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Putting your iPhone to productive use

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

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…

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?

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

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.

ala_long_color-1

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.