Archive for the ‘Curtis Money’ Category

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.

8 Ways Curtis Can Save You Money

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

IMG_06141. “Subscribe” to Curtis. You can cancel your subscriptions. Come to Curtis to read the current issues of your favorite magazines. Don’t forget you can check-out many back issues and take them home. You can also access online periodical (magazine) databases through MARVEL!. (Need help? Ask a Curtis Librarian).

2. Joining a Curtis book group is a cost-free way of meeting people and broadening your mind.

3. Peruse the Curtis Kids Calendar for free programs to keep babies and toddlers amused and stimulated through activities such as singing songs, finger fun and storytelling. There are free, stimulating, mega-fun programs for teens as well.

4. Watch DVDs and listen to Music CDs at no cost.

5. Digital downloads are free with your Curtis library card – Download e-books, audiobooks and movies.

6. Use the library’s wi-fi instead of paying for expensive home Internet service.

7. Googling from home can be overly time consuming and counterproductive. Curtis’ professional reference librarians are the best search engine. They are super-sleuths at helping you find information on just about any topic you can imagine.

8. Attend one of Curtis’ community events such as our recent How-To Festival.

Libraries are our friends.
― Neil Gaiman

Energy Savers Guide: Tips on Saving Money and Energy at Home

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

save-energy-and-money-at-homeFrom energy.gov:

Easy low-cost and no-cost ways to save energy.

  • Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  • Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
  • Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use — TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
  • Take short showers instead of baths and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
  • Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  • Air dry clothes.
  • Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
  • Drive sensibly; aggressive driving such as speeding, and rapid acceleration and braking, wastes fuel.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR™ label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

A simple fact that is hard to learn is that the time to save money is when you have some.
– Joe Moore

Tips for Change E-Book

Monday, March 17th, 2014

April is Financial Literacy Month and it’s rapidly approaching!

Download the e-book to read tips submitted by financially savvy consumers.

mmi_ebook

I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.”
― E.E. Cummings

Your 30 Step Path to Financial Wellness

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Financial Literacy MonthFree Personal Finance Resources from Money Management International.

The first and most important step in developing and following a financial plan is to examine your attitudes about money. Are you ready to accept responsibility for changing your financial situation? Do you believe that you can and will change the way you make financial decisions? Can you identify at least one benefit you hope to gain by changing your money management behavior?

Download the free Financial Literacy Month e-book

A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.
– Jonathan Swift

To Your Credit: Online Video Series

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Based on the FDIC’s Money Smart Financial Education Series – These videos were produced by the Apache Junction Public Library, AZ and made possible by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart investing@your library®, a partnership with the American Library Association.

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Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.
– Nelson Mandella