Archive for the ‘Curtis Money’ Category

How Much Storage Space Do I Have?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Owners of iPhones and/or iPads often ask:

“How much storage space do I have?”

Here’s how you can find that out.

Open your iPhone’s (or iPad’s) Settings:

settings

Tap General:

tap general

Tap About:

Tap About

And here you’ll find how much storage space you have left on your iPhone, which version of iOS is installed on it, how many songs, photos, & videos you have on it, and more:

about this iPhone

4 Business Magazines You Can Download for Free

Friday, April 17th, 2015

You can access the digital versions of these four popular business magazines for free through Flipster:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Forbes
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
  • Money

NOTE: Current and back issues of these titles are available.

These digital magazines, which are identical in content to their printed counterparts, can be viewed on computers and mobile devices (Kindle Fire, iPad, Android Tablets, Android Phones).

All you need is your Curtis Library card.

4-business-magazines-digital-versions

Click to Enlarge

kiplingers-on-iPad

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>>> Read Your Favorite Magazines Through Flipster

>>> Curtis Downloads Page

Reasons to Consider Having an iOS-powered Nightstand Hub

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

nightstand hubThis blog post is part of Curtis Money’s How to Make your iPhone and/or iPad earn its keep series.

If you own an iPad, here are some reasons to consider keeping it on your nightstand while you are slumbering.

You can, of course, do these same things with an iPhone or an iPod Touch (but personally I find the iPad’s bigger screen much easier to see).

Before your feet hit in the floor in the morning, you can put those first few groggy moments to productive use.

1. You can use the “Clock” application to make sure you get up on time.

2. You can use the “Calendar” app to see your appointments and other events (and also to see if anybody you know is celebrating a birthday that day).

3. You can use the “Notes” application to review your notes and tasks you need to carry out that day (that is, of course, if you are using the “Notes” app to keep track of your to-dos and projects instead of a task management application).

4. You can use the “Mail” app to see your email messages.
If you’re feeling industrious and don’t have to get up right away, you can get to Inbox Zero.

5. You can use the “Reminders” app to see your reminders (which I personally use for timed-events and things I want to generally keep in mind as I progress throughout the day and life in general such as “Think Positive”).

6. You can use the “Weather” app to check the weather forecast and see what you need to be prepared for.

How to Record Late Night Bursts of Inspiration

If a great idea for a project or an extraordinary notion of any kind suddenly occurs to you during the night, you may find it helpful to have an iOS device close at hand to capture it for you.

1. Summon Siri (your “personal office assistant) by holding down the “home” button on your iPhone or iPad.

2. When Siri responds, say “Take a Note.”

3. Tell Siri what you want her to take note of.

4. Siri will then record that note into your “Notes” application.

For additional useful things you can use Siri for, see the blog post entitled: How You Can Use Siri to Be More Productive.

Getting to Inbox Zero

Monday, April 6th, 2015

inbox_zeroI think many people would agree that it is important not to let emails containing tasks that you must carry out — or appointments that you need to keep — get buried in your email inbox to be overlooked and then forgotten or discovered too late.

This being the case, productivity gurus such as David Allen have devised strategies for getting to “Inbox Zero.”

In his book, “Getting Things Done,” David Allen relates the “4 D’s” which entail going through your inbox on a regular basis (such as every weekday morning) and applying the following criteria to each of your email messages:

Do it (if the email contains a task that can be accomplished in less than two minutes)

Delegate it (if you’re not the right person for the task, forward the email message to the person in your organization who is)

Defer it (if the task needs to be carried out at a future date)

Dismiss it (delete the email if it contains non-essential information or archive it if it contains information that may be useful at a later date)

NOTE: You can apply this same criteria to your other “collection buckets” (such as your physical mailbox and your physical inbox).

How you carry out the 4 D’s of course depends on the software that you have access to or your personal preferences.

Email programs such as the Apple “Mail” program and “Microsoft Outlook” have an archive folder that you can move email messages into for safe keeping.

You can retrieve email messages from an Archive folder fairly easily usually by way of a keyword search or by sorting the emails in the folder by date.

Mail and Microsoft Outlook also enable you to “Flag” email messages for organization and faster retrieval.

Some people choose to transfer the content of email messages into a “Notes” program such as Evernote.

If you need to defer an email message, Microsoft Outlook has a handy “Follow Up” feature that you can apply to individual email messages:

custom follow up

If your email program of choice does not have a “defer” feature, you can simply put the task on a paper calendar and/or copy and paste it into a calendar application on your computer or smart phone.

According to David Allen, everything that you need to do (or may need to to do at some point) must be captured into an organizational system that you trust.

Additional Resources

How to process stuff – A comparison of TRAF, the “Four Ds”, and GTD’s workflow diagram

Staunching The Paper Flow – Tips For Time Management

Take Back Control of Your Email Inbox Without Breaking a Sweat

Anything that causes you to overreact or under-react can control you, and often does.
― David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

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:

iphone-home-button

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”

activate-siri

Take a note

Summon Siri and say “Take a Note.”

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

ok-I-can-take-that-note-for-you

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

note-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.”

IMG_3285

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:

IMG_3290

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).

IMG_3293

After I confirmed, Siri obligingly created that weekly reminder:

reminders

(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.”

waffles

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:

siri-weather

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:

schedule-a-meeting-with-renee

meeting-with-renee-setup

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

email-to-dave-kellett

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
http://www.gottabemobile.com/2014/03/08/41-hidden-siri-features/

Siri User Guide
http://www.siriuserguide.com

Siri Tricks (and funny stuff)
http://siritricks.net

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.

Reminders

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:
reminders-app

Weather

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.

weather-app

Notes

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.

notes-app

Calendar

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.

calendar-app

Safari

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.

safari-app

Camera

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.

iphone-6-camera

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:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/201588

50 Side Businesses You Can Start On Your Own from The Simple Dollar:
http://www.thesimpledollar.com/50-side-businesses-you-can-start-on-your-own/

and from 65 Home Business Ideas You Can Do From Your Kitchen Table from Good Financial Cents:
http://www.goodfinancialcents.com/home-based-business-ideas-easy-to-start/

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:
http://amylynnandrews.com/how-to-write-an-ebook/

Instructional Design Essentials: Creating Video Training from Lynda.com:
http://www.lynda.com/Education-Instructional-Design-tutorials/Instructional-Design-Essentials-Creating-Video-Training/165443-2.html

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 Bankrate.com, 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 USNews.com
http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2014/02/13/6-ways-to-prioritize-your-budget

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.

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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 www.ala.org.

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 www.finra.org.

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 www.finrafoundation.org.