Money Lessons

It is never too early to learn about money.

If you expect your children to receive gift cards or other types of monetary gifts this holiday season, you may want to use the occasion as a teaching tool.

The American Library Association has created a list of children’s books on the topic of money.

“This list was developed in May 2012 by the Quicklists Consulting Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, in support of the Money as You Grow website, developed by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability which provides essential and age-appropriate financial lessons that kids need to know.”

The Money as You Grow book list offers age-appropriate reading for years 3-13.  Many of the titles such as the How Economics Works series and Money Madness by David Adler are available at the Newton Free Library.


Volunteers Needed AARP Foundation is looking for volunteers to help with its annual tax aid program.

AARP Tax-Aide is the largest free tax preparation assistance program in the U.S.

You do not need to be a tax expert to be of help.  Whether you are good with numbers, people, computers or speak a foreign language, your service is welcome. Training classes are available.

For more information and to register, go to

Guide to Giving

The December 2012 issue of Real Simple magazine includes a helpful guide with 5 tips on charitable giving.  It recommends doing some research on the charity of your choice before making a donation. Familiarize yourself with the organization:

  1. Understand the mission: should be clearly stated on the charity’s website with specifics.
  2. Verify the group’s non-profit status: its 501(c)(3) IRS status can be checked out at Without the designation, your contribution may not be tax-deductible.
  3. Know the charity’s spending ratio (the percentage of the budget that is spent on programs and services): go to to view a financial analysis including spending ratios. A ballpark figure of 75% or higher is desired.
  4. Accountability and transparency practices: the governing board should include at least 5 members independent of the charity.  Go to the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance at to find out.
  5. Ask about results: most mid to large charities conduct self or third-party assessments and should be forthcoming in sharing the findings.

Outside of the websites listed above, you may want to ask a representative from the charity the same types of questions and for a copy of the annual report.

Popular Passwords

Popularity may be welcome, but make sure it does not apply to your online passwords.

Splashdata has released its annual list of the most commonly used passwords and the top three remained unchanged from 2011.

What was number one on the list of the Worst Passwords of 2012?

“PASSWORD” followed by “123456,” and “12345678”.

“SplashData’s top 25 list was compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers. The company advises consumers or businesses using any of the passwords on the list to change them immediately.”

It advises using passwords with eight or more mixed-up characters.  Include numbers, underscores and punctuation marks.  It also recommends creating a new password for each website and more importantly do not use the same user name/password combination for your online financial transactions that you do for social media sites.

“How To” Videos from FINRA

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation has developed a series of short “how-to” videos on subjects ranging from budgeting to credit to learning how to spot investment scams.

How To Build a Budget shows you how to establish spending priorities so you can create and maintain a workable budget.

How to Control your Credit teaches some simple ways to control your spending and pay down your balances.

How to Spot Investment Scams in 6 Simple Steps identifies the red flags of investment fraud and instructs on how to check the legitimacy of an investment product or professional.

More videos are in the works and are coming soon.

Know your Cards has introduced a new website to help consumers understand the current laws that regulate all forms of plastic payment such as credit, debit, prepaid and gift cards. “presents key payment card changes, explains how they could affect cardholders and offers tips to help consumers make the right moves”.

The At-a-Glance Card Rulebook provides more detailed information and an overview of changes for each type of payment card.

Explore the database of Q&As. Use the search box, browse by category, or send your  question to Consumer Action via a form on the site. Feedback is appreciated, so let them know about your experience with the website and how it can be improved.

Jobs in the New Economy

Come and join executive, leadership and career development coach Danila Székely tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 23 at 7:00 pm at the Newton Free Library for a program titled Reinventing Yourself in Today’s Economy. This program is for people who are considering a career transition, currently engaged in a job search or are interested in re-defining their career.

The interactive session will include tools, suggestions and exercises to help participants take the next step in their careers. Be prepared to share your questions, challenges and successful approaches that have worked for you.

This is the second presentation in the ongoing Job Seekers, Career and Professional Development Series.