Shop Local Live Local ALL YEAR LONG

Remember last year’s Shop Local Live Local campaign, where AdventureKEEN supported booksellers across the country by donating all of their profits from the month of June to Binc? We do! Because of AdventureKEEN’s donation, we were able to help four booksellers through one of the most trying years in the foundation’s history.

Richard from AdventureKEEN joined then-supporter-now-board-member Chuck Robinson on Chuck’s Big Ride Redux to personally deliver the funds AdventureKEEN raised with the original Shop Local Live Local Campaign.

After the rousing success of Shop Local Live Local, AdventureKEEN is once again stepping up to help booksellers thrive. For 2018, AdventureKEEN is taking the Shop Local Live Local spirit and spreading it across the year with SHOP LOCAL LIVE LOCAL ALL YEAR LONG. This new campaign means AdventureKEEN is offering a three percent rebate to stores and a matching three percent donation to Binc based on 2018 purchases of all AdventureKEEN titles via PGW/IPS

One of the best parts about this offer is that AdventureKEEN is willing to count all sales from the beginning of 2018, but only for those store that sign up for the program before March 31, which is why we are taking to our humble blog in the hopes of getting the word out before it is too late.

If you’re not familiar with AdventureKEEN’s offerings, they make a great addition to your Local Interest section. AdventureKEEN provides region and state-specific titles to help people get the most out of the outdoors in their community, from hiking, stargazing and birdwatching guides to books to inspire a love of nature in young readers. Shop Local Live Local began with the idea of encouraging people to foster a deeper connection to their community through their local bookstore as well as their local parks, trails and backyards: we’re so excited to see it expand to a year-round mission.

Chuck’s Ride interview with Stirling Books and Brew

 

Chuck Robinson, of Village Books and Paper Dreams, and Richard Hunt, of AdventureKEEN, recently visited Staci and Jim Stuart, owners of Stirling Books & Brew in Albion, MI. They stopped to talk about how Binc and the Albion community came to Jim and Staci’s aid after Staci suffered a spinal injury just days before the store was set to open. You can join Chuck and Richard in supporting Binc, click here. You can also join in helping Staci with her recovery here.

 

 

Helping booksellers after the unexpected from Binc Foundation on Vimeo.

Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship Announced

Please join us in launching a new fund to support emerging booksellers and their efforts in community building, in honor of Carla Gray.

The Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists will be managed by the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation.

Carla Gray believed that books could change people and that people change the world. This memorial fund in her honor connects on both fronts, at the intersection of books and activism.

The Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship will be given annually to a single bookseller with fewer than five years of experience, working at a store with less than $500k in revenue. The bookseller will be given a scholarship for professional development, including attendance at a key industry trade show, one of Carla’s favorite activities. The bookseller will have the opportunity to connect with booksellers, publishers, and authors and to establish the kind of long-term relationships Carla held dear and that keep this business thriving. The bookseller will also be given a stipend (amount TBD) to support a community outreach project of his/her own creation. This scholarship and its recipients will celebrate and honor Carla’s boundless enthusiasm for the books themselves, her delight in pairing the right book with the right reader, and her faith in the bookselling community.

We are grateful to Binc for helping to commemorate our beloved friend and book champion. We are looking forward to refining the range of the award once we have a base fund established.”

Hannah Harlow, Jenna Johnson, and MaryBeth Long
Friends of the Extraordinary Carla Gray

Additional information can be found at Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, and Legacy.com.

Contributions can be made here.

 

Guest Blog – Squirrel and Nest Financial Counselling: Tracking Your Spending

 

Squirrel and Nest Financial Counselling has teamed up with Binc Foundation to present ways for booksellers to build a foundation of financial literacy and move towards financial stability at any pay rate. In part two, the series continues with a discussion about how and why you should track what you spend.

If personal finance has a golden rule, it’s this: spend less than you make. If you can only follow one piece of financial advice, that’s the one. Yet, for however simple that advice seems, most people don’t actually follow it. If you’re not, you’re borrowing money and paying compound interest on the amount you borrowed. For some purchases that may make sense, like a mortgage on a house. Entering into debt should be done – if done at all – intentionally and in an informed manner. But that’s not what’s going on when we spend beyond our income, and with easy access to credit it takes no effort to do so.

How then do you begin to follow this golden rule? Track what you spend. You need to know – and understand – where your money is going and how you are using it.

