Blogs: Money

Artistic EKG reading.The open enrollment period for 2016 health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. If you want coverage that starts January 1, 2016, you will need to enroll by December 15, 2015. Do you have questions, or are you overwhelmed by the process? Here are some ways to get help:

Make an appointment at your library. The Central, Belmont, Gresham, Holgate, Kenton and Midland libraries are partnering with the Multnomah County Health Department to answer your questions about the application and enrollment process. Interpreters are available upon request. Check out the dates and registration info.

Find help in your neighborhood, in your language. Type in your zip code and preferred language and the website will help you find a local certified insurance agent or community partner who can help you with the enrollment process. Nonprofit organization Project Access NOW is holding many local healthcare enrollment events in English, Spanish, Russian and Somali (and Vietnamese by appoinment); here is the full schedule (pdf).

Find answers online or by phone. has a quick guide to the Health Insurance Marketplace and a Get Answers page with a lot of information; they also have coverage information specifically for self-employed people, people with disabilities, veterans, retirees, and many others. You can contact by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). For reminders and updates, you can read the blog or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+. The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace also offers general information for consumers through a local service center, which can be reached by calling 1-855-268-3767 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or emailing

If you need more resources, you can always contact a librarian!


The Oregon Department of Justice Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section offers these  top ten consumer tips to protect yourself and your family:

1. Become educated. Informed consumers are smart consumers. Visit to learn more about consumer protection in general, and visit to learn how to be safe, secure and responsible online.

2. Join the Scam Alert Network. Sign up online at to be notified of new scams, fraud and other consumer threats.

3. Reduce junk mail. Call 1-888- 567-8688 or register online at to reduce offers of credit and insurance. You can also opt out of receiving unsolicited mail from many other companies by registering with the Mail Preference Service online at and paying $1.

4. Check out the business before you buy. Call the Oregon Department of Justice at 1-877-877-9392 or search Be InfORmed, an online database at, to research complaints and resolutions. You should also confirm the business’s physical address and phone number in case you have questions or problems.

5. Reduce telemarketing calls. The National Do Not Call Registry allows you to block most telemarketers, who should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Register online at or call 1-888-382-1222 from the number you want to register.

6. Understand that wiring money is like sending cash. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Do not wire money to:

• Someone who claims he or she wants to hire you.

• Sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment.

• Someone who claims to be a relative or friend in trouble and wants to keep it a secret from the family.

7. Order your free annual credit report. Visit or call 1-877-322-8228 to order a free credit report and review it for errors.

8. Read the fine print. Read contracts in full and make sure you understand the terms before you sign. Be suspicious of promises made by salespersons that differ from the written terms and make sure you get a copy of the signed contract for your files.

9. Sleep on it. Sales pitches that offer discounts if you “sign now” are often scams. Legitimate businesses will usually give you the same deal later.

10. Report fraud. If you think you have been a victim of fraud, call the Oregon Department of Justice at 1-877-877-9392 and request a complaint form be mailed to you or visit to file a complaint online.

Stay informed and stay safe--and share these tips with family, neighbors, and friends across the state to help them become smarter consumers as well.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Contributed by Jenny W. with the help of the Oregon Department of Justice.

Click here for "Don't be a victim--prevent financial fraud! (Part 1)

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says, “Every year, thieves and con artists cheat thousands of Oregonians out of their hard-earned money and valuable personal information. I need your help to stop the fraud before it starts and alert others so they can avoid becoming victims.”

Fortunately, the Oregon Department of Justice can help us become savvy consumers. Check the website at, or call the Consumer Hotline 1-877-9392, or e-mail

You can:

  • Learn how to protect yourself from scams and fraud.

  • Request written materials be mailed to you.

  • Ask a question about a business or learn how to file a complaint against one.

  • Sign up for the Scam Alert Network

  • Search BeInfORmed, a database of consumer complaints.

  • Ask questions about:

    • automobile sales

    • credit/debt

    • home repair

    • retail sales

    • services

    • internet sales

    • fraud

    • real estate

    • telemarketing

    • home solicitations

Stay informed and stay safe--and share these tips with family, neighbors, and friends across the state to help them become smarter consumers as well.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Contributed by Jenny W. with the help of the Oregon Department of Justice.

Click here for "Don't be a victim--prevent financial fraud! (Part 2)

It’s a new year - have you checked your credit reports lately? There are three nationwide consumer credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and together they maintain the official website which lets you check your credit report (or “credit file disclosure”) for each of these agencies once every 12 months, for no cost.

