Blogs: Money: Seniors

Why do you need a budget?  Everyday life can be difficult if you don't know where your money is coming from - and where it is going.  The Money Tip$ video series continues with helpful information about budgeting.  This episode presents simple strategies for tracking your hard earned money, allowing you to make decisions that align with your short-term and life-long financial goals.   

Here's episode three:


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


 

This second installment of the Money Tip$ series focuses on setting SMART goals for managing your money.   What is a SMART goal?  This episode will outline key elements for setting goals that are realistic and achievable.  When your goals are set within your reach, it will be easier to reach your money management and financial goals.  Take a look:

   

  

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


 

Over the next several weeks, we will be releasing a series of five short videos called Money Tip$.  The videos in this series are designed to provide quick tips for money-related topics such as credit, budgeting, saving, and setting SMART goals for managing your money.  With tax season in full bloom, the first installment outlines several ways to make the most of tax time.  This brief video will offer reminders about important tax credits, free tax preparation assistance, along with several ideas for using your income tax refund strategically to benefit you in the long run.  


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, families and others, 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


 

What is my car worth now if I want to sell it?

I want to buy a used pickup truck. How can I find out what a fair price is?

What is the safest car for my teen to drive?

 

All of these questions and more can be answered with these online resources:

  • The Kelley Blue Book Online gives you timely and accurate prices on new and used cOld Red Truckars based on geography and condition. For most vehicles you can get a good idea of prices for buying a new or used car from a dealer or private seller and also what you can expect to sell one for to a dealer or private buyer.
  • The Car and Driver buyers' guide covers automobiles manufactured in the last two years and can be searched by manufacturer, vehicle type, price range and more.
  • Click and Clack, the comedic brothers from Car Talk, use down-to-earth humor to give you actual car information on buying, selling, and owning a car.
  • CarInfo features car information provided by consumer advocate & auto expert Mark Eskeldson. It includes car buying and leasing secrets, as well as information on used cars, car loans, and insurance.
  • Edmunds Automobile Buyer's Guide has used car prices back to 2000, safety information, and updates on new vehicles.
  • The US EPA Fuel Economy website allows you to compare gas mileage (MPG), greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution ratings, and safety information for new and used cars and trucks. There are also gas mileage tips, a page to search for the cheapest gas in your area, and a page of links to other sites about automobiles, safety, and the environment.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute provides accident facts, results of crash tests, child safety and teen driving brochures, and news releases about safety for cars, drivers, and pedestrians.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a website dedicated to safety. This resource has  information about recalls, crash tests, car seats, drunk driving, and pedestrian safety.
 

In addition to these online resources, the library also has the most current NADA Guides and Kelley Blue Book Guides in print at the information desk in each library location.  The Science and Business Desk at the Central Library even has the Kelley Blue Book guides going back to 1999 so you can see what your vehicle was worth in years past.

For a round up of car repair resources available at your library, see the blog post: Get Your Motor Running: This car isn’t going to fix itself.

Buying or selling an automobile can be a complicated process!  If you do not see the resource you need here to answer your questions, please Ask a Librarian.  We will help you connect to the information you seek!  

 

 

Two women at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel operating tickers and stock exchange boards, December 11, 1918.Tracking down a historic stock price can be really easy... except when it’s really hard. And it is a common question that we get during tax season.

Here is an example of an easy stock price search.

1. A stock price is needed for a company for a particular date. (Let’s say Nike on February 13, 2009.)
2. You go to a website with financial information (like Yahoo! Finance or Wall St. Journal’s MarketWatch), search for the company name or ticker symbol, and voila! You have the closing price for that day. (Keep in mind that the closing price may or may not already be adjusted.)

But this only works if the company is still in business and hasn’t changed names, hasn’t been involved in a merger or acquisition, and is still trading on the stock exchange under the same ticker symbol. If any of those situations have occurred, the historic price that you need might not be available online.

Take, for example, Macy’s, which went public in 1922 under the name R.H. Macy, and which for many years traded under the symbol MZ. You won’t easily find historic stock prices from before 1992 for this company on Yahoo! Finance or in other online databases because on that year Macy’s merged with Federated Department Stores. (Thanks to New York Public Library for this example!)

Steps for trickier stock price searches.

So how does someone get a historic stock price from before 1992 for Macy’s, or for any other company whose historic prices aren’t online? There are two steps: first, researching the company history to find out any information about different names, ticker symbols, and listings on stock exchanges; and second, looking in a newspaper or newspaper database for the date that you need. The library can help you with both of these steps.

