Money Smart Week: It’s Easy to Get Started Investing for Retirement — Really

Most of us are busy, and it’s easy to put off thinking about something that seems a long way in the future – like retirement. And many of us are also intimidated by investing – it seems so complicated.

But saving and investing when you’re young or even in middle-age can give you a much better chance of being able to retire comfortably in your 60s (or maybe even earlier). And with things like employer-sponsored 401(k) plans and broad-based index funds (rather than buying individual stocks) investing is easy and doesn’t take much time at all.

Here’s an example of what saving and investing when you’re young can do. Let’s say you estimate you’ll need $1 million at age 65 to be able retire. Assuming you can earn a 10 percent rate of return by investing your savings:

–If you start at age 25, you would need to save and invest only $158 a month.
–If you wait until age 35 to start saving and investing, you’d need $442 a month.
–If you wait until 45, you’d need $1,317 a month.
–If you wait until 55, you’d need nearly $5,000 a month.

If your company offers a 401(k) plan, that is the simplest way to save and invest for retirement. More and more companies are offering simplified and low-fee index funds as part of their 401(k) options. And many companies match what your put into your plan up to a certain dollar amount – free money for you!

If you don’t have a company retirement plan, broad-based index funds, such as those that mirror the S&P 500 index, are a very easy way to invest—simple to set up and requiring very little time to monitor and manage over the years. They are well-diversified and many studies show that they may provide better overall returns than individual stocks or complicated actively-managed mutual funds. There are many low-cost and online companies that can help you get started – Charles Schwab, Vanguard, Fidelity, etc.

So what are you waiting for? Get started now!

As part of national Money Smart Week, the Seattle Public Library is partnering with the Puget Sound Chapter of BetterInvesting to offer a free class:

Investing for Financial Independence: Steps to a great (and maybe early) retirement.

Saturday, April 28, 2-3:30 p.m.
Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle. WA 98104

Instructor Gary Ball, a volunteer and long-time individual investor, will discuss different ways to invest during your working years. He’ll show you how to set up an investment plan that you can use throughout the different stages of your life – 20-40, 40-50, and after 50. This plan will let you retain most of the investment returns and not pay a broker or financial advisor.

Money Smart Week®, April 21-28, 2018, is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. Organizations across the country, including many public libraries, are offering free programs to people of all ages and  income levels on all facets of personal finance. For more information about events, visit

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The Empty Chair

It’s been two years since I lost my dad and a year since I lost both my grandmothers.

During that time I didn’t know if I was going to end up whole by the end of it and in a way I guess I didn’t, but I’m still here…

Besides my family, friends, and champion of a husband, who proposed during the midst of all this loss, I’ve sought out something that has always been important to me and that’s stories. Through stories I’m in a world where I’m understood, there’s no judgement, and there’s no being “normal”.  So I pass on my therapy to you all, here are some reads to draw attention to that empty chair inside of us and fill it with stories of struggle, of mutual loss, of hope, and everything in between.

You’re not alone.

The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat

Drawing upon writers, poets, essayists, and her own journey with death Edwidge gives us the final story as a form therapy, of grieving. Each chapter focuses on some aspect of dying; those that commit suicide, those condemned to die, or those living dyingly, preparing for death, as her mom was with a cancer diagnosis. In a way we are all aware that there will be an end it’s what we do during this journey that will tell our story.


The Glass Eye by Jeannie Vanasco

This was the book that captured my loss so completely. It’s surprisingly hard to find books about fathers who were loved. More often than not there’s conflict between the father and the writer and that’s the bulk of the story. But in The Glass Eye its complete love, madness, and utter grief. I loved it so much I personally wrote the author and was shocked when she wrote back; the therapeutic touch authors give to us and us as readers give in return. Thank you again Jeannie.


Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin

Sent to live with his aunt after the death of his mother, 11 year old Marcus turns to what locals call the grief cottage as a sort of comfort. His aunt a painter who has captured the grief cottage over the years, but has never truly known its story, leads Marcus to become an investigator of sorts. As he learns about the cottage he creates connections to neighbors and friends on this small coastal island. I love stories of broken people and this was so beautiful and yet still very real.


Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

A novella of sorts, raw and real, lyrical and filled with a touch of magic. Crow has come to tend to the bereaved family after the loss of a mother who has left behind a husband and two boys.


~ posted by Kara P.

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Book-It Repertory Theatre presents THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Díaz, adapted and directed by Elise Thoron, from April 19 to May 6, 2018. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this resource list of books, music and films to enhance your experience of the show.

The history and culture of the Dominican Republic loom large in Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer-prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, about a sweet, awkward and ultimately doomed Dominican geek growing up in New Jersey and his family’s trials in Santo Domingo and the United States.

