and their families.”

About Smart Investing@Your Library

Smart investing@your library™ is a partnership between the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

The program supports public libraries across the country in their efforts to meet financial education needs at the local level.


Established in 1876, the American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world.

It strives to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

For more information, visit

finrafdn_logoFINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States.

FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services.

FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business—from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms.

For more information, visit

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life.

For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit

Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

Monday, February 9th, 2015

paydayMany middle-class Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

If you’re one of these Americans, losing your job can be a very scary thought.

If you do lose your job, here are some suggestions to help make sure you don’t wind up in serious financial trouble.

1. Start putting together an Emergency Fund – bit by bit, dollar by dollar, until you have at least 6 months of living expenses put away.

You may want to consider selling things you own, but don’t really need, on eBay to help build your emergency fund.

eBay Web article: Another man’s Treasure! Sell your trash & clutter

TIP: You can use the Library’s public PCs to create auction listings on eBay.

2. Create or update your resume so that you can begin searching for a new job quickly.

TIP: Visit the “Jobs” Neighborhood on the 2nd floor of the Library near the Reference Desk for books on resumes, how to write a cover letter, how to prepare for a job interview, how to choose a new career, and more.

Be sure to ask a friendly Curtis Librarian for assistance!

3. Start your own side business – New books on entrepreneurship / home businesses are being added to the Curtis Money collection every month.

TIP: “The Simple Dollar” website has a list of 50 Side Businesses You Can Start On Your Own.

NOTE: The Curtis Library has resources to support many types of small businesses.

I made a commitment to completely cut out drinking and anything that might hamper me from getting my mind and body together. And the floodgates of goodness have opened upon me – spiritually and financially.
— Denzel Washington

Tax Form/Instructions Duplication Binder at Reference Desk

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

IMG_1753Librarian Kate Wing has created a tax form and instruction book duplication binder.

It is at the second floor Ref desk – you can make photocopies from this book or use it for reference.

It is not available for checkout.

In it are:

  • Instructions for 1040EZ
  • Instructions for 1040
  • 1040 Schedule A form
  • 1040 Schedule 8812 (Child Tax Credit) form
  • Instructions for 8812
  • 1040 Schedule B form
  • 1040 Schedule C form
  • 1040 Schedule D form
  • Schedule EIC (Earned Income Credit)

Any other requests can be pulled up on the IRS website and printed for .10 a page.

For example, the 1040 EZ is 43 pages ($4.30 to copy/print the whole thing) and the 1040 is 110 pages ($11.00).

2015 tax forms

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

tax-formsThe 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ forms have arrived.

You can find these forms directly across from the Lending Services desk in the Lobby.

NOTE: The library has IRS forms for you to take, not their publications.

Forms & publications are available on the IRS’s website:

Alternatively, you can explore your E-File Options:

Curtis is also hosting tax filing assistance from the AARP Foundation – This is a free service to taxpayers with low and moderate income, with special attention to those 60 and older.

You can call the Reference Desk at 725-5242 ext. 510 to make an appointment.

AARP Tax help Appointments

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

aarptax1 001Free Tax help begins Monday, February 2nd at the Curtis Library.

Your tax return will be filed electronically. You will not need to bring any tax forms.


Mondays 10AM – 2PM
Wednesdays 3:30PM – 7:30PM
Fridays 12:30PM – 4:30PM


2nd floor of the Library near the Reference Desk.

What You Need to Bring

1. Copies of last year’s tax returns
2. Driver’s License or other photo ID
3. Social Security Card, or form from Social Security Administration for each person listed on the return.

Call to Make an Appointment

Call the Library Reference Desk at 725-5242 ext. 510

Dave Ramsey – Baby Step 1 “Small Emergency Fund”

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Dave Ramsey establishes a starting point in a financial fitness program – quickly save $1,000 cash in a starter, beginner emergency fund.

Curtis has Dave Ramsey’s books and audiobooks. Click here for availability.

