News from the Reference Desk Category: Consumer

Avoiding Bitcoin and Virtual Currency Fraud

Virtual currencies like Bitcoin are the newest buzzword for more and more investors–even if you can’t exactly explain what a Bitcoin “is,” you may still recognize the potential for return. However, as with all new technologies and financial endeavors, the fraudsters are keeping pace in their unrelenting mission to separate you from your money! One place to start before taking the Bitcoin plunge is at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. As Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are classified as commodities, the CFTC is the government agency tasked with regulating them. Subsequently, they provide a wealth of information on their website HERE for consumers to help avoid being defrauded and make safe investments in legitimate companies. If you’re considering getting into this financial area, cruise over and check it out!

Get Smart About Money in 2018!

Well, the holidays are over and it’s the start of another year–and another opportunity to reevaluate your financial life and practices, woo-hoo! The good news is that it just got a lot easier, thanks to all the wonderful resources and tools available at Smart About Money (SAM). Smart About Money is one of the many programs of the National Endowment for Financial Education®. NEFE® is an independent, nonprofit foundation committed to educating Americans on a broad range of financial topics and empowering them to make positive and sound decisions to reach their financial goals. They offer tips, strategies and information on diverse topics like crisis and fraud, saving and investing, spending and borrowing, housing and transportation, taxes and more.

Click through and take a look at some of the tools like the Life Values Quiz, designed to help you better understand how and why you make financial decisions. Knowing your own habits and patterns is the first step to making positive changes in your financial life!

NEFE Has Financial Education Resources for You!

The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) is the leading private nonprofit 501(c)(3) national foundation dedicated to inspiring empowered financial decision making for individuals and families through every stage of life. With more than a quarter-century of dedication to the public good, NEFE continues its legacy of service with commitment to providing financial education and practical information to people at all financial levels, including high school and college students, folks planning for retirement, and overspenders. NEFE provides objective and credible information through its programs and partnerships. Their materials continually evolve with the changing financial climate, technological advancements, and societal trends to meet consumers’ shifting needs. All NEFE resources and teaching materials are provided at no cost: consumer and educational resources, current financial news, programs and initiatives and more–check it out at www.nefe.org today and find something to help your own financial literacy grow!

Leasing vs. Buying a New Car

Will you be needing a new car in the near future? Have you wondered what the advantages are to leasing a new car? Consumer Reports just published an article comparing and contrasting both approaches as well as a specific example that compares the financing details between buying and leasing a 2017 Honda Accord. There are pros and cons for both approaches but Consumer Reports provides all the necessary information in order to make an informed decision. The Library has a subscription to the online Consumer Reports which is linked on the Web Resources page–you will need your library card number and pin to access remotely. Please contact the Research Services Desk (847 590 4050/reference@mppl.org) on the second floor of the Library if you have any questions.

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!

Consumer Reports 2016 Holiday Gift Guide Is Here!

Access ConsumerReports.org free through our website with your Library card and PIN because they have just released their 2016 gift guide. Find the best gadgets for the chef in your life. Find out why you should buy an organic turkey this festive season. Discover how to be a winner on Black Friday. There are many articles, some with intriguing titles such as “Nothing Says You Care Like a Home Blood Pressure Monitor” and “Why Tires Go Flat in Winter.” Lots of interesting stuff!

Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Enrollment begins Sept 1

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Energy Assistanced has announced that the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning September 1, 2016.

For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local adminstering agencies and additional information about the program, click here, or call the energy assistance toll-free hotline at 1-877-411-WARM.

 

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