This can be frightening and intimidating. We are taught to attach value to finances akin to “having money is good, and not having money is bad.” With this mentality, people in financial difficulty often judge themselves and enter a self-defeating loop. If you give into your inner negative, judging voice, you won’t be able to see your financial situation with honesty and clarity to be able to make the changes you want. The challenge you face is to detach yourself from this judgment. Cultivate an objective mind when you look at your money. This is the essential in developing a healthy financial perspective.

To track your spending, you really need to record every monetary transaction you make. This includes money coming in (paychecks, loans you take out) and going out (purchases, rent, debt repayment, etc). I personally prefer to do this manually by keeping a pen-and-paper record of all transactions in a blank book or journal. If you’re more technologically inclined, or if technology will get you to stick with your tracking exercise, use a spreadsheet. By manually entering every transaction, you are connecting with, and understanding, your money and the habits you’ve developed surrounding its use. You can tally it either as you spend or receive money, or you can keep your receipts and enter them at the end of each day, but you have to do this consistently. By each day’s end, you should know exactly how much money you have and where every cent that has gone.

If manual entry seems daunting, consider a bookkeeping app like Mint.com. This website and phone app allows you to link your bank accounts, credit cards and loans, and will let you track all of your income and spending automatically. You still have to do some work as it doesn’t always categorize transactions correctly, so you still have to go in and categorize your expenses, but you no longer need to manually enter each purchase you make. Some people find this a much easier and better system. Just keep in mind you are losing out on the advantages of writing this information down, including the immediate and very real connection to your spending habits.

After a month of this practice, you will develop a sense of what you have been doing with your money during the course of a month. Separate purchases into common categories like groceries, housing, entertainment, eating out, debt payments, books, etc. Figure out how much you’ve spent in each category and total the amounts. (Pro tip: Keep separate categories for groceries and eating/drinking out.)

At the end of the month, ask: Did you spend more or less than you made that month? What spending habits do you see when you look at these categories and receipts? Does this reflect your values / Is this how you want to spend your money? In compiling this information, you’ve created a budget template, which means you have a rough idea about what you spend in a month and can project your future spending needs. More than that, once you know how you’re using your money, you’re in a position to make conscious changes about your spending habits.

Other tools that may help you track your money include cash envelopes (more on that in this blog post), keeping a consumer spending journal, or other forms of creative journal tracking. The trick is to find the approach that works for you. Keep that in mind as you begin. Try as many different ways of tracking your money as you can and see what actually works for you. There’s a solution out there for you. You just have to be willing to try a few options.

Budgets and spending plans succeed when they are flexible. You know this already, but life can be unpredictable. You’ll find items in your expenditures that you weren’t expecting. Don’t let this throw you off course. Those exceptions happen, and as you do this month after month, you’ll come to find that they happen nearly every month in one way or another. Maybe it’s a birthday party you were invited to attend, or perhaps your car needed a repair. As you become more proficient at budgeting, add a category for those surprise expenses. Every month can be “exceptional,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared for it.

A few final points… Be sure to budget a line for savings, including building an emergency fund (Check out part one in this series to learn more about emergency funds). Building an emergency fund will keep an unexpected expense from turning into a disaster. And don’t forget to give yourself a set allowance for fun spending money that is not to be exceeded. Any budget plan with nothing set aside for fun is a plan for failure.

Make a plan, stick to it, and keep moving forward. You can do this!

(If you’re interested in seeing the startling amount of debt Americans rack up, the Federal Reserve publishes quarterly statistics about it. If you would like a meaningful discussion of debt, NerdWallet offers an accessible analysis on household debt and what it means.)

If you have any questions, feel free to email Justus Joseph at Squirrel and Nest.

If you are or know a bookseller in need of financial assistance, contact Binc at help@bincfoundation.org.

 

Guest Blog – Squirrel and Nest Financial Counselling: Emegency Funds

 

People who sell books for a living are in the industry because they love it. Passion, not money, brings people to bookselling careers. Learning how to live well on wages that gravitate near minimum wage without the benefit of tips can be a daunting task. Squirrel and Nest Financial Counselling has teamed up with Binc Foundation to present a few ways for booksellers to build a foundation of financial literacy and move towards financial stability at any pay rate. First in the series: Emergency funds.

Many of us come to the industry with debt, often a combination of credit cards and student loans. We face rising housing and living costs, and we deal with any number of financial quandaries on a daily basis. Given our economic realities, putting money aside to sit-and-wait for a just-in-case scenario can feel maddening – or seem plain mad. Yet emergency funds are arguably the most important element of a financial safety net. Perhaps second only to “spend less money than you make,” the financial advice to “build an emergency fund” is among the best you can follow.

