News from the Reference Desk Category: Finance

Turn Your Passion into a New Career?

It’s one of the things we all hear so much over the course of our lives–“find what you love to do and make it your career.” And while many have managed to find ways to accomplish this, for most of us it’s easier said than done. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, or that you shouldn’t even contemplate the possibility. The folks over at Practical Money Skills (produced by Visa, and one of the partners in this year’s Financial Literacy Summit held in April to kick off Money Smart Week) have put together a few strategies and guidelines to consider HERE if you’re someone who is looking to make a change in their life and career.

Financial Advisors and the Dept. of Labor’s New Fiduciary Rule

As of June 9, 2017, a new Fiduciary Rule put forth by the Department of Labor will go into effect, potentially changing the level of accountability for many financial advisors currently not officially considered a “fiduciary.” The new rule expands the “investment advice fiduciary” definition under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Essentially, the Department of Labor’s definition of a fiduciary demands that advisors act in the best interests of their clients, and to put their clients’ interests above their own. It leaves no room for advisors to conceal any potential conflict of interest, and states that all fees and commissions must be clearly disclosed in dollar form to clients. The definition has been expanded to include any professional making a recommendation or solicitation — and not simply giving ongoing advice. Previously, only advisors who were charging a fee for service (either hourly or as a percentage of account holdings) on retirement plans were considered fiduciaries.

Read HERE for a more detailed explanation.

Two New Databases for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

MPPL has recently added two new and exciting databases from Gale focused on resources ideal for entrepreneurs and small business owners: Business Insights: Global and Small Business Resource Center. Available as part of our Web Resources and accessible to anyone inside the library (and remotely at home for MPPL cardholders), these two powerful resources offer information and help around everything from writing a business plan, market research and industry reports to company information, funding sources and management strategies. If you’re someone working to start your own business or simply looking for ways to enhance your current one, take a moment to explore these rich and user-friendly tools!

How Long to Save Your Important Documents

storing-documents

Trying to organize your important paperwork and questioning what you need to hold onto and what you can just shred or recycle? Here’s some guidelines as to how long you should keep your documents.

What to Keep for a Limited Time
– Household furnishings paperwork
– Investment purchase confirmations
– Loan documents
– Savings bonds
– Vehicle records

What to Keep for a Year or Less
– Bank records
– Credit-card bills
– Current-year tax records
– Insurance policies
– Investment statements
– Pay stubs
– Receipts

What to Keep for Seven Years
– Federal and State tax returns and supporting documents

What to Never Toss
– Defined-benefit plan documents
– Estate-planning documents
– Life-insurance policies
– Safe-deposit box inventory

For further details see http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2010/03/conquer-the-paper-piles/index.htmhttps://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/How-long-should-I-keep-records

Talk to Your Teens About Money

It’s the time of year when many of us make decisions about our employee benefits for the coming year–“open enrollment” season. The Office of Financial Education, a part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, offers this sound advice:

You can guide your children in finding the financial help they need

The financial world of today isn’t the same world you grew up in. New services and choices are being offered all the time. For your children to navigate the new financial world they’ll face, they need to know when to seek out information and how to evaluate it. Your children need practice making money choices, and they could use your guidance. At this age they may be earning some money of their own. Now, as you make benefits choices for next year, think about including your teenager in your decision-making process. You can help your teenager think about how to use information to make a good decision. If you have benefits fact sheets or Web sites from your employer, sit with your teenager and go through them. Talk through the questions your child has, and ask a few questions of your own:

  • What is the most important thing to think about for the family’s health care? Why?

  • Have there been any changes in the family since last year that could make a difference to health care? To insurance? To flexible spending dollars?

  • What could be the advantages or disadvantages of having benefits deducted from your paycheck, compared to paying the costs on your own?

  • How trustworthy is the information you receive? How would you look for further information?

You don’t have to do anything you wouldn’t do normally, when you make your benefits choices. Just by showing your teens how you approach enrollment, you’re helping them practice the decision-making process before their own paychecks are at stake. For more ideas, visit www.consumerfinance.gov/parents.

