Ryan S.'s blog

Indiana Money Smart Week: Free Library Events to Make You a Wiser, Happier Consumer

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It's here! We're looking forward to helping you become a wiser, happier consumer at three programs this week at the Main Library:

College & Your Kids: How Will You Afford It? | Monday, April 25 6:30–8 p.m. With the cost of higher education going up with no end in sight, parents need all the help they can get. Learn from an expert about the various options for paying for college—including taking advantage of Indiana's 529 savings program. This presentation is geared toward parents, but kids are welcome too—Money Smart Games for Kids, hosted by the Library's Children's Services staff, will be held at the same time.

Rent Smart: Apartment-Hunting Workshop | Wednesday, April 27 6:30–8:30 p.m. If you're planning to sign a lease this summer, this is the head start you need to find the best place for you and your budget. Learn how to find an apartment at the right price, evaluate leases and landlords, and avoid costly mistakes. A local property manager and landlord will also be on hand to answer your questions.

Buying a Car: Don't Get Taken for a Ride! | Thursday, April 28 6:30–8 p.m. An automobile is a major purchase you can't afford to make without arming yourself with information first. A former car lot sales employee walks you through the process of buying a car the smart way—where, how, when, and how much—without getting scammed. Teens welcome too!

Signing up is easy—just click on the program titles above, then look for the "Register Now" button. Or you can call 812-349-3263 or email money [at] mcpl [dot] info. See you there!

Are You Ready? Indiana Money Smart Week Is Almost Here!

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It'll soon be Indiana Money Smart Week again this year, which means that starting this Saturday, free events will be offered all over the state for people of all ages. Here at the Library, the It's Your Money Project is on board too, with three programs next week aimed at helping you get smarter with your finances:

College & Your Kids: How Will You Afford It? | Monday, April 25 6:30–8 p.m. With the cost of higher education going up with no end in sight, parents need all the help they can get. Learn from an expert about the various options for paying for college—including taking advantage of Indiana's 529 savings program. This presentation is geared toward parents, but kids are welcome too—Money Smart Games for Kids, hosted by the Library's Children's Services staff, will be held at the same time.

Rent Smart: Apartment-Hunting Workshop | Wednesday, April 27 6:30–8:30 p.m. If you're planning to sign a lease this summer, this is the head start you need to find the best place for you and your budget. Learn how to find an apartment at the right price, evaluate leases and landlords, and avoid costly mistakes. A local property manager and landlord will also be on hand to answer your questions.

Buying a Car: Don't Get Taken for a Ride! | Thursday, April 28 6:30–8 p.m. An automobile is a major purchase you can't afford to make without arming yourself with information first. A former car lot sales employee walks you through the process of buying a car the smart way—where, how, when, and how much—without getting scammed. Teens welcome too!

Signing up is easy—just click on the program titles above, then look for the "Register Now" button. See you there!

Cable-Cutting 101: Try These Alternatives to Expensive TV & Movies

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PHOTO: KAT (FLICKR)

According to our friends at Consumer Action, the average American's cable bill has jumped nearly 40 percent since 2010. That really adds up over a year's time—up to $1100 for many households—but with less expensive options becoming more popular (the Library's DVDs and online videos are free, for example!), there are more ways to enjoy your favorite shows and movies without breaking the bank than ever before.

You can read more about which alternatives to cable and satelite are out there, and how they work, in the Spring 2016 issue of Consumer Action News.

Get Free Publications on Tons of Money Topics Now

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One of the Library's most loyal and valued partners in money smarts is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency dedicated to providing you the consumer with free, unbiased information on practical personal finance topics. The CFPB provides the It's Your Money Project with a big part of the brochures, booklets, and bookmarks we hand out at our events and programs—and now they're also yours for the taking in digital form, in English and several other languages.

Here are some of the topics covered among the CFPB's free publications [PDFs]: 

Es Su Dinero! Spanish-Language Money Smarts

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Despite yesterday's heavy snowfall, the It's Your Money Project joined Free Community Tax Service at St. Paul Catholic Center in offering a valuable financial resource to Spanish speakers. With help from Liliana Embriz of El Centro Comunal Latino, congregation members attending the afternoon Spanish-language church service received a number of tips on practical topics like choosing the right credit card, Social Security benefits, sending money out of the country, and avoiding fraud.

It's Your Money will also be tabling at Spanish Free Community Tax Service on February 28 (St. Paul) and March 3 (Main Library). Free literature on a variety of money topics—in English, Spanish, and other languages—is always available upon request; email money [at] mcpl [dot] info for details.

Don't Pay for Tax Prep—Free Community Tax Service Is Back This Year

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It's income tax season again, which means we're seeing lots of ads (and people in costume) trying to persuade us to get our returns processed by a commercial accounting firm. But the money-smart alternative, United Way of Monroe County's Free Community Tax Service, is more popular than ever, and it's easy to see why. There's the price—no charge, hooray!—but several other reasons make FCTS the way to go.

Talk to an Expert Featured in the Indiana Daily Student

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PHOTO: INDIANA DAILY STUDENT

People who come to our Talk to an Expert program usually make an appointment, but I was pleased to see a surprise walk-in at last night's sessions. Reporter Annie Garau from the Indiana Daily Student came by to find out more about TTAE, and it was great opportunity to share what the It's Your Money project offers the campus community. Thanks to Annie for the great article that ran in today's IDS—we're looking forward to seeing new IU faces at our events!

The next TTAE sessions are February 17 and 18. You can make your appointment by emailing money [at] mcpl [dot] info, or calling (812) 349-3263.

Suffering from Holiday Splurge Syndrome? Time to Talk to an Expert!

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PHOTO: JASON ROGERS

After its usual December hiatus, one of our most popular offerings—Talk to an Expert—is back! Our next TTAE sessions will be Wednesday, January 20 and Thursday, January 21 at the Main Library, and you don't want to miss out.

TTAE sessions are friendly, one-on-one 30-minute conversations with an independent expert in personal finance, on any money-related matter you choose. This is an excellent time to ask questions like:

  • How do I prepare to pay back student loans after I graduate?
  • Is buying a home right for me?
  • What's the best strategy for tackling credit card debt?
  • I can barely make ends meet—how do I begin to save?

No sales pitch, no strings attached! Our expert is contracted by the It’s Your Money Project to provide unbiased, practical money advice—free of charge.

So take advantage! Set your appointment by emailing money [at] mcpl [dot] info, or calling (812) 349-3263.

Good Money Habits: Written in the Stars

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PHOTO: KARNA DESAI

I had the privilege recently of meeting some of the brightest stars on campus—or the brightest minds studying them, anyhow. Students at Indiana University's Astronomy Department joined me in December for a

Making 2016 a Money Smart Year

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PHOTO: TRACY TORRES

Now that the new year is here, many of us are getting back into the swing of things—the sights and sounds of the holidays are fading fast as we catch up at work or plan for the semester ahead. One of the smartest things you can do for yourself while the new year's still new is to commit to a better financial 2016.

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