Free Money News March 2015

Madonna falls off stage! That headline has gotten lots of attention since the BRIT Music Awards in February. Her outfit included a long black cape (thank you Armani). It was supposed to drop off when a “devilishly dressed” dancer tugged it as Madonna went down some stairs. When it didn't Madonna says she chose to fall rather than be strangled. Always the professional, she got back up, gave her backup dancers a glare and the show went on. She did suffer some whiplash and was monitored overnight to be sure she was ok.

Have you stumbled in some way and need some help too? Perhaps you’re struggling with a disability or a business downturn. Or maybe you just need some assistance making things happen in your life and /or your business. A little luck wouldn’t hurt!

This newsletter highlights critical information about the “lucky seven” government websites we consider most useful at providing whatever help you might need (or, we warn you about a website that may not be so helpful…

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Federal Aid In Many Flavors

Federal Aid, or government help of any sort, isn’t just about welfare or similar aid. Those are important — and we cover them here — but there is so much more! Wonder where all the “Recovery” money went? Need advice about starting or funding a new business? Think there are benefits you should be getting but you’re not? Want help getting business contracts with the government? Check out our reviews for tips and tricks on getting the most from these sites:

1. disability.gov 

This site is designed not only for those who have disabilities but also for their families and caregivers. Some of the things we like best are: it’s updated daily; it meets different needs with multiple access options; you can look for resources nationally or by state; numerous subtopics help you find what you want quickly; and you can personalize the site and keep connected via social media; and we are impressed with the amount of information provided. They cover not only services such as transportation needs and helpful devices but also things like available scholarships. It’s an added plus that they have made the site pretty easy to navigate. Check out our guide to disability.gov to learn more.

2. recovery.org Remember the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009? You may be surprised to learn that over $816 billion has been given out in Contracts, Grants and Loans. Wow! Wonder where it all went?

For a little while longer you can find out, right down to the zip code. Our favorite feature (which gets discontinued later this year) is one that provides a map you can zoom on to see exactly who got what. Aside from satisfying curiosity, the information could be useful to you if you provide a product or service of any sort. Discover more about what you can learn and how you can use recovery.gov.

3. grants.gov We have kind of a love-hate relationship here. It is for sure the go-to site for the most current, comprehensive listing of all federal government grant opportunities. That sounds like a good thing but it can be a huge disappointment if you don’t fully understand what it is — and what a grant is. It’s too much to explain here but be aware that it is probably not what you are looking for unless you’re a government agency or a registered 501©(3) non-profit. It does have some useful aspects though. Check out our review to learn what grants.gov is good for — and what it’s not.

4. benefits.gov Here is website that lives up to its name. It is all about benefits — and all about you as an individual. Be prepared to take some time to answer all its questions. It will then tell you what benefits you qualify for – you probablyhaven't even heard of some of them! Use it right and you could be in for a treat. Learn how in our review of benefits.gov.

5. SBA.gov Business can really benefit here! This site is very comprehensive and pretty easy to use if you know what you are looking for. There’s also plenty here to help you even if you didn’t know you were looking for it! We clarify what the SBA does not do (hand out money) as well as what it does (make it easier for you to get money) in our SBA review.

6. FBO.gov This site is all about Federal Business Opportunities. If you are a qualifying business it can definitely help you increase the amount of money you can win in awards of federal contracts. And there are targeted programs for businesses owned by women and minorities. There’s nothing here for individuals, but if you are a business looking for contracts you may be fascinated by all the listings you can find here. There’s more too — learn more in our article discussing fbo.gov.

7. cfda.gov OK this one is not our favorite. It does have some use though. If you are looking for a complete list of all of the government’s assistance programs, this is the place to find it. Of course, the amount of information and the way it is presented may simply overwhelm you. On the other hand, perhaps it's right up your alley. We doubt it — you’re probably better off with one of the sites discussed above. Get the facts about how you can use it in our very straightforward assessment of CFDA.gov.

Look Forward to Spring

In some parts of the country you may not believe spring will ever really come this year. But we know it will and you will appreciate it all the more for the winter you have endured…

Regarding Madonna: there’s a silver lining. Her fall wasn’t fun and is not what she planned for the evening. But the publicity is helping move her newest hit single rapidly up the charts… You never know when you’ll be able to turn a tough situation into a new opportunity!

Recent Updates

Recovery.gov - Recovery.gov is an official federal site providing information about Recovery Act spending and providing a channel for reporting abuse. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in 2009 and allocated nearly eight hundred bill...

Apply For A Grant - Is it easy to apply for a grant? Yes and No. It depends on your understanding about grants, what they are and who can get them. Unfortunately many people, influenced by political promises and false hopes, come to believe that ther...

Federal Assistance in the United States - The government provides upwards of $600 billion dollars annually in assistance to citizens of the United States! Understanding Federal Assistance can help you get what you need. First, it takes many forms and h...

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