By now you are probably aware that the St. Tammany Parish Library has numerous locations throughout the parish, and that each branch hosts a wide selection of books on a variety of topics, including on finance.
However, you may not know that the library also has access to a variety of online databases and websites as well!
When looking to improve your financial situation, whether it is to learn how to budget or apply for loans or check your credit, there are a host of resources at your fingertips. Let us discuss a few of the more common and practical ones available.
One of the most useful websites by far is Credit Karma, opens a new window. Credit Karma allows users to keep track of their credit scores 24/7. The website relies on your personal confidential information, such as your social security number and other relevant information, to track each and every one of your credit accounts, active and closed. In addition to showing your credit history and your credit score, Credit Karma also makes recommendations on ways to improve your credit, such as closing or renegotiating accounts, opening new ones, and more.
Additionally, Credit Karma also offers free online tax service, with every protection expected in the modern tax market. When completing taxes online with Credit Karma you will be asked a series of relevant questions and automatically paired with the forms you need: no guesswork!
In addition to being 100% free, Credit Karma also offers an online banking service with competitive rates. And if you ever need to pull your credit report, you can do that too!
There's also an app!
Mortgage Calculator is another free website. As the name suggests, it provides a built in software system that allows potential home buyers to plug in various variables and see how much the house of their dreams costs.
There are various factors to consider, ranging from the prospective purchase price, the down payment, how much you intend to borrow and at what rate. Additionally, the program can also consider other variables such as Private Mortgage Insurance, Home Owner Association fees, and insurance. It can even determine what rates you should be applying for given your geographic area.
With all of these variables, Mortgage Calculator can give you a wealth of information: how much you pay per month, what portion of your payment goes to each part of the mortgage, when your mortgage starts and ends and even how much you pay annually and over the life of the loan.
Just be aware that like most businesses, Mortgage Calculator is only a tool, and does not promise or guarantee the numbers calculated using its software.
If you ever want to compare the quality of the things you own or want to own, look no further than Consumer Reports, opens a new window. Consumer Reports has been around since 1936. It is a nonprofit dedicated to testing various appliances and devices available to consumers for purchase. They provide honest feedback and every item they test is one that they buy; there are no sponsors.
Subscriptions to Consumer Reports vary: For physical copies of their magazine, buyers spend $30 per year, but a digital subscription is $10/month. If you buy per year, a digital subscription is $39, but if you shell out $59 you get access to free online chatting with Consumer Reports testers and even more reviews.
However, St. Tammany Parish Library patrons have access to the magazine FOR FREE. Most of the branches keep the most current issue at the circulation desk, and many receive circulating copies that can be checked out.
Additionally, you can also just hang out at consumerreports.org, opens a new window and read some of the various articles they produce, free of charge and readily available, to give you an idea of what's on the minds of the Consumer Reports testers and topics you might want to pay attention to.
Speaking of saving money, one of the best places consumers can save is on big ticket items like automobiles. When buying your next car or truck, consider taking a look at Kelley Blue Book, opens a new window.
Kelley Blue Book's goal is to help prospective vehicle buyers pay the right price for the vehicle they want. They compare makes and models of many different vehicles, domestic and foreign, highlighting the various differences, good and bad. In addition, Kelley Blue Book also keeps track of the accolades earned by these various vehicles and the corporations that make them, as well as reviews of how they test and drive on the road.
Kelley Blue Book is perhaps most useful for consumers looking to buy a used vehicle. Over time, all vehicles deteriorate in condition as well as value, some more than others; Kelley Blue Book can show buyers what their vehicle is really worth, so they can buy it for a fair price. KBB is also useful if you want to sell your vehicle, so you know how much you can offer based on the model and its condition.
As always, there are no guarantees, and any prices listed are just recommendations, not guarantees.
Last but certainly not least, the St. Tammany Parish Library also has a few databases available for patrons. While some are not free ordinarily, all are free to patrons when accessed through our website.
There are databases available for both consumers and small business owners. For consumers, special interest should be given to EBSCOhost, Value Line, and Weiss Financial Ratings. Free access to these databases must be accessed through our website's database hub.
EBSCOhost is a lauded source for academic articles on a variety of topics in virtually every field. You can search for articles individually or view entire databases collecting articles and periodicals. Viewers can search by subject, author, date published, even by editors and source.
Value Line provides information and opinions on over 220,000 financial opportunities, ranging from stocks and securities to options and mutual funds. Much like Consumer Reports, Value Line offers reliable, unbiased opinions that can help patrons make informed decisions.
Weiss Financial Ratings functions similar to Consumer Reports, offering information on a variety of topics, including debt management, procuring home insurance, buying and shopping for a home and more. There are numerous articles available on a variety of sources.
To access these databases from home, have your library card handy! And if you ever have an inquiry about one of the many offered databases or one of our other sources, feel free to contact one of our reference librarians, opens a new window. Reference librarians work out of most of the large branches of the St. Tammany Parish Library, maintaining hours in office as well as by appointment. You can also call to speak to one over the phone.
We hope this information proves useful for any financial inquiries you may have. As always, keep an eye out for more articles by the STPL Bloggers, opens a new window. We are always submitting articles on a variety of topics, so stay tuned!