Free Financial Literacy Programs

Summer is almost over, but the need for money smarts will never end! With that in mind, here are a few free, prepackaged programs and curricula selected and compiled by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) designed to help you improve your own financial literacy and develop the best personal strategy for saving, investing and more.

Elementary School Economics
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Personal finance and economic lessons are paired with popular children’s books. Librarians can read the book to the children and follow the reading with discussions about money decisions, saving, spending, choices, needs and wants and much more. Includes lesson plans and handouts.

Econlowdown
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
An online learning platform for more than 25 courses about money, financial decisions and economics. Register free to access the full list of courses. Instructors can select courses for their online “classrooms,” hold online discussions with classroom students, view progress, and present poll questions or surveys.

Money Smart for Older Americans
CFPB, FDIC
An instructor-led training developed jointly by FDIC and CFPB, this module provides awareness among older adults and their caregivers about how to prevent elder financial exploitation and to encourage advance planning and informed financial decision-making.

Thrive by 5
Credit Union National Association Inc.
Simple activities and other resources that are parent-and-child tested and meant to give you ideas for: Teaching how money works and what it can do, talking about how your family uses money, and modeling good money management.

Summertime tips for financial literacy

Summer is finally here, and between planning your holidays and wondering when you should turn on the AC, I bet the last thing you’re thinking about is FINANCIAL LITERACY! However, this is actually the BEST time to start figuring out a plan to keep your life cruising along while planning for the future (ok, actually ANYTIME  is a perfect time to work on financial literacy, but why not start now anyway?).

There are many resources that can help, one of which is Feedthepig.org. Assembled by the American Institute of CPAs (and they oughta know!), Feedthepig.org is a great site that offers tips and strategies for putting together a financial plan, including how to create a budget, review your expenses, manage saving, retirement, and student loan debt, and much more. It’s easy to use and fairly straightforward—the real trick, as always, is ACTUALLY DOING IT. Mint.com is another helpful site. Mint pulls all your financial accounts into one place. Set a budget, track your goals, stay on top of your finances. See what’s happening with all your accounts – checking, savings, investments, retirement – at any moment of the day. There’s even a free mobile app to help you stay connected on-the-go. If you’re a student fresh out of college and looking at a mountain (or a molehill) of student loans, you should check out YouCanDealWithIt.com. YouCanDealWithIt.com provides practical and easy-to-understand advice on how to deal with common financial situations facing today’s college students and recent graduates, such as: understanding student aid, including the repayment of student loans, learning effective money management, including setting a budget, and dealing with the dangers of credit cards while enjoying the benefits. In addition to being a resource for students, this website also provides information and tools for parents and college financial aid administrators to help them communicate accurate and effective financial advice to their prospective students, current students, and graduates. So bite the bullet and get started on the road toward better financial literacy today—it may be tough at first, but you’ll be glad you did!

Counting Campaign Dollars

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) administers and enforces the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) – the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The FEC is an independent regulatory agency and is assigned to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.

You can retrieve detailed lists of contributors based on type (individual or organization) and search for summary financial information about candidate campaigns, party committees, and other political committees.

Among thousands of data tables in the Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal is the Table of Contribution Limits 2011-2012

Historical data is available from the FEC’s Public Records Office (800) 424-9530 (press 2 when prompted) or e-mail pubrec@fec.gov.

What’s FRED?

What is FRED? Short for Federal Reserve Economic Data, FRED is an online database consisting of more than 55,000 economic data time series from 45 national, international, public, and private sources.

FRED, created in 1990 and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, combines data with a tools that help us understand and display economic data.

The categories that can be searched include: Money, Banking & Finance; Population, Employment & Labor Markets; Production & Business Activity; Price Indexes; International and Regional Data.

Interested in State Spending?

The Illinois comptroller’s office has launched a data website that gives users a daily snapshot of the state’s finances, employee salaries and contracts.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka unveiled what her office calls “The Ledger” on Monday. She says it’s a user-friendly site that sets a new standard for transparency.
Topinka says much of the information on the new site was already available online, but it hasn’t been pulled together in one place or hasn’t been complete