Step 1: Research the company history.

This step can require a little detective work. It is where you figure out the name and ticker symbol of the company or security at the time of the historic price and the stock exchange which it was trading on. Here are several sources that the library offers for learning about a company’s history (you may need to look at more than one of them in order to get a full sense of a company’s history):

  • Capital Changes Reporter: Lists capital changes (such as mergers and splits) for companies, by date, and includes information about stock exchanges and ticker symbols that the company traded under. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library, or online through the CCH Intelliconnect database.
  • International Directory of Company Histories: Provides detailed corporate histories for many companies, both U.S. and international. There are currently 149 volumes. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library.
  • Mergent Intellect: Available through the library website. A database with lots of information about companies, including company histories.
  • Directory of Obsolete Securities: Lists and gives brief info for companies and banks whose original identities have been lost to events like changes in name, acquisitions, mergers, or bankruptcy. Available in print in the Science & Business room at Central Library.
  • EDGAR: This is not a library resource, but it is freely available online through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and we can help you if you have trouble using it! It contains many documents that public companies are required to submit to the SEC, including company reports.

Step 2: Look up the historic price in a newspaper or other source from that historic date.

Once you have done some research about the company whose historic stock price you are looking for (and hopefully learned their name, ticker symbol, and the stock exchange they were traded on at the time of the historic price), you are ready to find the stock price in a newspaper or other source from that time. Note that you’ll want to look at a newspaper or publication for the day immediately after the date for which you need the historic price, since the price would not have been published until the next day’s paper. Here are two sources for this, both of which are available electronically through the library website:

  • New York Times Historical (1851-2009): Contains scans of articles from the New York Times, including stock prices. Choose “Advanced Search,” enter the date that you are looking for in the “Publication Date” section, and choose “Stock quote” from the “Document Type” menu. Leave the other search boxes blank, and do your search. You will retrieve a list of articles containing stock prices - to find the major stock exchanges, choose the articles with the most page numbers, then look in them for the company whose stock price you need.
  • The Historical Oregonian (1861-1987): This database will be most useful for stock prices of companies from the Pacific Northwest. Enter the date you are looking for in the “Custom Date Range” box, and then do a search for a word like NYSE or NASDAQ which would appear on the page with stock prices.

In addition to these electronic databases for the New York Times and the Oregonian, the library also has a number of useful resources available in print and on microfilm at Central Library:

So there you have the basic steps for finding historic stock prices. It can indeed be a little bit of a research project sometimes. But don’t despair! Librarians are happy to talk to you about your particular stock price need, and to help you find the information you are looking for. Just get in touch with us using one of the methods on our Contact a librarian webpage. Happy stock price searching!

Photo of pills and bottle (by Sponge, via Wikimedia Commons)Have you noticed that you’re paying different prices for the same medication, depending on where you buy it? Drug prices are not consistent from store to store and it can be really hard to find information on pricing. One resource you can use to find prescription drug prices is called GoodRx.

GoodRx is free to use; the site is funded by advertisements and fees from pharmacies and discount providers. Enter the name of your medication and your city or zip code, and click the Find the Lowest Price button. From the next screen, you can choose whether you’d like to see generic or name-brand prices and you can choose the dosage and the quantity. You can also limit your results by type of pharmacy; do you need a pharmacy that’s open 24 hours? That delivers by mail?

Consumer Reports “Best Buy Drugs” project (a tool that allows you to search by drug or condition, and recommends “best buy” drugs based on their effectiveness, safety, side effects, and cost) tested the GoodRx mobile app (which is available for iPhone and Android devices) and found that it did retrieve the lowest price (of two tested apps) for the cholesterol-lowering drug, Lipitor.

If you need more information about a drug or supplement, have a look at MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine’s consumer health information site. You can find information on drug and food interactions with your medication, generic/brand names for a drug, side effects and more.

Information from these sites can help you stay informed, but you should include your health care professional in any medication decisions.

Questions? We are always happy to help!  Just Ask the Librarian.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act) was passed into law in 2010, Photo of a stethoscopebut the reforms that it requires are spread out over time. You can get all sorts of information about the law on a federal level, including the full-text of it, at www.healthcare.gov, a website created by the United States Department of Health & Human Services.