Remember – It is going to rain. You need a rainy day fund.
— Dave Ramsey

Tax Forms Update

Monday, January 12th, 2015

tax formsThese are the tax forms and publications that we expect to have available at the Curtis Library (plan to see them towards the end of January):

– Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ
– Publication 17, one reference copy for each participant (Taxpayers
will be able to access Publication 17 in English and Spanish online from and, new this year, it will also be available as a free e-Pub for downloading from and viewing on most e-Readers and other
mobile devices.)
– Publication 4604 (EN/SP), Use the Web for IRS Tax Products &
– Publication 1132, Reproducible Copies of Federal Tax Forms and
– The TFOP Poster Package which includes:

o Publication 1169, Need Tax Help?

o Publication 1258, Where Should I Send This?

o Publication 1309, Tax Forms This Way Publication

o Publication 1725, If The Form Fits…Use It

These can be ordered by visiting this page.

– <> – to view and download
– <> – to order tax
products to be delivered by mail
– 1-800-829-3676 – to order tax products to be delivered by mail

Death, taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.
― Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

7 Things You Can Do When You’re Unemployed

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Just been made unemployed and no idea what to do next?

If so, here are some suggestions for you…

1. Apply for Maine Unemployment Benefits


Curtis offers professionally maintained Public PCs with high-speed Internet.

2. Create or update your resume

Visit Curtis’ Job Search Neighborhood for books on how to write resumes and cover letters.

The library’s public PCs have Microsoft Word which you can use to create and edit your resume and cover letters.

Need help saving your documents? Ask a Curtis Staff Member.

Curtis Money Books

3. Search for a new job

Curtis’ Job Search Neighborhood has books on:

  • how to prepare for a job interview
  • job searching
  • how to change careers

Use the Library’s Job Search page to get started.

You may also wish to consider registering with a Temporary Staffing Agency.

4. Get some new skills / Sharpen your existing skills

– Curtis has books on how to do most anything (search the Library Catalog and/or ask a Curtis Librarian)

– Flip through the computer help books within the Science & Technology Neighborhood
Need help? Reference Librarians are standing by to assist you

– Your Curtis Library Card gives you free access to the Learning Express Library which offers unlimited, 24/7 access to targeted skill–building interactive courses in many subjects which can be most valuable to today’s job seekers. Click here to learn more about the Learning Express Library.

– Attend Curtis’ Tech Meetups (check the library’s calendar of events or ask a Curtis Librarian)

Merrymeeting Adult Education offers adult education courses in five categories.

5. Volunteer

There are volunteer opportunities available right here at Curtis Library.

Read Volunteer Coordinator Jessica Flaherty’s blog post on Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment.

6. Start your own business

You can start a home (or library-based) business with little or no money.

For example, you can create your own product (digital or physical) and sell it; sell existing products; sell your services as a tutor, music teacher, consultant, landscaper, painter and so forth.

Whichever business you decide to start, Curtis has valuable resources for you.

7. Stay Positive and Productive!

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

– Albert Einstein

Video: 50 Home Business Ideas

Monday, January 5th, 2015

These are, of course, just ideas.

Many will not be for you…

But some may give you ideas for businesses you can start.

And, you may already possess the necessary skills for some of these home business ideas…

Remember that Curtis has many resources to support business owners and entrepreneurs such as:

– computers with Microsoft Office
– computer help books
Learning Express Library
– print & digital business resources
– wi-fi
– tutoring rooms
– and of course professional Librarians

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.
– Jim Rohn

2014 Maine 1040ME Individual Income Tax Booklet and Form

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

How do I get a Maine individual income tax booklet and a form?

  • Booklets and forms are available for download from the Maine Revenue Services website at
  • Individual taxpayers who would like to have a booklet mailed directly to them may:
    • Order on-line using the Maine Revenue Services Electronic Request form at, or
    • Call the forms line at 207-624-7894 (leave your name and mailing address), or
    • Write to Maine Revenue Services, PO Box 9107, Augusta, Maine, 04332-9107.

Maine FastFile

Electronic filing and payment services

More than 80% of the Maine individual income tax returns filed each year are now filed using Maine Fastfile. It’s fast, easy and no paper forms are needed.

Maine I-File
Maine E-File
Maine EZ-Pay
I-File Logo Maine efile logo Maine EZPAY Logo

Visit for more information.