Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Enjoy Free Comic Book Day at Mentor Library

If your kids love reading, writing or drawing comics, then they'll probably love our Comics Club.
Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday! Kids can come to Mentor Library's Main Branch and get new, free issues from all the top comics publishers—Marvel, DC, Boom, Bongo, Image and more. (The comics have been donated by our friends at Comics & Friends!)

You may be confused and wondering, "Aren't all of the comics at Mentor Library free?" And, yes, we have thousands of comics and graphic novels that you can check out without cost.

But Free Comic Book day is a special, once-a-year event where kids can read new stories from all kinds writers and artists—not just superheroes either. It's a fun way to expand your horizons without having to spend any cash.

So drop by and pick up some comics while the supply lasts. (And, once more, because we can't say it enough, thanks to Comics & Friends!)
Our Comics Club doesn't just read and talk about comics. We write and draw our own sequential art, as well.
If your kid loves comics, then they'll probably love our Comics Club too.

Our Comics Club is for any 8- through 12-year-old who likes to read, talk about, or draw sequential art. (Not just superheroes either. We love everything from Amelia Rules to Batman to Bone.)

Our Comic Club meets from 7 to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month at our Main Branch. Our next meeting is May 5.

At a typical meeting, the kids talk about a special theme. Then we introduce the kids to graphic novels and comics that can be found in the library’s collection.

We close out each meeting with free time for the kids to draw or read.

To register a child for the Comics Club, call the library at (440) 255-8811 ext. 221.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Investment Basics: Where to Start

Fill that piggy bank by investing.
Even the least money savvy of us have a vague appreciation of investing. It seems like a good idea in the way that it would be better to eat more vegetables or learn a second language.

But investing can be intimidating. What if you make a bad investment and lose your savings? What's the difference between investing and putting your money in a 401(k) or IRA?

To answer questions, the Society for Financial Awareness provided an introduction to investing as part of Money Smart Week at Mentor Public Library.

Here is some of the information and advice they shared:

Why invest?

There's more than one reason to invest. First, I assume you want to retire some day. Wise investments can hasten that day.

Moreover, you know how inflation works. If inflation rises three percent each year, then $200,000 today will have the purchasing power of $59,142 in 40 years. In other words, your money will be worth less money.

Through the power of compound interest, investment does the opposite of that. It makes your money worth more money.

When you invest, you don't just earn money from your initial investment, the interest from your investment also accrues interest. This can really add up over time. If you invest $5,000 a year for 30 years and see a six percent annual growth rate, then you'll make $395,291—more than twice what you would have if you just stored that money in shoe boxes beneath your bed.

No less a mind than Albert Einstein said, "The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest." And, yes, we realize his tongue was in his cheek when he said that; but, still, if you want to harness that powerful force, you need to learn about investing

The sooner the better

The most important thing about investing (or establishing any kind of savings) is that you don't want to hesitate.

The sooner you begin, the more time your investments have to grow. Playing "catch up" later can be difficult and expensive.

Identify goals and risk tolerance

What are you saving for? Retirement? Your kids' college? Maybe a new car?

Your investment goals (long term versus short term) affect your time horizons.

In general, the longer your investment horizon, the more potentially high-reward risks you can afford to take. After all, if you don't plan to retire for 30 years, then you have plenty of time to recover from losses.

There's often a risk-reward tradeoff. The higher the possible payoff, the larger the potential losses. The spectrum of low-risk/low-return to high-risk/high-return goes something like this: Treasury bills, CDs, government bonds, corporate bonds, preferred stock, common stock and, finally, options and futures present the highest risk and possible rewards.

Know the different types of investments

There are different types of investments: cash alternatives, bonds, stocks, funds, and more. (However, 401(k)s and IRAs are not investments. They're tax-advantaged vehicles that hold individual investments.)

Here's a break down of the different options and there advantages.

1. Cash alternatives are low risk, short term and relatively liquid. Examples include CDs, money market deposit accounts and mutual funds, and U.S. Treasury Bills.

The potential return is low enough that they may not keep up with inflation, but the earnings are predictable and there's little risk to the principal.

2. Bonds are a loan to a government or corporation. The interest is typically paid at regular intervals. They can be traded like other securities.

The risks include the value of the bond fluctuating with interest rates and, of course, default. And the potential returns are lower than, say, stocks.

However, the risks are also lower than in the stock markets and the income is both predictable and typically higher than cash alternatives.

3. Shares of stocks represent an ownership position in a business. The percentage of a business you own determines your share in its profits and losses. Your shares of stock can ultimately be sold for a loss or a gain.

