By Heather Greenwell, Outreach Program Team Lead, Public Affairs, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
In an effort to focus consumer attention on the importance of managing personal finances, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago coordinates Money Smart Week (MSW) during Financial Literacy Month every year in April. During Money Smart Week, April 22 through 29, the Federal Reserve brings together a wide range of organizations – government agencies, financial institutions, libraries, schools and individuals – to promote financial literacy in a week of concentrated programming on financial education. This campaign is a wonderful example of the collective impact that can be achieved by a group of dedicated and passionate individuals.
Money Smart Week is a national public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. The campaign is coordinated through the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago who began the effort in 2002 with 40 Chicago-based organizations who constituted the Money Smart Advisory Council. Today, in the program’s 15th year, thousands of classes and events are provided across the country through the collaboration of organizations including financial institutions, schools, not-for-profits, and government agencies. Programming is offered to all demographics and income levels and covers all facets of personal finance from how to open a bank account to saving for college to planning for retirement.
Examples of the types of MSW events that may be of particular interest to organizations working with low- to moderate-income populations around the Seventh District include:
Bank on it & to your credit, Traverse City, MI
Event description: In this two part session, consumers learn about the different types of financial institutions, their representatives, and five reasons to use a bank. Participants also discover the types of banks accounts, how to open and use an account, and additional bank services offered with deposit accounts. Information regarding what credit is and why it’s important, as well as the purpose and uses of a credit report is also shared. Attendees learn how to order a copy of the credit report, to read and correct the credit report, and to check for identity theft, leaving with an understanding of the difference between good and bad credit, how credit affects a borrower, and how to rebuild credit history.
Show me the money story time, Lafayette, IN
Event description: At “Show Me the Money” special story time, children enjoy stories and then try their hand with budgeting on a shopping trip in the Tippecanoe County Public Library “store” (money provided).
Event description: Attendees gain an understanding of housing discrimination: how to spot it, what to do if it happens, and ways the community can help prevent it. Participants leave with a greater understanding of renter rights and obligations, in addition to getting updates of fair lending laws.
Ready, set, retire, Fort Dodge, IA
Event description: Participants can choose from a menu of workshops to become better informed to make retirement decisions. Topics include: investing during retirement, social security, Medicare, long-term care insurance, putting your legal affairs in order, taking advantage of veterans’ benefits, healthy aging brain, and a “welcome to retirement” simulation.
Road to credit, Madison, WI
Event description: Participants learn what practices and events have the greatest impact on a credit score, how to recover from poor credit, and what factors lenders use in decision making.
For more information about free events on a variety of personal finance topics nearby or to learn more about becoming a Money Smart Week Partner, please visit www.moneysmartweek.org.
In addition to the Money Smart Week events listed on www.moneysmartweek.org, the Federal Reserve has developed other resources to help individuals be Money Smart all year long. One resource that is new this year is the Money Smart Week E-learning module that can be used by personal finance educators, coaches, and consumers at any time of the year. This fun, interactive, online course offers three 20-minute learning modules to help increase knowledge of personal finance, budgeting, and credit. The course is offered in both English and Spanish. This course is part of econlowdown, a free educator resource portal from the Federal Reserve that offers over one hundred courses in economics and personal finance that enable educators and coaches to track student progress and assess learning.