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Maine Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

January 13th, 2014

heating assistanceThe Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (commonly called LIHEAP or HEAP) provides money to low income homeowners and renters to help pay heating costs.

Eleven Community Action Programs distribute the funds throughout Maine, in most cases directly to the fuel vendors.

Household Size* Maximum Income Level (Per Year)
1 $16,755
2 $22,695
3 $28,635
4 $34,575
5 $40,515
6 $46,455
7 $52,395
8 $58,335

*For households with more than eight people, add $5,940 per additional person.

The Opportunity Alliance

Contact your local Community Action Program (CAP) agency to apply:
The Opportunity Alliance
Phone: 207-553-5800
Toll Free: 800-698-4959
TTY: 207-874-1013

NOTE: If you need assistance accessing and applying for any and all of the benefits that Maine residents are entitled to – please ask a Curtis Librarian.

FINRA Financial Literacy Quiz

June 18th, 2013

Take the Take the Financial Literacy Quiz and see how you compare to the state or national results.

5 Ways to Supplement Your Income Using Library Resources

May 21st, 2013

Contemporary public libraries are not just about books, music and movies.

You can also use the resources at Curtis to improve your financial situation.

  • Search the library catalog for books on how to start a home or online business. Need help? Ask a reference librarian.
  • Make yourself more marketable in the job market by gaining additional computer skills and/or preparing for examinations. Need help? Ask a reference librarian.
  • Check out a book on How to sell on eBay. Need help? Ask a reference librarian.
  • Do you have a story to tell? Search the library catalog for books on self-publishing. Search MARVEL! for articles on self-publishing. Need help? Ask a reference librarian.
  • Use the library’s job search computers to search for a 2nd job and to update your resume. Need help? Ask a reference librarian.

In addition to providing guided access to the information and technical know-how necessary to make money by starting a business, selling on eBay, self-publishing a book and/or acquiring a second job, Curtis also provides public PCs, printers and free Wi-Fi.

Need help with the computers?

Curtis librarians are often able to provide assistance with basic computer tasks such as editing and formatting resumes, exporting Word documents as PDFs (necessary for self-publishing) and uploading digital photos (recommended for creating eBay auctions).

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.

― Anne Herbert

How to Select a Financial Institution

April 19th, 2013

curtis money blog post imageDespite the fact that online banks tend to offer more competitive rates of interest than “brick and mortar” banks, you may prefer — or may also have need for — a physical bank that has “real” people that can help you with your financial needs.

Here are some important factors to consider:

Accessibility: Is the financial institution close to your home, school, work, etc.? How convenient are its hours? Other accessibility factors could include: ample parking, a drive-up window, automated teller machines (ATMs), outlying branches, internet banking, bill paying services and mobile banking.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): When shopping for consumer loans for the purchase of items like cars, boats, and homes, it pays to find the lender offering the lowest APR. The difference of ½ of one percent on a mortgage loan can equal thousands of dollars of savings over the term of that loan.

Annual Percentage Yield (APY): The term Annual Percentage Yield (APY) represents the, percentage rate reflecting the total amount of interest paid on an account, based on the interest rate, and the frequency of compounding for a 365 day period. APYs make comparison shopping for savings accounts and CD’s much easier. Simply select the highest yield or APY.

Service: If you already have an account ask yourself, “Are the employees of the financial institution friendly? Professional? Knowledgeable? Accurate? Do I waste too much time in long teller lines?” For comparisons, ask friends and relatives about the service quality at their financial institution.

Service Charges: These fees vary widely from institution to institution! Savings accounts can have minimum balance requirements, monthly fees for not keeping that balance, or no fees/balance requirements at all! Checking accounts may have monthly fees, per check fees for items both written and deposited, overdraft charges for “bouncing” checks, etc. There may be fees for ATM transaction, bill paying services or mobile banking transactions.

Source: Maine Bureau of Financial Institutions’ Consumer Outreach Program

Pros and Cons of Online Banking – Part 2

April 8th, 2013

online bankingAs related in a previous Curtis Money Blog post, online banks such as Ally offer higher rates of interest than traditional “brick and mortar” banks as well as other advantages such as interest-bearing checking accounts with no minimum balances.

But are there any drawbacks to banking online?

1) There won’t be a physical person you can talk in case of a problem.

2) Funds that you transfer from a “brick and mortar” bank will not be available for up to 5 business days.

3) You can’t deposit cash — and certainly not rolled up coins — into an online bank account.

4) You can deposit a check directly into an online bank account but you would need to use a computer or camera-equipped mobile device to do so.

5) You don’t need to own your own computer (or internet-enabled mobile device) to bank online but you would need to be wary of shoulder surfers when you access any private information while using a public computer.