Within stocks there are a lot of categories: common versus preferred; small, mid or large cap. It helps to have a professional to guide you.

Stocks historically have provided the highest long-term total returns. They can provide income through dividends as well as capital appreciation. However, market volatility or poor company performance create a greater risk to your principal.

Consequently, stocks might not be appropriate for short-term investments or goals.

4. Mutual funds are when your money is pooled with that of other investors. The fund invests for you according to a stated investment strategy, and you own a portion of the securities held by the fund. (In other words, your investment is automatically and instantly diversified.)

Mutual funds fall all along the risk-reward spectrum. Before you invest in a fund, you should consider its objectives, risks, charges and expenses to make certain its goals coincide with your own.

The advantages of investing in mutual funds: liquidity, as well as diversification and professional management of your investments. The disadvantages: fund fees and expenses, tax inefficiencies and value fluctuations.

Picking a professional

We've just covered the basics here, and it can already seem overwhelming.

Frankly, when you're talking about your financial future, it helps to have a professional's insight and experience. A financial professional can help you determine your investment goals, timelines and risk tolerances. They can also help select specific investments, manage, monitor and modify your portfolio.

But how do you pick a financial professional that's right for you?

Actually, that one's easy.

When you talk to a financial professional, ask them questions. Ask them about your different options. If you don't understand or aren't satisfied by their answers, keep looking for the right person.

Click here for more information from our Money Smart programs.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

All smiles and sunshine at the April Showers story time

Josephine makes a cotton-ball cloud during Mentor Library's April Showers story time.
For as much snow and cold as we received this summer, a little rain isn't a problem; so we had a special April Showers story time on Monday at our Main Branch.

First, we read books with the children: Little Cloud; Tap Tap Boom Boom; and The Deep Deep Puddle.

Then, we made thematically appropriate crafts—cotton-ball clouds and lightning bolts.

Finally, we made a tasty "mud" snack with Oreos and chocolate pudding.
Sierra tries to decide how to decorate her lightning bolt.
Mentor Library has story times for all ages of kids at all three of our branches.

They include songs, crafts and, of course, reading! (Occasionally, they even include a snack.)

All of our story times are free and open to the public. However, a few of them require registration because of limited spaces.

To see what story times are the best fit for your family, check out our online event calendar.
Join in the Mentor Library story times.
For more photos from our April Showers story time, visit Mentor Library's Facebook page.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Party like a princess at Mentor Library's Princess Tea Party

Join the fun at Mentor Library's Princess Tea on Saturday, May 2.

Every year on the Saturday before Mother's Day, we throw a tea party for kids at our Main Branch. And each year we try to make it bigger and better than the year before.

But how do you top a tea party that was practically perfect in every way?

Party like a princess. That's how.

We're hosting a Princess Tea Party at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at our Main Branch.

Kids will make hennins (those conical princess hats) and mirrors (so they can ask who's the fairest,) as well as play princess bingo. They'll even see a puppet show!

The party is for children ages five and older. Each family should have one adult accompany their child to the party (but not more than one adult. We want to leave as much room for kids as possible.) And each person should bring their own teacup.

It’s always a lot of fun; but the room tends to fill up quickly, so you’ll need to register soon to make sure there’s space for you and your child.

See you at the party!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Celebrate Earth Day with MPL & the City of Mentor

Going green is easier than you think. You don't have to live in a solar-powered earth berm to make a difference.

It can be as simple as sorting your recyclables, having a rain barrel or planting a backyard garden.

You can learn more fun and helpful ways to go green during the city of Mentor's Earth Day celebration from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 24, at Wildwood Cultural Center.

You can get free tree seedlings and build a rain barrel. There will be crafts and games for kids, as well.

And Mentor Public Library will be there with free vegetable, fruit, herb and flower seeds that you can check out from our Seed Library. You can also grab a gardening book or two from our Pop-Up Library.

And the whole shebang is free for you and your family, so come see us this Friday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

9 Money-Saving Tips from Joe "The Coupon Guy" Daugirdas

Mentor Library kicked off Money Smart Week with advice from Joe "The Coupon Guy" Daugirdas on how to save money.

Here are some of his recommendations:

1. Discount stores don't always have the best deals.

Yes, the Marc's and Walmarts of the world tend to have lower starting prices, but they also tend to have fewer sales and stingier coupon policies, Daugirdas said. Sharp shoppers can save just as much money (if not more) by using coupons at Giant Eagle and Dave's Supermarkets.

