It's Your Money

The Best Personal Finance Book


...according to the folks over at Lifehacker, anyhow. If you're not familiar with Lifehacker, I recommend checking them out—they're full of innovative money-saving tips, from the latest high-tech hacks to low-tech solutions involving everyday items.

And speaking of saving money... I know a great place where you can get most of the books the article mentions absolutely free.

What's your favorite book on being money smart? Reply in the comments.



Don't Miss Out on a Tax Break—See If You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit


PHOTO: Bill Smith

One in five people who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit don't claim it; that's like throwing away free money. As part of the Free Community Tax Service offered this tax season, we're partnering with United Way of Monroe County to ensure that everyone entitled to the EITC claims it.

To see if you qualify (or just to learn more about getting help filing your taxes), stop by United Way's information table this Friday, January 30 from 3 to 5pm in the first floor atrium of the Main Library. Don't miss out on tax savings this year!

Fun Around Town with No Money Down


Lots of free entertainment, culture, and education can be found in Monroe County (aren't we lucky?). Here’s a selection for the upcoming week.

Thursday, January 22

Monthly Lunch & Discussion: Who are Asian Pacific Americans? How Our Brains Perceive Race


Asian Culture Center, 807 E. 10th Street, Bloomington

Discussion about the root causes of racial prejudice.  Free to attend, but reservations are required. Contacti acc [at] indiana [dot] edu.

Winter Exploration Hike Series: Pate Hollow Hills, Monroe Lake

Paynetown State Recreation Area


From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website:

DNR’s Winter Exploration Hike Series features off-trail hiking through lesser-known areas of Monroe Lake. These are exploratory in nature so there is no “set” path; they’ll have a general route in mind, but plenty of freedom to veer off as things of interest catch our eyes. Hikers should be prepared for the possibility of rugged terrain, lack of formal toilet facilities, and lots of fun! All of the Winter Exploration Hikes are FREE, but online PREREGISTRATION is required for each hike.

Email jvance [at] dnr [dot] IN [dot] gov for more information.


Friday, January 23

Opening Reception, Secret Impressions: The Reproduction of Erotica Prior to the Camera


Kinsey Institute, 1165 E 3rd St. #313, IU Campus, Bloomington

"Secret Impressions" presents a selection of lithographs, engravings, etchings and woodblock prints from the mid-19th century and earlier. These artworks from France, England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Japan illustrate the means by which pornographic and erotic images were mass produced before the invention of the camera. This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.



IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

Assemblage is a recently rediscovered lost film featuring the groundbreaking dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham and his early dance company performing in a public happening in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square in November 1968.

Open to the public.

Saturday January, 24

The Incredible Shrinking Man


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

From the IU Cinema website:

A benchmark of 1950s sci-fi cinema, The Incredible Shrinking Man boasts groundbreaking special effects for its time and a surprisingly existential screenplay by veteran Twilight Zone writer Richard Matheson.

Open to the public.

2015 Iris Film Festival


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

The Indiana University Department of Communication and Culture's Iris Film Festival showcases innovative, inspired and engaging films and videos in the short format, many of which originate from members of the Bloomington and Indiana University communities.


Sunday, January 25

Stranger by the Lake/L’Inconnu du lac


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

This film is presented in partnership with the Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival.    


Monday, January 26

Lunch with Nature Series: The Science of Snow


Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Paynetown Recreational Area

Participants can bring a sack lunch to eat during the main presentation, which is held indoors. Afterwards, the naturalist takes attendees outside for a short hike that follows up on the program’s theme. The Lunch with Nature Series is free, but attendance for each session is limited to 12 people and preregistration is required.

Night Train


IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

An intimate psychological study and a poetic tale of loneliness, Night Train brings two passengers together accidentally in a train compartment. A coquette, bored with her husband, attempts to seduce every available man; a former prisoner of a concentration camp fights his insomnia; old women go on a pilgrimage; and a skirt-chaser seeks his prey. With the arrival of police searching for a murderer, everything changes. It soon turns out that this seemingly average community is able to behave in a most unforeseen manner.


Tuesday, January 28

Zoran Dukic, guitar


Jacobs School of Music, Auer Hall, 200 S. Jordan Ave, IU Campus, Bloomington

Zoran Dukic is one of the most distinguished classical guitarists of our time. His concert performances, both as a soloist or with an orchestra, leave long-lasting impressions on audiences and critics alike.


Wednesday, January 28

University Orchestra David Neely, guest conductor


Jacobs School of Music, IU Musical Arts Center, 101 North Jordan Avenue, IU Campus, Bloomington


Tradition and Authenticity in Southwestern Native American Art


IU Art Museum, 1133 E. 7th Street, IU Campus, Bloomington

Raymond and Laura Wielgus Gallery of the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas, third floor

The terms tradition and authenticity, although commonly used in discussing Native American art, are frequently misunderstood. Emma Kessler, curatorial assistant for the Arts of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas, will consider the development of traditions and the nuances of authenticity as seen in objects.