Many Americans know little about this small but densely populated Caribbean nation and the complex, multifaceted heritage of its people. Here are a few titles in the Library’s collection that will help you learn more about Dominican history, culture and identity and get prepared to see THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO at Book-It Repertory Theatre.

Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda
Like Oscar’s sister Lola, Raquel Cepeda is a Dominican American woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery and reclamation of her cultural heritage through her voyages between the Dominican Republic and the United States.

The Dominican Republic Reader
edited by Eric Paul Roorda, Lauren Derby, and Raymundo González
Learn more about the history, culture and politics of Oscar Wao’s homeland with this collection of 118 essays, speeches, articles, poems, short stories and other documents from a variety of Dominican authors.

In The Time of the Butterflies
Based on the Julia Alvarez novel of the same name, this 2001 film starring Salma Hayek dramatizes the lives of the Mirabal sisters (a.k.a. Las Mariposas), who opposed the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and were assassinated in 1960.

 The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
Set in the final days of the Trujillo regime, Vargas Llosa’s fast-paced, gripping novel paints a chilling portrait of the dictator and the pain and suffering he inflicted on ordinary people.

For these suggestions and more, see the complete resource list for Book-It’s THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO.

~posted by Abby B.

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April Literary Holidays

April is a hard month for literary holidays because there are so many! Without further ado, here they are:

Since 1967, International Children’s Book Day has been celebrated on April 2nd, which was selected in honor of Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. This day gets a different international sponsor each year and they get to choose the theme. This year the sponsor is Latvia and the theme they chose is “The Small is Big in a Book.” Here are three interpretations of Thumbelina in honor of the day:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention National Library Week from April 8th through April 14th. This momentous week gets an Honorary Chair and theme selected each year. This year Misty Copeland was selected with the theme “Libraries Lead.” For this day, I give you an inspirational ballerina story, a memoir by Copeland, and a book about historical libraries:

April 12th brings us D.E.A.R. Day or Drop Everything and Read Day. It is celebrated on Beverly Cleary’s birthday since she is the first author to write about this event. Read her book Ramona Quimby, Age 8 to see this memorable mention, or check out a few other books for this day:

St. Jorge’s Day takes place in many places on April 23rd; let’s look at how Catalonia celebrates the day St. Jorge defeated the dragon. Lovers exchange gifts of books and roses! In Catalonia, it has become a big book holiday. People queue up to get their books signed and authors are escorted from one location to another. Here are a couple books on Saint Jorge, and one book by a Catalan author.

April 23rd is Shakespeare Day, the day of his birth and possible death (there are no exact records of his death, just his burial). There are many ways to honor the bard on this day. I’ve provided a couple of retellings of his plays and a little history for the day.

Come April 30 it’s El día de los niños, el día de los libros or Children’s Day, Book Day. It’s a day that came about as a celebration of children linked with encouraging family literacy. This day has a tradition of book fiestas throughout the month that culminate on April 30. Pat Mora is an advocate for this day, here is one of her books along with a few others for the day.

Stay tuned, I’ll have more Literary Holidays for you in May!

~ posted by Meranda T.

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Library Reads: May 2018 books

Psychogical suspense, historical fiction, thrillers, fantasy and general fiction — 10 novels that librarians across the U.S. nominated as their top picks for May 2018. We await your holds!

Furyborn by Claire Legrand: Fierce, independent women full of rage, determination, and fire. The first novel in the Empirium trilogy holds appeal for both young adult and adult readers. For fans of Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, and The Hunger Games. ~ Kristin Friberg, Princeton Library, Princeton, NJ

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Awards that recognize fiction’s impact on society and culture

This past week two interesting, perhaps lesser-known book awards were given: The 83rd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize.

The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognize fiction, nonfiction and poetry books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity. The 2018 recipients are:

Fiction: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Anisfield-Wolf juror Joyce Carol Oates called this combination road novel and ghost story “a beautifully rendered, heartbreaking, savage and tender novel.”

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Friday the 13th: Stream the Screams

It’s Friday the 13th, which always makes me want to curl up with a good horror flick…or even a bad one. But I’m sure I’m not the only one, and DVD wait lists can sometimes crush those plans…however with our streaming services a horror flick is just a click away with your library card.

Want to get your horror fix without a wait list! Go to Kanopy and Hoopla to stream now!

My favorites from Kanopy:

What We Do In the Shadows – A great little horror comedy mockumentary from New Zealander’s Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi who wrote, directed, and starred in the film.

“Housemates Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav are three vampires who are trying to get by in modern society; from paying rent and doing housework to trying to get invited into nightclubs. They are just like anyone else – except they’re immortal and must feast on human blood. When their 8000 year-old roommate Petyr, turns 20-something human hipster Nick, into a vampire, the guys must guide him through his newfound eternal life.”

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