What exactly is an emergency fund? It is cash set aside to be used only in an unexpected one-time situation and only to prevent imminent danger to one’s physical health. In other words, an emergency fund is money you keep to bail yourself out when a true emergency arises.

Sadly, emergencies will happen; they’re a common part of life. Knowing what is and isn’t an emergency will give you the guidelines you need to manage your just-in-case cash fund. An emergency is a one-time unexpected situation that threatens your access to basic food, shelter, clothing, and/or medical care. Specific threats to each category include the following:

Food – not having enough basic food to survive, having no money for food due to an unexpected situation, already using the food bank and still not making it.

Shelter – receiving an eviction notice, having essential utilities cut off (water, electricity, heat in cold months).

Clothing – lack of basic appropriate clothing to keep you safe and warm to due an unexpected situation.

Medical care – injury or illness that requires medical attention

What do each of these situations have in common? They threaten your very existence.

I want to dwell on medical care for one moment because your well being – financial and otherwise – is tied to your access to health care. You need health insurance; consider this absolutely non-negotiable. Making a choice not to pursue medical care is a decision that threatens your physical health in the short- and long-terms. Becoming sick is never expected, but it is a reality each of us faces even if we seem otherwise healthy. Even with insurance, co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses often lead people to not access these essential services. Having money on hand to cover those costs is crucial. When you have insurance, make sure you are familiar with its terms, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums. Once you know what you may have to pay in the worst-case scenario, add the amount to your emergency fund target goal.

How much money do you need in an emergency fund, and how do you put any money away on a bookseller’s salary?

Conventional financial advice suggests individuals save enough to cover three to six months of expenses, plus your worst-case out-of-pocket medical costs. We would love to say there’s an easy way for the average bookseller’s finances to reach this goal in a timely manner, but the reality is that saving that much cash for a minimum wage worker takes a very long time. So instead of looking at a large and daunting number, start small. Aim to create a $500 cash emergency fund.

Why $500? This amount will cover small, unexpected events like an emergency doctor visit, a basic car repair, a trip to the emergency vet with a pet, or being short on rent or food. It’s a number within reach of nearly everyone’s budget with some planning, and it’s a good start. If you put $20 away a month, you can have $500 in about two years. Increase your monthly savings to $42 to complete this goal within one year.

When you decide to create your emergency fund, it helps to keep the money separate from your usual living expenses. Keep it in a separate account, ideally a high-interest rate savings account often offered by credit unions and online banks, or set it aside as cash in an envelope or somewhere you will not be tempted to use it.

To build up your fund, consider utilizing these suggestions:

  • Have money transferred from your regular account to your emergency fund automatically.
  • Start small. And keep going. Even $20 a month is a good beginning!
  • Save unexpected windfalls. Instead of spending birthday money, a work bonus, surprise cash, etc., put it into your emergency fund.
  • Save more. Change your spending habits to make room to save. This requires knowing where your money is going and what it’s doing, which we’ll cover in a future blog post.
  • Earn more. Get a second job or a side-hustle to grow your income. Ask for a raise.
  • Forget your raise! If you do earn a raise, don’t inflate your lifestyle to match it. Continue to live on what you made previously. Put what additional money you earn into a savings account so you don’t see it.

When you’re saving, and after a while this amount will grow, keep in mind that it’s okay to let this money sit as cash or in a savings account. It may be tempting at some point to invest it to grow your money, but the point of an emergency fund is for it to be there right away when you need it. It’s your safety net. Leave it alone.

Moreover, a credit card is not an emergency fund. If you can’t afford to pay for an emergency need the moment it’s before you, how are you going to afford it later with compound interest added on? A $300 emergency on a credit card may end up taking 18 months to pay off and cost $42 extra in interest. Using a credit card to cover emergencies puts individuals in a bad situation where, on top of the stress of the emergency itself, they’re now in debt. Any further complications or a second emergency situation could damage their financial stability for years.

Consider buying term disability insurance. Employers are required to carry workers compensation insurance, which covers you in case you are injured on the job. Many large companies also give, or offer, disability insurance, which covers you in case you are sick or are injured from something other than a workplace injury. Many bookstores are too small or can’t afford to give employees disability insurance, so purchase a term disability policy in case your health suffers and you are unable to work.

Wherever you decide to begin, getting an emergency fund together is one of the best forms of protection you can give yourself. You’re the only one who’s going to look after you, so be the guardian you would want on your side and be kind to yourself. Make a plan, stick to it, and keep going.

If you have any questions, feel free to email Justus Joseph at Squirrel and Nest.

If you are or know a bookseller in need of financial assistance, contact Binc at help@bincfoundation.org.