Want to increase savings and decrease debt in 2013?
Posted: January 9, 2013 at 11:05 am
Calvin & Hobbes © Bill Watterson
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your finances in order, Curtis Money is here to help!
In a series of upcoming Curtis Money Blog posts, we’ll cover how to use the resources at the library to increase savings and reduce debt (hopefully to absolute zero by year’s end).
Topics will include:
- how to save more and spend less
- how to increase your income
- how (and where) to put money aside for a rainy day
- how to deal with debt collectors
- how to find the highest rates of interest for savings accounts, money market accounts, and CDs
- advantages and disadvantages of online banking
- where to go to get more financial help
All I ask is a chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.
Interested in Teaching Your Kids About Money?
Posted: December 26, 2012 at 10:14 am
The federal government’s information site, Kids.gov, has two money-centered areas for kids in grades K-5 and teens in grades 6-8.
Both sites offer videos and games where kids can learn about money, savings, and credit.
FINRA Foundation Newsletter and RSS feed
Posted: December 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm
FINRA FINRA, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (formerly Securities Industry Regulatory Authority) offers a free Newsletter and RSS feed containing investor alerts.
These alerts educate investors about important and timely investing issues and can be delivered
automatically to your feed reader or news service (like Google News, Yahoo or Net NewsWire).
Most Recent Alerts
FINRA also offers a free financial information newsletter which you can preview and subscribe to from this page: www.finrafoundation.org/news/newsletters/
Posted: November 23, 2012 at 11:25 am
The Maine State Library offers a web portal that brings together resources to help visitors learn new skills find jobs. The portal, found here, can be accessed from home or from within the Curtis Library.
It offers more than 80 free career and digital literacy courses, webinars, and resources.
Additionally, the portal offers free access to the Learning Express Library, a platform featuring more than 770 practice tests, tutorials, and e-books on job searches, workplace skills enhancement, GED exam preparation, certification and licensing exam preparation, and college and graduate school admissions exam preparation.
The Learning Express Library includes popular video-based tutorials on Microsoft Office, Adobe products, and other software used in the workplace today.
You can access these resources from home or from our public computers.
We’re here to help! Please ask a Curtis librarian for assistance.
725-5242 ext. 510 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning for Retirement While You Are Still Young
Posted: November 17, 2012 at 10:44 am
The following is excerpted from Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future from the US Department of Labor.
Retirement probably seems vague and far off at this stage of your life.
Besides, you have other things to buy right now. Yet there are some crucial reasons to start preparing now for retirement.
You’ll probably have to pay for more of your own retirement than earlier generations. The sooner you get started, the better.
You have one huge ally – time. Let’s say that you put $1,000 at the beginning of each year into an IRA from age 20 through age 30 (11 years) and then never put in another dime. The account earns 7 percent annually.
When you retire at age 65 you’ll have $168,514 in the account. A friend doesn’t start until age 30, but saves the same amount annually for 35 years straight. Despite putting in three times as much money, your friend’s account grows to only $147,913.
You can start small and grow. Even setting aside a small portion of your paycheck each month will pay off in big dollars later. Company retirement plans are the easiest way to save. If you’re not already in your employer’s plan, sign up.
You can afford to invest more aggressively. You have years to overcome the inevitable ups and downs of the stock market.
Developing the habit of saving for retirement is easier when you are young.
Read the rest of the publication here.
Questions to Ask Before Investing
Posted: October 25, 2012 at 9:18 am
1. Is the investment registered in Maine or with SEC? If not, you may not want to invest. Equally important to ask: is the investment right for you given your financial needs and circumstances?
2. Is the person selling you this investment licensed in Maine? If not, beware.
3. Do you understand all of the important features of the product, including expenses and commissions, holding periods, surrender charges or penalties, tax consequences, and so on? If not please get more information before proceeding.
Check Before You Invest
Call the Office of Securities to check out a broker, investment adviser or investment:
Thinking About Starting a Business?