2. Know a store's coupon policies.

Not every store has the same coupon policies. Some allow double coupons. Some (like most warehouse stores) barely allow coupons at all. If you know a store's policies, you can better plan your shopping trips and save. You can find most stores' coupon policies on their website. And there's another reason to visit department store or pharmacy sites. Many of them (like Rite-Aid) offer coupons or deals online.

3. Don't let brand or store loyalty cost you more.

No one store is going to have the cheapest everything, Daugirdas said. And the difference between the expensive and inexpensive brand is not always obvious. Take Smokey Robinson's advice and shop around.

4. Combine your coupons.

This tip falls under "check a store's policy first," because it doesn't always work. However, you can often combine different types of coupons and sales to save more money. For example, if you have a store coupon and manufacturer's coupon for the same item, use them both simultaneously. Some stores also have their own rewards programs (like CVS's Extra Bucks.) You can use those too and save even more!

5. Keep your coupons in the car.

It will happen. You will see something that you want or need on sale. You even have a coupon for it, but you didn't know it would be on sale so you left the coupon at home. Daugirdas recommends keeping your coupons in the car, so you never cost yourself money.

6. You don't have to be an extreme couponer.

Daugirdas said he clips every coupon, just in case he needs it. But you don't have to do that, he added. You can just cut the coupons you need. It's still saving you money.

7. Get the most out of your gas discounts.
If you're going to use your GetGo discount, use as much of it as possible. You can fill up to 30 gallons. Don't have a 30-gallon tank in your car? Bring a gas can. (And use gasbuddy.com to find the least expensive gas station in your area.)

8. Follow Joe's Facebook page and website for specific deals.

Joe lets people know about weekly deals on his website and Facebook page, both of which are free to follow.

9. Here are some more sites that Joe recommends:
  • restaurant.com (Go at the beginning of the month for the best deals)
  • coupons.com (Get manufacturers' coupons for hundreds of items)
  • LivingSocial and Groupon (Discounts on everything from vacations to restaurants)
  • VacationsToGo and MouseSavers (Vacations to Go helps you find less expensive cruises, while Mouse Savers searches for Disney discounts)
  • KidsEat4Free (A website that helps you find restaurants that offer free meals for kids, usually with the purchase of an adult entree)
  • OrganicDeals (Great site for finding discounts for organic foods)
  • SavingStar (Lets you save money while shopping online or at the grocery store)
  • IDine (Earn benefits when you dine out)
  • GoTime (Specifically helps you find happy-hour deals)
There are even more links on Joe's website.

By the way, we have more, free Money Smart programs all this week. We have:
  • Women, Money & Finance at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22. Whether you’re preparing for the future, facing career changes, transitioning into retirement, or any number of other financial turning points, together we can address your concerns and turn challenges into opportunities. Carol Ganser, a financial and income specialist, will discuss topics pertinent to women, and address any questions you may have.
  • Investment Basics at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Learn the basics of investments from an expert at the Society for Financial Awareness. We’ll discuss what types of investments there are, how to invest, and how to protect your money. Come prepared with questions, and learn how to make your money work for you.
  • Retirement Planning Basics at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. Ease your road to retirement by planning ahead. Join a speaker from the Society for Financial Awareness as we discuss all aspects of retirement planning, from investments to income.
All Money Smart programs will be held at our Main Branch.

Also, for each Money Smart program you attend this week, you’ll receive a ticket for a drawing; and the winner will receive a very money smart prize.

For more information on Money Smart Week at Mentor Public Library, visit www.mentorpl.org or call (440) 255-8811 ext. 215.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Read for the Roses during Derby Days at Mentor Library

Read for the Roses at Mentor Library and you can win fun prizes.
It's still two weeks away but we're already excited for the Kentucky Derby, and there are two ways you can join in the fun at Mentor Library.

First, you can Read for the Roses. We have displays filled with books about the Kentucky Derby, horses, the state of Kentucky and other apropos themes in our adult and children's departments at our Main Branch. These items all have raffle tickets in them. If you check one of them out, you can come to the Circulation Desk to complete the ticket and drop it in our raffle box.

The raffle will run until the day of the race, Saturday, May 2. We'll pick the winners on May 3 and they will receive gift cards from stores around town.

We're also encouraging patrons to don their finest Derby hats! As you probably already know, wearing a hat at Churchill Downs is thought to bring good luck. So from Thursday, April 30, through Saturday, May 2, you're all encouraged to wear your fanciest, favorite or most fun hat in honor of the Kentucky Derby tradition.

Everyone who wears a Derby hat can receive a coupon at our Circulation Desk for our next book sale at the Read House.

So join in the fun and good luck at the races!