by Steve Zalusky
Now more than ever, knowing how to handle money is critical to our survival. Virtually from cradle to grave, we are faced with financial challenges, and how we face up to those challenges depends on how well we arm ourselves with reliable, accurate information.
From April 22-29, 2017, more than 1,000 of our nation’s libraries will be participating in Money Smart Week®. Library events will focus on such issues as smart investing for college, a new car, a house or retirement, first-time homebuying, how to reduce property taxes, foreclosure prevention, getting out of debt and estate planning.
Libraries of all types provide programming for all ages and all stages of life on topics such as: basic budgeting; managing student debt; retirement planning; home purchasing; saving money through couponing; and how to prevent identity theft.
Moreover, libraries offer expert librarians and library workers offering unbiased sources of information that link patrons with the tools not only to help them remain fiscally fit, but also see potential red flags ahead.
Created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in 2002, Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances. The American Library Association (ALA) is among several partnering organizations. ALA’s efforts have included developing guidelines and best practices for librarians, Financial Literacy Education in Libraries, through an IMLS grant. The ALA Chapter Relations Office has also offered free webinars for participating libraries.
“The ALA is delighted to continue its association with Money Smart Week. Through their involvement, participating libraries are forging valuable partnerships leveraging local community assets to deliver valuable programs addressing key financial topics,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. “Librarians are experts in providing free, unbiased sources of financial information, connecting people with the resources they need to clear today’s often daunting economic hurdles.”
Heather Greenwell, outreach program team lead, public affairs, with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said, “Money Smart Week has experienced tremendous growth across the country in large part because of our partnership with champions like the American Library Association and its members. Libraries are cornerstones of the community and as such are able to engage the public on a local level while collectively amplifying the Money Smart Week messages of awareness, education, and access to resources. Last year, libraries hosted over 1,000 Money Smart Week events that focused on a wide array of personal finance topics from basic budgeting to saving for college, and planning for retirement. Money Smart Week is incredibly grateful to our library Money Smart Week partners for their passion and dedication to providing these educational opportunities to consumers of all ages and helping set them on the path to financial well being.”
Money Smart Week® programs have proven popular at such libraries as the Chicago Public Library, which has seen growth from a dozen programs for adults to more than 75. They address such topics as how to appeal your property taxes, women and money, preparing for the unexpected, tips on selling your home and understanding Medicare.
In Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Laramie County Library System is conducting a Money Smart Fair that gives children the chance to “earn” money to purchase items in a general store. The fair is part of Thinking Money, a traveling exhibition designed to teach young people and their families about money, including topics like saving, spending and avoiding fraud, that incorporates an adventure-themed storyline and uses interactive iPad content. Thinking Money was created by the ALA in partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.
In New York, the Brooklyn Public Library, in conjunction with the Financial Planning Association of New York, is offering a financial fair that teaches about making financial decisions for the real world.
At the Inglewood (California) Public Library, a financial advisor is holding a free workshop on retirement planning that talks about factors to consider when applying for Social Security, such as how to coordinate benefits with one’s spouse, for what benefits a widowed or divorced retiree is eligible and how to coordinate Social Security with other sources of retirement income.
In addition to the programs being offered, individual libraries are also offering free resources provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a national partner in Money Smart Week®.
For more information, visit www.moneysmartweek.org, which contains an interactive map where you can search for events throughout the U.S.