Posted: October 19, 2012 at 9:48 am
If you are considering starting a small business, the U.S. Small Business Administration (sba.gov) has provided 10 steps to help guide you through the process:
Step 1: Write a Business Plan
Step 2: Get Business Assistance and Training
Step 3: Choose a Business Location
Step 4: Finance Your Business
Step 5: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business
Step 6: Register a Business Name (i.e. “Doing Business As”)
Step 7: Get a Tax Identification Number
* For information on Maine Tax ID numbers, please go here.
Step 8: Register for State and Local Taxes
Step 9: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits (if applicable)
Step 10: Understand Employer Responsibilities (if you’re not going it alone)
10 Steps to Starting a Business
Curtis Money Offers Access to Financial Education in Print and Multimedia Formats
Posted: September 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm
The Curtis Memorial Library is providing people of all ages with the tools to make sound financial decisions.
The importance of sound money skills, knowledge and tools cannot be overemphasized in our current economic climate.
Smart Investing @ your library has a YouTube channel which features short and to the point instructional videos on personal finance and job searching.
Here for example, is a video entitled Tapped Out.
Other Smart Investing @ your library videos include:
- Smart Investing for Kids
- Using Consumer Reports
- Interview Tips
- Job Hunting
- Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck
You can access these financial education videos by clicking here
These Smart investing@your library videos (and others that we will be recommending here on the Curtis Money blog) can be watched from home and/or on any of the Library’s public PCs.
If you have a notebook computer, please take advantage of the Library’s free high-speed Wi-Fi.
If you don’t have headphones for your notebook, please ask a staff member.
21 Strategies for Creating an Emergency Fund, and Why It’s Critical
Posted: September 12, 2012 at 10:58 am
There can be times when money just stops coming in due to job loss or your business stops generating income.
Leo Babauta posted 21 easy, down-to-earth ideas for how to put together an emergency fund to help tide us through such “rainy days” on his Zenhabits.net website:
- Start small. If you don’t have much to save, it doesn’t matter — the important thing is just to start. Even if it’s only $25 per paycheck, just start. It will slowly grow each paycheck, and you will be glad to see at least a little in your savings, and will soon be motivate to try to save more.
- Payroll deduction. If you have discipline problems, there are accounts where you can have the amount deducted directly from your paycheck, before it’s deposited into your checking account (or before your employer cuts the paycheck).
- Treat it as a bill. Every payday, you have a list of bills to pay before you can spend any of your money on variable expenses such as gas, groceries or eating out. Well, add your emergency fund contribution to your list of bills, and pay it at the same time. This makes it non-negotiable, and then what’s left over is what you can spend on other stuff.
See the full list at zenhabits.net
Benefits of Opening a Bank Account
Posted: August 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm
A bank account offers many benefits for you and your money. Here are five reasons you should move your money from a piggy bank (or from under your mattress) to a FDIC-insured bank account.
Your money will be safe from theft and fires. In addition, your money will be federally insured. So, even if your bank or credit union closes, you will get your money back. At the time of this writing, the maximum amount of money that can be insured is $250,000.
Checking accounts offer many benefits. Paying by check is much easier and cheaper than buying a money order (and you’ll have proof that you paid your bills). If you get an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or debit card for the account, you can withdraw money easily or make payments at stores. A debit card is usually accepted for purchases anywhere credit cards are accepted.
It’s an easy way to save money.
Many banks offer a small interest rate when you put your money in a savings account. The interest will help your money grow over time. Depending on the type of account you open, be sure to shop around and check what fees are involved. You don’t want to wind up paying more in fees than you are gaining in interest.
Banks and credit unions generally offer their account holders free or low-cost services, such as free check cashing or low-cost money wiring. Learn more on how to avoid fees from non-banking institutions
It can help you access credit.
Your chances of obtaining a home, automobile, student or personal loan are likely to improve because banks tend to favor their existing customers. Of course, you need to manage your money well and have a good credit report first (a topic we will address in an upcoming Curtis Money Blog post).
There is a certain Buddhistic calm that comes from having….money in the bank.
― Tom Robbins
For Young Parents: Sesame Street’s “For You, For Me, For Later”
Posted: August 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm
Sesame Street: For You, For Me, For Later – This section of sesamestreet.org was developed in 2011.
