Living On Less

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Trying to save money? Michigan State University Extension is offering a free workshop titled "Living On Less" on Wednesday, May 12 from 1 to 4 pm at Friends in Deed. This workshop will explain how to develop a spending plan, reduce flexible expenses and reduce debt. You will need to register by May 10 by calling 734-222-3943.

Fundamentals of the New Economy

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The MSU Citizen Planner Program is a proud partner with MSU Extension and the State of Michigan on a series of 100 free training programs being offered across the state. These programs are designed to help you help your community and its region better compete in the global New Economy. An upcoming program is NE 101- Fundamentals of the New Economy for anyone with an interest in how Michigan got into its current economic circumstances, and what it will take to get out. The session will be held on May 6 from 2 to 4 pm at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center at the County Service Center. You can register for this or any of the upcoming programs here.

Mint.com Personal Finance Management

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Mint.com is endorsed by Money Magazine, Kiplingers, PC World and won the 2009 Webby Award for Best Financial Services Website. I've been using it for a few months and really like it. You create a Mint account, add your bank, credit card, home loan and investment accounts and then Mint really gets to work. Mint keeps track of your spending in every category, and creates budgets with wonderful charts that enable you to see exactly where it is all going which should help you to save and pay off debts. It also does a very nice job of tracking your investments with great graphic representations.
Wait a minute, you're probably thinking, what about security? Mint uses the same levels of physical and encryption security that banks do to protect the data. Mint is a “read-only” service. You can organize and analyze your finances, but you can’t move funds between — or out of — your accounts using Mint. And neither can anyone else. Your Mint account is anonymous; set up requires only an email, password and zip code. Mint doesn’t know your name, address, social security number, account numbers, or PINs. Their practices are monitored and verified by |TRUSTe, VeriSign and Hackersafe, and supported by RSA Security.

Now that April 15th is upon us, take a little time to get your financial house in order.

And did I mention that Mint is free?
Mmmmm, Minty!

Jobs and Economic Assistance Events

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Congressman John Dingell’s Office has put together a series of events that you might find useful. RSVP’s are encouraged at (313) 278-2936. The upcoming events are:

How to Get Hired in 2010
Monday, April 5. 6:00- 7:30pm
Ypsilanti District Library
Meet with an expert panel of HR managers to discuss what they look for when hiring, helpful tips and hints regarding resumes, interviewing skills, and “red flags” that may cause an application to be disqualified.

Free Tax Clinic
Tuesday, April 6. 12:00- 2:00pm
ACCESS Community Health and Research
Receive free individual assistance with your annual tax filing before April 15 and learn how you can be taking advantage of the $400 stimulus bill tax credit.

Job Seekers Boot Camp
Thursday, April 8. 3:00- 6:00pm
Wayne County Community College
Downriver Campus, Ray Mix Room
Learn from the experts about how to improve your job search, what you should add to your resume, and new places to look for job options.

Save Your Savings
Friday, April 9. 1:00- 4:00pm
Monroe County Community College
Lay-Z-Boy Center
Financial literacy topics covered will include how to avoid common frauds, debt collection, and foreclosure scams. There will also be the chance to receive free one-on-one foreclosure and legal advice following the event.

Budgeting 101

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Need some help balancing your budget? MSU Extension is offering a free workshop to get you on track. Participants will learn how to successfully create a financial plan, how values effect how we manage money and get ideas on how to pay down debt and save more. The workshop is on March 24 from 6:30 to 8 pm, and you'll need to register by March 22 by calling 222-3943.

Need Financial Guidance?

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There are two workshops coming up in the area that you may be interested in. Michigan State University Extension is offering a free workshop titled Living On Less on Monday, February 8 from 6 to 9 pm at the Washtenaw County LRC. This workshop will explain how to develop a spending plan, reduce flexible expenses and reduce debt. You need to register by February 5 by calling 734-222-3943.

Financial Survival: Tips from the Budget Guru is a class being held at Washtenaw Community College on Thursday, February 11 from 6 to 9 pm. This class will focus on using a budget analysis form, paying off debt, and understanding and improving creditworthiness. The cost of this class is $15. You can register for the class here or call 734-973-3543.

Filing for Bankruptcy

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Whether a major medical event, loss of a job or a house sunk you, bankruptcy won’t be a shining moment in your life, but it is an opportunity to get your financial life back on track. Not much free legal help is available in Washtenaw County so it is important to know as much as possible about the process and that is where the Ann Arbor District Library is a real help.
The library has a large selection of up-to-date books on the topic that you can find here: Bankruptcy
The library also has books that give great advice on how to proceed after bankruptcy that you can find here: Credit Repair
In order to file you have to pay your attorney up front, so if you are receiving a tax return soon, this could be a very good time to plan your strategy.
It is never easy to admit defeat. Just know that you have now joined a select club that includes Francis Ford Coppola, Walt Disney, Mark Twain, Wayne Newton and Donald Trump. Except for Trump's hair, they all ended up doing better than ok!

Morningstar Investment Research Database

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Learn how to use the Morningstar investment research database to track, analyze and make intelligent decisions about your investments on Monday, November 2 from 4-6pm at the Downtown Library. One of the most trusted names in the investment industry, Barron's and Forbes rank Morningstar among the top investing sites. This workshop will feature a one hour overview of this important resource, conducted by Morningstar expert Lars Wasvick via teleconference. This will be followed by a hands-on session where attendees may apply what they learned to make full use of this comprehensive database. Registration is required and individuals may register online at Register for Morningstar or by calling 327-4555 or by visiting any Library location.

New Books on Finance at the Ann Arbor District Library

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Ever wanted to go short on certain currencies, go long on various commodities and make bets on specific subsectors of foreign markets but don’t have $5 or $10 million to lay out? The ETF Book All-New Updated Edition by Richard Ferri is an excellent guide to Exchange-Traded Funds. ETFs can be used by individual (read—small) investors as highly specialized precision investment instruments.

How the Global Financial Markets Really Work by Alexander Davidson is a new, comprehensive look at international investment and money flows with a special assessment of 2009’s worldwide financial crisis. Clocking in at 244 pages, it covers in simple concise language commercial banking practices (with a special look at the Icelandic banks which had a hyper meltdown), shadow banking, central banks, the US Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank, world stock markets, money markets, investment banking and credit derivatives.

Getting Started in Investment Analysis written by Six Sigma guru Warren Brussee is a primer in critically judging the quality of stock or investment data, using graphs and looking for correlations and finally simple quantitative data analysis utilizing MS Excel and high school math (in other words, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist for this book to be useful).

Finances

During these financially difficult times, are you asking yourself what the best strategy is for your money? Are you wondering if you should change these investment strategies? Well, never fear, Suze Orman is here!

The library holds the PBS video series of Suze Orman's financial videos. Check out The laws of money, the lessons of life, Owning the power to control your destiny, The road to wealth, or The courage to be rich.

Each video has something to help you become more financially successful and savvy. These valuable money secrets will help in good times and in bad.

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