NOTE: Events mentioned here are advertised as free of charge by their sponsors, hosts, or promoters. Though we do our best to verify that these events are completely free, the Library has no control over inaccurately advertised events. We welcome corrections to our listings, but please direct any questions or concerns about a particular event to its sponsoring entity.

Free Event: Help a High Schooler With College Financial Aid


PHOTO: moodboard

If you're close to someone who's in high school, you know that cost is a major factor in their decisions about where—even whether—they go to college. You'd hate to see them miss the opportunity for higher education; is financial aid an option?

Let an expert answer your questions about navigating financial aid next Tuesday, January 27 at 6pm at a free program called College Planning: How to File for Financial Aid here at the Library. Chase McCoySenior Assistant Director of Admissions at IU-Bloomington, goes over the FAFSA application process, calculating the true cost of college, and choosing the right aid package for your family.

No registration is necessary; find more information about the program on the Library's events calendar.

Money Talks—Are You Listening? The Ins & Outs of Money on WFHB


The It's Your Money project helps our community get money smart in lots of ways—including over the airwaves. On The Ins & Outs of Money, our weekly radio segment on Bloomington's own WFHB, my guests and I give you quick, practical tips on managing your money, point you toward free resources in our community, and more.

The Ins & Outs of Money airs twice every Tuesday—right around 7:55am and 5:55pm—at the tail-end of WFHB's excellent Daily Local News. You can also listen to and download past episodes, or get the show as an RSS feed. See you on the air!

Fun Around Town with No Money Down


Lots of free entertainment, culture, and education can be found in Monroe County.  Here’s a selection for the upcoming week.

Saturday, January 17

La Dolce Vita (Film showing)

IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, Bloomington, IN 47406


This film from the 1960s follows a week in the life of a paparazzo journalist living in Rome.  In Italian with English subtitles.


Ingrid Matthews, baroque violin, and Byron Schenkman, harpsichord

Jacobs School of Music, Ford-Crawford Hall, 200 S Jordan Ave, Bloomington


Co-founders of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra in 1994,  Ingrid Matthews and Bryan Schenkman will be joined by Shelly Taylor for an evening of live baroque music.


Sunday, January 18

Art and a Movie

IU Art Museum, Fine Arts Plaza, IU Campus


Nan Brewer, IU Art Museum’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper, will discuss three works by the iconic photographer Diane Arbus, including an early fashion image and two mature works that reflect Arbus' distinctive “snapshot” aesthetic.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

IU Cinema, 1213 East 7th Street, Bloomington, IN 47406


Featuring actors Nicole Kidman, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ty Burrell, Steven Shainberg’s fictionalized account of the early career of Diane Arbus (Kidman) traces her artistic and personal transformation. (U.S., 120 min., rated R.)


Tuesday, January 20

Midori Goto, violin

Jacobs School of Music, Auer Hall, 200 S Jordan Ave, Bloomington

Midori was born in Osaka, Japan in 1971 and began studying the violin with her mother, Setsu Goto, at a very early age. Zubin Mehta first heard Midori play in 1982, and it was he who invited her to make her now legendary debut—at the age of 11—at the New York Philharmonic's traditional New Year's Eve concert, where she received a standing ovation and the impetus of a major career. Today Midori lives in Los Angeles; her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù "ex-Huberman." She uses three bows: two made by Dominique Peccatte, and one made by Paul Siefried.

Wednesday, January 21

Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet

Jacobs School of Music, Auer Hall, 200 S Jordan Ave, Bloomington


Quaternaglia Guitar Quartet (QGQ) has been widely acclaimed as one of the world's top contemporary guitar ensembles. QGQ - composed of Brazilian guitarists Chrystian Dozza, Fabio Ramazzina, Thiago Abdalla and Sidney - is known both for its artistic excellence and for its significant contributions to the expansion of the guitar quartet repertoire.

NOTE: Events mentioned here are advertised as free of charge by their sponsors, hosts, or promoters. Though we do our best to verify that these events are completely free, the Library has no control over inaccurately advertised events. We welcome corrections to our listings, but please direct any questions or concerns about a particular event to its sponsoring entity.

Fast, Free & Certified: Tax Help at MCPL Is Back!


Back—and better than ever!

Again this year, the Library is proud to serve as a Free Community Tax Service site for anyone who earned less than $53,000 (household) in 2014. In partnership with United Way of Monroe County and the Financial Stability Alliance, a number of community organizations—including both branches of the Library—offer help with completing and filing income tax forms this tax season. It's free of charge, tax refunds are fast, and all assistance is provided by IRS-certified tax preparers.


