By Kathy Sweedler
Do you feel financially savvy? To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, participate in the Money Smart Hunt and show how financially savvy you are — plus have the opportunity to win prizes.
Too often when we talk about money, we end up feeling stressed or discouraged. Here's an opportunity to do something fun while practicing savvy money actions.
Money Smart Hunt is a free, nationwide, photojournalistic scavenger hunt promoting financial literacy. It is running now through April 27. To participate, upload photos of found items using the Scavenger Hunt with Friends mobile app. For example, you can take a photo of:
— Feeding your piggy bank.
— Packing your lunch or riding a bus.
— Your money motto.
— Playing Monopoly.
— Recycling and many, many more options.
For each photo you upload, you earn points. Winners will be based upon the number of points and creativity of photos. Three grand-prize winners will receive a $600 Apple gift card. There are more prizes, too. For full details about the hunt and to see the official rules, visit http://www.moneysmartweek.org/hunt.
I've started playing, and I can see many different actions that I regularly do (or could start doing easily) that earn points. What a creative way to be nudged into good financial practices.
The Money Smart Hunt is a great example of the new look of financial education programs. In January 2010, President Obama created the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability "to assist the American people in understanding financial matters and making informed financial decisions and thereby contribute to financial stability."
The council membership was an impressive mix of representatives of financial services, consumer protection, financial access and education professionals. The council ended on Jan. 29 this year, and its final report has been released.
A comment that stood out to me in the report is "that financial capability is not a 'stand-alone' topic to be isolated from the rest of our lives. Financial capability must be woven into the fabric of our lives — into our homes, our schools, our workplaces, our communities, even the design and regulation of the financial products and services we use."
Take a look at the Money Smart Hunt — or pass the idea along to a friend or colleague who uses a smartphone — and see if you agree with me that this is an intriguing way to increase financial capability.
Money Smart Hunt is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and they also sponsor Money Smart Week.
Money Smart Week has become an annual event in our communities. We have more than 60 free financial education events planned for April 20-27 in Champaign and Vermilion counties. Perhaps you're wondering if there's an event that would be interesting to you.
You likely know that our credit reports affect much more than whether or not we can receive a loan. But do you know how to check your credit report for free? Do you know why you should check it? If not, there's a Money Smart Week event for you.
Have you talked to your preschool child lately about money? The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability's first of four major recommendations begins, "Financial education is a lifelong pursuit that needs to begin in the home with parents educating their children, continue in a child's preschool years, continue throughout high school in preparation for postsecondary education and training and then persist beyond."
If you've been looking for a way to start this conversation with your preschool or elementary age child, attend Money Smart Kids Read, Does Money Grow on Trees? at one of eight local libraries hosting this event.
Do you want to shred private financial papers to protect your identity?
Are you wondering how to effectively maintain your home?
Do you need tips on managing your personal business' finances?
Have you been planning to save for your child's education but are not sure how to start?
Are you looking for ways to maximize your retirement dollars?
Would you like strategies for preparing healthy and inexpensive meals?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there's a Money Smart Week event for you.
Money Smart Week involves many local organizations, including financial services, libraries, financial professionals and educational organizations such as the University of Illinois Extension.
To find an event for you, visit http://www.moneysmartweek.org to see the online calendar of events or stop by your local UI Extension office to pick up a printed calendar.
Kathy Sweedler is a consumer economics educator at the UI Extension. Contact her at 333-7672 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.