For more information and motivation, take a look at this credit score action plan from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

(Keep in mind that your credit report is different from your credit score, which is a number assigned by a credit agency. The Federal Reserve has a webpage which explains the difference.)

Once you’ve figured out your credit situation, the library has books which can help you learn how to control and repair your credit and debt. There are also a number of nonprofit agencies who provide free debt counseling:

1040 tax formMultnomah County Library is here to help with tax season. All library locations can access state and federal tax forms and instruction booklets online as they become available. Library staff members are happy to help print what you need. Printing costs 10 cents per page; two-sided printing is available.

Thanks to the AARP, the library will offer filing assistance programs at the Midland, Gresham, Woodstock, and North Portland locations. We can also help refer you to tax professionals.

Federal Hard Copy Forms

Due to federal budget cuts this year, libraries will not be receiving any instruction booklets and only the 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms.  We can't promise when they will be available, or that we won’t run out, but we can always download and print out most federal tax forms and instruction booklets that are available on the IRS Forms & Publications page. There is also a contact page for the local IRS offices serving Portland and Gresham for further questions. Of special note, neither the 1099 and 1096 forms nor any of the W series (W-2, W-4, etc.) are available for download. Many office supply stores have the 1099 forms or you can contact the IRS directly to have those mailed to you.

State Hard Copy Forms

Public libraries are no longer a distribution center for state tax forms and booklets. If you need Oregon forms or booklets, you can come into the library to print them or do it yourself from the Oregon Department of Revenue page. They have a separate page for personal income tax forms & instructions. If you want forms mailed to you, then you can contact the Oregon Department of Revenue via:

Other States

You can stop by the library for assistance printing out tax forms for other states, or you can go to the Federation of Tax Administrators Links to State Tax Forms & Filing Options, which provides links to tax forms for each state.

Online Filing

Once the tax season officially opens, both the IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue will have listings for online filing services. Remember, state and federal taxes are due by April 15th.

hands filing out tax form

Tax Help/Filing Assistance

Volunteers with AARP will be offering preparation assistance through Tax Help at four different Multnomah County Library locations beginning in February. Keep your eye on the events listed to the right of the library's Taxes page or search the Events page for "taxes." Requirements to get tax help vary by location:

  • Midland: Fridays and Saturdays; No further appointments are available at this time. 
  • Gresham: Wednesdays; No further appointments are available at this time
  • Woodstock: Saturdays; same day registration
  • North Portland: Thursdays; first come, first served

If you can't make it to the library for tax help, see AARP's Tax-Aide Locator for more free tax preparer locations.

Finally, be sure to check out the post from guest blogger Janet Hawkins, of Multnomah County's Department of County Human Services, on ways to save big money with free tax filing services.




For sale sign

Craigslist is a popular online tool for job searching. Because it’s open to anyone, be careful to avoid scams!

Here’s how to search, but keep in mind that services like this change all the time, so it might look different when you try these steps.

  1. Start at Craigslist.

  2. Choose Portland for Portland and the Portland metro area (Beaverton, Gresham, Troutdale, etcetera. Vancouver, WA is listed in a separate category.)

  1. Click post to classifieds.

  2. Choose type of posting, category, and location.


You have to fill out these fields to continue:

  • Email: CL mail relay is a way to send and receive emails without you or the sender giving out your email address. Learn more here

  • Posting title: The title should describe what you’re selling.

  • Postal code: Your zip code

  • Posting body: Describe what you are selling. Do not include your phone number.

Show on maps

Check this and complete the information you want to share in order to show up in Craigslist’s map based search. You can enter your street and cross street, or just the city and state.

Click      to continue.



You can add images to your post. Click edit images, then Add images and choose a photo from your files. The photo has to have been saved on your computer.

Once your photo is uploaded, click done with images to go back to your post.

Need help? Try this.



On the next  page, you can choose to edit anything that needs to be changed, or click the publish button to publish.

Your post is not published yet.

  • Open the email you get from Craigslist and click the publish link.

  • If you notice that something is wrong with your ad, you can choose the edit link.

  • Verify your email address.

  • Keep this email so that you can edit or delete your ad later.

It will take about 15 minutes for your post to appear on Craigslist. 

Or, how a holiday celebrating friends and family became an exercise in crass commercialism.

