5 Ideas for How to Make Some Extra Money (Using the Resources at Curtis)
December 10th, 2014
Nearly 6 million Americans primarily work from home and more than 13 million Americans spend at least one day a week in a home office.
1. Start your own business.
Visit the Curtis Money Neighborhood for books on Entrepreneurship.
2. If you love writing…
Many websites need part-time writers. Examiner.com pays people to write reviews for restaurants, shops, parks and concerts in their area.
If reviews aren’t quite your thing, ProBlogger has listings of sites that are willing to pay semi-professional writers. Over time, good writers have found this sort of freelancing can be quite lucrative. Every website has a different application process, so log on and get paid.
Curtis offers Public PCs with Microsoft Office and free wi-fi.
3. If you are artistic..
There are plenty of sites to let your arty side shine and make some money in the process.
Etsy.com is a virtual marketplace where the craftier among us can sell their wares to shoppers from all over the world for a percent transaction fee.
Café Press allows you to design and sell your own graphic T-shirts, mugs and other printables from home for the cost of materials.
Digital images of your works can be uploaded to these websites from Curtis’ Public PCs. Curtis also has a Crafters Meetup group which meets Mondays, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM.
If you have a special skill — whether it’s the ability to play an instrument well, paint like Picasso or explain calculus in a way anyone can understand — you may be able to #make money sharing it with others. For example, you could earn about $15 to $30 an hour tutoring individual kids or college students if you speak a second language or have great math, science or writing skills.
Curtis offers tutoring and meeting rooms.
Websites like TaskRabbit, Odesk, and Craigslist offer opportunities to avid freelancers to pick up programming, design, and marketing jobs on the side. Working on a per-project basis lets your balance your side job with your current one. Sites like Freelancer.com can also offer a leg up.
In addition to the Library’s public PCs and wi-fi, you can access the Curtis Library’s extensive business and financial reference section, use the Library’s meeting rooms and function spaces (some with a small fee), sharpen your skills by attending free Tech Meetup sessions, and more.
How to Track Your Spending (& Why You Should)
December 1st, 2014
The first step to getting your finances on track is to know where your money is going. But that isn’t always obvious: you may have a good handle on your monthly bills, but what about your daily expenses? You may be surprised by how much money you spend on small items—like food and transportation—when you add up your out-of-pocket costs.
Quicken. Microsoft Money. Intuit. There are plenty of high-tech ways to manage your money and help you track and cut spending. But if you can’t master, won’t use or are too frugal to buy the high-tech solutions, pick up a pencil and start saving and budgeting now with a low-tech option.
Most budgeting gurus advise their followers to track spending for several months. You can get a notebook just to record spending or write down expenses in a planner you already use.
NOTE: If your expenses include wi-fi, reading materials and entertainment, check out the 8 ways that Curtis can save you money.
The most basic tracking method involves writing down what you spend in a notebook on a daily basis. If you choose to track your expenses using a notebook, carry it everywhere you go or keep it in a handy place at home along with a pen or pencil. If you have to search for your notebook and a pen or pencil, recording what you spent that day can be — and will most likely be — forgotten.
Another tracking technique involves saving receipts from your purchases and documenting that information in a notebook or on your computer later.
NOTE: The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program is available on Curtis’ Public PCs. You will need to save your spreadsheet to a Flash drive or to a cloud account.
If the receipt is hard to read, you may want to write the date, amount and item on the back of the receipt. When you spend money on items for which you don’t receive a receipt, it is wise to continue using a notebook to write down those miscellaneous expenses.
NOTE: Just don’t let those receipts pile up! Set aside a few minutes every night to record them into your expenses notebook.
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 Etsy.com? 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!
Wants vs. Needs – What’s the Difference?
November 12th, 2014
Defining “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.
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.