A major aspect of the law that will go into effect soon is the creation of Health Insurance Marketplaces in each state. These marketplaces will provide information on insurance plans for consumers to compare, with costs laid out up-front. According to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Srvcs., “most people will be able to get a break on costs through the Marketplace.” Information about coverage and enrollment in health insurance through these marketplaces is required to be provided beginning in October 2013. Coverage will start in January 2014.

The marketplace for Oregon will be called Cover Oregon. Visit their website to learn about the marketplace, sign up for email updates, and use a calculator to estimate if you will qualify for financial assistance. There is also a frequently-asked-question section with answers to many questions that you might have about the program.

There are also several other health care programs that already exist and provide assistance to individuals who qualify: the Oregon Health Plan and the Healthy Kids programs are both administered by the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Prescription Drug Program is a program to help uninsured or underinsured Oregonian get access to discounted prescription medicine. A good way to find more assistance programs is to call 2-1-1, a statewide, free referral service.

At the end of this post is a list of books that explore the history and debates around health care in the United States. If you still have any questions about health care, remember that you can always ask a librarian! We are here to help you find the answers that YOU need.

Update, 7/28/13:

You may have seen ads on Trimet buses around town, advertising health coverage from “Oregon’s Health CO-OP”. This is not the same thing as Cover Oregon. The Oregon’s Health CO-OP is going to be a new nonprofit health insurance provider which will begin enrolling customers on October 1, 2013, and will begin providing health insurance coverage on January 1, 2014. Funding for new, consumer-owned (co-op) health insurance providers is part of the Affordable Care Act - each state was originally required to have one of these nonprofit providers (although this requirement has since been removed), but Oregon is going to have two of them! The Oregon’s Health CO-OP and another co-op called Health Republic were both approved by Cover Oregon and will be offered along with other health insurance providers in the new Cover Oregon marketplace.

You can read more about these co-ops in this 5/13/13 article from Oregon Live: “Oregon upstart health co-ops to challenge mainstream insurers”.

Flowers are blossoming and so are the possibilities for learning about how to manage your finances. April is National Financial Literacy month, and there are all sorts of ways that you can celebrate!

Come to the library and attend a program on topics like budgeting for specific goals, teaching your kids about money, talking about money with family members, or tackling student loans.

Portland Community College is hosting a Dollars and $ense Expo at the Cascade and Southeast Center campuses on April 16th and 17th. Topics covered will include community-based resources, avoiding scams, transferring funds as an international student, managing your budget, and helping to lower the cost of higher education.

Innovative Changes, a local nonprofit, is offering a Financial Empowerment Clinic focusing on debt and credit building on Saturday April 20th from 10am-3pm at their office in the Lloyd Center Mall, Suite 2010. Workshops include building credit, raising a “money smart” kid, proposed debt collection reform, unfair debt practices, and student debt. Budget doctors will be on-call for diagnoses and the Multnomah County mobile library will be there with books on budgeting and debt. There will also be hourly raffles for local business gift certificates. For more info about this clinic, call 503-249-5205.

If you’re not able to come to an event in person, you can also find ways to get involved online!

  • Try the 52-week Money Challenge. It’s very straightforward and if you complete all 52 weeks, you’ll have saved over $1,300!

And any time of the year is, of course, a good time to check out a library book. We’ve got books on all sorts of topics for learning about your money:

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 AnnualCreditReport.com which lets you check your credit report (or “credit file disclosure”) for all of these agencies at one time, once every 12 months.

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 learned your credit situation, the library has lots of books which can help you control and repair your credit and debt - below are just some of them. There are also a number of nonprofit agencies who provide free debt counseling:

Do you or someone you know get checks from the government for Social Security or other federal benefits? By March 1, 2013, you are required to switch to receive electronic payment of your benefits.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury recommends two electronic payments options: direct deposit to a bank account or a Direct Express card. With the Direct Express card, money will be posted to the card account on a payment day each month. Federal benefit check recipients can sign up for one of these options by calling the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center at (800) 333-1795.

The Treasury Department says that electronic payments are safer than paper checks, and that people are 125 times more likely to have a problem with a paper check than with an electronic payment. They also give these three tips for protecting your personal information:

  • Be careful of anyone who calls, texts or emails asking for personal information.
  • Protect personal information. Do not give out your Social Security number or account information to anyone unless you are the one who has contacted them.
  • Watch your bank or credit union account or Direct Express card account often to make sure that all account activity is yours.

For more information, visit the Treasury Department’s Go Direct website.

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