Shoppers at Walmart on Thanksgiving Day 2013. Image from Wikimedia Commons.The confluence of Thanksgiving Day and the beginning of the holiday shopping season is pretty much a second-half-of-the-20th-century phenomenon, spurred by the burgeoning consumer economy that took off following the end of World War II. The Friday after Thanksgiving became “Black Friday” originally in 1961, coined by some disgruntled Philadelphia police officers who grew to hate the downtown traffic jams created by shoppers. It was only in the 1980s that the term took on a economic meaning: Success on this day sends retail businesses into the “black.” Big box retailers attract shoppers with deep discounts on popular gift items, discounts only available on Black Friday.

In this century, Black Friday just keeps creeping forward: 6 am on Friday morning, midnight on Friday morning, 8 pm on Thursday night, 5 pm on Thursday, to the absolute nadir (in this writer’s opinion) of 6 am on Thanksgiving morning. Kmart owns this dubious honor for 2013 and is repeating it this year. Of course, there’s a name for this: Brown Thursday or Gray Thursday.

Small Business Saturday

Using an if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em philosophy, smaller retailers gave into the Black Friday juggernaut in 2010, redirecting shoppers away from the big box stores by creating their own shopping “event,” Small Business Saturday. Sure, this event says, you’ll probably want to take advantage of those big sales at the big boxes, but -- while you’re still in the shopping zone --  wouldn’t you like to support a local business too? And many of these retailers (not all of them small businesses) can’t resist a poke at those open on Thanksgiving Day: We pride ourselves on letting our employees enjoy a day off with their families.

Portland, being Portland, has created its own version of Small Business Saturday: Little Boxes. Shoppers are gently encouraged to “welcome in the holiday season by discovering the quality and variety of Portland’s indie and local retail shopping scene.” Only in Portland do we have an “indie” shopping scene. Still, there are prizes.

Buy Nothing Day

A countermovement to Black Friday’s unfettered consumerism sprung up in the 1990s with Buy Nothing Day, created in Canada and spreading to the United States and elsewhere in the West over the past 20 years. Its founders encourage waggish bits of civil disobedience such as “whirl-mart” -- a conga line of empty shopping carts making its way through a mall or big box store (see video) -- and the “zombie walk” -- staggering through retail establishments with a blank stare.

For those of you who prefer to spend that Friday enjoying a roast turkey sandwich, some leftover pumpkin pie and a good book, here’s a reading list about shopping (or not) in America. And never fear, the library will be open!

The Money Tip$ video series concludes with a brief discussion of credit.  Your credit score can affect everything from insurance rates to employment opportunities, as well as the cost (and ability) to borrow money when needed.  This episode presents the main elements of your credit score, helping identify ways to improve your credit situation to save money in the future.  We hope you've found the Money Tip$ video series to be helpful in learning new ways to manage your money.  Click the video below to view our fifth, and final, installment:


The Money Tip$ video series was produced by Multnomah County Library in collaboration with Innovative Changes, a Portland non-profit organization that exists to help low-income individuals and families manage short-term financial needs in order to achieve and maintain household stability.  Made possible by The Library Foundation with a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart Investing @ your library ®, a partnership with the American Library Association.


Now that you've learned some tips to help set SMART money goals, set up a budget, and survive tax season - its time to focus on how you can save money.  This Money Tip$ episode offers creative ways to save money in order to achieve your SMART goals, while staying within the framework of your personal budget.  You'll find that you'll be better equipped to handle unexpected situations not included in your monthly budget - such as a serious illness, or auto repair and maintenance - by establishing a plan for saving money.

This episode of the Money Tip$ video series was produced by Multnomah County Library in collaboration with Innovative Changes, a Portland non-profit organization that exists to help low-income individuals and families manage short-term financial needs in order to achieve and maintain household stability.  Made possible by The Library Foundation with a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart Investing @ your library ®, a partnership with the American Library Association.



Are you going to school and need money, but feeling overwhelmed by the thought of where to begin?  Your Scholarship Application Guide was developed by Portland Community College staff to make the scholarship search and application process easier for you.  This guide outlines much of what you need to know including an explanation of what a scholarship is, reasons why you should apply, the scholarship time cycle, links to where you can search for them, and much more to help you get started!  Understanding the scholarship application process is the first step toward continuing your education without breaking the bank to do it.

Happy scholarship hunting!



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