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Grow An Emergency Fund

November 24th, 2014

Life rarely goes as planned. That’s why it’s always good to have an emergency fund in the bank.

Avoid letting unexpected expenses or events lead you to financial ruin. Start building your emergency fund.

How much should I have in my emergency fund?

Exactly how much money you should keep in your emergency fund is open to debate. At an absolute minimum, it should cover your daily living expenses for three months. Six months would be wiser, and some planners recommend a full year.

Don’t feel like you have to create your entire fund this week. Most people start by setting aside a monthly amount — for example, 5% of their paychecks, or another amount that lets them build up one month’s worth of living expenses over the course of a year.

It helps to make this automatic, for example, by asking your bank to set up an automatic deduction program from your checking account to your savings account.

Reduce Your Expenses

Reducing your expenses can also help you find the money to sweep as little as $100 or month or 10 percent or more of your income into a savings account.

Set up an automatic transfer from your paycheck into your savings account every week or every month and you’ll be less likely to notice the missing cash.

Even better, once you’ve finished making payments on a big-ticket item, such as a car payment, a student loan, or your credit card debt, just shift that payment to your savings account instead.

Little expenses like your daily latte, medium-cost items like a weekly pedicure, and splurges like theater tickets all cut into the money you have available for savings.

Try a one-month “no spending” diet and eliminate everything but essential expenses to give your savings a big boost.

Browse Curtis’ Personal Finance section for books on how to cut your expenses.


Generate Some Extra Income

If going out and getting a job outside the home isn’t an option, consider finding a way to work from home instead.  Do you stay home with your kids?  Why not offer babysitting or after-school care for a few of their friends whose parents need childcare?  Are you good with computers?  How about becoming a Virtual Assistant?  Do you sew?  Why not offer a tailoring service or perhaps sell your own items on  Are you able to spot a diamond in the rough?  You could salvage & spruce up old furniture then resell it on Craigslist.  

Visit the Curtis Money sections (2nd floor near the Reference Desk) for books on how to start a home business. Need help? Ask a Librarian!


5 Easy Ways to Save Money

November 18th, 2014

Unless you get hit with a polar vortex, you probably won’t notice a change of a few degrees. You should also lower your thermostat a few degrees before you leave the house and before you go to bed.

If you head into a grocery store with no real idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll end up with a cart full of novelty ice cream products and frozen pizzas. 

As someone who has struggled to stay fit, I realize that eating healthy and staying in shape is easier said than done. But for those who are in good shape, you can save a lot of on life insurance and individual health insurance plans. And as an added bonus, you’ll feel better and have more energy.


It may sound crazy, but we sometimes forget that coins carry value. If you have loose change in your wallet or purse, you’re more likely to spend it … or lose it in the depths of your car or couch cushions.

By putting your excess daily change into a jar, you’re preventing frivolous spending. And once you have a healthy stash, you can take your coins to the bank and deposit them. More !


Even though the author may have overestimated the savings from skipping a latte at Starbucks, don’t underestimate the ding it puts in your pocket in the long run. You don’t have to entirely ban drinking coffee, but skip it as often as possible unless you make it at .

Wants vs. Needs – What’s the Difference?

November 12th, 2014

imageDefining “needs” vs. “wants” is an essential money management skill that many people do not realize they already have.

And it’s the skill that can save you the most money!

A need is something you have to have, something you literally can’t do without – such as food, clothing and shelter.

A want is something you would like to have but it’s not necessary in order to survive such as double chocolate chip ice cream, designer clothes and a McMansion.

There is “of course” no definitive Wants vs. Needs chart as these things can be highly individual.

wants vs needs

For example, you may need a smart phone for your “day job” and you may need to have Internet at home because you have an online business which you work on when most of the Wi-Fi Hotspots where you live are closed.

Therefore in order to create your own true needs vs. wants chart, you need to be brutally honest with yourself.

For example, you might say to yourself: “Do I need this item to survive? To earn a living?”

If not, it should probably go on your “wants” list.

To help you create your list, here is a printable Needs vs. Wants worksheet from Smart About Money:

Stop chasing what your mind wants and you’ll get what your soul needs.

Help with Unemployment, Jobs and Training

October 2nd, 2014

Help-with-Unemployment-Jobs-and-TrainingYou can use the resources at Curtis to get help with your job search and supporting yourself and your family if you’ve lost your job.

Find a Job

The Job Search Neighborhood is located on the second floor of the Curtis Library near the Reference Desk.

The "neighborhood" features:

  • Dedicated Jobs computers where you can search for a job and create a cover letter & resume
  • Job Related Print Resources (how to create a resume, how to prepare for a job interview, how to write a cover letter, how to change careers and more)
  • One-on-one help to establish e-mail accounts and introduce resume software (by appointment 725-5242 ext. 510).

Apply for Unemployment Benefits

You can file an unemployment claim through the State of Maine Department of Labor website.

This can be done on any of the Library's Public PCs.

Library staff members can provide some assistance with navigating and using the website.

Find Education and Training Opportunities

If you would like to learn additional skills and/or further your education to increase your chances of finding a job, there are many opportunities available for you to do so.

For example, you can sit down at any of the Public PCs and access the LearningExpress Library where you can:

– Build Your Math Skills
– Learn About a Career You Might Be Interested in Pursuing
– Prepare for an Occupation Exam
– Learn New Computer Skills
– And More!

Need Help?

As always, Curtis Librarians are standing by to assist!

Help Your Family Save Money

October 1st, 2014

You can help your family save money by remembering to do little things like turning off the lights and clipping coupons. Use the tips in the comics below to learn ways of helping your family save money every day.

NOTE: These comics are in the Portable Document Format (PDF).

You can click each image to open the How to Save Money comic in your browser. You can also right-mouse click each image and select “Save” from the pop-up menu to download the comic to your computer.

Younger Kids Teens