It’s a free online training kit that provides parents, caregivers, and educators with strategies and resources to turn everyday experiences into financial moments.
“For You, For Me, For Later” includes a downloadable Parent and Caregiver Guide, a Children’s Activity Book, 3 Jar Labels, and free online videos and podcasts that feature Elmo, Cookie Monster, and their Sesame Street friends as Elmo learns the basics of spending, saving, and sharing.
A Spanish translation of all of these materials is also available.
“On Wednesday Elmo wanted to buy ice cream that he craved. / But Elmo didn’t spend at all. No that day Elmo saved.”
Curtis Money Featured Resource: Stop Acting Rich …and start living like a real millionaire
Posted: August 6, 2012 at 10:30 am
“Thomas Stanley has written a fascinating book that is based on years of research into how the truly wealthy live.
Stanley’s main contention is that those with millions aren’t among the nation’s hyper consumers. Rather it’s the “aspirationals,” those seeking recognition as members of the moneyed set, who are loose with a buck. It’s a hypothesis offered often, but the difference is Stanley’s research.
He has packed his book with oodles of statistics — and not just the usual numbers. For example, 75 percent of millionaires pay $19.79 or less for a bottle of wine. When it comes to a dinner, 75 percent pay $24.53 or less and 95 percent keep the tab to less than $40. This is all fascinating stuff and Stanley presents it in a very readable style. Stanley has written two other best-sellers on millionaires. It seems he’s done it again.” (The Star-Ledger)
Check availability in MINERVA or Read about this title at Amazon.com
highest interest rates for savings accounts
Posted: August 1, 2012 at 9:47 am
MoneyRates.com enables you to compare FDIC-insured banks that offer the highest interest rates available for savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs and interest checking.
Online banks are able to offer higher interest rates than “brick and mortar” financial institutions because their overhead (i.e. cost of doing business) is considerably lower.
Financial Peace Puppies
Posted: July 23, 2012 at 9:08 am
The First Ten “Peace Puppies” from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Revisited:
1. Avoid “Stuffitis” – The Worship of “Stuff”
2. Plant Seeds – Give Money Away to Worthy Causes
3. Develop Your Own “Power over Purchase”
4. Find Out Where You Are Naturally Gifted – Enjoy Your Work and Work Hard
5. Live Substantially Below Your Income
6. Sacrifice Now So You Can Have Peace Later
7. You Can Always Spend More Than You Can Make
8. The Borrower Is The Servant to the Lender; So Beware!
9. Check Your Credit Report at Least Once Every Two Years.
10. Handle Credit Report Corrections Yourself.
See the rest – p. 277 to 278:
Financial peace revisited / Dave Ramsey ; with thoughts by Sharon Ramsey.
How To Get Your (Free) Credit Scores
Posted: June 4, 2012 at 9:54 am
As related in an earlier Curtis Money blog post, a credit score is a numeric snapshot of your credit risk picture at a particular point in time. It is calculated using data from your credit files.
A higher credit score can save you money on loans by qualifying you for lower interest rates.
(As a higher credit score represents a lower risk to the lender.)
You can get your credit score from one (or all 3) of the major credit reporting agencies:
I got instant access to all 3 scores by signing up for a free trial of Equifax’s Complete Advantage Plan (which is a credit monitoring service):
The cost for this subscription is (at the time of this writing) $16.95 per month but if you cancel during the 30 day trial period, you don’t have to pay anything and of course you still have your credit scores.
(these aren't really my scores)
How to Cancel (and avoid paying)
Unfortunately, Equifax will not allow you to cancel by email. You have to call them.
Well before my free 30-day trial period ended, I called Equifax’s customer support number (866-243-8181) and told them I wanted to cancel my subscription.
The customer support person tried her best to keep me from canceling, throwing advantage after advantage of this wonderful service at me.
But I stayed firm and told her that I really only wanted my credit scores.
My subscription was finally cancelled and my credit card was not charged.
NOTE: Once you cancel your subscription, you will no longer have free access to your credit scores.
“When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.”
― Oscar Wilde