News from the Reference Desk Category: Economic

December is National Write a Business Plan Month

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, budding small business owner or seasoned veteran of owning your own business, one thing you’ll definitely appreciate is the importance of having a solid business plan. Just in time for December–National Write a Business Plan Month–MPPL is here to help. Check out our collection for books on writing business plans, or dive right in by accessing Gale Small Business Builder from our list of web resources! GSBB is a user-friendly database that walks you through a step-by-step process for writing a business plan. It even works in tandem with related Gale Business databases to help you create a comprehensive plan designed for whatever your business, from retail to consulting and beyond. Try it this month and check out this video tutorial!

Does Your Business Have a Disaster Recovery Plan?

Even with ample warning, no business owner can truly anticipate the extent to which a disaster may impeded their business’ ability to get back to normal after the crisis is over. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), up to 60% of small businesses never reopen their doors after a disaster. One way to improve the odds is by having a Disaster Recovery Plan. Read more about it and download a Disaster Recovery Plan template created by experts at Purdue University Global HERE.

Get Help from the Small Business Administration

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur with a great idea, you may be looking for resources to help answer some of the many questions you most likely have. Well, the Mount Prospect Public library is here to help–with a little assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA)! The SBA is the government agency tasked with providing information and programs dedicated to assisting small businesses, and one of the best is their yearly Small Business Resource Guide. Inside you’ll find info on everything from how to start a business and writing a business plan to programs designed to help veterans and native Americans, as well as funding sources. Just click above or HERE to get started, or grab a paper copy from the Business Resource Center behind the Research desk. And if you need help navigating this or other business resources available at the library, MPPL Business Reference Joe Collier is available for one-on-one reference appointments–just email or call the library to set one up!

Protecting Seniors from Scams in Assisted Living

Financial fraud and exploitation of seniors seems even more rampant than ever. This population, more vulnerable than others due to an uneasy relationship to rapidly changing technology in the internet age, is often targeted by those unscrupulous folk looking for an easily duped victim. While most of us undoubtedly do our best to protect our loved ones close to us, what happens when they’re no longer as much under our wing? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is here to help, with a handy manual designed to offer tips and strategies for caregivers and others responsible for the safety and well-being of those residing in assisted living facilities. Protecting residents from financial exploitation: A manual for assisted living and nursing facilities is published by the CFPB and provides practical advice on how to help protect seniors from falling victim to common scams or fraudulent schemes. Some of the most common include:

  • -The resident receives news about a prize or other windfall that requires payment of fees or taxes up front.
    -The resident is pressured to keep good news a secret until a transaction is complete or risk losing out on this one-time opportunity.
    -A caller constantly seeks more information and pressures the resident to comply.
    -A third party claims to be from a government agency, financial institution or other entity and asks for information that they should already have. A resident receives a lot of mail or email for sweepstakes, contests or other sources suggesting that he or she has already been scammed.

Review and download your copy today, and join the fight to protect our seniors!

Livability Index

In June 2018 AARP released its Livability Index which is a tool of the AARP Livable Communities program. This index rates every U. S. city, town and neighborhood in seven categories.  The categories include Health, Housing, Engagement, Opportunity, Environment, Neighborhoods and Transportation. The data used to compile the ratings comes from 50 sources. Mount Prospect’s rate is 53. The Livability Index is a great source for people who are moving, planning a retirement location or just for those curious about how neighboring communities compare.

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!

Investing in Illinois

Did you know that the Illinois Treasurer serves as the state’s chief investment officer? It invests approximately $25 billion on behalf of the state, units of local government, and families saving for college. Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs maintains, however, “that we must also invest in people. The best way to do that is to provide people the tools to invest in themselves.”

One way is to capitalize local banks and lending institutions. The Treasurer’s office provides money at below‑market rates in return for their commitment to loan that money to individuals and businesses trying to better themselves and, by extension, their community. Farmers are familiar with their popular Ag Invest program which has provided more than $1 billion in loans over the years. Some homeowners are familiar with the Finally Home program that helps homebuyers who barely miss qualifying for a conventional mortgage. This year, it has added a new program to the portfolio to help small businesses still wading through the ripple effects of the recession. The Community Uplift Program commits $500 million in new money to flow through local banking institutions to help individuals obtain loans at below-market rates to fund business growth or expansion. The program provides capital in a manner that supports community development while meeting primary investment objectives of safety, liquidity, and return on investment.

Currently, 300 lending institutions are qualified to participate. Growing the number of institutions willing to participate in just one of these loan programs will help strengthen Illinois. If you are a business owner, farmer, or potential homeowner, click here for more information. Bankers and other lending institutions can click here.

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!

When Will Tax Cuts Start?

President Trump is poised to sign the recently passed tax bill, and the first question on many folks’ lips is: when will the tax cuts start? Because the legislation is complex, it’s hard to know exactly when it will effect taxpayers across the U.S. Some of the bill’s impact will begin at the start of 2018, though other elements won’t take effect until 2019 and beyond. For instance, when you file your 2017 taxes in April, you’ll already be getting some benefits like lower tax withholding, but other perks won’t show until you file your tax return in April 2019. Luckily for us, the experts at Fortune magazine have broken it all down quite nicely HERE.

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!