 Free tax help at MCPL

Beginning in February, both the Main Library in Bloomington and our branch in Ellettsville offer free tax help, but the hours and procedure for meeting with a tax preparer are different for each location:

  • Tax help at the Main Library is available from Feb 2 to April 14 on Monday and Tuesday evenings from 2-6 and on Fridays from 2-5:45pm. Preparers are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and it is recommended that you arrive as early as possible.
  • The Ellettsville Branch offers tax help Feb 5 to April 11, by appointment only. Appointments may be made for Thursdays from 6-8pm or Saturdays 10:30am-12:30pm; there are also extended hours on April 4 (12:30-6pm) and April 11 (10am-6pm). You may call 812-876-1272 to make an appointment.

Other options

In addition to the full-service tax help sites, there are a few other ways you can get free tax help this year:

Self-Service. Use a computer at WorkOne Bloomington to complete your taxes online. A tax preparer will be on location if you need help.

Mobile Sites. These tax-help-on-wheels outfits go to even more locations in the community—including Spanish-language help at St. Paul's Catholic Church. You may get specific dates and times by dialing 211.



Would $5 Million Motivate You to Cut Down on Your Energy Consumption?


It's a no-brainer: we save money by turning off lights we aren’t using, lowering our thermostats, and limiting the amount of water that goes down the drain. But Monroe County stands to gain something—five million dollars, actually—if we win a national competition aimed at community-wide reductions in energy consumption.

Of the 50-plus communities competing, the Georgetown University Energy Prize will be awarded to the one with the best plan for long-term energy efficiency. Our area’s big effort, called the Monroe County Energy Challenge, kicks off today—and it’s an ambitious project.

As MCEC's Molly O'Donnell explained on our radio spot on WFHB recently, cities, schools, and utility companies across Monroe County are partnering to reduce our total energy consumption by ten percent. That’s a big number across the board, so MCEC is breaking everything down into manageable steps; each “Task of the Month” adds up to significant energy (and money) savings if we all do our part.

Several organizations in our area also offer services geared toward making your home more energy-efficient, often at no cost to you. There are other ways you can help the effort, too. For more information you can contact the Challenge directly. Go team!

More Talk to an Expert Sessions Added!



Great news—our Talk to an Expert program has become so popular, we've added extra sessions! TTAE now offers free, unbiased advice on getting control of your money twice a month in January, March, and May (and still once a month in February and April).

As always, your 30-minute session with a financial expert is private, one-on-one, and confidential, and you won't be given any sales pitch. Talk about anything money-related, including:

  • Creating a budget
  • Saving/paying for college
  • Managing debt
  • Buying a home
  • Sound investing

Appointment slots fill up fast—you don't want to miss out! You may request an appointment online, call the Information Desk at 812-349-3228, or email rstacy [at] mcpl [dot] info.

Easy, Every Day Money-Saving Tips


PHOTO: Neerav Bhatt

Getting control of your finances can be overwhelming.  Here are some easy, everyday steps you can take to get on track.

1.  Ditch the frou-frou coffee out and start brewing your own.

A specialty drink at a coffee shop can cost upwards of $5; brewing your own coffee at home only costs pennies per cup.  You can buy chocolate syrup and flavored coffee creamer to make fancier drinks, and the cost per cup will still be far lower than buying it out.  Substitute at home coffee drinks twice a week, and you can save $10 per week—that's $40 a month!

2. Bring your lunch to work.

Lunch out easily eats up one or two hours of your paycheck. Try packing your lunch most days instead.  A piece or two of fruit, a cup of yogurt or applesauce, and a sandwich with a lot of protein (or a portion of last night’s leftovers) won’t set you back nearly as much as picking up a prepackaged sandwich—and it's much healthier than fast food. Don’t have access to a fridge at work? Freeze a water bottle overnight and put it in your lunch bag in the morning.  It'll keep your food cool until lunch (and you’ll have something to drink).

3. Walk, bike or take public transportation to work or class.

Try to walk or ride your bike to work or school; you’ll save on gas and maintenance costs, plus get some free exercise.  If it’s too far to walk, consider taking the bus—most buses from Bloomington Transit run at least once and hour and go all over the city.  For most people it’s a dollar each way (check the website to see if you qualify for reduced fares).

4. Use the It’s Your Money blog!

Check out Fun Around Town with No Money Down, our weekly selection of entertaining and cultural goings-on. Musical performances, movie showings, art gallery openings and more—all free of charge!

It's Your Money is made possible by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart investing@your library®, a partnership with the American Library Association.

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