The economy is tough for you and your employees - and what with back to school, looming energy bills and the pre-holiday season, it's a particularly costly time of year. One of the benefits that we offer our members is a "Tools for Tough Times" Resource Center, which we update periodically. Here's a sampling of some new budget-booster tools that we've discovered.
RxAssist - Patient assistance programs are run by pharmaceutical companies to provide free medications to people who cannot afford to buy their medicine. RxAssist offers a comprehensive database of these patient assistance programs, as well as practical tools, news, and articles so that health care professionals and patients can find the information they need. All in one place.
Transportation to Work Toolkit for the Business Community - This toolkit offers businesses the tools and information they need to develop and implement a cost-effective transportation program for their employees. These programs have many benefits for employees and employer alike. The Toolkit offers information on topics such as tax incentives, ridesharing and vanpools, green transportation, strategies for businesses in both rural and urban communities, and accessible transportation for employees with disabilities, along with success stories. It was created with funding from the Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, through a cooperative agreement between the Community Transportation Association of America and the Federal Transit Administration.
U.S. Transit System Links - links to regional bus, rail, ferry, trolley, and other public transportation systems.
Bike Maps - free road and mountain bike routes throughout the US and Canada to thousands of cyclists.
Money Matters - a resource provided by the Federal Trade Commission to help consumers tackle some money issues head-on. Topics include: Scam Watch, Credit Cards, Managing Your Money, Dealing with Debt, Your Home, and Jobs. This site is also available in Spanish.
MyMoney.gov - a resource brought to you by 20 agencies and bureaus of the U.S. Federal government that work on improving financial literacy and education. Here's just a few of the available tools:
Budgeting Worksheets; Calculators; Checklists; and Life Events
The Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP):
2011 Residential Energy Efficiency Incentives (PDF) - Homeowners can qualify for a variety of federal tax credits by making home envelope improvements and heating and cooling upgrades, and by installing onsite renewable generation. All incentives are in effect for measures placed in service during 2011 unless noted otherwise.
Commercial Energy Efficiency Incentives (PDF) - Business owners are eligible for a variety of federal tax incentives for improving building energy efficiency, implementing combined heat and power (CHP) systems, purchasing hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, and installing onsite renewable generation, fuel cells, and microturbines.
Student Loan Calculator - How much will you pay? Use this tool to determine how quickly you'll pay off your student loans. By making a higher monthly payment, you can shorten the length of your loan and dramatically reduce the interest you will pay.
The Freecycle Network is made up of 4,981 groups with 8,728,447 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers. Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on 'Browse Groups' above the search box.
True Cost to Own Calculator - This calculator from Edmunds reveals the hidden costs -- all the costs -- associated with buying, owning and operating a car over a five-year-period. These extra costs include: depreciation, interest on your loan, taxes and fees, insurance premiums, fuel costs, maintenance, and repairs. Search to view the TCO of any vehicle.
47 Cheap, Fun Things to Do This Weekend - proving that many of the best things in life are indeed free.